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Pacific Coast League baseball reunion event returns Aug. 20

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Opening day ceremony at Oakland Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville during World War II.

The late Dick Dobbins, a Berkeley native and later a high school principal in Contra Costa who died in 1999, was among the foremost collectors and compilers of artifacts from the golden age of baseball’s Pacific Coast League from 1903 until the arrival of Major League Baseball on the West Coast in 1958.
Dobbins, then attending Berkeley High School, rescued records, trophies and other items of the Oakland Oaks after the team departed and its Emeryville ballpark was being torn down in 1956. It became a lifelong passion for Dobbins, and that love is carried on at an annual event named in his honor.
The 22nd annual Northern California Dick Dobbins PCL Player and Family Reunion will be held 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at Ryan O’Connell Hall, 575 West Estudillo Ave. at San Leandro Boulevard in San Leandro.
The day always includes players and PCL enthusiasts and a program about the history of a league that was good enough that many considered it “the third major league” at its height.
Admission is $25 with lunch (RSVP by Aug. 15) or $8 without.
To reserve a seat send a check made out to PCLHS to PCLHS, 420 Robinson Circle, Placentia, CA 92870. Or call Mark Macrae at 510-538-6245 for more details.

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Pitcher Charlie Gassaway of the Oakland Oaks.

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El Cerrito High grad Ernie Broglio, who pitched for the Oakland Oaks before advancing to the major leagues, is one of the organizers of the annual PCL reunion.

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Vintage views of El Cerrito Plaza, which opened this month in 1958

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The original El Cerrito Plaza shopping center was dedicated this month 58 years ago.

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The opening came two years after an arson fire destroyed the historic Castro adobe on the site that allowed construction of the shopping center to begin.

Here, through the courtesy of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce, are views of the center’s dedication on July 9, 1958, along with photos and promotional material from the center’s early years. Our thanks to the chamber for sharing its archives.

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El Cerrito assault victim flown to Muir Medical Center on Monday

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Air ambulance at Cerrito Vista Park on Monday. Photo courtesy of El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford.

A man was flown to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek on Monday afternoon after he was assaulted and suffered a head injury on the BART Path near Fairmount Avenue around 5:25 p.m.
The man, who is about 60, “was initially treated by El Cerrito Fire Department paramedics and then transported to Cerrito Vista Park by AMR where the REACH air ambulance transported him to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek,” according to El Cerrito Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Pigoni.
No further details of the incident were immediately available.

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‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is next Cerrito Classic

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The Cast of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” includes (from left) Eric Idle, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

The next showing in the Cerrito Classics presented by Friends of the Cerrito Theatre will be the 1975 comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at 9:30 p.m. July 14 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.

Details and advance tickets are available online.

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Richmond and greater community rally around 94-year-old park ranger with donations to Betty’s Fund

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The community far and near has backed up its expressions of affection and appreciation for Betty Reid Soskin with an outpouring of financial support after the 94-year-old Richmond resident was attacked and robbed at her home on June 27.
Two different fundraising efforts were set up after news of the attack on the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service was made public.
A gofundme drive that was established by Nicholas Arzio of El Cerrito exceeded its goal of $15,000 in just two days and is now closed. Control of this fund was turned over to Soskin for her use.
The fundraising effort of the Rosie the Riveter Trust is continuing.
The trust issued the following announcement on July 2:

Dear Friend,

On Monday, June 27, NPS Ranger Betty Reid Soskin was robbed an assaulted in her home. The intruder even stole the special coin handed personally to Betty by President Obama at the 2015 National Tree Lighting Ceremony. We are all upset by this horrific news, but relieved to report that she is recovering well, with no major injuries.

The outpouring of love and support for Betty during this time has been truly moving. Obviously, she has inspired thousands across the nation with her powerful story, brilliant insight and incredible will.

If you have not already done so, we would like to invite you to make a contribution of any size to Betty’s Fund.

All funds raised beyond immediate needs will be used, as Betty has asked, to complete a film in progress that contains vital documentary information about Betty’s life and impact. This is the legacy that she wants to continue passing on to younger generations, and a remarkable testimonial to her strength of spirit. Go to www.rosietheriveter.org to donate, and to view the first clips from this important project. You can also mail checks to Rosie the Riveter Trust, PO Box 71126, Richmond, CA 94807, ear-marked “Betty’s Fund.”

You are welcome to send cards to Betty via the Park’s Visitor Center. Betty is not, understandably, taking calls or visitors, and has expressed that she does not wish to receive flowers at this time. Address cards and letters to:

Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center
Attn: Betty Reid Soskin
1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 3000 (Oil House)
Richmond, CA 94804

Thank you for your support during this difficult time.
Sincerely,

Marsha Mather-Thrift, Executive Director
Rosie the Riveter Trust
www.rosietheriveter.org

The gofundme effort resulted in this response from Soskin, who turns 95 in September:

Here is a special thank you statement from Betty: “Your gifts will help me re-establish my home on the planet and that I am grateful for, because I do not want to move. I am going to reclaim my space from the violation. I could not have done it without your help! There will be fresh paint, new carpeting, a restoration.”

