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Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes a meal stop on Solano Avenue in Albany

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A patron took these photos of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at China Village Restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany.

After a long day of campaigning in the Bay Area on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his entourage — including Secret Service agents — stopped for a late night meal at China Village on Solano Avenue. The unannounced appearance quickly drew a crowd of onlookers taking in the scene from outside the restaurant.
“It was worth the wait,” said a woman who was there when Sanders came out of the restaurant after he was done feeling the burn of the Szechuan cuisine. “He was great. He shook hands with everyone.”
Small groups were still outside the restaurant, closed by then, after Sanders departed.

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Adoring crowd on Solano Avenue chants for @BernieSanders Wednesday

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New Bay Trail link for bicycle commuters to be dedicated in Emeryville

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City of Emeryville

A ribbon-cutting on a Bay Trail link will be held at the northwest corner of Christie Avenue and Shellmound Street in Emeryville at 9:30 a.m. May 12, which is Bike to Work Day. The new section “connects southbound cyclists from Emeryville, Berkeley and Richmond to the Bay Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathway and the Mandela Parkway, and connects northbound cyclists from Oakland and beyond to the Emeryville and Berkeley Marinas, and shorelines up to and through Richmond.”

“The Emeryville Connection” Ribbon Cutting will dedicate “the opening of the new cycle track section of the Bay Trail, from Powell Street to Shellmound Street on the north edge of Christie Avenue, along with Emeryville’s second dedicated bicycle turn signal at Shellmound Street and Christie Avenue.”

A Bike to Work energizer station will be at that location from 7 to 9 a.m. that morning.

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TBT: Once-familiar El Cerrito building had a link to black Americana

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner —
Here is the ID of the once-familiar building in El Cerrito and its background, which we asked about last week. The building is best known (see photo above) from its decades attached to El Cerrito Mill & Lumber, with the lettering growing more faded as the years passed.

The building originated around 1929-30 as Mammy’s Place, a plantation-themed attraction for travelers on the newly rerouted Lincoln Highway (San Pablo Avenue), just south of Cutting Boulevard, “near the large Carquinez Bridge sign,” according to the menus given out to customers as a souvenir. The proprietor was Harry Bottger, who may have also operated the food concession on the Richmond-San Rafael ferry.
Mammy’s Place boasted a “fine hardwood dance floor and music,” though the establishment once ran afoul of the authorities over the use of its jukebox, according to news accounts of the day.
Bottger later opened another restaurant on the southern end of San Pablo in El Cerrito and Mammy’s closed.
With demand for housing at a peak during World War II, contractor Elmer Freethy purchased what was then El Cerrito Lumber at 1206 San Pablo Ave. (now 10812 San Pablo Ave.) from John Carrick to secure a supply of building materials. At some undetermined point, he also purchased the abandoned Mammy’s Place building and had it moved and attached to El Cerrito Lumber. There was a sentimental attachment. Freethy, in a 1990 interview about the “chicken dinner” building, referred to it as “the chicken shack,” and said he had purchased and moved the building because he used to take his future wife dancing there.
Elmer and Marjorie Freethy were married in 1930 and he started his contracting business the next year, according to an El Cerrito Wall of Fame profile in the city newsletter. One of his early big contracts was construction of El Cerrito High School from 1939-41.
The old chicken dinner building was torn down when El Cerrito Mill & Lumber underwent a major remodel by Elmer’s son, Jack Freethy, in 1996 as noted in this earlier post. The business, which had grown over time to include major portions of several blocks, closed in 2000 and the remodeled original El Cerrito Lumber building, redesigned in Victorian style, was moved across San Pablo and is now the Vitale Building.
Mammy’s Place is long gone and even though original owner Bottger was of European extraction, those free menus once given out to travelers are now rare and prized pieces of black Americana. A menu listed on eBay about in 2011 sold for more than $120.
Elmer Freethy died in 1998. Marjorie Freethy, a native of Point Richmond, died in 2013 at age 105.

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Elmer Freethy at El Cerrito Lumber.

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TBT: Can you ID this once-familiar El Cerrito building?

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This building was once a familiar sight for a long time in El Cerrito, first at its original location and even longer at the property where it was moved and attached to an existing building and given a new use. By then in rundown condition, it was ultimately torn down during a major remodeling of buildings on the property that became its second home.
Can you identify its original and/or later locations, as well as its original name and use from this photo detail?
Feel free to click the comments button above and post guesses or memories of the building.

