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Berkeley: Giveaway on Sunday of seats from UC Theatre

The UC Theatre in Berkeley is offering a unique opportunity to longtime fans on Sunday: Free original theater seats, available first-come, first serve. The new owners of the funky and beloved movie house, who are raising funds to turn the theater into a performance venue, posted the following Friday on their Facebook page:

Memories that last a lifetime available Sunday Noon to 4pm at The UC Theatre!
We’re giving away some of the UC Theatre Rocky Horror nourished, Landmark Theatre initiated, historic theatre seats…
FREE – ONE TIME ONLY this Sunday, March 1st, from 12noon to 4pm.
If you are interested, here are the conditions we ask you to follow:
1) First come, First Served.
2) Seats are in sections – no single or double or triple seats available – the smallest sections available are 4-6 seats. Larger sections are also available. The seats are VERY HEAVY!
3) Seats must be removed as is.
4) You must have a truck or van, and a minimum of 2 strong people to load them. They are VERY HEAVY!
5) We cannot give away the chairs unless you meet the criteria above. No exceptions.
Please spread the word to people who will adopt, cherish, and give these seats a good home!
Donations to the Berkeley Music Group in support of The UC Theatre “Turn on the Lights” Capital Campaign are much appreciated. www.theuctheatre.org/support.
See you at the Theatre this Sunday!
Thanks!

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When baseball great Jackie Robinson came to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville

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Program page from the 1951 exhibition game at Oaks Ball Park between Jackie Robinon’s All Stars and Billy Raimondi’s Major-Minor Leaguers.

Saturday, Jan. 31, is the birthday of baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson, who was 28 years old in 1947 when he broke Major League Baseball’s longstanding unwritten ban on black baseball players.
Robinson made at least three visits to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville on barnstorming tours.
The first two were in October of 1946, when Robinson, still about six months away from breaking the major league color barrier when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers, came to the East Bay with a group of black baseball players to face the local black baseball team, the Oakland Larks, in an exhibition game.

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Jackie Robinson caused something of a sensation in 1946, when he was signed to play with the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodger farm team.

(Robinson and team also made a stop in San Francisco to play a team led by another future Hall of Fame player, Cleveland Indians ace Bob Feller.)
Robinson was an established big league star when he made a return trip to Emeryville in November of 1951, when his barnstorming All Star team played a squad of current and former Pacific Coast League players led by Oakland Oaks catcher Billy Raimondi.

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Jackie Robinson had just finished his first and only minor league season with the Montreal Royals in 1946 when he came to Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville with a team of Negro League players and black teammates as part of a barnstorming tour. Their opponents that day were the Oakland Larks, a black baseball team whose members included Lionel Wilson, future judge and Oakland mayor.

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Robinson’s barnstorming tour made a second visit to Emeryville in October of 1946.

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Players on Robinson’s touring team that came to the East Bay in 1951 included Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, and his Cleveland Indian teammate Luke Easter.

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Richmond: Students invited to free screening of “Selma” on Monday

Students will be admitted free to the 10:50 a.m. Jan. 19 showing of the film “Selma” at the Century Hilltop 16 Movie Theater, 3200 Klose Way, in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis and the ticket price for adults will be $7.
All other screenings that day will be at the regular ticket price.
Free bus transportation to the showing, leaving at 10 a.m., will be available at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 684 Juliga Woods St.
The shpwing is sponsored by Richmond Cease Fire/CCISCO and Cinemark Theaters.

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Pinole Historical Society seeking photo of former miniature golf course

If you have a snapshot of the miniature golf attraction that was once on San Pablo Avenue in Pinole, the Pinole Historical Society would love to hear from you.
Society Vice President Jeff Rubin sent out the following appeal on Jan. 6:

Hi all,

There used to be a miniature golf course on the north side of San Pablo Avenue, near The Embers.

The Pinole Historical Society is preparing a new book called “Pinole Through Time.” It will feature photos of buildings from the city’s past and what is on those sites today. The book will be similar to our “Pinole Then and Now” exhibit at the Pinole Library.

