Richmond: Salesian College Preparatory celebrates Native American Heritage Day


The students, faculty and staff of Salesian College Preparatory gather in the school’s gym to honor the Native American. This Heritage Day celebration brought together representatives from 8 tribes. Special activities included Fancy Shawl dancing by Lakota Holder (Lakota, Tlingit, Navajo), drumming by Michael Bellanger (Sac and Fox/Kickapoo), storytelling by Jessie Riddle (Pit River/Apache), corn husk doll-making by Diane Dierking and a special guest, Tommie Postoak, from the The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. Also, Richmond resident Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney (Cherokee) offered a beautiful Cherokee prayer song. The governor of The Chickasaw Nation, Bill Annouatubby, sent a flag to the school in support of this event.
“It’s important that we keep the Native American spirit alive and thriving,” said Salesian senior and event organizer Ellissa Thompson, an enrolled member in the Chickasaw Nation. “By doing so we help preserve this vital culture and help others understand the richness and vitality of the Native American way of life. With November designated as Native American Heritage Month, it was important that the culture be brought to life, and not brushed off as another notation on a calendar.” Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation sent a Chickasaw flag and a letter of support in recognition of the event. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)


Fancy Shawl dancer Lakota Holder mesmerized the audience as she demonstrated various kinds of powwow dances. Michael Bellanger, Bay Area drum teacher and singer, accompanied Holder while she danced, beating traditional powwow music. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Jessie Riddle regales the audience with her vibrant Native American tales. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Tommie Postoak from the Department of Culture and Humanities flew out from Oklahoma to share the rich culture of the Chickasaw Nation. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney ended the assembly with a Cherokee blessing song. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

The performers pose together after the sharing of Native American culture (left to right: Michael “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney, Jessie Riddle, Carol Thompson, Tommie Postoak, Ellissa Thompson, and Lakota Holder). Both Carol and Ellissa Thompson wear “traditional regalia” from the Chickasaw Nation, including beaded tribal collars and dresses that were adopted by the tribe just after the era of Indian removal in 1837. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Ellissa Thompson and student helpers serve traditional Chickasaw “pashofa” (cooked cracked corn, a staple of the Chickasaw tribe for thousands of years) and fry bread tacos for lunch. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Diane Dierking (Pit River/Apache) sets up a table to teach students how to make corn husk dolls. Although commonly referred to as “Pioneer dolls”, this type of doll was first made by Indians and then shared with the settlers. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

One of the many student-recreated pieces of artwork that were on display throughout the hallways. This piece is representative of the Tlingit tribe. (Native American Heritage Day, Nov. 6, 2015 at Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, CA)

Photos and text courtesy of Carol Thompson and Salesian College Preparatory.


West County can give transportation priority input at call-in event tonight

West County are being asked to help shape transportation priorities in the county by taking part in a Telephone Town Hall call-in event from 6-7 p.m. today, Nov. 12.
To join the discussion and learn planning efforts now taking place, call toll-free to 877-229-8493 and enter access code 112664 when prompted.

The event is hosted by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee.

High-capacity transit provides substantially higher passenger capacity than local transit. It is the type of transit that people often use for their daily commute to work. This 15-month study will evaluate public transportation options and identify funding opportunities to improve the quality and effectiveness of transit in West County and expand alternatives to driving on congested streets and highways.

During the Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event, you’ll learn more about the Study and concurrent planning efforts. Experts will be on hand to answer questions. You’ll also be asked to respond to a few quick polling questions through the touch of a button on your phone.

The Telephone Town Hall Call-In Event will be the first of several opportunities to provide your input. The first round of public meetings will be held in February, with a second round anticipated in Spring 2016.
To stay involved with the project, sign up to get future emails about upcoming ways to participate, visit www.WestCountyTransitStudy.com.


