Roadshow: Ouch! DMV says woman’s hair is gray, not brown – The Mercury News

Q: For some day when you want a giggle to leaven all the road-patching woes of late, how about that DMV? I had to renew my license in person (being a touch over 70), and got an appointment at the Los Gatos office. Had to fill out the two long, double-sided questionnaire sheets, then the eye test, then the new photo and the written test. Then they handed me the license and I was off.

But oh! Somebody somewhere in the chain, without any mention or question to me, decided my hair is no longer “brown,” but “gray.” Surprised me. Yes, there’s a small touch of gray at each temple, but seen from the back or the side or even the front, a person would still say “brown.” I decided not to fuss about it. By the time five years have passed and I need to renew the license again, my hair probably will be mostly gray.

But it makes me wonder about people who color their hair. I haven’t quite had the nerve to ask anyone yet.

Susan Lange

A: OK, folks, send me your DMV tales about new license photos. Has anyone walked away ecstatic about their mug shot?

The state form allows only the following hair colors: brown, blonde, black, red, gray or bald. If people dye their hair purple, yellow, orange or another color, it’s not allowed on your license. And one Morgan Hill fellow who listed his hair as “silver” had it changed to gray by the DMV.

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Q: How many of us oldsters have written to correct the history of the Bay Bridge?

Art Miller

A: Enough to fill every lane on the Oakland-San Francisco span.

Q: When the bridge was built, half the lower deck was for Key System rapid transit trains. The other portion was for trucks and buses. … Cars were allowed on the upper deck in both directions … There were baskets where you could toss the coins, but too many folks missed the basket and then would get out of their cars and hunt for the errant coins. Now that held up traffic.

George Martin, Clifford Olsen, Rod Smith, Barbara Patterson, Loran Stringer, Jim Bunger, Rena Killian, Al Stangenberger, Jose Alonso, Carol Walker and many more, including one from far, far away. 

A: A wonderful summary is at, including a radio report from opening day in 1936.

Q: Originally, trains, street cars, trucks and buses ran on the lower deck and vehicle traffic both ways on the upper deck. This was changed in the early 1960s. On the upper deck there was a hump in the road as re-configurement changed the height to accommodate large trucks through Yerba Buena Island.

Paul Van Buren
Cornwall, England

A: You can still feel that bump before the tunnel.

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