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Richmond shipyards take over Tilden Regional Park on Labor Day in 1942

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Berkeley Daily Gazette warns of upcoming “invasion” of Tilden Regional Park by shipyard workers.

It would have been easy for officials of the World War II Kaiser shipyards in Richmond to take a pass on observing Labor Day in 1942. The massive operation was already operating around the clock producing cargo ships for the war effort and the deadlines that had to be met couldn’t stop to give the tens thousands of employees a day off.
But Kaiser did find a way to honor labor while continuing production on Sept. 7, 1942, and like everything else about the shipyards, it was immense in scale, possibly the largest company picnic ever held in the Bay Area. Confined by travel and gasoline restrictions in choosing a location for the celebration, shipyard officials rented the largest nearby public area available — Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley hills. The park at that point was 1,700 acres, and less than a decade old and parts of it were being used by the military, including aircraft spotting stations.

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A map directing shipyard workers to the Labor Day picnic at Tilden Park.

Initial estimates were that as many as 25,000 people — shipyard workers and their families — might attend the epic gathering, held from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. with certain portions repeated for the benefit of workers who arrived at different times during the day before or after their shipyard shift had ended.
Admission to the gathering, described by the Berkeley Daily Gazette as “One of the largest and gayest events Northern California has ever seen,” was free — provided employees had paid the $1 annual family dues to enroll in the Richmond Shipyards Athletic Association. The association — an early incarnation of what is known today as the Kaiser Permanente “thrive” philosophy — was a recreation program that hosted baseball and basketball leagues, golf tournaments, bowling leagues, dances (by far the most popular of the association’s offerings) and other events for shipyard families. As with the groundbreaking Kaiser medical plan, the philosophy was that recreational activities resulted in healthier, happier and more productive workers. The day was also justified as a morale-builder and a chance for families — a good many new to the Bay Area — to meet, socialize and feel less like strangers.
The director of the Richmond Shipyards Athletic Association, and chairman of the picnic, was no less a personality than Claude “Tiny” Thornhill, already well-known locally and nationally as the former head coach of the Stanford University football teams that went to the Rose Bowl from 1933-35.
The event was promoted to workers in issues of “Fore ‘n’ Aft,” the shipyard employee magazine, which headline one article “Everybody will be there” and opened another by claiming that

It will be colossal…
It will be stupendous …
It will be terrific …
It will be everything a dozen publicity men from a Hollywood motion picture studio could dream of in a moment of wild imagination.
What are we talking about? Why, the Richmond shipyards Labor Day picnic, of course.

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A preview of the picnic from the Berkeley Daily Gazette.

Maps showing how to get to the park were also published and Kaiser put up signs along the various routes.
Activities included swimming and diving in Lake Anza; golf on the Tilden course; various relay races categorized for men, women and children; band concerts and a vaudeville show featuring shipyard workers that repeated during the day; pickup baseball and softball games; boxing and wrestling; tug-of-war contests; horseshoes “and many other sports.” Not to mention picnicking and barbecues fired up at various sites around the park. Employees also had access to the Brazilian Room, where a dance was scheduled (now-familiar attractions such as the merry-go-round and steam trains were not yet part of the park).
“Lake Anza to be invaded” was the headline in the Berkeley Gazette, while the Oakland Tribune assured readers that “Holiday won’t interrupt work” at Bay Area defense industries. (Interestingly, the machinists union held its own all-day picnic for members at Eastshore Park — now Booker T. Anderson Park — in Richmond that day.)
Actual attendance at the picnic was estimated at 10,000, less than the original projections, but still a large company picnic by any standard.
The event was recounted the next week in “Fore ‘n’ Aft”:

“Gone but not forgotten is the story of the Labor Day picnic held by the Richmond Shipyards Athletic Association at Tilden Park.
Early in the morning excited and anxious crowds began to arrive in cars loaded down with shipyard workmen and their families — and huge baskets piled high with good things to eat.
By mid=afternoon it was estimated that at least ten thousand were present. Some were playing golf, softball and swimming; others were dancing at the Brazilian Pavilion; still others were engaged in various friendly games and contests or listening to a band concer. The rest were milling around having the time of their lives meeting old friends and making new ones.
Everyone who was there can truthfully say, “We sure had a swell time.”

(Our gratitude to the Richmond Museum of History and the East Bay Regional Park District for their assistance with this entry.)

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Preview of the event in the Oakland Tribune.

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Richmond Independent preview of the shipyard picnic.

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Coverage and photos of the event by the Oakland Post Enquirer, courtesy of the East Bay Regional Park District archives.

