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

ec vets memorial 1944a

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.

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Friends of 5 Creeks gardening tips to minimize water use

Some advice from the latest newsletter from Berkeley-based Friends of 5 Creeks (www.fivecreeks.org):

Water-saving tips

Learn how to lose your lawn: For many homeowners, the easiest way to save water (along with effort and money) is to shrink or get rid of lawn. The Bay Friendly Coalition offers a free workshop, with individual advice, at 10:30 AM Sat., May 3, at the California Native Plant Society’s Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Dr., in Tilden Park. This also is a great place to find drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly, replacement plants.

Nursing new plantings through the summer: Our delicious late rains have been a reprieve, but summer will be dry. With time, it is possible to develop a flourishing garden that needs no watering. (Summer water under coast live oaks, our species of the month, can kill them.) But even drought-tolerant plants generally need some summer water until their roots are established. At F5C’s restoration projects, we found that tough natives survived with deep watering once a month from June or July to October.
Drip irrigation usually saves water, but it can be leak-prone and costly to install. Here are some techniques that don’t require even drip irrigation:

Most basically, plant in fall, giving plants a rainy season in which to get established. Use lots of mulch, which holds water like a sponge, shades the soil, and discourages water-stealing weeds.
Along with a new plant, install a tube with a small opening at the bottom that lets water drain slowly to deep roots. Fill it occasionally. The tube can be a commercial product – or an upside-down plastic soda bottle.
Use a bucket or bag with a small opening that drains slowly. As with tubes, these can be commercial products – or old buckets or plastic trash bags.
Consider a tree tube or tree shelter. This is a translucent plastic tubes, held in place with a stake, serving mainly to protect young trees from hungry animals. But they also help retain moisture in windy areas, and condensation inside the tube can provide a little extra water.
Consider commercial gels that release water slowly, such as DriWATER.

Submit your own water-saving tip to the group at https://app.icontact.com/icp/sub/survey/take.

Click here for to read the F5C information sheet, “Why Should You Save Water? And How?”

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Berkeley’s UC Theatre through the years

UC Theatre 1917
The theater as it looked when it opened in 1917.

Plans to renovate and reopen the historic UC Theatre on University Avenue in Berkeley were announced last week.
Here is a look at the landmark movie house over the years:

UC Theatre 1917small
Another view from 1917.

UC Theatre 1924small
By 1924 the theater had added a marquee and vertical sign.

UC Theatre 1933small
The theater in 1933. It was the height of the Great Depression and a repossessed furniture store was next door.

UC Theatre 1942
The theater soldiered on during World War II.

UC Theatre 1968small
The UC Theatre in 1968, when its neighbor was the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb.

UC Theatre Interior RTF small
Interior of the UC Theatre in its heyday.

UCT Watercolor Rendering_Small
Watercolor rendering of the theater as it would look renovated as a performance venue.

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Berkeley Yacht Club will mark 75 years with special postal cancellation on Sunday

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The U.S. Postal Service announced a special event on April 27 to celebrate the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club:

Special Postal Cancellation Marks 75th Anniversary of Berkeley Yacht Club and 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay 2014

Distinct Global Ocean Stamp Plaques Presented

Berkeley, CA — In celebration of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) Opening Day on the Bay 2014 and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club, the U.S. Postal Service will provide a special cancellation with the Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp that depicts Earth temperatures generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There will be two ceremonies at this event. The first ceremony is at the end of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay at 5pm. The second ceremony opens the evening celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club at 6pm.

When: Sunday April 27, 2014

4-8pm Sale of Stamp and Free ‘Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation’

5pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Pacific Inter-Yacht Club Association
6pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Berkeley Yacht Club

Where: The Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA www.berkeleyyc.org

This Building Bridges pictorial cancellation is a line drawing created especially for this event by Building Bridges Art Director Karen Lile and artist Aneka Bean, inspired by a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge with sail boats, power boats, and a tug boat in parade for PICYA Opening Day on the Bay. This special cancellation is part of the Building Bridges Series which began in 1996.

The Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp went on sale April 22, 2014 for customers to mail a one-ounce First-Class letter overseas. Customers may buy this stamp and have it cancelled by the Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation, only from 4pm-8pm at the Berkeley Yacht Club. This $1.15 stamp is also available at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop from a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

The 1.27 inch diameter stamp depicts a visual representation of the planet’s sea surface temperatures. It shows the Earth with North America at the center and parts of South America, Asia and Europe just visible on the edges, surrounded by vivid bands of color throughout the oceans.

The image on the stamp is one frame in a 1,460-frame animation created from a computer model of Earth’s climate by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The animation has been used by Science On a Sphere, a room-sized educational display that projects a variety of images and views onto a sphere six feet in diameter. The full animation shows how the surface temperatures of the oceans vary seasonally and change over time, and how surface ocean currents transport heat and water around the globe.

The image also combines the depiction of sea-surface temperatures with visible vegetation on land masses, an element derived from a satellite composite created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Postal Service Art Director William Gicker designed the stamp.

As part of the postal cancellation and Global Ocean Stamp celebrations, there will be entertainment and refreshments.

More information on Building Bridges may be found on www.buildingbridgesofpeace.com

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A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 1

Albany theater 1920s
This photo of Solano Avenue from the late 1920s shows the original Albany Theater, a small one-story building at the left that dates from 1914 and hosted vaudeville. Behind it is the two-story building that was built as an Italian organization meeting hall. The hall would be renovated and reopened in 1935 as the Albany Cinema. In its original form, the meeting hall had two storefronts at street level and a ballroom and meeting rooms on the second floor. Note the Southern Pacific street car tracks (and overhead wires) on Solano and the Key System tracks on San Pablo Avenue in the foreground.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

The movie house on Solano Avenue known over the years as the Albany Theater (or Theatre), Albany Cinema, and now the Albany Twin, is a survivor in an era when many neighborhood film emporiums have closed. Victims include The Oaks at the Berkeley end of Solano, shuttered for several years.
But the Albany Theater was not the original venue with that name, nor was it originally a theater.
It succeeded a one-story predecessor next door on Solano that was built in 1914 and operated as a vaudeville venue.
The second Albany Theater was originally a two-story meeting hall built in 1926 by an Italian-American organization. It had two storefronts on the ground floor and meeting space and a dance floor above.
The building was purchased in 1934 by a successful theater operator who hired Berkeley architect William Garren to redesign the building to show movies. Plans were announced in November 1934 and the building’s interior was gutted and turned into a movie house that opened in 1935.
Garren took control of the theater when the man who hired him died and the well-known architect would go on to manage it for the next 30 years, becoming a popular figure in town, becoming a leader of the business community and serving on Albany commissions.
One longtime resident recalled that homebuilder C.M. MacGregor would annually treat the local kids to a free matinee and ice cream at the theater and would dance down the center aisle wearing a tam o’shanter and singing a little ditty.

Garren had a good run as the unplanned cinema operator, but finally bowed out in 1965. He did remain active in civic affairs for some years to come.
Jack Tillmany, who managed the Albany Theater after Garren stepped down and provided many of the photos and clippings we will post here. He offered the following reminiscences:

In the early 1960s, I managed the Piedmont Cinema in Oakland for Martin Foster, who also operated the Parkway Cinema on Park Blvd. Both of them were tremendously successful, thanks mostly to a well selected format of popular titles, such as the James Bond and Pink Panther series at the Piedmont, and more international fare at the Parkway, seasoned with hotties like Dr. Strangelove and Romeo and Juliet. It was inevitable that Foster would expand and the Berkeley market beckoned. In October 1965 he took over the Albany from William Garren and I was promoted to general manager for the three enterprises. Garren had operated Albany as a mom and pop venue for the local family trade, with Saturday afternoon matinees for the kids, etc., all of which had, by that time, had become part of a bygone era. Foster wanted to appeal to the Berkeley crowd, with more of an off beat, and European flavor, and the changeover was an immediate success, bringing new life into a dying operation, and a new Berkeley audience who had probably never before ventured that far West on Solano Ave.

The earliest (circa 1941) and only photo I’ve ever seen of Albany, is before its 1950 remodeling, when SP trains still ran on Solano Avenue.You can’t see much of the theatre, except its original vertical, and the “Any Seat Any Time 30 cents” sign on the West wall, but that sort of says it all.

Albany circa 1941
The Albany Theatre (“30 cents cents any seat, any time”) about 1941 with a streetcar of the Southern Pacific line in the foreground. At the left is the S.P. (Southern Pacific) Store, managed by Max Etingoff and now Max’s Liquors. Also note there is a street level billboard on Solano at the left of the streetcar.

