0

1948: PG&E proposes a giant natural gas storage tank for Albany Hill

Albany Hill before construction of the condominiums.

The opening of the Gateview Condominiums in Albany in 1977 have changed the look of the city’s namesake hill from Interstate 80.
A proposal almost 30 years earlier might have changed its appearance even more.
In May 1948, PG&E announced plans to build a $1.5 million natural gas storage tank in a residential zone at the northwest side of the hill, presumably about where the condos are now, that won approval from the Albany Planning Commission after a two-hour hearing attended by more than 200.
The Oakland Tribune at the time reported that the steel tank would hold 17 million cubic feet of gas and “would tower over Albany Hill.”
Supporters, including a former mayor, said the city could benefit from the tax revenue the installation bring. Alarmed residents of the area around the hill raised safety and aesthetic concerns and began a petition drive to bring the issue to voters.

“Walter Howell, Berkeley area manager for P.G. and E., told the hearing, that steel for the tank had already been ordered and the company “”will have to start from scratch” if they find an election will delay rezoning …”
“Backing its drive for the tank the company pointed out it would supply 15 to 20 per cent of the gas used in the East Bay and that the company has never had a tank burn.”

We wonder if the condominiums would have been proposed if the project had been realized.

Albanygastank may 1948a

Albanygastank may 1948b

0

1944 Port Chicago explosion: ‘We didn’t know what to think’

bg port chicago 1944j

The 70th anniversary of the Port Chicago explosion on July 17, 1944 that killed 320 men and critically injured hundreds more will be commemorated by events looking back on the World War II home front disaster from a modern day perspective, most notably the 50 African American men charged with mutiny for refusing to return to work in the unsafe conditions at at the segregated Naval facility.
The explosion was heard and felt in every county of the Bay Area and given the wartime conditions, “We didn’t know what to think,” said one of the women employed at the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond at the time. The first thought for many was that the enemy had attacked or there was some sort of sabotage, she added.
Port Chicago today is a national memorial site commemorating those who died and those who stood up for their rights.
Presented here is some of the coverage of the explosion as it appeared in the first two days after, 70 years ago in the Berkeley Daily Gazette.

bg port chicago 1944l

bg port chicago 1944h

bg port chicago 1944k

bg port chicago 1944g

bg port chicago 1944i

bg port chicago 1944f

bg port chicago 1944e

bg port chicago 1944d

bg port chicago 1944c

bg port chicago 1944b

0

Berkeley’s celebration on July 4 was subdued 70 years ago

bg july 4 1944

There were no fireworks over the Bay when Berkeley celebrated Independence Day in 1944, which was probably just as well for a public wary of enemy attack during World War II.
“Safe and sane, but fun, too, was Berkeley’s Fourth of July” was how the headline described festivities in the Berkeley Daily Gazette.
Gatherings included a “Shoekicking Contest” for young women at Lake Anza, races and games for smaller children at Live Oak Park and free ice cream distributed to kids by the Berkeley American Legion post.
Many of the adults and older teenagers — the ones who weren’t away on active duty — were busy at defense industry and other home front jobs that didn’t take a break for holidays, even patriotic ones.

bg july 4 1944a

bg july 4 1944b

bg july 4 1944c

bg july 4 1944d

bg july 5 1944a

0

As Memorial Day approaches, a look back at El Cerrito honoring military personnel 70 years earlier

ec vets memorial 1944a

In the photo above from the Richmond Independent from June 1944 (click it to enlarge), the Louis Hagen post of the American Legion in El Cerrito dedicates a plaque in front of the veterans building on Stockton Avenue honoring those from the city on active duty in the armed forces during World War II. Members of the post at that point were veterans of World War I, where El Cerritan Hagen had died in combat.

The annual placing of flags for Memorial Day on the graves of military veterans buried at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito will take place on May 24 and volunteers who want to help are welcome to take part.
There will also be a first-ever Memorial Day observance on May 26 at a veterans assistance office in Richmond.
You can find more details here.

0

WWII Wednesday: Olive Oyl works as a wartime welder

Prod14

Olive Oyl was already a popular cartoon star by the time the United States entered World War II, but still did her part during the war by puncing the clock as a welder. Amorous advances by co-workers Popeye and Bluto lead to some workplace safety issues, however.

