The former Arlington Drugs in Kensington has been a familiar sight since it was opened by Louis Stein Jr. (Cal class of 1924) in the 1920s. The store changed hands a couple of times after Stein retired and finally closed its pharmacy window last year, converting to a general store that closed earlier this year.
The location has recently reopened as the second location of longtime Berkeley business Country Cheese Company. Store co-owner Shirley Ng remodeled the interior to accommodate the change to a food business, but also worked with the U.S. Postal Service to retain the postal window established during the drug store days and beloved by Kensingtonians.
She also said this week that the Rexall Drugs sign on the outside of the store is also something of a local landmark and will be retained.
Here are some views of the area over the years.
Arlington at Amherst circa 1950.
Arlington at Amherst today.
The Rexall Drugs sign will be retained at the Country Cheese Company store.
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.
Ashkon Davaran, the El Cerrito High School grad from Kensington whose “Don’t Stop Believing” music video tribute to the San Francisco Giants went viral during the team’s world championship season in 2010, has a new video out titled “This is San Francisco” that salutes the City by the Bay.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, the El Sobrante Historical Society at email@example.com, the Pinole Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Richmond Museum of History at 510-235-7387 or email@example.com.
Kennedy High in Richmond is looking for people from the community to discuss their jobs at its Career Fair on Jan. 24.
The event was selected to fall on the week of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as part of the “I have a dream” message, writes Jamie Myrick, who is lining up guests for the event.
Ninth grade JFK student Luis Calixto wrote the following for the Kennedy Eagle Eye:
Kennedy High school is hosting a career fair and looking for speakers to talk about their jobs on Jan. 24th. We want people to come in and motivate students to succeed in their high school years. Too many students are dropping out during their senior year based on failing classes in their 9th grade year. If someone were to come and speak to them about their struggles in school and how they managed to succeed in life maybe the dropout rate would decrease. That way our schools test scores will continue increase.
John F. Kennedy high school is designed to prepare us for life and college. We have many programs and academies to help students get ahead, including Saturday school and parent workshops. The test scores have gone up this year because of this and the quality of the school has improved. As I type this, there are workers outside renovating the science buildings. However we still need great speakers for the career fair.
President Kennedy once said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Too often people talk about the government not doing things for youth, but today we are asking you to join in changing the youth of our community. When you give time to the Kennedy High school students you are helping them become successful in their academics. As the future leaders of America we need help and support from people who have made it in life. We ask you do send someone to Kennedy to speak to the 9th grade class and tell them how important it is to do well in school.
The careers that appeal to me are working in law as a Judge or medicine as a Doctor. They pay well and help people in need.
Like many 9th grade students, I haven’t really thought seriously about what I want to be when I get older but I am leaning towards these jobs and hearing about how the classes we take relate to employment, careers and starting businesses will help each of us. We would love to meet people from a wide variety of fields, hear about how to succeed in high school and college. Many people celebrate
Dr. King’s holiday by giving time to their community, we hope you will spend time with the students of Kennedy High.
The career fair is scheduled for January 24th. Speakers may talk in 30 minute increments for more information call Ms. Myrick at 510-333-1306
WriterCoach Connection is seeking volunteers for its upcoming training:
Volunteer Writing Coaches Needed for Teens: Free Trainings Start January 14
WriterCoach Connection volunteers help teens develop confidence and gain
competence in their thinking and writing skills. Our volunteers work with students
on their classroom writing assignments providing one-on-one support for every
student in a participating class.
No prior experience is necessary; you bring the commitment and we’ll provide the
training and ongoing support that you need to work effectively with students,
including your own.
If you can commit to a regular 1-2 hour time slot, 2-4 times per month during the
school day–we especially need coaches for 8:00 and 9:00 am class periods in some
locations– we invite you to join over 600 volunteers, many of whom feel this is
”the highlight of my week!”
We currently need coaches at: Albany Middle School; Life Academy and Fremont High
in Oakland; El Cerrito High and Portola Middle School in El Cerrito; Berkeley High
and King and Longfellow Middle Schools in Berkeley.
New coach trainings begin January 14. Join us now for the best opportunity you’ve
ever had to learn to help teens think critically and find their voice.
For more information about our program, and to register online, please go to
Note the highlighted names in this article from the Dec. 10, 1949 Berkeley Daily Gazette.
The degrees of separation between Sundar Shadi, who started El Cerrito’s most beloved Christmas tradition, and the Grateful Dead, the San Francisco band that left a cult of followers as part of its legacy, is shorter than you might imagine. And earlier.