We are looking for an exterior photo of the miniature golf course. If you have one, we will scan it and return it to you.

Please let me know by January 31. The book is due at the publisher’s office on March 1.

Thanks.

Jeff Rubin
Vice President

The Pinole Historical Society can be contacted by email at info@PinoleHistoricalSociety.org, by phone at 510-724-9507, or by mail at P.O. Box 285, Pinole, CA 94564.

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Berkeley in the 19th century, part 4: The ill-fated original School for the Deaf

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The original California School for the Deaf, which was destroyed by a fire in 1875.

In 1941 the Berkeley Daily Gazette ran a series of articles for the city’s 75-year jubilee by Charles Colin Emslie reminiscing about life in the young town and the greater area in the late 19th century.

“As a special feature, tying the 75th birthday of the city in with the Diamond Jubilee events extending through May and into June, the Gazette tonight published on page two the first of a series of articles on the early history of Berkeley. They have been compiled and written by C.C. Emslie, whose family have lived here since the middle “seventies.” Emslie, now a veteran among local realtors, was a local newspaperman in his early days,” the Gazette noted in introducing the series.
“Today’s special edition of the Gazette is intended to give impetus to the Berkeley celebration which already has attracted national attention. The idea of an annual observance of Berkeley’s birthday was started by the Gazette. Overnight the suggestion was taken to heart by civic leaders.”

This installment is about the original California School for the Deaf, which was destroyed by a fire in 1875. (The building had earlier been damaged while still under construction by the last major earthquake on the Hayward fault in 1868. Mr. Emslie also relates tales about an early “haunted house” in the area.

Local Pioneer Tells of Fire
That Razed Deaf, Blind Home

By C.C. EMSLIE
During the explorations mentioned yesterday we found places of never-ending interest. One favorite trip was to the ruins of the Deaf and Blind Institute, which had been destroyed by fire in 1875. The stone walls which survived the blaze were blown down by explosives, as they had been damaged by the flames. Nothing remained but a mass of ruins.
The story of the fire, for which I am indebted to Mrs. Leon J. Richardson, whose father, Warring Wilkinson, was superintendent of the institute at the time of the fire, shows how fallible is human judgment. The original
specifications for the building called for a slate roof. The exterior walls and inside partitions were to be of stone.
In 1868 while the building was underway came the great earthquake of that year. Masonry and brick buildings bore, as usual, the brunt of the damage . Frame buildings stood up fairly well. The directors decided to complete the stone walls but to avoid danger from future temblors by the substitution of studding, lath and plaster for the partitions, and wood shingles instead of slate, and thus the building was completed.
One fine Sunday afternoon a spark from a kitchen chimney lodged on the roof and in a few hours the interior was completely gutted and the outside walls so damaged that they were taken down by the use of explosives. I am sure the comments of the directors as they surveyed the result of their efforts to construct an enduring edifice must have been interesting.
HAUNTED HOUSE
Losing interest for the time being in the ruins, we would wander south by the old Kelsey orchard to Russell St. and up to the Dunn Ranch, passing on our way a vacant building known as the “Haunted House, ” which stood on the north side of the street, near the head of Pine Ave. There was a number of hair-raising stories about the place and we believed them although they were somewhat contradictory. Among the pleasures of youth in my day was the faculty of believing everything you were told. Mr. Kelsey was seriously annoyed by juvenile raiders of his orchard, then one of the finest in Alameda County.
He had some success in keeping them away with the threat of a salt-loaded gun.
Of course he could not patrol the entire orchard at night and I have been told that he invented the haunted house legend to keep the more youthful of the night time raiders out of the east end of the orchard, where the building stood.
Arriving at the Dunn home on the southeast corner of the Tunnel Road and Domingo Ave., we would stop long enough to sample the juicy pears which Mr. Dunn delighted in growing. A few of the trees still stand opposite the entrance to the Claremont Hotel.
Miss Mary Dunn tells me the trees were planted in 1860.
Following the road a couple of hundred yards, we turned south a short distance to the north fork of Temescal Creek where was the most famous blackberry patch in the Berkeley hills. It is probably that a combination of soil and climate peculiar to the location that added size and flavor to the berries beyond those of any other section.
If our berrying was finished before sunset, our homeward route was straight down Russell St.
After sunset ‘it wasn’t, as there was the little matter of the haunted house to be considered, so before we came to the abode of fear we would make a wide detour through what is now Elmwood Park until we were sure no ghost would bother us.

