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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.

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Berkeley in the 19th century, part 4: The ill-fated original School for the Deaf

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The original California School for the Deaf, which was destroyed by a fire in 1875.

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.

“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,” the Gazette noted in introducing the series.
“Today’s special edition of the Gazette is intended to give impetus to the Berkeley celebration which already has attracted national attention. The idea of an annual observance of Berkeley’s birthday was started by the Gazette. Overnight the suggestion was taken to heart by civic leaders.”

This installment is about the original California School for the Deaf, which was destroyed by a fire in 1875. (The building had earlier been damaged while still under construction by the last major earthquake on the Hayward fault in 1868. Mr. Emslie also relates tales about an early “haunted house” in the area.

Local Pioneer Tells of Fire
That Razed Deaf, Blind Home

By C.C. EMSLIE
During the explorations mentioned yesterday we found places of never-ending interest. One favorite trip was to the ruins of the Deaf and Blind Institute, which had been destroyed by fire in 1875. The stone walls which survived the blaze were blown down by explosives, as they had been damaged by the flames. Nothing remained but a mass of ruins.
The story of the fire, for which I am indebted to Mrs. Leon J. Richardson, whose father, Warring Wilkinson, was superintendent of the institute at the time of the fire, shows how fallible is human judgment. The original
specifications for the building called for a slate roof. The exterior walls and inside partitions were to be of stone.
In 1868 while the building was underway came the great earthquake of that year. Masonry and brick buildings bore, as usual, the brunt of the damage . Frame buildings stood up fairly well. The directors decided to complete the stone walls but to avoid danger from future temblors by the substitution of studding, lath and plaster for the partitions, and wood shingles instead of slate, and thus the building was completed.
One fine Sunday afternoon a spark from a kitchen chimney lodged on the roof and in a few hours the interior was completely gutted and the outside walls so damaged that they were taken down by the use of explosives. I am sure the comments of the directors as they surveyed the result of their efforts to construct an enduring edifice must have been interesting.
HAUNTED HOUSE
Losing interest for the time being in the ruins, we would wander south by the old Kelsey orchard to Russell St. and up to the Dunn Ranch, passing on our way a vacant building known as the “Haunted House, ” which stood on the north side of the street, near the head of Pine Ave. There was a number of hair-raising stories about the place and we believed them although they were somewhat contradictory. Among the pleasures of youth in my day was the faculty of believing everything you were told. Mr. Kelsey was seriously annoyed by juvenile raiders of his orchard, then one of the finest in Alameda County.
He had some success in keeping them away with the threat of a salt-loaded gun.
Of course he could not patrol the entire orchard at night and I have been told that he invented the haunted house legend to keep the more youthful of the night time raiders out of the east end of the orchard, where the building stood.
Arriving at the Dunn home on the southeast corner of the Tunnel Road and Domingo Ave., we would stop long enough to sample the juicy pears which Mr. Dunn delighted in growing. A few of the trees still stand opposite the entrance to the Claremont Hotel.
Miss Mary Dunn tells me the trees were planted in 1860.
Following the road a couple of hundred yards, we turned south a short distance to the north fork of Temescal Creek where was the most famous blackberry patch in the Berkeley hills. It is probably that a combination of soil and climate peculiar to the location that added size and flavor to the berries beyond those of any other section.
If our berrying was finished before sunset, our homeward route was straight down Russell St.
After sunset ‘it wasn’t, as there was the little matter of the haunted house to be considered, so before we came to the abode of fear we would make a wide detour through what is now Elmwood Park until we were sure no ghost would bother us.

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The successor school building in 1895.

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Souvenir postcard views of the 1925 Tournament of Roses parade

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In the age before television, the only to see the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena was in person or via news photos or newsreel. If you did attend in person, you could share the experience with a souvenir postcard. We found this 80-year-old postcard strip of prize-winning floats, originally mailed when address requirements were minimal, at Wonderland Books in El Cerrito.
Note the float that has a dirigible made of flowers.

The Rose Bowl that year was a legendary matchup between Notre Dame, coached by Knute Rockne and featuring the famous “Four Horsemen,” in a showdown against Stanford, coached by Pop Warner and featuring all-time great Ernie Nevers.

Nevers established a Rose Bowl single-game rushing record in the game, with 114 yards on 34 carries. But Notre Dame prevailed 27-10.
Radio play-by-play of the Rose Bowl commenced the following year.

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Berkeley in the 19th century, part 3: San Pablo Avenue and other early roads

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College Avenue was unpaved in this view from 1885, but had separate pathways for carriages and pedestrians.

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.