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Ortman family history in Berkeley goes beyond ice cream

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Ortman’s Ice Cream Parlor at Solano and Colusa avenues.

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Since it’s a holiday weekend in July, it seems like a good time to remember a favorite ice cream name of the past — Ortman’s.
Bill Ortman was a Berkeley native and a veteran of World War II who opened an ice cream parlor on Solano Avenue after the war, moving it to Solano and Colusa avenues in 1950, where it continued until 1993. The location is now a Starbucks.
There was a second Ortman’s location at the top of Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito that was popular, but did not last as long as the Berkeley parlor.
The Ortman family has a long association in Berkeley, in particular with the dairy business in the city’s early days, as columnist Hal Johnson explains below in a 1943 column in the Berkeley Gazette.
In addition, as noted in Ortman’s 2012 obituary, “Bill’s father (Charles) was a Lieutenant with the Berkeley Fire Department, and was killed in 1939 while saving three children from a burning house.”

Steve Finacom of the Berkeley Historical Society wrote about the fire and rescue in 2014 in his “Berkeley: A Look Back” column in the Berkeley Voice:

“First Lieutenant Charles J. Ortman, 45, is dead today following his heroic rescue of three young children from the smoke-filled home of Mr. and Mrs. George G. Rogers, 1837 Rose Street, shortly after 8:30 last night, ” the Berkeley Gazette reported Feb. 2, 1939.
Ortman lived across the street from the Rogers home. He was off duty and at home, when “the fire tapper in the house sounded” — we’ll assume that was a device to alert off-duty staff that there was an alarm — and he heard on his shortwave radio that the call came from his block.

Rushing outside, Ortman found his neighbors on the street and smoke pouring out of their front door. Entering the house he rescued their 4-year-old granddaughter and her siblings, twin babies, just as on duty firemen arrived. Ortman then grabbed a hose and led the effort to put out the fire in a bedroom. Inspecting the attic, he died of an apparent heart attack.

City flags flew at half-staff for the Berkeley native, a member of the department since 1912.

The funeral took place on Feb. 3, starting at Berg’s Funeral Home, 1936 University Ave.

Traffic was stopped as the cortege moved up Shattuck to University, then north to St. Mary Magdalene Church, where a requiem mass was held.

Ortman was survived by his wife and two children. He was, the paper said, one of 112 fire department staff in 1939.

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A 1903 ad for the Peralta Jersey Dairy owned by Henry Ortman.

Below is the 1943 column by Hal Johnson about Henry John Ortman’s North Berkeley Jersey Farm. It recounts a 1903 fire at the dairy that was extinguished with buckets of milk and may have inspired Bill Ortman’s father to join the Berkeley Fire Department.
The Henry J. Ortman House is not only still standing at 1824 Rose St., it was selected for one of this year’s Preservation Awards from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association commending its renovation.

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A cow grazes in North Berkeley with the Peralta Park Hotel in the background.

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An ad for the El Cerrito location of Ortman’s 1954.

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A 1959 ad for Ortman’s in El Cerrito.

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Solano at Colusa shortly after Ortman’s became a Starbucks location.

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Overnight closure of I-80 in Richmond and San Pablo set for June 18

Interstate 80 will be closed in both directions between Barrett Avenue in Richmond and San Pablo Dam Road in San Pablo from 11 p.m. June 18 to 7 a.m. June 19, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is warning.
The closure allows work on the major project to upgrade the congested San Pablo Dam Road/I-80 interchange.
“These closures will enable crews to grade (properly adjust and align) falsework recently constructed for a new pedestrian overcrossing at Riverside Avenue, which will replace the current overcrossing.When complete, the new overcrossing will extend across Amador Street, enhancing safety for Riverside Elementary School students and the community.”
A map of local detour routes around the closed portion is below.

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For more details call the project hotline at 510-277-0444 or visit http://ccta.net/SanPabloDamRoad. Construction updates will also be posted to Twitter at @i80spdr.

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Video: El Cerrito tolerance celebration includes moment of silence for Orlando shooting victims

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El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman welcomes celebrants to the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016, and asks for a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting the day before in Orlando, Florida. He also explains the significance of the city celebrating a court ruling allowing interracial marriage by noting that Dorothy Clark and Sundar Shadi were forced to go from California to Nevada to legally marry in 1934 before returning to their home in El Cerrito.

Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto of El Cerrito’s Human Relations Commission explains the history of Loving Day and the landmark court decision behind it at the city’s first Loving Day observance at City Hall on June 12, 2016.

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Tilden Regional Park steam trains celebrating 64 years this weekend

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The popular steam trains in Tilden Regional Park known collectively as the Redwood Valley Railway will celebrate 64 years of operation this weekend.
“All four engines will be steamed up both days including guest engines from our sister railroads,” the railway volunteers say.
The celebration is 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 and 5 at the Tilden Park Steam Train off Grizzly Peak Boulevard at Lomas Cantadas Road.