Tillmany continues:

I really don’t think Garren every quite understood the 1960s or what was happening to his beloved theatre, but it had suddenly become part of the era and Foster was smiling all the way to the bank. I remember one evening, with a sell out crowd inside and a line around the corner and up the block waiting for the next show, and Garren stopped by and just looked around in amazement! Here it is in June 1967, with another tremendous success that Foster had milked dry at the Parkway and then moved up to the Albany for an even longer, continued run, Georgy Girl.

Albany June 1967
The Albany Cinema as it looked in June of 1967. In addition to its original conversion, the building by this time had undergone three remodeling projects inside or outside.

garren1934
Work to convert the meeting hall to a movie house began late in 1934 and it opened in 1935. The interior was gutted and the second floor removed to create an auditorium and the exterior was remodeled and a marquee added. Note that plans included an airplane beacon and a nursery with cribs and toys.

garrenremodel1945
Plans were filed in 1945 to remodel the theater’s interior.

Albany Newspaper 02 6 Jan 1965
Newspaper coverage of an exterior remodeling in 1950.

COMING UP NEXT: BATMAN COMES TO THE ALBANY THEATER

albanytheater2014a
The Albany Twin as it looks today.

albanytheater2014b

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Richmond: Parks group seeks protection for Field Station shoreline

Richmond’s City Council agenda on Tuesday includes discussion of the electronic billboard at Pacific East Mall next to Interstate 80, which could provide interesting discussion over its legality, which has been questioned by Councilman Tom Butt.
The group Citizens for East Shore Parks, meanwhile, is more interested in the item after the billboard, which is titled “Resolution to Protect the Coastal Prairie at the Richmond Field Station,” submitted by Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles.
CESP issued the following email call to it members:

Please come to the City Council and support a resolution directing staff to remove any consideration in the South Richmond Plan for vehicle traffic through the coastal prairie at the Richmond Field Station- and to prepare alternatives for the Plan that only show vehicle being routed around the coastal prairie.

Why is it important to protect the coastal prairie?
Today, less than one percent of California’s original native grassland ecosystems remain intact! The Richmond Field Station is recognized by the California Native Plant Society for priority protection because it contains the last undisturbed native coastal prairie grassland adjacent to the San Francisco Bay Shoreline. This native grassland is an intact remnant stand that functions as a reference assemblage – invaluable for the study of how this threatened ecosystem functions and as an example of its community type for restoration ecologists. A great goal for the scientists at UC Berkeley.

Click here to view the resolution.

The City of Richmond will post the Council agenda online. Check the website here: http://ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=151.

It is item # I-2– which won’t be until 7:15 pm or later. But, you must sign in to speak prior to the item being called.

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It’s a Beautiful Day plays Point Richmond; another concert coming up

David and Linda LaFlamme and It’s a Beautiful Day (Acoustic) perform their 1969 hit “White Bird” at First United Methodist Church in Point Richmond on March 28.
The next show in the Point Richmond Acoustic concert series will be songwriter Craig Carothers and Bay Area’s own Grammy-nominated duo Quiles and Cloud on April 11. Tickets and details: www.pointacoustic.org.

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El Cerrito shop’s Little Free Library is recovered

lfl

The Little Free Library that was stolen from in front of The Glenn Custom Framing shop on Stockton Avenue on Monday night or Tuesday morning has been recovered.
Shop owner Kathleen Glenn, who received the take-a-book, leave-a-book library last year as a birthday gift from her daughter, plans to have it back on the sidewalk as soon as weather permits and possibly with some modifications to make it harder to take.
The library had been secured to its post with long screws, but the perpetrator was able to pry it off.

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Richmond and its industrial neighbors in 1939

Above, is an early 1939 promotional aerial view/map of Richmond and its surrounding area. Much of the Richmond shoreline in the foreground has yet to be reshaped for the Kaiser shipyards, including leveling a large hill.
In the background (below) are the West County towns past Richmond on two-lane Highway 40 and San Pablo Avenue, including the forgotten heavy industry company settlements, such as Giant (dynamite manufacturing), Oleum (oil refinery) and Selby (metal smelting).
Click on each photo for a larger view.