“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,” the Gazette noted in introducing the series.
“Today’s special edition of the Gazette is intended to give impetus to the Berkeley celebration which already has attracted national attention. The idea of an annual observance of Berkeley’s birthday was started by the Gazette. Overnight the suggestion was taken to heart by civic leaders.”

This installment is about the city’s early streets, including San Pablo Avenue, with the author citing no less an authority than Richmond schools superintendent Walter Helms as saying San Pablo took a different route north of the county line at what is now El Cerrito. Tom Panas of the El Cerrito Historical Society theorizes that there may have been seasonal wetlands in that area that would have forced early travelers to detour inland (see illustrations below).
Panas adds, “I recall that I once found in County Supervisors minutes from the early 1850′s (Victor Castro was a supervisor at the time if I recall correctly) that there were multiple requests for rock to be dumped along San Pablo Avenue at the County Line because it was so wet.”

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Charles C. Emslie in 1944.

Pioneer Discusses Early
Roads Through Berkeley

(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article of a series on early Berkeley
written by Charles C. Emslie, who grew up here.)
By C. C. EMSLIE
San Pablo Ave. has an interesting history, too long to be told here.
It is usually considered to be Berkeley’s first highway but this is open to discussion. It was laid out as a public highway from Oakland to the old Spanish village of San Pablo in 1852 when the Berkeley region was a part, of Contra Costa County. There is some evidence that a roadway existed prior to that time, along part of the present route.
I am told by School Superintendent Walter Helms of Richmond, who is well versed in Contra Costa County history, that originally part of the road ran northerly along the foot of the hills from the entrance of Sunset View Cemetery to a point on the present highway near the northern boundary line of Richmond. This route was used to avoid the marshy ground which at that time made impassable a large part of the low country between El Cerrito and Richmond.
This is confirmed by Arthur A. Gray, head of the history department of the Berkeley High School, who was acquainted with a Mrs. Woolf whose father had settled in San Pablo in 1835. Mrs. Woolf, who died some 18 years ago at the age of 90, told Mr. Gray the same story. Unfortunately we have no information as to the southerly route from-the Contra Costa line.
OLD PERALTA ROAD
However, it is possible that the road through Berkeley to Oakland joined the old Peralta Road, whose history is also obscured in the mists of time.
When a small boy I heard occasional mention of an old road running northeasterly across Berkeley which was in use when our first settlers came but had long since disappeared. With one exception, Andrew Poirier, none of our oldest residents, some of whom were born here over 80 years ago, have any recollection of the road.
While gathering data for this sketch I found among the Poirier papers, of which more later, the original deed to the ranch which had been filed on in 1851 but the title to which had not been cleared until 1857, the date of the deed.
In this document the eastern boundary of the land was given as Peralta Road. This is now Racine St.
This street, which starts at Telegraph Ave. and 58th St., and runs northerly to Alcatraz Ave. is all that is left of the ancient Spanish highway.
In the office of the county engineer I found a helpful soul in D.H. Davis, who delved back to the Kellersberger map drawn in 1857.
This map showed that the Peralta Rd. ran from the homo of Vicente Peralta at 55th and Vicente Sts. just, north of Temescal Creek on a straight line to a point about 200 feet north of Addison St. just west of Shattuck Ave. and thence angling northwesterly, still on a straight line, to the home of Domingo Peralta, which stood at what is now the corner of Hopkins St. and Albina Ave., and ended at the old Castro home at El Cerrito.
Domingo Peralta settled in Berkeley around 1840. The road we are discussing was the direct route to his hrother Vicente’s house, from which the home of the other Peralta brothers, at San Leandro, was reached by following Telegraph Ave. to some point in Oakland and thence to San Leandro. Is it not reasonable to assume that the road dates back to the building of Domingo Peralta’s house?
San Pablo Ave., if it were in existence in 1840, would provide an easier road to Temescal and beyond than the Peralta Rd. It was but a short distance from Domingo’s home to the avenue which, if it then existed, he could follow it down to Temescal Creek, along which ran road from the mouth of the creek to Temescal. Near the foot of the creek was the landing place for boats bearing passengers and freight between San Francisco and Vicente Peralta’s home.
This route would provide the advantage of an established road the greater part of the way and the distance would be only about a mile longer than by way of the Peralta Rd., a large part of which ran through a swampy territory.
Does it seem likely that if there were a road where San Pablo now runs Domingo Peralta would go to the expense and trouble of building another highway to his brother’s house?

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An 1861 photo Albany Hill and San Pablo Avenue, with what could be a pond-like area crossing the road. (Courtesy El Cerrito Historical Society)

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Detail from a 1909 panoramic map showing Albany Hill and San Pablo Avenue. Many more streets had been added by this time, but the area west of San Pablo and north of Albany Hill appears darker than the surrounding land.

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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: