A post from longtime Mill Valley resident Bob Emrich, owner of Bob’s Tree Service:

I started a tree business in Mill Valley three-plus years ago, and I have never looked back. It has been a great experience, and the best part is the people I meet in this cool town of ours.

One of them is Steve Schimmel, who lives in the Middle Ridge area, not too far from Old Mill School. We removed some trees from his property last year, and we have kept in touch. A few weeks ago, I saw him walking up Summit with his dog, so I pulled my car over and got out to talk with him. I asked him what he was doing these days, since his days at Google years ago. He said he was writing a book about the universe, and he already had over a thousand pages, and he was still going strong. I asked what about the universe, and he gave me a quick, yet complicated summary, of how all these unexplained things…unexpected…just happen. But they don’t just ‘happen.’

I told him I have experienced more of these happenings recently, since I started meeting all these interesting people around town, and I relayed one story to him, to demonstrate. Last year, we were doing tree work in Tam Valley on a small street off Marin Drive.

As often happens, a neighbor, Kay Cousineau, came over and asked me to look at her property to recommend what she could do to improve it. So we walked to her home, and we went through the home to a deck to view the vegetation. I couldn’t help but notice all the beautiful paintings on her walls, which she had painted herself. Really an impressive collection, and that was just the beginning. She also had a baby grand piano, and I asked her if she played. She said no, and I asked her how long it had been since it was last played. She said several years ago, before her husband passed away.

She asked if I played, I said yes, and she asked me to play something, warning it would be out of tune. I played a song called Cast Your Fate to the Wind, which was recorded in 1962, by Vince Guaraldi. When I finished playing, she told me the bass player that played with the Vince Guaraldi Trio and her have been friends for years. She asked if I wanted to meet him, I said yes, and she told me to come back that Saturday. So I showed up, and he was there. His name was Dean Reilly.

He immediately asked me to play ‘Cast Your Fate,’ and when I sat down to play, he started playing what he called his ‘pocket trumpet,’ which was only about a foot long. He stopped me in the middle of the song, and said, ‘You’re playing it in the key of D, and it should be E.’ He was right. He was also 94 years old, and we started talking about music. He played with Vince for several years, but he then said he used to play for the Kingston Trio, for seven years, including at the Hollywood Bowl and the White House.

I emailed Kay some time later, with the intention of communicating more with Dean. What I had in mind was inviting him to a party, and we could play that song together. Unfortunately, I have just learned Dean passed away on March 9th. So I plan on playing a tribute to him at a party at the Outdoor Art Club in November, and I will invite Kay Cousineau. What are the odds of me playing that one song, and having it lead into all that? Steve Schimmel got my point immediately, and things like this do happen…more often than we imagine.”


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