When Berkeley liked Ike: Presidential candidate made East Bay stops this week in 1952

D. D. Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower is met by a crowd of people, including many UC Berkeley students, at the Berkeley railroad station. (Oakland Tribune Photo)

D. D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower, the Republican nominee challenging Adlai Stevenson, made some brief remarks in his Berkeley whistlestop appearance. (Oakland Tribune Photo)

Republican presidential nominee Dwight Eisenhower was given a welcome befitting a war hero by Berkeley residents this week in 1952. The Oct. 8 appearance was part of a whistlestop swing by train through the East Bay on the way to a speech at the Cow Palace by the acclaimed World War II general. Other stops included Vallejo, Crockett and Richmond, along with a rally at City Hall Plaza in Oakland before he went via motorcade across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and a scheduled speech at the Cow Palace. The appearances were partly a response to a similar trip through the area by Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson.
Accompanying Eisenhower on his trip through the area were California Gov. Earl Warren and U.S. Sen. William F. Knowland, whose family owned the Oakland Tribune.

eisenhower signs
Signs displayed during Eisenhower’s Berkeley visit included “UC likes Ike” and “Let it rain, let it pour, Ike will lead us safely now, he always has before.”

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How Berkeley Iceland kept the rink surface smooth before the Zamboni came along

bg zamboni 01 10 1945a

When Berkeley Iceland opened in November 1940 the invention of the famed Zamboni ice resurfacing machine, now a fixture at ice and hockey rinks, was still almost nine years away.

So how, you ask, was the rink surface at Berkeley Iceland kept smooth enough for skating? This 1945 photo in the Berkeley Gazette shows the answer — giant squeegees, an adaptation of the window-washing device invented in Oakland in 1936. Note that the smoothing task has been turned over to women skaters during the war.

For those wondering about the prose used by the Berkeley Gazette, “Atalanta is the female athlete in Greek myth” and “didoes” are “mischievous tricks or deeds.”


The first Oakland Raiders game at the new Coliseum was played 49 years ago today

The Oakland Coliseum hosted its first event 49 years ago today, when the Oakland Raiders played the Kansas City Chiefs.

News media tour of the new stadium, nearing completion in July 1966.

The completed Coliseum awaits its first crowd. (Lonnie Wilson / Oakland Tribune Staff Archives).

Action from Sept. 18, 1966 – the first Oakland Raiders game to be played at the newly dedicated Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum. (Russ Reed / Oakland Tribune Staff Archives)

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A rave review of the new stadium from the San Mateo Times, which notes that Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics of the American League, was among those in attendance.

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Photo coverage of the first Coliseum game from the Hayward Daily Review.


When Mickey Mantle and other baseball stars came to Billy Martin’s night club in El Cerrito

A piece of memorabilia capturing a moment in baseball and El Cerrito history has been listed for bidding at online auction site eBay.
The item is an autographed 1961 menu from the opening of Billy Martin’s Cerro Square, a gala event attended by numerous major league baseball players of the day along with former teammates of Martin’s from the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

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Autographed menu from the opening of Billy Martin’s Cerro Square, offered for auction on eBay.

“Signatures on this menu include Billy Martin, Jim Gentile, Jackie Jensen, Don Drysdale, Mickey Mantle, Bud Foster, Cotton Pippen, Tom Louderback, Ray Larnernno, Woody Hall, Augie Galan,” states the auction listing, reflecting just some of the sporting world figures who attended the event.

At the time of the club opening, the always-combative Martin was nearing the end of his playing career. The Berkeley native, a regular presence in El Cerrito both as a youth and in later years, opened the night club venture at the former New Six Bells owned by the Figone family on San Pablo Avenue at Central Avenue (now a Burger King).

Despite its star-studded opening, the venture was short-lived. The era of clubs and bars that once dominated El Cerrito nightlife for decades was winding down, in part due to the growing presence of television in homes. In addition, according to a former relation of Martin’s by marriage, it wasn’t enough for the ballplayer to have his name on the club — people expected him to be there nightly to greet and talk to them.

cerro square 1961
Longtime Yankees teammates (and carousing pals) Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, joined by other ballplayers at the opening of Cerro Square in El Cerrito. Photo from the collection of Jack Newell.

Cerro Square matchbook.


Berkeley: Center appeals for clues on 20th anniversary of 16-year-old’s disappearance


Friday, Aug. 28, is the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Peter McColl from Berkeley and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is issuing a an appeal for clues and assistance, along with an age-progressed image of what he might look like today.