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More coverage and photos of the event by the Oakland Post Enquirer, courtesy of the East Bay Regional Park District archives.

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A Richmond union also hosted a picnic that day.

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Reporter’s notebook on Richmond free speech issues

At the July 15 Richmond City Council meeting, there was several hours of debate about how to reduce disruptions and virulent attacks from the public during meetings.

Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who proposed the item asking the city attorney to craft new laws that might tamp down disruptions while protecting free speech, said, “I am a defender of free speech and the right to express obnocxious points of view … but when it leads to action it’s not protected.”

 

She made several other statements:

“Admittedly the lines are little fuzzy.”

“This is for staff to create legal options.”

“Also, disruptions lead to denial of rights to other citizens.”

“Regular insults and homophobic remarks, enabled by some councilmembers, discourage other residents from participating.”

“This chamber is so toxic and hostile you can feel it through the television set.”

“That’s a violation of their free speech. This is not about me.”

“I ask city attorney to work with chief of police for possible options.”

“Handling disruptions in chambers, the chronic and weekly disruptions that’s occurring.”

Councilman Corky Booze asked City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller:  ”Is this putting the city in harms way?”

Goodmiller: The courts decide. The federal courts almost always. Most of the teaching we get comes from 9th circuit. My view and is in a 7 page memo that sets out the Richmond ca views on this topic. It’s on the website.”

Booze: you said not an item we should deal with.

Goodmiller: no sir. It’s a memo legal regarding the topic suspension from the city council chamber for disrupting public meetings.

Booze: what could a resident say to get them suspended for 6 months?

Goodmiller: our memo specifically addresses that point, future attendance, and concludes it is not legally permissible (to suspend). We advise against that.

Booze: open forum. What are the guidelines to adhere to?

Goodmiller: open forum is a limited public forum. Can’t talk as long as they want. People need to speak about items within the city’s jurisdiction.

Booze: if they hurt my feelings, that is just tough stuff.

They can say what they want about us whether we like it or not right?

Goodmiller: yes.

Booze: f word to me is inappropriate, yes?

Goodmiller: that is not for me to say. The rules are silent on that particular point.

Booze: I rest my case.

Councilman Jael Myrick: so a vote in favor of this tonight just directs staff to investigate it more?

Beckles: correct.

Goodmiller: irrelevant attacks are out of order but the government has to be really careful about prohibiting those. The citizens have an absolute right to get up and criticize their public officials.

Goodmiller: if a speaker ignores the counci’ls out of order rulings and causing a disruption … with irrelevant speech disrupts, he or she may be removed …

Beckles: can they yell fire in this building?

Goodmiller. No. the two exceptions are yelling fire to endanger, and so called fighting words.

Bekcles: so the answer is no they can’t say what they want. Fighting words are intentionally directed … so venomous or full of malice. Incite retaliation. Not protected. Sounds to me like breach of peace by yelling fire and also to incite the hearer to want to retaliate.

Goodmiller: I certainly agree with the basic principles. The government woul have to prove the likelihood that the person addressed would immediately physically retaliate.

Myrick: what about protected classes? Harrasment, discrimination, is there any cases on that?

Goodmiller: have a first amendment right to hate speech. That is not prohibited. The city county or state can’t adopt a rule that says you can’t get up and say that in a meeting. Same with sexual harassment.

Booze: because you chose to be elected you have to take the attacks?

Goodmiller: I don’t take pleasure in saying this. But judges ruled that.
The courts have definitely agreed with that, the citizens, it’s the essence of democracy that citizens can come up and criticize their elected leaders.

Booze: tell me a fighting word?

Goodmiller: example from a case. Hey I wanna rip out your bleeping heart and feed it to you. I wanted to kill you. Pound your head in with an ice pick.
I feel like i’m back in law school. I graduated first in my class by the way.

Booze: was that an online study course?

Goodmiller: the point all the courts try to do is they have to be content neutral. Not the content, but the disruption.

Butt: 1942 case. I’ve heard a lot worse said in this council chamber than fascist and rackateer.

Mclaughlin: free speech have guarantees that people can say what they want but off topic is different.

Mayor: do not call people filth or dirt (pounds gavel stops resident)

resident Kenneth Davis: I’ve been called ignorant. You sit there. Lie on me. (talking to council).

resident Don Gosney: It’s the hostile reaction to protected speech that disrupts the meeting. Call me old fashioned but I still believe the people have a right to be part of the process of governing our community.

resident Bea Roberson: you think you’re queen but you’re not a judge.

Mayor ejects rev. davis for disruptions.