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The successor school building in 1895.

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Souvenir postcard views of the 1925 Tournament of Roses parade

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In the age before television, the only to see the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena was in person or via news photos or newsreel. If you did attend in person, you could share the experience with a souvenir postcard. We found this 80-year-old postcard strip of prize-winning floats, originally mailed when address requirements were minimal, at Wonderland Books in El Cerrito.
Note the float that has a dirigible made of flowers.

The Rose Bowl that year was a legendary matchup between Notre Dame, coached by Knute Rockne and featuring the famous “Four Horsemen,” in a showdown against Stanford, coached by Pop Warner and featuring all-time great Ernie Nevers.

Nevers established a Rose Bowl single-game rushing record in the game, with 114 yards on 34 carries. But Notre Dame prevailed 27-10.
Radio play-by-play of the Rose Bowl commenced the following year.

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Folk art Christmas display pieces by El Cerrito’s Sundar Shadi were made from recycled materials

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A small exhibit at this year’s display shows how Mr. Shadi constructed the figures from recycled and repurposed materials.

The volunteers who set up and restore the beloved Sundar Shadi Christmas display on Moeser Lane in El Cerrito are offering a look at how the figures were made in a small exihibit.
It turns out Mr. Shadi, who fashioned and cared for the collection of homemade folk art figures and pieces for almost years, was what could now be considered a “green” or “eco artist,” making his pieces from recycled materials and items around his house.
Materials included scraps of wood, wire hangers, boxes, milk cartons and the like, said Dee Amaden, one of the volunteers with the Sundar Shadi Holiday Display group that now oversees the collection. “He made them out of found things,” she said, “and would repurpose them.”
Costumes for the human figures were made from oilcloth (water resistant) by Mr. Shadi’s wife, Dorothy, Amaden said.
A new addition to the display is a plywood figure of Mr. Shadi himself, as so many saw him when he was tending his garden or setting up the display.
The display, which has upgraded light and sound systems this year, is down the hill from Mr. Shadi’s home on the Arlington at Moeser Lane at Sea View Drive. It is illuminated nightly through Dec. 26.

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Angel figure originally made by Sundar Shadi and restored by El Cerrito artist Mark Canepa.

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Shepherd and sheep figures. Mr. Shadi experimented with different materials for the exterior shell of the sheep, including concrete. But he preferred plaster.

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Camels and the “Peace be with you” sign.

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Instructions for making a figure.

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Volunteers placing the figure of Mr. Shadi, the newest addition to the display.

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A 1985 article from Scouting magazine Boy’s Life shows one of the elaborate floral displays Mr. Shadi used to design and grow on his Arlington property.

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A 1980s shot of the buildings made by Mr. Shadi at their original location next to the family home on Arlington.

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Mr. Shadi as a young man. A native of India, he came to the United States and enrolled at UC Berkeley in 1921. Mr. Shadi died in 2002.

Time-lapse video by volunteer and El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford of this year’s display setup:

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Berkeley in the 19th century, part 2: A pioneer looks at the city’s early days

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A circa 1861 photo of San Pablo Avenue, then usually referred to as San Pablo Road, looking north of what would now be University Avenue toward Albany Hill, in the background at the left. Ocean View School is the building on the right.

In 1941 the Berkeley Daily Gazette ran a series of articles for the city’s 75-year jubilee by Charles Colin Emslie reminiscing about life in the young town and the greater area in the late 19th century. This installment is about the city’s beginnings. You can read the previous installment here.

