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Free Berkeley community event will celebrate Pete Seeger on Feb. 3

Holly Near will host and Ronnie Gilbert will be a guest at a free “special community gathering this coming Monday paying tribute to Pete Seeger’s music, activism, and life” announced at The Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St. in Berkeley.
Remembrances of Seeger, have been made around the country since the announcement on Jan. 27 that the folksinger, songwriter and activist had died on Jan. 27 at age 94. El Cerrito native and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member John Fogerty wrote in an online post that along with being an early influence, “On top of everything else, Pete Seeger was also the greatest entertainer I ever saw. This world needs more people like Pete Seeger.”
The Freight & Salvage tribute will start with a song circle in the lobby at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3, followed by the show at 8 p.m.
Along with Near and Gilbert, the program will include Vickie Randle, with more guests to be announced.

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Morrie Turner and “Wee Pals” blazed a new trail in the comic strip world of 1965

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From the Oakland Tribune comics page in April 1965.

Martha Ross has written a nice piece on cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died Saturday at age 90.
The piece notes that Turner “broke racial barriers in the 1960s when he became the first African-American to have a syndicated comic strip — the gently humored, ethnically diverse ‘Wee Pals,’ which still runs daily in the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.”

It might help to have some perspective on the world of comic strips when “Wee Pals” debuted in the Oakland Tribune in April 1965.
At the time, the only other sign of something on the comics page even remotely resembling diversity outside of Turner’s new creation was the strip “Li’l Abner” by Al Capp, which definitely reflected sensibilities of an earlier era with its world of hillbillies and “Injuns.”
Turner introduced a new sensibility to the comics page, delivering an ongoing message of equality and inclusiveness, and dropping in countless tidbits of otherwise unsung history along the way that educated young and old alike.

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El Cerrito: Don’t underestimate the selling power of a scantily clad woman

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Looking for an investment idea for that extra income burning a hole in you pocket? Consider old matchbooks — particularly matchbooks with scantily clad women.
Two 1960s matchbooks from the It Club in El Cerrito were listed for bidding on eBay this month and attracted spirited bidding.
The most recent brought a final price of $20.50 (plus $1.50 shipping and handling) on Jan. 19.
Not a bad return for a free item someone picked up off the bar at a strip joint half a century ago. Two weeks earlier in January, a similar matchbook from the It Club, the longest running of the El Cerrito nightspots from the city’s era as “Little Reno,” did even better, selling for $38.50, plus shipping and handling.

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Historic Pinole school bell will be celebrated Saturday

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The bell that summoned generations of students to class at Pinole-Hercules School #1 has been refurbished and will be dedicated at a ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at Collins Elementary School, 1224 Pinole Valley Road in Pinole. Light refreshments will be served.
The bell is a remnant of the school that served children in Pinole and Hercules from 1906 to 1966. The school was demolished in 1968.
“The West Contra Costa Unified School District rescued the bell from its outdoor location at Pinole Middle School, where it had been subject to the elements
for several decades,” notes the Pinole Historical Society. “The bell, rusted and pock-marked, was placed in storage in several locations until mid 2013, when the WCCUSD authorized its restoration. The bell was sandblasted, power-coated with a satin black finish, and sealed.”

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A look at the history of the Albany Library

Albany Library Manager Deborah Sica compiled a timeline of the history of the branch and other related details, along with sharing some historic images.The branch will celebrate its 100th anniversary at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and the community is invited.

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Circa 1913 – The library is the second window on the right. The city offices were on the left.

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The second home of the Albany Library opened on Solano Avenue in 1952.

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Interior of the Solano Avenue location, that became cramped as the branch grew in popularity.

Historical Timeline:

· On April 12, 1909, the legislature of the State of California passed a law permitting the Board of Supervisors of a county to establish a county library system.

· The Alameda County Library system was established in 1910 and is governed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

· The Albany Library started as a takeout branch in a small room located on the south side of Solano Avenue.

· On December 4, 1913, under the librarianship of Mrs. Edith S. Hamilton, Albany Library opened in a one story store front building shared with Albany City Hall.

· On March 21, 1934, a second story was added to the building and the city offices remained on the first floor and the library occupied the second floor.

· On December 8, 1952, the Library relocated to 1216 Solano Avenue largely due to the dedication of Albany Citizen, Rosemary Paine, Vice President of the Albany Library Board.

· In 1969, the Friends of the Albany Library was founded and flourished due to the commitment of Mary and Bill Hartung and other dedicated community members. The first book sale was held on the patio of the library and raised $200 for the library. The Friends of the Albany Library continue to thrive and support the library with an annual operating budget of over $70,000.

· On January 24, 1994, the Library was relocated to 1247 Marin Avenue on the former site of the Albany Hospital.