Peter’s photo is shown age-progressed to 30 years. He was last seen leaving his home to go to a bookstore. He may no longer be in California. Peter has 20/400 vision and needs contacts or eyeglasses for distance vision. He has slight scarring near the tip of his right little finger. He may use the nickname Rainbow. He plays guitar.

Information can be called in anonymously to the center at 800-843-5678 or the Berkeley Police Department at 510-981-5900.


Berkeley market hosting Aug. 26 benefit event for national park in Richmond


The Whole Foods Market on Gilman Street in Berkeley is hosting an event on Aug. 26 to benefit the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.

This is the event announcement from the nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust:

You helped us bring over 1,000 people to the Rosie Rally…

so making a grocery run should be a piece of cake!

Please help spread the word! Whole Foods Market and the Trust are working together to support the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park!

WHAT: Community Support Day to Benefit the Park! Rosie the Riveter Trust will receive 5% of the store’s net proceeds for the day!

WHEN: Wednesday, August 26th from 8 AM to 10 PM… open to close!

WHERE: Whole Foods Market on Gilman St. in Berkeley. Driving directions here.

WHO: You! Support the Park just by making your regular grocery run.

Click the Forward to a Friend button below to help us spread the word!


Visit our table and you could win
a Rosie the Riveter Lunch Box with a
$25.00 Whole Foods Market gift card!

Please help us support amazing Park programs like the Rosie Rally, Rosie’s Girls Summer Camp Program, and the hundreds of ranger talks, docent lectures, expert presentations and documentary screenings that the Park provides to the public completely free each year!

No donation needed- all you have to do is shop, and Whole Foods Market will contribute 5% of the day’s proceeds to Rosie the Riveter Trust!


El Cerrito/Albany/Berkeley: East Bay Bike Party returning to area Friday

Video of EBBP riders at Del Norte BART in 2012.

The cacophonous mobile celebration known as the East Bay Bike Party returns to the on Friday, with more than 150 riders signed up for a rolling event that will gather at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station at 7:30 p.m. and set out at 8 on a route that will pass through Albany on the way to the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

The theme for the August ride is something we are calling ‘A Gathering,'” the organizer of this month’s party says on the group’s Facebook event page.

I’m calling on all the bike crews that inhabit the bay area bike-o-sphere to come out and show your colors and rally around the flag. A flag of your own making. I’m sponsoring a flag contest. The best flag with the most righteous crew wins. Your tribe doesn’t have to be a bike crew. If you want to carry the Warriors banner, feel free, Maybe your tribe wants to carry the banner of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or even Slytherin, go ahead. Burners, Zombie riders, DC Comic fans, yoga practitioners, the list goes on. One of the best things about bike party is how this diverse community, that calls the bay area their home, comes together for the big group bike ride. Let’s celebrate it.

The Gathering Ride is all about building up the strength of the bike crews in the area. Group rides are and should be happening all the time with or without EBBP. This next bike party is your crews chance to step up identify yourselves and let the everyone know you are here, you believe in the principles of bike party and you are ready to lead in our biking community.

Remember our 6 rules, and make sure all your friends and fellow crewmates do too:
*Stay to the Right
*Stop at lights
*Ride Straight
*Don’t Hate
*Pack your Trash
*Don’t get Smashed


Trees in East Bay hills will be El Cerrito Historical Society program topic

The El Cerrito Historical Society is presenting a timely talk about the trees in the East Bay hills on at 7 p.m. July 30.

The announcement from the society:

History program about the East Bay Forest will illuminate current issues

Trees are big news these days in the East Bay. Plans by the East Bay Regional Park District, the city of Oakland and UC Berkeley to remove thousands of eucalyptus trees because they pose a fire danger have outraged many tree lovers.

Opinions have blazed across the pages of local newspapers accusing Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf of planning the murder of squirrels by proposing to take away their habitat.

“When chainsaws decimate the vast forests which create their homes, reducing public lands once blanketed with their habitat to barren, empty hillsides, where, exactly, are these animals supposed to go?” one blogger demanded.

Proponents of the tree removal plan say it falls well short of clear cutting. According to the successful application for federal funds, the project, “would provide more effective protection over a large area by creating a continuous firebreak along the most vulnerable wildland-urban interfaces.”

“(The park district, Oakland and the university) propose to reduce fuel loads and fire intensity, primarily by thinning plant species that are prone to torching, and by promoting conversion to vegetation types with lower fuel loads. In many areas the proposed and connected actions would preserve oak and bay trees and convert dense scrub, eucalyptus forest, and non-native pine forest, to grassland with islands of shrubs.”

