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Richmond: Still time to get tickets to benefit comedy show on April 26

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A few tickets are still available for the comedy shows on April 26 headlined by Ronnie Schell and Will Durst to benefit the Richmond Museum of History.
Shows will be at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Topline Theater, 1402 Marina Way South in Richmond.
A handful of tickets remain for the afternoon show and there are more than 30 available for the evening show, said museum Executive Director Melinda McCrary.
Richmond native Schell will emcee the shows and do some standup of his own between sets by Will Durst, Kivi Rogers and David Gee.
All of the comedians are donating their time and talents for the benefit show.
Tickets are $30 each, available at the Richmond Museum of History, 400 Nevin Ave.; online at richmondmuseum.org; or by calling 510-235-7387.

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El Cerrito: Historic adobe lost in arson fire 59 years ago today

The building once considered to be the most historic structure in Contra Costa County was destroyed in an arson fire on April 21, 1956.
Just 11 days earlier a city council member’s bid to preserve the landmark Castro adobe had been rejected by his colleagues as because it was considered an impediment to the construction of the planned El Cerrito Plaza shopping center. The developers were adamant that the center could not be constructed with the ancient building on the property.
In the days before the fire a petition drive led by Kensington pharmacist Louis Stein was being mounted to rally the public for saving the adobe.

Here is the coverage of the fire from the April 21, 1956 Richmond Independent, along with some pictures posted earlier on this blog that were taken the day after the fire by Cynthia Cameron, then a young girl who lived two blocks away.
Note that the article on the fire also mentions the recent demolition of the Alvarado adobe in San Pablo.

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Richmond Independent story 11 days before the fire.

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The fountain added to the Castro adobe in the late 1930s by El Cerrito gambling boss Walter “Big Bill” Pechart as seen after the April 20, 1956 fire in this photo by Cynthia Cameron.

The fire, which witnesses said broke out in five locations at the same time, destroyed the wooden second story.

The adobe and surrounding grounds. A police car is to the right.

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Photo from the El Cerrito Historical Society of the adobe in happier times.

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Richmond: Learn about Fong Wan, Oakland’s forgotten entrepreneur, on Saturday

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A 1941 ad for Fong Wan’t New Shanghai Club in downtown Oakland, featuring Mei Lan, the “original Chinese Sally Rand,” and the Fong Wan Acrobatic Troupe. Also note Samee Tong as the master of ceremonies. Tong, a San Francisco native, worked on bills at Fong Wan’s clubs for years and was frequently billed as “The playboy of Chinatown.” Tong had a long acting career dating back to 1934 and lasting into the 1960s. He had a regular role (as a Chinese houseboy) in the 1950s sitcom “Bachelor Father” and an appearance in the classic film comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” as a Chinese laundryman.

A program at 2 p.m. April 11 at the Richmond Museum of History will look at the life of Fong Wan, one of the greatest Oakland entrepreneurs you’ve probably never heard about.
Fong Wan was a savvy marketer — and heavy advertiser in newspapers around the Bay Area — who established an herbalist shop in Oakland and built on that with a diverse number of enterprises during the 1930s and ’40s that included night clubs in Oakland and San Francisco and a shrimp harvesting business based in Richmond.
Most importantly, Fong Wan successfully branded himself, putting the Fong Wan name — and usually his picture in advertisements — before the public at a time when Asians were largely kept on the margins of society.
The building where he had his herbalist shop and the family home on 10th Street in Oakland is still standing.
Here is the official announcement:

The Richmond Museum of History is pleased to announce an upcoming program about the Chinese experience in Richmond. Calvin Fong will speak on
Saturday April 11 at 2 p.m. about his Father, Fong Wan, and their experience owning the Fong Wan Shrimp Company (1934-1948) in Richmond.

Fong Wan was a Chinese immigrant based in Oakland who ran many businesses including hotels, night clubs, restaurants, an emporium type store, and a shrimp harvesting and distribution business. However, Fong Wan is best remembered for his role as a noted herbalist, who was arrested and accused of being a fraud and ultimately acquitted each time.

Learn more about the fascinating history of Fong Wan and his time in Richmond on Saturday April 11, 2015 at 2PM. The program is free with general admission of $5 for adults and $3 for seniors/students. More information at the Richmond Museum website: http://richmondmuseum.org

This program is being held in conjunction with the temporary exhibit Shrimping on the Bay: A view from Richmond on view at the Richmond Museum of History from March 21 – May 21, 2015. For more information call 510-235-7387 or email info@richmondmuseum.org.

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A 1949 ad for Fong Wan’s Club Oakland.

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A 1936 ad for Fong Wan’s herbalist practice notes that he has been in Oakland for 21 years.

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Richmond: SS Red Oak Victory will mark 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War on April 9

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The Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond is joining other units of the National Park Service in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War on April 9.
In most NPS locations the surrender of the Confederacy to the Union will be marked by the ringing of a bell at 12:15 p.m. local time.
In Richmond, the moment will be marked by blowing the whistle on the SS Red Oak Victory for four minutes. The observance is open to the public.
The National Park Service is encouraging organizations and individuals to take part in the observance with their own bell-ringing. Below is the full announcement.

NPS Commemorates the 150th Anniversary of The End of The Civil War

For the past four years, the National Park Service and many other organizations and individuals have been commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the continuing efforts for human rights today. On April 9, 1865, Union General Ulysses S. Grant met Confederate General Robert E. Lee to set terms of surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In commemoration of this historic event, the SS Red Oak Victory Ship will blow the ship’s whistle for 4 minutes. Each minute represents the end of four years of bloodshed during the Civil War.

Join the National Park Service and participate in the ringing of the bell at 12:15 on April 9, 2015. Churches, temples, schools, city halls, public buildings, and others are invited to ring bells at that time as a gesture to mark the end of the conflict in which more than 750,000 Americans perished.

The SS Red Oak Victory Ship is the last remaining ship of the 747 ships built in the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. The ship is owned and operated by the Richmond Museum Association and partners with the National Park Service in preserving the history of the American WWII Home Front. The ship is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and most Sundays, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Call (510) 237-2933 for more information.

The Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center is open seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM and is located at 1414 Harbour Way South, suite 3000, Richmond, CA 94804. For more information and directions to the Visitor Education Center, please call (510) 232-5050 x0 or visit to http://www.nps.gov/rori/planyourvisit/directions.htm. Admission to the Visitor Center and all park sites and programs is free.

If you would like to receive information about upcoming park events, visit www.rosietheriveter.org and sign up for the email newsletter. The Rosie the Riveter Trust is the nonprofit association that is building a community of support for this national park

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El Cerrito: Views inside the renovated Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys

Below are photopraphic details of the historic 1935 Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys that visitors have been able to see at two recent open houses hosted by the Richmond-based Chamberlin Family Foundation and the El Cerrito Historical Society following a nine-month renovation.

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Ornamentation over the entry to the building.

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Decorative panel under one of the front windows.

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The original bannister was retained and painstakingly raised to meet modern height requirements, while a standard modern bannister was installed on the inside.

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One of the new finials made of fiberglass that weighs four pounds, left, compared to 60 pounds for the originals, right. The originals were taken down by Windrush School due to safety concerns.

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Windows were carefully renovated to keep the original detail.

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A mural, signed by artist Dupont, that is original to the Chung Mei days. The inscription on the scroll translates to “Whenever you open a book, you benefit.”

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Special steps were taken to seismically reinforce the top of the building without removing the original roof.

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View looking out of the basement, where a pillar was strengthened with a half-inch wrap of carbon fiber for reinforcement. A new drainage system was also installed to take rainwater away and prevent persistent flooding.

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Decorative details of ceiling beams.

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More detail is seen on the rear of the building.

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More about the Oakland Oaks and their first PCL baseball title in 1912

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Times history columnist Nilda Rego this week writes about the first Pacific Coast League pennant won by the Oakland Oaks in 1912. The Oaks were charter members of the PCL, but a title didn’t come until the team’s 10th season.
The Oaks blew a 3-1 lead to the Los Angeles Angels on the second-to-last day of the season, taking a 4-3 loss that dropped them into second place. The title wasn’t secured until the next day when the “Fighting Oaks” took both ends of a doubleheader over the Angels to bring the title to the East Bay.
The new champions were the toast of the town, celebrated at events at the rooftop garden of the Capwell building (attended by Mayor Frank Mott and department store magnate H.C. Capwell) and a public gathering hosted by the Oakland Tribune at the Orpheum Theatre.
Here is some of the coverage from the Oakland Tribune in 1912. (Note the cartoon marking the end of the baseball season and the start of the rugby season, which was the official college sport rather than football at the time.)

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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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Hand-tinted images of the Panama Pacific International Exposition from 100 years ago

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Color photography wasn’t an option when the Panama Pacific International Exposition opened 100 years ago in what is now the Marina district of San Francisco, but the Bardell Art Printing Co. of San Francisco issued beautiful and painstakingly hand-tinted images of the World’s Fair in numerous forms, including fine prints and postcards.
Shown here are images of the fair buildings from an album issued by Bardell in 1915. By the time of the Golden Gate International Exposition 24 years later, color photography (and film) was available, but expensive, and black-and-white pictures and home movies were still the norm, as were tinted postcards that don’t live up to their predecessors.
Special days at the PPIE for Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and other West Coast cities were held acknowledging their contributions to the still-young state. (It should be noted that the “End of the Trail” statue was repeated at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island on 1939).

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Palace of Education.

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Birdseye view of the Pan.-Pac. Int. Exposition.

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Arch of the Rising Sun — Court of the Universe.

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Palace of Fine Arts.

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Palace of Horticulture.

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Arch and Fountain of the Setting Sun.

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Court of Flowers.

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Festival Hall.

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Court of Palms.

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Fountain of Ceres — Court of the Four Seasons

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Tower of Jewels — Fountain of the Setting Sun.

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Reflection in the Lagoon — Court of Four Seasons.

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Lagoon and Fountain — South Gardens.

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Palm Avenue.

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Reflection in the Lagoon — Court of Four Seasons.

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Illumination Mullgardt’s Tower — Court of Abundance.

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Column of Progress.

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Dome of Fine Arts Palace Illuminated.

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Tower of Jewels.

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Colonnades Palace of Fine Arts.

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Statue: End of the Trail and Tower of Jewels.

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Tower of Jewels Illumination.

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Tower and Court of Abundance.

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Tower of Jewels.

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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.