Mayoral candidate Mike Parker: the reality of the video shows that Beckles is minding her own business. Then (residents) yelling at her, harassed.

4th recess.

resident Dennis Dalton: the issue isn’t beckles, its whether we should have disruptions with meetings.

Butt: we definitely have work to do on this. I keep hearing about FA rights, but the city attorney’s memo shows that in fact there are multiple limitations to what people can say in this chamber.

Fighting words. We see all of this here.

Myrick: hateful comments have no place in the public square.

Booze: I can’t believe we’re putting this together.

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1944 Port Chicago explosion: ‘We didn’t know what to think’

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The 70th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion on July 17, 1944 that killed 320 men and critically injured hundreds more will be commemorated by events looking back on the World War II home front disaster from a modern day perspective, most notably the 50 African American men charged with mutiny for refusing to return to work in the unsafe conditions at at the segregated Naval facility.
The explosion was heard and felt in every county of the Bay Area and given the wartime conditions, “We didn’t know what to think,” said one of the women employed at the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond at the time. The first thought for many was that the enemy had attacked or there was some sort of sabotage, she added.
Port Chicago today is a national memorial site commemorating those who died and those who stood up for their rights.
Presented here is some of the coverage of the explosion as it appeared in the first two days after, 70 years ago in the Berkeley Daily Gazette.

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Caltrans continues overnight work on MacArthur Maze

Caltrans issued the following announcement about its work on the MacArthur Maze:

Full nighttime closures continue at Maze Structure In Oakland

ALAMEDA COUNTY–The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be continuing night time full closures in Oakland on westbound Interstate 580 to eastbound Interstate 80 connector along with Interstate 580 westbound MacArthur On-ramp from July 8th through July 11th.

Caltrans has scheduled additional construction activities on westbound Interstate 80 to eastbound 580 connector starting on July 8th. Construction is expected to be ongoing until September 2014.

Full Closures of 580 West – 80 East Connector and 580 West MacArthur On-ramp
July 8th through July 11th, 2014
Sunday through Thursday 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Friday night and Saturday night 11:59 A.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Full Closures of Westbound Interstate 80 to Eastbound Interstate 580 connector and 580 East MacArthur Off-ramp:
July 8th through August 15th, 2014
Sunday through Thursday 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Friday night until Saturday morning 11:59 P.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Motorists are advised to use the following detour during the work. Detour Signs will also be posted. All work is weather permitting.

Detour for Interstate 580 West to Interstate 80 East traffic:
Motorists will continue on Interstate 80 west towards San Francisco, take “PARKING LOT EXIT ONLY” exit on the left to the Toll Plaza parking lot, and merge to Interstate 80 east.

Detour for Interstate 580 West MacArthur on-ramp traffic:
Motorists will turn right on San Pablo Ave (alternatively turn right on Hollis St), turn left on Powell St and merge to the 80E.

Detour for Interstate 80 West to Interstate 580 East traffic:
Motorists will continue to Interstate 880 South, exit at the West Grand Ave off-ramp, turn right on West Grand Ave and merge to the 580 east Maritime/West Grand on-ramp.

Detour for Interstate 580 East MacArthur off-ramp traffic:
Motorists will take the next exit to Webster St.

Motorists should expect delays and allow for extra travel time.

For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
Or follow Caltrans on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaltransD4
For additional information please visit our website: http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/projects/80580bridgerehab/
Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain our highways.

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Caltrans: Full nighttime closures continue at Maze Structure In Oakland

Caltrans issued the following announcement today on overnight construction closures at the MacArthur Maza:

ALAMEDA COUNTY–The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will be continuing night time full closures in Oakland on westbound Interstate 580 to eastbound Interstate 80 connector along with Interstate 580 westbound MacArthur On-ramp from June 25th through July 2nd.

There will be no construction scheduled from July 3rd to July 6th due to the holiday weekend.

Caltrans has scheduled additional construction activities on westbound Interstate 80 to eastbound 580 connector starting on July 7th. Construction is expected to be ongoing until September 2014.

Full Closures of 580 West – 80 East Connector and 580 West MacArthur On-ramp
June 25rd through July 2nd, 2014
Sunday through Thursday 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Friday night and Saturday night 11:59 A.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Full Closures of Westbound Interstate 80 to Eastbound Interstate 580 connector and 580 East MacArthur Off-ramp:
July 7th through August 15th, 2014
Sunday through Thursday 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Friday night until Saturday morning 11:59 P.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Motorists are advised to use the following detour during the work. Detour Signs will also be posted. All work is weather permitting.