As a special feature, tying the 75th birthday of the city in with the Diamond Jubilee events extending through May and into June, the Gazette tonight published on page two the first of a series of articles on the early history of Berkeley. They have been compiled and written by C. C. Emslie, whose family have lived here since the middle “seventies.” Emslie, now a veteran among local realtors, was a local newspaperman in his early days.

City’s History —
Pioneer Presents First of
Series on Early Berkeley

By C. C. EMSLIE
Editor’s Note: The Gazette today begins publication of an intimate History of Berkeley written by C. C. Emslle whose family settled here only nine years after the city was named. “Charlie” Emslle, dean of local realtors, grew up with Berkeley. He was a newspaperman in his youth and this early training is seen as he relates the Berkeley of old. In preparing the series, Mr. Emslie spent many months in research and refreshing the memory of other local old-timers.

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Charles C. Emslie in 1944.

“Births and Beginnings — the world will never weary of tracing them, that it may say, ‘Behold here is the seed, the plantation, from which this vital growth sprang.”
Especially so if myth and legend have gathered about the genesis of a man or a community, so that origins are obscured in the tinted mists of a far horizon. Ages hence some historian will curiously unwrap the dreamfolds in which Berkeley’s records will then be involved and from the local traditions will have antiquarian records assigned to them in the libraries of Town and University.”
Thus mused Edward B. Payne, Unitarian minister 40 years ago. A decade later Eva V. Carlin, an old teacher of mine, edited a small volume of essays by some of our early nature lovers entitled “A Berkeley year,” now long out of print. The contributors told of our hills, flowers, trees and birds.
Mr. Payne’s essay alone dwelt, although too briefly, on our beginnings. On what will Mr. Payne’s future historian base the tale of our city if those of us who knew Berkeley and before it was Berkeley leave no record of our memories? Therefore I will relate something of mine in the hope that others will tell of bygone days as they remember.
The Berkeley of 1876 when my family came here was mainly a farming region. Most of the people lived west of San Pablo Ave., from which a lively business district extended down University Ave. Between San Pablo and Shattuck Aves. was a scattering of homes.
East of Shattuck Ave. to the hills were a few houses, but most of the land was under cultivation.
Clarence S. Merrill, whose father was to open our first post office a year later, estimates the families east of Shattuck Ave. numbered about 30 when the office was opened.
TELEGRAPH AVE. DISTRICT
At the Telegraph Ave. entrance to the University were, as I remember, three stores, a pool room, a French restaurant, a German beer garden and three hotels. The hotels had been erected for the accommodation of the students.
The Shattuck Ave. train had not yet arrived. The homes of William Poinsett and F.K. Shattuck faced each other on what was to become our main street. A year passed before Louis Gottshall and William Stoddard became Berkeley Station’s first business firm by opening a grocery store at the southeast corner of Shattuck Ave. and Addison St. in a building erected by Mr. Shattuck.
This structure was moved years ago and is now 2062 Center St. The roof has been razed and the old-time wooden awning is gone. Otherwise its appearance is unchanged. Even the ancient wooden shutters still hang, though feebly, to the west wall. In the Veteran Volunteer Firemen’s museum at the City Hall is a photograph of this pioneer business building taken almost 60 years ago.
Another year passed before Berkeley became a town.
My home was at the southwest corner of Telegraph Ave. and Derby St. It was the first house built on the avenue between Dwight Way and the old Vicente Galindo home, just north of Temescal Creek.
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The Wells Fargo office on Shattuck Avenue, circa 1880.

