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Angel figure originally made by Sundar Shadi and restored by El Cerrito artist Mark Canepa.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

“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.

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Richmond home front: The return of sliced bread in 1943 was the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread

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A January 1943 ad for Kilpatrick’s Bread, in the familiar gingham wax paper wrapper, notes that it “is easy to slice.”

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A January 1943 Richmond Independent article on the changes coming to bread, including the end of pre-sliced loaves and orders that bread be enriched.

During World War II the federal government restricted, rationed or ceased production of numerous consumer goods for the duration. New cars and tires and large household appliances weren’t available at all. Staples such as gasoline, sugar and beef were rationed. It was all to allow the shifting of materials to war production and supplies for the military.
But maybe the most puzzling restriction of all was the short-lived ban on sliced bread, of all things, which had been around since the late 1920s. The ban was enacted in 1943 with the logic that more wax paper (bread didn’t come in plastic bags) was needed to keep sliced loaves fresh than whole loaves. There was also some stated rationale that more labor was needed to produce sliced bread and that whole loaves would help keep consumer costs down.
At the same time, bakers were ordered by the government to enrich white bread with the nutrients removed during the milling process, so that it would be as nutritious as whole wheat bread, in case you were wondering where that practice started.
Bakeries complied, but less than a month into the ban were asking that the restriction be lifted, contending that the slicing process was automated and therefore required no extra labor. They also offered the somewhat flimsy excuse that housewives would be forced to buy bread knives, which were made of metal, a critical war material.
The ban, enacted on Jan. 18, 1943, was rescinded less than two months later.

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Bakers on the West Coast lobbied the government to end the slice bread in Februrary 1943.

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Richmond: For National Comic Book Day, here’s the Henry J. Kaiser story told in comic book form

In honor of National Comic Book Day today, here is a four-page, World War II-era comic book story on the life of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser that concludes with his determination to build ships for the war effort. The Richmond shipyards of the home front era are part of the basis of the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

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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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High society and the Marlboro man turn out at Candlestick Park for the 1962 World Series

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With the (supposedly) final event at Candlestick Park now out of the way, we thought it would be fun to look back at the much-maligned stadium when it was a new open-air ballpark that was considered modern and an attraction in itself.
The photos here, taken for the society page of a great metropolitan East Bay newspaper on Oct. 15, 1962, which was game six of the 1962 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees, give glimpses of the original Candlestick.
In the background of society figures, you can see the wooden-bench bleachers in right field, back when it was conceivable that a home run could bounce out of the park and into the parking lot. Looming over the bleachers is the original standalone scoreboard.
The World Series that year was truly a social event, with “country club casual” the dominant attire. Nobody besides players wears a baseball cap or team-themed attire other than an usherette wearing the official uniform designed by Joseph Magnin.
Also notice the stadium’s original wooden seats, which were notorious for snagging women’s nylons (the Giants routinely reimbursed women for the cost of their ruined hose), and the traffic control tower affixed to the back of the stands down the right field line (the tower, which looked designed for a small airport, was relocated to the parking lot and put on a higher pedestal when Candlestick was enclosed in 1971-72).
For the record, game six of the World Series had been postponed three times because of heavy rain in the Bay Area. The Giants, in front of 43,948 fans, won that day behind a complete game by starting pitcher Billy Pierce, to even the series at three wins apiece. Accounts noted that “Two-hundred of the 250 inmates at Alcatraz stayed in their cells to hear the game.”
The day of the series finale on Oct. 16, 1962 was dubbed “Showdown at Candlestick Park” by Marlboro cigarettes, which took out a full-page newspaper ad showing its legendary advertising cowboy standing on the turf of the ballpark behind home plate and claiming the ballpark as “Marlboro Country.” (And indeed, the pictures show some of the fans nonchalantly smoking at their seats, which was the style at the time.)
As we all know, the Giants lost game seven in a 1-0 heartbreaker.

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