Stan Returns to Park Street

Framed by newspapers, Stan Hallmark is back at selling papers and observing life at the newsstand at Park Street and Santa Clara Avenue
Thushan Amarasiriwardnena

Stan Returns to Park Street

There are parts of Alameda that feel like a time warp. Park Street spans the gamut; a neon-lit diner, a buzzing arcade, to an alive and kicking video-rental store. And then there’s the little downtown newsstand, which as of last week, is back at the daily grind of selling papers after a long hiatus during the pandemic.

Stan Hallmark’s window on Park Street if not the world, is open again. He spent much of the pandemic doing what he was doing before, reading the news. “That and my wine consumption went up,” he said.

A couple days into reopening, business is slow. Thumbing through his count, Hallmark said he sold 10 copies last Sunday, before the pandemic it was usually 25 copies.

He chalks it up to the town reacclimatizing. “You don’t come out of a year in a cocoon and immediately get back to normal,” Hallmark said.

With the rates getting squeezed by the publishers, it’s long just been “good enough to buy lunch” anyways, he joked. Its clear there’s more to just selling papers that he’s there for, “I love seeing the people walk by.”

The newsstand, which a sign on it proclaims has been there since 1939, built for a news seller named Paul Manning. The stand passed hands a couple times, most recently seven years ago into Hallmark’s. It started with him just covering for a couple days off for the prior seller. Now Hallmark and another split the day, seven days a week, year round. Pulling out an old sign board with the names of the 14 newspapers they used to carry — he remained equally surprised by how many papers were active, and not.

Working on this block for years, and a resident of Alameda for 37, he’s continually surprised by the island’s ability to bounce through adversity. “Alameda is a resilient city,” Hallmark said. Motioning to a restaurant parklet behind him. “When the restaurants needed the sidewalk space — boom it happened,” he said.

Framed by newspapers headlining forest fires, mask mandates, rising waters and heat waves, Hallmark is an optimist. When asked if he has any overarching observations from his window, between puffs of his pipe, he remarked “Alameda must be a healthy city, no one seems to die here,” noting how many 80-year-olds like himself are around.

A time warp indeed.

Thushan Amarasiriwardena is walking every street of Alameda and documenting it all at everystreetofalameda.com