El Cerrito High School also had a rocky time completing its original football field

Grading work being done in 1945 for the original athletic fields at El Cerrito High School — plus a glimpse of the second incarnation of Fairmont Elementary. From home movies taken by Arthur Hopkins and digitized by his son Tom, courtesy of the El Cerrito Historical Society.

El Cerrito residents have had nearly two years to watch the extensive work being done on the new football stadium at El Cerrito High School. The project is The original field, built in 1945 and opened in 1946, did not require environmental reports, seismic and geotechnical studies, or even the design costs of the modern version. And there were hardly any neighbors in the immediate area to object to the project.
Even so, the football field had its own long and literally rocky road to completion.
When El Cerrito High opened in 1941, it had a gymnasium, but no fields for baseball, football or track. That was partly by design, because ECHS opened as a junior and senior high school, with sophomores being the highest class level in 1941, so there were no varsity teams.

echs uniforms 1941
The decision to purchase football uniforms in 1941, two years before El Cerrito High had its first varsity football team, proved financially sound. Restrictions were already in place, as noted in the Berkeley Gazette item above that mentions a new 10 percent excise tax. Wartime rationing would be even more severe by 1943.

For its first two years, the school had junior varsity football only.

ECHS still had no field of its own when the first varsity football team played in 1943, and home games were at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club dog racing track on the historic Castro rancho property where El Cerrito Plaza stands today. The field was leased from racetrack owner John “Black Jack” Jerome, who had turned down a similar request from Albany High School before World War II to lease the site for school sports after the racetrack was closed by the state in January of 1939.
The racetrack grounds had no turf, meaning the first El Cerrito Gaucho teams had to play home football on a field of dirt and rocks. It did, however, provide a nice big grandstand for the fans.

Plans for building athletic fields at El Cerrito High were announced in January of 1945 and they were completed in 1946. It was originally known as Memorial Field, a name largely forgotten today.

An early aerial view of El Cerrito High shows the new campus and the area where the athletic fields would go.

echs field bg 01 1942
The Berkeley Gazette reports in January 1942 that El Cerrito High plans to proceed with its plans for a varsity football team the following year despite wartime constraints.

This 1944 ECHS yearbook photo shows football action at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club.

Another view of football at the former El Cerrito Kennel Club, which was surrounded by a trailer court for war workers.

echs field 09 26 1944
Plans for the new field are announced in January of 1945 (Berkeley Gazette).

echs field bg 01 10 1945


When it opened after the war, the new football facility at El Cerrito High was known as Memorial Field, which also hosted the school’s track events.


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.”

tribune ike 1952 a


El Cerrito: Memories, artifacts and more at Portola Junior High celebration Sept. 26

portola 1953

The buildings of Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito are gone, but the memories of the generations of West County students who attended there live on and will be celebrated at a gala event from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 26 at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane.
Tickets are still available for the Portola Junior High School History Celebration, which will feature dancing to live music by The Sundowners, a band of Portola alumni, no-host food and drink and a silent auction of artifacts from the school similar to those pictured here.
Tickets are $20 general, or $10 for past and present WCCUSD teachers, available by clicking here.
For more details contact Marnie Fricke Mufti at 510-410-5028 or marniemufti@gmail.com; or Donna Houser at 510-508-6830 houserini@sbcglobal.net.

portola fogerty 8th grade
Can you spot future music great John Fogerty in his Portola class picture from eighth grade in 1958-59? (Answer below).

portola growing up

portola polly posture


portola flier

(Answer: John Fogerty is in the front row behind the “6”.)


Richmond’s Salesian High raising funds for Middletown High School students in Valley Fire

Salesian College Preparatory in Richmond is raising funds for its counterparts at Middletown High School in the aftermath of the Valley Fire and is asking for community support. Salesian made the following announcement Thursday on the school’s Facebook page:

Salesian College Preparatory sends its thoughts and prayers to our long-time friends and sports rivals at Middletown High School who were affected by the Valley Fire. In order to show our support, the Salesian community members are organizing a fundraising drive for Middletown High. We are accepting cash or check donations and will be sending 100% of our collections to Middletown High School. We will be accepting donations throughout the end of day tomorrow and once again during the week of Triduum. Let’s join together to help our friends at Middletown High School.
For more information on how to give, contact us at (510)234-4433. Thank you for considering to help our friends in need.


El Cerrito: Free performances continue Sept. 12 and 19 at Down Home Music

pete madsen
Blues Guitarist Pete Madsen

More free in-store concerts are coming up at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

Blues guitarist Pete Madsen performs
at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

If you’re a pre-war acoustic old-time blues kinda gal, come out to Down Home Music THIS SATURDAY to hear local guitar maestro Pete Madsen take us on a journey through early blues traditions as we celebrate the lives of Gus Cannon (b. 9/12/1883), Texas Alexander (b. 9/12/1900), and Frank Stokes (d. 9/12/1955). A professional guitarist and educator for over twenty years, Pete has authored three books of guitar instruction for Hal Leonard, and written numerous lessons and reviews for Acoustic Guitar, Play Guitar and Frets magazines. Pete’s solo act (which is what you’ll hear Saturday) is rooted mainly in acoustic blues, ragtime, and slide guitar, but he can also be heard at times playing with the whacky Bungee Jumping Cows — a group of musicians and educators who play science-themed Rock and Roll.

Bay Area country music group Crying Time will put on a show at Down Home at 2 p.m. Sept. 19.


Point Richmond presenting string band and slide guitar at free show Friday

Slide guitar artist Dennis Johnson.

Here is the lineup for the next show in the Point Richmond Music concert series from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. Sept. 11 on the outdoor stage at Park Place and Washington Avenue:

Friday, September 11th
The Rusty String Express (Bluegrass) www.facebook.com/therustystringexpress
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
The Rusty String Express (RSE) celebrates string band traditions of the past while stretching into the unknown, creating original music with unique and familiar flavors. The RSE is an exciting mash up of acoustic excitement, bubbling creativity, and excellent musicianship, with Aaron Balano on dobro, Alison Bailey Streich on violin, Greg Dunn on bass and Morgan Cochneuer on guitar. These four magnetic musicians are masterful wielders of their instruments, and their music ranges from sensitive and soulful interpretations to wild and unexpected music you’ve never heard before.

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers (Slide Guitar) www.dennisjohnsonslide.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
Slide guitarist Dennis Johnson is one of the elite slide guitar players performing today. Drawing comparisons to Robert Johnson and Roy Rogers, Dennis Johnson masterfully elevates the art of slide guitar across many genres of music including Blues, New Orleans, Rock, and Swing. Dennis Johnson and his band, The Mississippi Ramblers, deliver stirring live performances that move audiences and get people dancing!

This year’s series concludes with this concert on Sept. 25:

Soji & The Afrobeats (Nigerian) www.sojisoundz.com
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Nigeria’s legendary guitar master and singer Soji Odukogbe was the lead guitarist for the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s groundbreaking Afrobeat band. Odukogbe draws on an extensive background in Nigerian Afrobeat, highlife, and spiritual music, bringing a unique sensibility to his highlife guitar interpretations. His Afrobeat Band features guitars, drums, and horns. He and the band set the dance floor afire with a churning, polyrhythmic style that he simply calls “authentic original Afrobeat like Fela’s type of music, the traditional Afrobeat that nobody does” in a world of endless Afro-fusions.

Sol (Latin) www.solrocks.com
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
SOL’s infectious Latin beat warms the souls of all audiences and gets people dancing to the rhythms of Salsa and Funk and Soul. Led by the versatile vocalist Myrna Farias, SOL covers popular songs from Santana to Celia Cruz and Tito Puente to Tower of Power. The high energy band is driven by a hard rocking rhythm section, Latin percussionists, and four horn players. Based in San Francisco, The SOL musicians bring a diverse blend of influences from Latin, Rock and Jazz to create their own unique mix of Latin music for the 21st century.