While work on the Popeye cartoon “Mess Production” started months earlier, it actually was released by Famous Studios on Aug. 24, 1945, 10 days after VJ Day.
The cartoon incorporates a number of gags from two 1930s black-and-white Popeye cartoons from the Fleischer Studios (predecessor of Famous Studios): “A Dream Walking” and “Lost and Foundry,” as well as the 1942 Superman cartoon “Destruction, Inc.”, a wartime cartoon with Lois Lane in the Rosie the Riveter role.

http://youtu.be/lgHKQiPiH5g

0

El Cerrito and Richmond high school athletes of the 1940s and ’50s relive glory days at annual reunion

Sights from the annual Newell Sports Luncheon, a gathering April 25 at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in Richmond that reunites 1940s and 1950s athletes who attended Richmond Union and El Cerrito high Schools.

cerro square
Baseball greats Jackie Jensen, Ernie Broglio, Mickey Mantle, Darrell Johnson, and Billy Martin at the opening of Martin’s Cerro Square Club (formerly the Six Bells) in El Cerrito in 1961.

ruhs 1951 champs 2 landis
The 1951 Richmond Union High Oliers team that tied with El Cerrito for the league title. The team had two players named Jim Landis, and one of them went on to a major league baseball career.

richmond merchants
The Richmond Merchants team.

reid bates dedication
Charles Reid and Nat Bates at the dedication of the Sheilds Reid Center. Reid played baseball for the Pierce Giants of Richmond. Bates was on the El Cerrito High Gauchos squad in the early 1950s, when his teammate was Pumpsie Green, who later broke the color barrier as the first black player with the Boston Red Sox.

pierce giants 1921
The Pierce Giants, an early black team, in 1921.

oil can
The Richmond Oilers were well represented at the luncheon.

kamb trophy
Ron Kamb, left, presents a plaque of appreciation to Jack Newell, second from right, for “keeping athletics alive.” Next to Kamb is Pete Schober, and on the right is RUHS grad Mike Farmer, who went on to play at USF and in the NBA.

jim landis 3
Jim Landis holds a picture from his playing days with the Chicago White Sox.

el cortez
The 1948 champion El Cortez merchant team.

ec baseball 1950s
Ernie Broglio (back row) was one of the members of the El Cerrito team, playing high school and American Legion ball before starting a professional career.

art smrekar
Three-time gold medal water skiing champion Art Smrekar, a graduate of Richmond Union High.

2

Berkeley’s UC Theatre through the years

UC Theatre 1917
The theater as it looked when it opened in 1917.

Plans to renovate and reopen the historic UC Theatre on University Avenue in Berkeley were announced last week.
Here is a look at the landmark movie house over the years:

UC Theatre 1917small
Another view from 1917.

UC Theatre 1924small
By 1924 the theater had added a marquee and vertical sign.

UC Theatre 1933small
The theater in 1933. It was the height of the Great Depression and a repossessed furniture store was next door.

UC Theatre 1942
The theater soldiered on during World War II.

UC Theatre 1968small
The UC Theatre in 1968, when its neighbor was the underground newspaper Berkeley Barb.

UC Theatre Interior RTF small
Interior of the UC Theatre in its heyday.

UCT Watercolor Rendering_Small
Watercolor rendering of the theater as it would look renovated as a performance venue.

0

Berkeley Yacht Club will mark 75 years with special postal cancellation on Sunday

berkyachtharbor

The U.S. Postal Service announced a special event on April 27 to celebrate the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club:

Special Postal Cancellation Marks 75th Anniversary of Berkeley Yacht Club and 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay 2014

Distinct Global Ocean Stamp Plaques Presented

Berkeley, CA — In celebration of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) Opening Day on the Bay 2014 and the 75th Anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club, the U.S. Postal Service will provide a special cancellation with the Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp that depicts Earth temperatures generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There will be two ceremonies at this event. The first ceremony is at the end of the 97th Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association Opening Day on the Bay at 5pm. The second ceremony opens the evening celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the Berkeley Yacht Club at 6pm.

When: Sunday April 27, 2014

4-8pm Sale of Stamp and Free ‘Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation’

5pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Pacific Inter-Yacht Club Association
6pm Ceremony Presenting Stamp Plaque to Berkeley Yacht Club

Where: The Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA www.berkeleyyc.org

This Building Bridges pictorial cancellation is a line drawing created especially for this event by Building Bridges Art Director Karen Lile and artist Aneka Bean, inspired by a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge with sail boats, power boats, and a tug boat in parade for PICYA Opening Day on the Bay. This special cancellation is part of the Building Bridges Series which began in 1996.