EARLY NEIGHBORS
Our nearest neighbor to the north was the James Leonard family, on Blake St. just west of Dana St. Mr. Leonard was one of the four settlers who acquired large
holdings in east Berkeley in 1852. He sold a large portion of his property to the University, but retained a farm bounded by Russell and Ellsworth Sts., Dwight Way and a line running a short distance east of Telegraph Ave. His public spirit is shown by the donation of the land through his property required for the extension of Telegraph Ave. from Temescal to the University. He also served on the first board of the Peralta School District.
His daughters, Mrs. Margaret Dunn and Miss Letitia Leonard, who still reside on the Leonard tract, tell me the old home was built in 1854. It stood on the south side of Blake St. just west of Dana St.
All the buildings, with the exception of the farm-hands’ dining room, a separate structure, were torn down many years ago. This relic is probably the oldest building in east Berkeley.
Eastward, on College Ave., stood and still stands, a house built by a Mr. Hedge, some 70 years ago.
It is now the residence of Miss Elizabeth A. Downey, whose father acquired the property about 1890. The first owner was loyal to his name as he planted a cypress hedge along the entire frontage of his property from Garber St. to Forest Ave. and extending up the latter street about 350 feet. Despite its great age it is, in the main, almost as healthy as I remember it so many years ago. Passers-by are intrigued by its unusual shape, the result of the efforts of a Scotch gardener to make it conform to the old country fashion of trimming shrubbery in any but straight lines.
To the south was the J.B. Woolsey home at Deakin and Woolsey Sts. There it is today indifferent to the passing years.
NORTH TEMESCAL
Westerly to the Bay was a vast expanse of farming and pasture land. Most of the owners lived on San Pablo Avenue. Berkeley was then known as North Temescal. In the little village named after that romantic creek was the only postoffice in this region. There we went for our mail.
To find the address of a resident it was necessary to consult an Oakland directory. Berkeley’s first directory was not published until 1878. The lack of streets baffled
the directory people.
For instance, one directory gave the address of M. J. Dunn, owner of a large ranch on the Tunnel Road, east of Claremont Ave., as Oakland -— that and nothing more.
I have a directory of 1879 which locates the home of my uncle, Jeremiah Aherne, who came here in 1856, as on the east side of San Pablo Ave., near Strawberry Creek. As a matter of fact he lived half a mile east of the avenue. However, a stranger’s difficulties in finding the early day resident were not so great as it may appear.
First settlers were so few that everybody knew everybody else and the first man you met could direct you.
MARKETING SIMPLE
The problem of marketing was very simple. Of course grocery stores were quite a distance from most homes and there were deliveries, but twice a week a Chinese, bearing on his shoulders two large vegetable baskets, one on each end of a pole, traveled over the territory and the housewife did her shopping at her door. The distance covered by our vendor was about seven miles. As he commenced his rounds early in the morning and a portion of the day was consumed in haggling with the housewives, his customers near the end of the route had a more or less picked over stock to select from. However, the Chinese was resourceful and managed to freshen the appearance of his stock-in-trade by washing it in the brooks. The butcher made his rounds in a covered wagon, not the kind, however, that brought the immigrants to California. It was a traveling butcher shop. Under the circumstances it was impossible to insure complete sanitation. However, germs had not been discovered so the customers had nothing
to worry about.

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Expanded Wells Fargo & Co. Express building on Shattuck, circa 1886, with dirt roads and wooden sidewalk.

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Berkeley protesters are not alone in trying to prevent sale of post office

Our latest coverage on the planned sale of the Berkeley Post Office, first sent out on social media on Nov. 20, received the following response on Twitter: “can someone please explain to me the importance of this post office? It’s a building. I don’t get it.”

We wondered how to explain the issue within the 140 character confines of Twitter and quickly gave up.

Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth took on the task of explaining the sale-opposition side (albeit in more than Twitter-length) in a piece about the proposed sale of the post office in Somerville, Mass., titled “When public buildings were revered.”

The group Save the Berkeley Post Office cited the piece in a post Tuesday:

Boston Globe op-ed on the sale of the Somerville MA post office: “We have traveled a long way from a time when public buildings were revered precisely because they belonged to everyone. Now public facilities from schools to swimming pools are being privatized. Corporations “adopt” highways that the taxpayers won’t pay to maintain. We rely on private developers to pay for roads and streetlights.”
READ MORE: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/28/when-public-buildings-were-revered/3Fxrs6Rwd7a8YzSUEDlv6I/story.html

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Berkeley in the 19th century, part 1: When creeks, ponds and springs were abundant and ran free

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Strawberry Creek, as pictured in the 1916 Blue and Gold.