All three of Shadi’s daughters — Zilpha, Ramona and Verna — performed in concert with Phil Lesh, the future bass player of the Dead, 64 years ago this month with the Kensington School orchestra at a holiday pageant. The four were in elementary school and 9-year-old Phil (the Lesh family lived on Edgecroft Road in Kensington at the time) was then playing violin and would not meet Jerry Garcia for another 13 years. (Someone, somewhere must have a snapshot of this performance.)
You won’t find this footnote in the new documentary “Sundar Shadi’s Gifts,” but you will learn more about the man who gave a lasting gift and message to his community. You’ll also learn about the family that indulged Mr. Shadi’s passion for elaborate displays.
“Sundar Shadi’s Gifts” can now be streamed from the city’s website and will soon be available to borrow from the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., or rent at Silver Screen Video at El Cerrito Plaza. (Full disclosure: The author of this post was interviewed for the documentary.)
You can also get a copy when the display, now staged by a team of volunteers, opens from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly from Dec. 14 to Dec. 26. Or better yet, you can be part of the tradition by volunteering.
Mr. Shadi’s figures in their original location on the Arlington.
Grateful Dead guitarist and vocalist Phil Lesh, here performing during the band’s 2009 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, got his musical start in Kensington. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)
It’s red flag weather and the El Cerrito Fire Department issued the following notice:
The National Weather Service has declared that there will be a Red Flag Warning in place from 1800 hours (6:00 pm) tonight through 0600 hours (6:00 am) Saturday morning. This is the most dangerous point in the fire season when cool temperatures and sparse amount of rain can lead to complacency. A north wind (off shore) event with the predicted wind conditions, critically low humidity and low fuel moisture is a very serious condition.
The Fire Department will be placing signs in the Parks to notify the public against the use of the BBQ’s or any open burning. Please report any signs of smoke and in the event of any type of fire or downed trees, assume a power line is involved until proven otherwise. Insure all your co-workers and personnel maintain their Situational Awareness, keep a lookout in the hills and surrounding areas when outside, call or report any problems and maintain a safe distance from any incident.
The following weather report is from the National Weather Service:
EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE-…RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING (Thursday) TO 6 AM PDT SATURDAY FOR GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY FOR THE EAST BAY HILLS ABOVE 1000 FEET…
* AFFECTED AREA: FIRE ZONE 511 EAST BAY HILLS AND DIABLO RANGE. THE HILLS OF CONTRA COSTA…ALAMEDA AND INTERIOR SANTA CLARA COUNTY ABOVE 1000 FEET INCLUDING MOUNT DIABLO AND HENRY COE STATE PARKS.
* TIMING: THE STRONGEST OFFSHORE WINDS WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT INTO FRIDAY MORNING WITH VERY LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES FRIDAY AFTERNOON. CONDITIONS WILL ONLY SLOWLY IMPROVE OVER THE WEEKEND.
* WIND: NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH WITH FREQUENT GUSTS 35 TO 45 MPH AND LOCAL GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH ABOVE 2500 FEET.
* HUMIDITY: 20 TO 30 PERCENT TONIGHT…DRYING TO 10 TO 20 PERCENT BY FRIDAY AFTERNOON
* IMPACTS: THE COMBINATION OF DRY FUELS…STRONG WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY WILL CREATE CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS WHERE ANY NEW IGNITIONS COULD SEE RAPID FIRE GROWTH.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES CAN CONTRIBUTE TO EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR.
Flier posted last weekend by El Cerrito High School.
Unhappiness with proposed AT&T cell towers is now spilling over from Kensington to El Cerrito.
Fliers about antenna installations that would block views and would be primarily to serve Kensington residents were placed on utility poles over the weekend, including the one above in front of El Cerrito High School.
Opponents of the proposal plan to attend the Design Review Board meeting at 7:30pm Aug. 7 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave. to make their feelings known and also plan an even bigger turnout when it comes before the City Council on Aug. 20.
The trailer above is good, but doesn’t do justice to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” the 1962 masterpiece directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, James Stewart and the badass Lee Marvin. Not to mention Vera Miles, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine and Woody Strode.
This one is a great western and a great movie period, and it will be on the big screen in glorious black and white at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in beautiful El Cerrito.
The showing is hosted by and benefits the Friends of the Cerrito Theatre and as with all Cerrito Classics, you should get your tickets early.
Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Election Council President: [at the territorial statehood convention] The chair recognizes its old friend; that distinguished member of the Fourth Estate, founder, owner, publisher and editor of the Shinbone Star, Mr. Dutton Peabody, Esquire!
Dutton Peabody: Thank you, thank you, Mister Chairman, for those kind words; but why don’t you tell them the whole truth: founder, owner, editor, and I also sweep out the place.