Over the summer, I ran into lots of readers at events held around Northern California. Two, Ella Fay Cullen and Marge Derrington of San Jose, made the same heart-warming comment; in fact, this was something I frequently heard.

Both women said, "We look forward to your column so we know where to go every weekend. We wouldn't know what to do without your advice."

So with Ella Fay, Marge and countless other wonderful people in mind, I'm listing a few activities meant to ensure you continue to live the good life:

I cannot think of another family activity held in the Bay Area that so artfully disguises both learning and fun the way "Train Days" does. The celebration takes place at the Los Altos History Museum on Sept. 14-15.

Photo from an earlier edition of Train Days at the Los Altos History Museum Sept. Courtesy Los Altos History Museum.
Photo from an earlier edition of Train Days at the Los Altos History Museum Sept. Courtesy Los Altos History Museum. ( Courtesy Los Altos History Museu )

Here, you'll see all sorts of intricate model railroads complete with steam, lights and sound. It won't be long until you find out that model railroading teems with a vocabulary of its own. With the aid of enthusiastic and knowledgeable members of regional railroading clubs, you will be whistling a new lingo in a jiffy.

Once again, the California Operation Lifesaver -- a nonprofit organization committed to educating the public on proper rail safety -- will be on board.

Remember to have a camera with you because you'll want to snap several photos, not only of wide-eyed children, but fired-up adults all having a ball.

The Los Altos History Museum is stationed (behind the library) at 51 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission: $5 per person. Ages 4 and under free. Children under 12 must be with an adult. Food vendors, including Quick Dog Catering, will be on site. Details: 650-948-9427, www.losaltoshistory.org.

Designer duds

The eagerly awaited San Francisco Vintage Fashion Expo is scheduled to happen Sept. 21-22. This shindig -- now in its 26th year -- collars fashionistas from around the Western U.S.

Whether you're in the market for a 1930s evening gown or a tuxedo from the same era, this is the main source for your shopping needs. I have a chum who never skips an occasion to hunt at this bash for buttons. She says the show is a "gold mine."

This go-around, check out the booth (actually a trailer), loaded with goodies owned by Francis and Roman Scarpulla. The duo has converted a neat Silver Streak Boles Aero trailer into a rolling vintage clothing store, complete with air conditioning, showcase lighting and a private dressing room. Their business, known as Thatch Vintage, has been a crowd-pleaser at recent shows.

The fun takes place at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), San Francisco. Shop early on Sept. 21 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. for $20. Otherwise, you pay $10 for admission from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Or pay $10 on Sept. 22, when the hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Students with ID get in free Sept. 22. Details: 415-515-0351, or www.vintageexpo.com.

An amazing afternoon

Live the glamorous life led in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" for at least an afternoon, at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland on Sept. 8.

Guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch and dress in period costumes for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, presented by the Art Deco Society of California at
Guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch and dress in period costumes for the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, presented by the Art Deco Society of California at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland. Photo by Devin Begley/ Art Deco Society of California. ( Picasa )

To fully participate in the annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon event, you must come all gussied up in period costume. Need help with your outfit? The Art Deco Society of California -- the group behind this gala -- has scads of advice for women and men. Simply go to www.artdecosociety.org.

Seasoned guests bring elaborate picnic lunches, replete with silver and china, but a simple wicker basket with sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper works just as well.

Activities include free croquet lessons, the viewing of dozens of spiffy, period autos and listening to jazz bands and vocalists. There's wine tasting, a Fashion Parade and a crowning of the newest Miss Art Deco.

To embark on your own journey back in time, be at the stately Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Hours: 1-6 p.m. Cost: $40 for Art Deco Society members, $50 for nonmembers when tickets are bought in advance. Children ages 12-18 get in for half-price. Small fry under 12 get in free. Tickets at the door are $70. No pets allowed. Details: 415-982-3325.

Show news

Whether you are a veteran collector, or just starting out on a journey to surround yourself with beauty, go to one of the finest antiques shows to take place in our neck of the woods. The San Mateo Show and Sale, which started Sept. 6, continues Sept. 7-8.

The extravaganza -- produced by Bustamante Enterprises -- is a high-end sale attracting notable vendors. Expect to find furniture, paintings, posters, prints, silver, jewelry, clocks, porcelain and rugs.

To participate, be at the San Mateo County Event Center, Fiesta Hall, 1346 Saratoga Ave., San Mateo. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 8. Admission is free. Parking: $10 (cash only). Details: 209-358-3134, or www.bustamante-shows.com.

Shopping alert

Devotees of dolls, take note: The Thrift Box, an upscale resale shop in San Jose, now has a special case devoted to antique and collectible dollies. So far, it's a huge hit with collectors.

The store, at 1362 Lincoln Ave., in the Willow Glen section of San Jose, supports the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. Details: 408-294-4490.

By the way, the 41st annual Pumpkin Patch, offering lots of wonderful goodies, occurs Oct. 12. I'll have all the nitty-gritty on that popular bash in a few weeks.

Contact Steven Yvaska at steve.yvaska@sbcglobal.net or 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190.