· On January 26, 2014, the Albany Historical Society, in partnership with the Friends of the Albany Library, the City of Albany and the Alameda County Library, honored and celebrate the Albany Library’s Centennial.

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Clean Hands campaign – 1914

Librarian Lineage:

Mrs. Edith S. Hamilton (1913-1928)
Mrs. Kathleen Watkinson (1920-1928)
Mrs. Martha Woodworth (1923-1953)
Mrs. Mildred Hein (1928-1931)
Miss Shirley Preston (1931-1948)
Mrs. Kathleen Watkinson (1948-1962)
Miss Marian Blackie (1952-1954)
Mrs. Harriet V. Lee (1953-1954)
Mrs. Mary Popper (1954-1957)
Mrs. Elizabeth Anger (1962-1969)
Ms. Maria Jay (1969-1975)
Ms. Elaine Laessle (1975-1976)
Ms. Joan Ariel (1976-1981)
Ms. Ronnie Davis (1981-2013)
Ms. Deborah Sica (2013-current)

About the Alameda County Library: The Alameda County Library system provides and protects access to books, information and services that promote learning and enjoyment for everyone.

About the City of Albany: The City of Albany is dedicated to maintaining its small town ambience, responding to the needs of a diverse community, and providing a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

About the Friends of the Albany Library: Friends of the Albany Library will act as a liaison between the community and the library; will help to extend and improve local library services; and will stimulate public support of the Library and other charitable organizations in the community.

About the Albany Historical Society: The purpose of the Albany Historical Society is to discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge about the history of the Albany CA area. We encourage local residents to share their memories and knowledge of the past through story telling events and have begun to create a historical walking path in Albany using plaques commemorating important places and people. We hope to see you at one of our events soon.

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El Cerrito: Musical Teens production of ‘Grease’ this weekend at Contra Costa Civic Theatre

The Musical Teens program at Contra Costa Civic Theatre will perform the 1950s musical “Grease” this weekend.

“Rydell high is filled with rebellious, thrill-loving students. Enter,
Sandy Dumbrowski, the new girl and things go crazy.
All of your favorite rock-and-roll songs with vibrant dancing and incredible voices will be on stage this coming weekend performed by the young actors from musical teens.”

Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 18 and 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at CCCT, 951 Pomona Ave.

Tickets are $10, available at the door or online with more details at www.ccct.org.

The cast members are Abram Blitz, Aidan Mulqueeney, Amelia Meacham, Arianna Bertucco, Bella Mercurio, Chelsea McPheron, Devin Elias, Franny Beck, Gloria Leon, Hannah Miller, Jackie Davis, Jaya Pyne, Jenna Englund, Jordan Beck, Kyla Dullum, Lindsey Lam, Lucy Malamud-Roam, Marina Carlstroem, Mary Elsbury, Millie Kaufman, Natalie McCosker, Owen Storey, Sophia Acker, Terra Baer

Christina Martin directs and choreography is by Deirdre Ashby.

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Police offer tips on how to avoid being “skimmed”

Police are circulating this flier explaining “skimming” and how to avoid falling victim to a thief when using a debit card at an ATM or a store checkout counter.
An incident involving a “shoulder surfer” was reported in Hercules last week.

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1940s El Cerrito home movies offer glimpse of life during wartime and after

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Fairmount School crossing guard in front of Amerio Drugs on San Pablo Avenue.

Posted here are excerpts of home movies of El Cerrito in the 1940s and 1950s that the family of Arthur Lorenzo Hopkins shared with the El Cerrito Historical Society that show slices of life in a city was still early in its development and in many ways still rural. Living just a few doors north of El Cerrito High School, the Hopkins family raised crops and livestock in the double-deep back yard of their home on Pomona Avenue, including cows, chickens and turkeys.
A team of horses is seen plowing a vacant lot across the street (still there) to plant a World War II victory garden and student crossing guards from Fairmount Elementary School stop traffic on San Pablo Avenue (look for Amerio Drug Store and the old Bank of America location).
Home movies that seem to be of little interest to anyone outside the family that took them can be an invaluable to historical societies trying to record what life was like in different eras. They add a dimension different that complements still photographs and written records.
Maybe you have a reel of film or an old VHS or Beta tape tucked away somewhere that could be digitized and shared with future generations (the original returned, of course). Historical societies would love to find out.
Contact the El Cerrito Historical Society at elcerritohistoricalsociety@yahoo.com, the El Sobrante Historical Society at eshistory@gmail.com, the Pinole Historical Society at info@pinolehistoricalsociety.org, or the Richmond Museum of History at 510-235-7387 or info@richmondmuseumofhistory.org.