In 1941 the Berkeley Daily Gazette ran a series of articles for the city’s 75-year jubilee by Charles Colin Emslie reminiscing about life in the young town and the greater area in the late 19th century. This installment is about the creeks, springs, ponds and “swimming holes” once found all around the still largely undeveloped area.

City’s History
Pioneer Tells of Boyhood Fun
When Berkeley Had Ponds

Editor’s Note: In this, his third article of a series on early Berkeley, Charles C. Emslie, local pioneer, tells of the ponds, springs and the “ole swimming holes” of his boyhood days.
By C.C. EMSLIE
Soon after my arrival in Berkeley playmates made their appearance in the neighborhood. In time began a series of exploring trips which eventually extended throughout the confines of the future city, and beyond. Our first trips were to the nearby ponds and water ways, for water, except when in a bathtub, has always fascinated the small boy.
The earliest Spanish explorers commented on the streams which flowed through the plains. I am sure they had not changed In the century between the first visit of civilized man and the early days of my remembrance.
Three large creeks and numerous brooks carried the water from the hills to the bay. Springs were plentiful. As the water flowed usually the year around it was a simple matter for a group of boys to build a dam and there was your swimming hole.
One of the creeks, Derby, was filled in almost 40 years ago. Its sources were the canyon at the head of Dwight Way and a spring
at the south entrance to the Deaf and Blind school grounds.
The waters united at College Avenue and Derby Street and flowed down the general course of Derby Street to the bay. The spring has disappeared and what flow remains is carried away in a culvert. Large sections of Strawberry and Codornices creeks also flow underground today.
ONLY ONE SPRING
All the brooks have been filled in. Of the lowland springs but one remains, so far as I am aware.
You may see it in the field at the southeast corner of Grove Street and Dwight Way, at the bottom of a little swale and almost hidden in a dense growth of bullrushes.
Surface drainage has largely depleted the supply of water which in my early days, and doubtless for centuries before, rippled down a brook which has gone the way of all brooks.
At Ashby station was a large swamp covered by water most of the year. Concealed in its tule covered banks hunters spotted the wild duck which rested there during its migrations. Otto Putzker, a boyhood companion, built a small boat which was used in retrieving the game.
On Webster Street some 300 yards west of Telegraph Avenue was the famous Woolsey swimming hole. A couple of blocks northerly were two other ponds, one of which is the site of LeConte School.
These ponds were filled by nearby springs. The water in these holes was so deep and clear, the grasses on the banks so lush and soft and the surrounding willows so shady in the hot weather, that youths came from miles around to enjoy their favorite sport.
The smaller lads who had not learned to swim found willing and competent teachers among their elders. The technique was simple.
The novice, if he showed unwillingness to go in on his own, was tossed into the water.
If he had trouble in keeping afloat he was pulled out, given a rest and tossed in again until he wearied of the monotony of being
tossed in and pulled out and decided he had better learn to swim.

Charles Colin Emslie, who died in February 1948, was an insurance broker and licensed real estate agent at Emslie & Lorenz, 2100 Shattuck Ave. after attending Cal from 1888-92. In 1941 he was interviewed for the WPA book “Berkeley: The First 75 Years.” The book is available for free download in digital form by clicking here.)

Berkeley Gazette columnist Hal Johnson wrote an item about Emslie in 1947:
EMSLIE HONORED

As is the custom of the Veteran Volunteer Firemen’s Association, the annual booklet, a memento of Berkeley worth keeping, was dedicated to another member of the Association this year: Charles C. Emslie, who was given a special seat on the stage with Mrs. Emslie.
Emslie’s father established a real estate and insurance business in Berkeley in 1876 which was taken over by Charlie in 1903. And Charles Emslie was one of the main organizers of the Berkeley Real Estate Association, its first secretary and later its president.
He was a member of the Peralta Company.