El Cerrito too has groves of eucalyptus trees, some of which help visually define such areas of our landscape as the Hillside Natural Area. The city also shares a large border with the East Bay Park District’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Our city has many other trees that also present issues. Many of our trees are 50 years old and nearing the end of their lives. The city has already removed many.

To cast light on these issues and to get a deeper background the Historical Society, in conjunction with the city’s Environmental Quality Committee, is hosting Jerry Kent, former assistant general manager of the East Bay Park District. Kent’s talk, ‘How the East Bay Got its Forest,’ will take place Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. It is free and open to all and wheelchair accessible.

Of his talk, Jerry Kent writes: “Bay Area hills were mostly open grassland, with fringes of native trees in valleys when European settlers arrived in 1769. Large scale tree planting began in the West Bay in 1877 to forest Golden Gate Park, military posts, schools, and mountaintops.

“In the East Bay, one man began planting trees in 1895 to forest 13,000 acres for home sites in the hills and 3,000 acres for timber plantations. What became of his dream, and how do we deal with his legacy today, amid dense development, drought, changing climate, and wildfire risks?”
Kent retired after a 41-year career with the East Bay Regional Park District. A history lover, he has collected maps and photographs and researched many aspects of Bay Area nature and history. He will describe the history of large-scale tree planting projects, and discuss the benefits and responsibilities of owning planted urban forests.


El Cerrito squirrels have a long track record of causing East Bay power outages

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An El Cerrito squirrel pondering a power grab while on a PG&E utility pole in El Cerrito.

The electrical outage that hit the East Bay this week dominated locally focused folks on social media, particularly when a squirrel that got into the Schmidt Lane substation in El Cerrito was named by PG&E as the culprit.

Twitter buzzed with comments, snark and speculation on the rodent that left several cities and some 45,000 households in the dark.

India Today: Squirrel causes massive power outage in US: The squirrel entered the substation in El Cerrito caused the outage…

Gimme Sympathy ‏@weresoclose Squirrel assault shuts down East Bay: In a clandestine raid last night, squirrels shut down an El Cerrito, …

DarkandWondrous ‏@DarkandWondrous: several yrs ago I was in El Cerrito nr that substation—heard a SSSZZT as a squirrel became circuit&power cut

Chris Preimesberger ‏@editingwhiz Jun 8: A squirrel got zapped in a power station in El Cerrito, knocking out power to 45,000 homes and businesses. Sheesh.

Zach ‏@BarroldBonds Jun 8 45,000 people in the East Bay lost power b/c a squirrel got into a substation in El Cerrito and chewed on something. Ya couldn’t make it up.

One commenter said it sounded like a squirrel terrorist attack, another speculated that the squirrel was a “scaperodent” used by PG&E to hide the real reason of the outage.
But the fact is, squirrels dying on suicide missions at the Schmidt Lane substation and bringing the East Bay to its knees is nothing new, as these examples from the Contra Costa Times archives show. In one case the guilty rodent was placed in a plastic bag and stored in a PG&E freezer in Oakland (hopefully not near an employee’s TV dinner) as evidence in case any claims came in against the utility. As the spokesperson noted, blackout by squirrel is considered an “act of nature” and not the utility’s fault. And the nature of squirrels in El Cerrito is to get into the substation and wreak havoc with the equipment. They are a crafty bunch and we suspect there is a large stash of acorns hidden somewhere in the PG&E substation.

Squirrel sparks electricity outage
About 28,000 PG&E customers in Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond lacked power for three hours Wednesday
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 5/23/2002
Dateline: EL CERRITO
An errant squirrel met an unfortunate end Wednesday when its encounter with a circuit breaker at a Pacific Gas & Electric substation in El Cerrito knocked out power to thousands of customers temporarily and knocked out the squirrel permanently.
About 28,000 customers lost power at 12:10 p.m. The outage affected homes and businesses in El Cerrito, Richmond and parts of north Berkeley and Albany. Power was flowing to all customers by 3:04 p.m.

Police reported no major problems tied to the outage. Richmond police did take to major intersections to direct traffic in place of dark traffic lights. The city’s Civic Center turned to its emergency generators.

Temporary stop signs were posted at less busy Richmond and El Cerrito intersections.

“We have animals interacting with our equipment occasionally, ” said PG&E spokesman Jason Alderman. “Something of this magnitude is rare.”

Alderman said substations are fenced in and the vegetation around them cut back, in part, to discourage curious wildlife. But given the amount of PG&E equipment and the number of critters, the occasional run-in is inevitable.

