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Richmond Rosies saluted by their counterparts in Michigan

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Richmond is home to the national tribute to the World War II home front and on Aug. 15 the city set a new world record for a Guinness Book world record for the most women dressed as Rosie the Riveter gathered in one place at one time since the war.
That has earned a salute from the women who previously held the record, accomplished last year at the famed Willow Run Michigan plant that built bombers during the war.
They also issued what amounts to a challenge and could become an annual event.

Sincerest congratulations to the ladies of Richmond, CA on beating our Guinness World Record for the Most Rosie the Riveters. The contribution of Wendy the Welder and other women shipyard workers was essential to victory in WWII, as was the contribution of homefront workers across the nation in every imaginable job. Thank you, Richmond, for joining us in honoring “Rosie” and her sisters. Of course, we hope to bring the record back to Michigan soon, but for now it is in good hands in California!

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Berkeley market hosting Aug. 26 benefit event for national park in Richmond

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The Whole Foods Market on Gilman Street in Berkeley is hosting an event on Aug. 26 to benefit the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.

This is the event announcement from the nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust:

You helped us bring over 1,000 people to the Rosie Rally…

so making a grocery run should be a piece of cake!

Please help spread the word! Whole Foods Market and the Trust are working together to support the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park!

WHAT: Community Support Day to Benefit the Park! Rosie the Riveter Trust will receive 5% of the store’s net proceeds for the day!

WHEN: Wednesday, August 26th from 8 AM to 10 PM… open to close!

WHERE: Whole Foods Market on Gilman St. in Berkeley. Driving directions here.

WHO: You! Support the Park just by making your regular grocery run.

Click the Forward to a Friend button below to help us spread the word!

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Visit our table and you could win
a Rosie the Riveter Lunch Box with a
$25.00 Whole Foods Market gift card!

Please help us support amazing Park programs like the Rosie Rally, Rosie’s Girls Summer Camp Program, and the hundreds of ranger talks, docent lectures, expert presentations and documentary screenings that the Park provides to the public completely free each year!

No donation needed- all you have to do is shop, and Whole Foods Market will contribute 5% of the day’s proceeds to Rosie the Riveter Trust!

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Trees in East Bay hills will be El Cerrito Historical Society program topic

The El Cerrito Historical Society is presenting a timely talk about the trees in the East Bay hills on at 7 p.m. July 30.

The announcement from the society:

History program about the East Bay Forest will illuminate current issues

Trees are big news these days in the East Bay. Plans by the East Bay Regional Park District, the city of Oakland and UC Berkeley to remove thousands of eucalyptus trees because they pose a fire danger have outraged many tree lovers.

Opinions have blazed across the pages of local newspapers accusing Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf of planning the murder of squirrels by proposing to take away their habitat.

“When chainsaws decimate the vast forests which create their homes, reducing public lands once blanketed with their habitat to barren, empty hillsides, where, exactly, are these animals supposed to go?” one blogger demanded.

Proponents of the tree removal plan say it falls well short of clear cutting. According to the successful application for federal funds, the project, “would provide more effective protection over a large area by creating a continuous firebreak along the most vulnerable wildland-urban interfaces.”

“(The park district, Oakland and the university) propose to reduce fuel loads and fire intensity, primarily by thinning plant species that are prone to torching, and by promoting conversion to vegetation types with lower fuel loads. In many areas the proposed and connected actions would preserve oak and bay trees and convert dense scrub, eucalyptus forest, and non-native pine forest, to grassland with islands of shrubs.”

El Cerrito too has groves of eucalyptus trees, some of which help visually define such areas of our landscape as the Hillside Natural Area. The city also shares a large border with the East Bay Park District’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Our city has many other trees that also present issues. Many of our trees are 50 years old and nearing the end of their lives. The city has already removed many.

To cast light on these issues and to get a deeper background the Historical Society, in conjunction with the city’s Environmental Quality Committee, is hosting Jerry Kent, former assistant general manager of the East Bay Park District. Kent’s talk, ‘How the East Bay Got its Forest,’ will take place Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. It is free and open to all and wheelchair accessible.

Of his talk, Jerry Kent writes: “Bay Area hills were mostly open grassland, with fringes of native trees in valleys when European settlers arrived in 1769. Large scale tree planting began in the West Bay in 1877 to forest Golden Gate Park, military posts, schools, and mountaintops.

“In the East Bay, one man began planting trees in 1895 to forest 13,000 acres for home sites in the hills and 3,000 acres for timber plantations. What became of his dream, and how do we deal with his legacy today, amid dense development, drought, changing climate, and wildfire risks?”
Kent retired after a 41-year career with the East Bay Regional Park District. A history lover, he has collected maps and photographs and researched many aspects of Bay Area nature and history. He will describe the history of large-scale tree planting projects, and discuss the benefits and responsibilities of owning planted urban forests.

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El Cerrito: Former childhood home of rock greats Tom and John Fogerty is up for sale; open house on Sunday

fogerty house for sale

The earliest home where future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Tom and John Fogerty grew up in El Cerrito is on the market.
The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 7251 Eureka Ave. has an asking price of $729,000 according to the listing, but not because of its connection to music history, which isn’t mentioned.
The house has undergone extensive interior remodeling and exterior landscaping, including a backyard hot tub, since the Fogerty family lived there in the first years after the end of World War II and young John attended El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative.
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Oakland phone book listing for the Fogerty family from 1947.
The family later moved in the early 1950s to a house on Ramona Avenue.
The Eureka Avenue location is scheduled for open houses on July 12 and 19, according to the listing.

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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.

fong wan shrimp co 1930s

FONG WAN CLUB OAKLAND 1949
A 1949 ad for Fong Wan’s Club Oakland.

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

fong wan exhibit

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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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