Detour for Interstate 580 West to Interstate 80 East traffic:
Motorists will continue on Interstate 80 west towards San Francisco, take “PARKING LOT EXIT ONLY” exit on the left to the Toll Plaza parking lot, and merge to Interstate 80 east.

Detour for Interstate 580 West MacArthur on-ramp traffic:
Motorists will turn right on San Pablo Ave (alternatively turn right on Hollis St), turn left on Powell St and merge to the 80E.

Detour for Interstate 80 West to Interstate 580 East traffic:
Motorists will continue to Interstate 880 South, exit at the West Grand Ave off-ramp, turn right on West Grand Ave and merge to the 580 east Maritime/West Grand on-ramp.

Detour for Interstate 580 East MacArthur off-ramp traffic:
Motorists will take the next exit to Webster St.

Motorists should expect delays and allow for extra travel time.

For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
Or follow Caltrans on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaltransD4
Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain our highways.

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Caltrans work at MacArthur Maze will mean overnight traffic detours

Caltrans issued the following announcement today about its planned overnight work at the MacArthur Maze that starts June 5 and is expected to last through June 30:

Caltrans Plans Concrete Removal and Bridge Deck Overlay at Maze Structure

ALAMEDA COUNTY–The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is performing night time full closures of either or both westbound Interstate 80 to eastbound Interstate 580 and westbound Interstate 580 to eastbound Interstate 80 connectors to remove concrete and overlay bridge deck. Construction is expected to be ongoing until September 2014.

To ensure worker and public safety, the MacArthur on and off ramps will be also rehabilitated and closed during construction.

Full Closures of 580 West – 80 East Connector and 580 West MacArthur On-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
Monday night until Friday morning 11:00 P.M – 5:00 A.M.
Saturday night and Sunday morning 12:01 A.M. – 7:00 A.M.

Full Closures of 80 West – 580 East Connector and 580 East MacArthur off-ramp
June 5 through June 30, 2014
No full closures will take place until June 23rd

Motorists are advised to use the following detour during the work. Detour Signs will also be posted. All work is weather permitting.

Detour for Interstate 580 West to Interstate 80 East traffic:
Motorists will continue on Interstate 80 west towards San Francisco, take “PARKING LOT EXIT ONLY” exit on the left to the Toll Plaza parking lot, and merge to Interstate 80 east.

Detour for Interstate 580 West MacArthur on-ramp traffic:
Motorists will turn right on San Pablo Ave (alternatively turn right on Hollis St), turn left on Powell St and merge to the 80E.

Detour for Interstate 80 West traffic:
Motorists will continue to Interstate 880 South, exit at the West Grand Ave off-ramp, turn right on West Grand Ave and merge to the 580 east Maritime/West Grand on-ramp.

Detour for Interstate 580 East MacArthur off-ramp traffic:
Motorists will take the next exit to Webster St.

Motorists should expect delays and allow for extra travel time.

For real-time traffic, click-on Caltrans Quick Maps at: http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/
Or follow Caltrans on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/CaltransD4
Caltrans appreciates your patience as we work to maintain our highways.

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Work on I-580 in Richmond means resumption of lane closures tonight, says Caltrans

Caltrans issued the following announcement this afternoon:

Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive
Bridge Decks Replacement Project
Lane Closures Continue

Contra Costa County – Lane closures resume tonight for the Interstate 580 construction project just east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The project is expected to be finished by mid-June. The contractor is currently completing final items and will have periodic night time closures. Lane closures will be as needed.

· In general, until mid-June, Caltrans will close one westbound lane Monday night through Friday night, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· In general, until mid-June, Caltrans will close one eastbound lane Monday night through Friday night, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

· Note: one eastbound lane at the Richmond-San Rafael bridge will be closed, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 p.m. to 4 a.m., to move scaffolding. This work will continue until mid-June.

· During these closures, motorists should expect travel delay and allow additional time to reach their destination.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you and “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/

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As Memorial Day approaches, a look back at El Cerrito honoring military personnel 70 years earlier

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In the photo above from the Richmond Independent from June 1944 (click it to enlarge), the Louis Hagen post of the American Legion in El Cerrito dedicates a plaque in front of the veterans building on Stockton Avenue honoring those from the city on active duty in the armed forces during World War II. Members of the post at that point were veterans of World War I, where El Cerritan Hagen had died in combat.

The annual placing of flags for Memorial Day on the graves of military veterans buried at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito will take place on May 24 and volunteers who want to help are welcome to take part.
There will also be a first-ever Memorial Day observance on May 26 at a veterans assistance office in Richmond.
You can find more details here.