The deceased squirrel is now resting in peace in a plastic bag in an Oakland freezer, preserved as evidence for customers seeking proof that their spoiled meat and unset video cassette recorders were not the utility’s doing, Alderman said.

“If it’s an act of nature, as a squirrel is, then we’re not responsible for it, ” Alderman said.

Most customers understand, Alderman said, but “every once in a while, if someone is particularly litigious, the squirrel will be put in a cooler and taken to court.”

Squirrel cuts power to 25,000
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 11/6/2000
Twenty-five thousand customers from El Cerrito to Oakland lost power Sunday morning after a squirrel got inside a transformer at an El Cerrito substation.
The power was out from about 10:25 to 11:55 a.m., said Maureen Bogues, spokeswoman for Pacific Gas & Electric.

A BART spokeswoman, Jeanie Riehl, said the power went out at 10:20 a.m. at the Berkeley BART station.

Most of the customers who lost power were in Berkeley, Bogues said.

The Berkeley BART station was closed at 10:20 a.m. after the station went dark, and it was reopened at noon, Riehl said.

Train power was not affected and service went on as scheduled, except that trains did not stop at the Berkeley station, she said.

Electrocuted squirrel causes power outage
Publication: West County Times
Print Run Date: 11/28/1999
EL CERRITO About 37,000 East Bay homes and businesses lost power Saturday afternoon after a squirrel crawled into a transformer at an El Cerrito substation and was electrocuted, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman said.
The downtown Berkeley BART station briefly closed because of the outage, which began at 2:23 p.m., but it reopened at 3:08. Berkeley public-radio station KPFA had to shift to an emergency power generator during the outage.

The squirrel’s electrocution caused the circuit breakers to kick over, spokesman Jonathan Franks said. Affected PG&E customers in El Cerrito, central Berkeley, Emeryville and Albany were without power until after 3 p.m. By rerouting electricity, PG&E restored power to all except about 7,900 customers by 3:05 p.m., said PG&E spokesman Ron Low, and the rest were back in service as of 3:20 p.m.

A similar outage occurred July 4, when another curious squirrel found its way into the El Cerrito substation and was killed.

Power outage caused by curious squirrel
West County Times
Print Run Date: 7/5/1999
A power outage that affected some 38,000 customers in the East Bay on Saturday was caused by a squirrel getting into an El Cerrito substation’s transformer bank, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said.

The problem began around 12:50 p.m. and lasted until 2:10 p.m., said the utility’s Maureen Bogues. It affected customers in El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond, Albany, Berkeley and Oakland, she said.

The outage was widespread because the transformer bank feeds three substations in Berkeley, Bogues said.

Wayward squirrel blamed for outage
West County Times
Print Run Date: 6/23/1998
El Cerrito — A squirrel that scurried into an area it shouldn’t have is being blamed for the loss of electricity to about 3,400 customers in parts of El Cerrito, Kensington, Albany and North Berkeley on Monday afternoon.
The squirrel got into a circuit breaker at the substation at the end of Schmidt Lane in El Cerrito about 1:20 p.m., said Chris Johnson, a PG&E spokesman.

Workers restored power gradually, and all the customers had electricity by 3:30 p.m., Johnson said.

The squirrel died, Johnson said.

Squirrels, birds and rats are common sources of power outages, although PG&E takes measures to keep them off equipment, Johnson said.

By comparison, the squirrels in Lafayette simply aren’t as determined or well-connected.

Squirrel is responsible for power outage

Publication: Contra Costa Times
Print Run Date: 7/28/1995
LAFAYETTE – A squirrel short-circuited some electrical equipment, cutting power to nearly 3,000 people Thursday morning, a PG&E spokeswoman said.
The outage happened about 7:45 a.m. at Stanley Boulevard and Vacation Drive and cut power to about 2,900 customers in Lafayette and a small portion of Walnut Creek. The outage also cut power to numerous stop-lights and snarled the morning commute going to Highway 24 through Lafayette.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews had power restored to 85 percent of the customers by 9 a.m., said Diane Sable, a company spokeswoman. The remaining customers were expected to have power back by noon, she said.

The squirrel didn’t make it, Sable said.

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El Cerrito squirrels are adept at traversing the city’s electrical distribution infrastructure.

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El Cerrito squirrels have been known to gather in gangs to hatch their plots.

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The Schmidt Lane substation “is the terminus for high voltage electric lines bringing power from the distant Feather River.”