0

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

strawberry creek 1915
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.

0

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.

0

Berkeley’s celebration on July 4 was subdued 70 years ago

bg july 4 1944

There were no fireworks over the Bay when Berkeley celebrated Independence Day in 1944, which was probably just as well for a public wary of enemy attack during World War II.
“Safe and sane, but fun, too, was Berkeley’s Fourth of July” was how the headline described festivities in the Berkeley Daily Gazette.
Gatherings included a “Shoekicking Contest” for young women at Lake Anza, races and games for smaller children at Live Oak Park and free ice cream distributed to kids by the Berkeley American Legion post.
Many of the adults and older teenagers — the ones who weren’t away on active duty — were busy at defense industry and other home front jobs that didn’t take a break for holidays, even patriotic ones.

bg july 4 1944a

bg july 4 1944b

bg july 4 1944c

bg july 4 1944d

bg july 5 1944a

1

Watch your step: Rattlesnake safely removed from Hercules yard

snake (2)
Fire Capt. Chuck Coleman examines the rattlesnake found in a yard this week.
hercsnake1

Firefighters from the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District handled an unusual early evening call June 11 when a resident reported discovering a rattlesnake in a yard on Dorada Court, in easternmost Hercules.
The 3-foot poisonous snake was rounded up and safely removed by a district crew.

From our files:

HOW TO AVOID A RATTLESNAKE BITE

There are several ways people can avoid or reduce the likelihood of startling and being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
Source: Belmont Police Department

0

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/

0

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.

0

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?”

2

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.