Our thanks to the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce for sharing this photo from its archive.

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Richmond: Plan for airport at Point Isabel never got off the ground 50 years ago


Before the Point Isabel proposal, an airport was proposed off of Berkeley in 1945. (San Francisco Public Library History Center)

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If a plan first raised in 1966 had flown with regulators, there might have been an airport for small aircraft along the Bay in Richmond where dogs now frolic, strollers and bicyclists take in Bay views and UC Berkeley is planning its global campus.
The proposal for the Point Isabel airport between Point Isabel and Brooks Island surfaced in the summer of 1966 and was largely embraced by business leaders in Richmond as beneficial to local commerce and the region as a whole. Had the proposal been made 10 years earlier, it might have flown. But plans to fill 225 acres of mudflats now had to go before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the regulatory panel established in 1965 as a result of the activism of the the Save San Francisco Bay Association (later Save the Bay).
The airport proposal was exactly the type of project Save the Bay tried to halt, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by the idea’s promoters.
The City Councils in Albany, Berkeley and El Cerrito all went on record in opposition, with Kay Kerr, one of the three founders of Save the Bay and the wife of UC Berkeley President Clark Kerr, speaking against the project before the El Cerrito council.

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The plan did get as far as being submitted to the BCDC for consideration, but discussion was postponed a few times and the notion ultimately ran out of steam.

On Nov. 16 the Oakland Tribune reported that Berkeley had officially stated its opposition to the project:

OPPOSE AIRPORT
The council also went on record as opposing the proposed Richmond Airport in the bay between Point Isabel and Brooks Island. The project, which is to come before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Friday, would require
filling 225 acres in two stages.
The council opposed the project because it would create a noise problem and commit a major portion of the Eastbay shoreline before a regional plan could be drawn up. Councilmen also noted that regional plans call for inland rather than bay airports.

On Nov. 19 the Tribune reported that “BCDC took no action at this time on a request by the city of Richmond for an ‘advisory opinion’ on a proposed airport construction at Point Isabel which would involve filling 225 acres of tidelands. The project would serve small planes.”

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.  (Dean Coppola/Staff)

A man readies to throw a ball for his dog to fetch while enjoying the sunset at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. (Dean Coppola/Staff)

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Richmond schedule for King holiday event revised due to weather

Organizers have revised plans for the annual day of Service on Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The following announcement was sent out this weekend:

Scaled back Martin Luther King Day of Service in Richmond due to anticipated rain

Richmond, CA. Due to rain forecast for Monday, Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) decided to modify plans for the 9th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday.

The noontime program with speakers and performances has been cancelled, and there will be no kid’s zone activities.

Projects and activities will focus around mulching, weeding, and some planting, Coffee/pastries in the morning and a hot soup lunch will be provided for volunteers.

All are welcome—wear layers and rain gear!!

What: 9th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service
Who: Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG) and City of Richmond
Where: 8th and 16th Streets on the Richmond Greenway (between Ohio and Chanslor)
When: Monday, January 18, 2016, 9:00 am – 12:00noon

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Flashback Friday: A forgotten view of El Cerrito

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San Pablo Avenue looking north at the county line about 1971. El Cerrito Plaza is on the right and MacFarlane’s Candies and Ice Cream, with the distinctive candy cane poles holding up its sign, is on the left. This is what you would have seen as you entered the city in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Our thanks to the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce for making these photos available from their archives.

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Detail of MacFarlane’s, the longtime Oakland-based candy retailer. Pity the parents whose kids got a look at the sign as they entered town. Behind the sign at the right just past Grand Auto is the back of the Doggie Diner head sign for the Doggie Diner location in El Cerrito. The location of MacFarlane’s was originally the Kona Club and is now a Chipotle. The Shell station at the left is now a Peet’s Coffee and Tea. And the Plaza, while still there, is not the same as it was then.

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Above and below, Easter time ads for MacFarlane’s from the late 1950s.

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Monarch butterflies return to Albany Hill

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Along with sightings of monarch butterflies overwintering at Aquatic Park in Berkeley (see below) the beloved creatures have made their annual return to the eucalyptus grove on Albany Hill.
This photo was taken by El Cerrito resident Steve Crawford, who reports, “They are harder to get to this year since they have taken up residence in a tree about halfway down the steep west side.”

Monarch butterflies huddle together on the branches of a tree at Aquatic Park in Berkeley on Nov. 24. Bay Area News Group photo by D. Ross Cameron.