The Global: Sea Surface Temperatures Forever Stamp went on sale April 22, 2014 for customers to mail a one-ounce First-Class letter overseas. Customers may buy this stamp and have it cancelled by the Building Bridges Special Postal Cancellation, only from 4pm-8pm at the Berkeley Yacht Club. This $1.15 stamp is also available at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop from a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

The 1.27 inch diameter stamp depicts a visual representation of the planet’s sea surface temperatures. It shows the Earth with North America at the center and parts of South America, Asia and Europe just visible on the edges, surrounded by vivid bands of color throughout the oceans.

The image on the stamp is one frame in a 1,460-frame animation created from a computer model of Earth’s climate by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The animation has been used by Science On a Sphere, a room-sized educational display that projects a variety of images and views onto a sphere six feet in diameter. The full animation shows how the surface temperatures of the oceans vary seasonally and change over time, and how surface ocean currents transport heat and water around the globe.

The image also combines the depiction of sea-surface temperatures with visible vegetation on land masses, an element derived from a satellite composite created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Postal Service Art Director William Gicker designed the stamp.

As part of the postal cancellation and Global Ocean Stamp celebrations, there will be entertainment and refreshments.

More information on Building Bridges may be found on www.buildingbridgesofpeace.com

0

A look at the Albany Theater through the years, part 1

Albany theater 1920s
This photo of Solano Avenue from the late 1920s shows the original Albany Theater, a small one-story building at the left that dates from 1914 and hosted vaudeville. Behind it is the two-story building that was built as an Italian organization meeting hall. The hall would be renovated and reopened in 1935 as the Albany Cinema. In its original form, the meeting hall had two storefronts at street level and a ballroom and meeting rooms on the second floor. Note the Southern Pacific street car tracks (and overhead wires) on Solano and the Key System tracks on San Pablo Avenue in the foreground.

(Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

The movie house on Solano Avenue known over the years as the Albany Theater (or Theatre), Albany Cinema, and now the Albany Twin, is a survivor in an era when many neighborhood film emporiums have closed. Victims include The Oaks at the Berkeley end of Solano, shuttered for several years.
But the Albany Theater was not the original venue with that name, nor was it originally a theater.
It succeeded a one-story predecessor next door on Solano that was built in 1914 and operated as a vaudeville venue.
The second Albany Theater was originally a two-story meeting hall built in 1926 by an Italian-American organization. It had two storefronts on the ground floor and meeting space and a dance floor above.
The building was purchased in 1934 by a successful theater operator who hired Berkeley architect William Garren to redesign the building to show movies. Plans were announced in November 1934 and the building’s interior was gutted and turned into a movie house that opened in 1935.
Garren took control of the theater when the man who hired him died and the well-known architect would go on to manage it for the next 30 years, becoming a popular figure in town, becoming a leader of the business community and serving on Albany commissions.
One longtime resident recalled that homebuilder C.M. MacGregor would annually treat the local kids to a free matinee and ice cream at the theater and would dance down the center aisle wearing a tam o’shanter and singing a little ditty.

Garren had a good run as the unplanned cinema operator, but finally bowed out in 1965. He did remain active in civic affairs for some years to come.
Jack Tillmany, who managed the Albany Theater after Garren stepped down and provided many of the photos and clippings we will post here. He offered the following reminiscences:

In the early 1960s, I managed the Piedmont Cinema in Oakland for Martin Foster, who also operated the Parkway Cinema on Park Blvd. Both of them were tremendously successful, thanks mostly to a well selected format of popular titles, such as the James Bond and Pink Panther series at the Piedmont, and more international fare at the Parkway, seasoned with hotties like Dr. Strangelove and Romeo and Juliet. It was inevitable that Foster would expand and the Berkeley market beckoned. In October 1965 he took over the Albany from William Garren and I was promoted to general manager for the three enterprises. Garren had operated Albany as a mom and pop venue for the local family trade, with Saturday afternoon matinees for the kids, etc., all of which had, by that time, had become part of a bygone era. Foster wanted to appeal to the Berkeley crowd, with more of an off beat, and European flavor, and the changeover was an immediate success, bringing new life into a dying operation, and a new Berkeley audience who had probably never before ventured that far West on Solano Ave.

The earliest (circa 1941) and only photo I’ve ever seen of Albany, is before its 1950 remodeling, when SP trains still ran on Solano Avenue.You can’t see much of the theatre, except its original vertical, and the “Any Seat Any Time 30 cents” sign on the West wall, but that sort of says it all.

Albany circa 1941
The Albany Theatre (“30 cents cents any seat, any time”) about 1941 with a streetcar of the Southern Pacific line in the foreground. At the left is the S.P. (Southern Pacific) Store, managed by Max Etingoff and now Max’s Liquors. Also note there is a street level billboard on Solano at the left of the streetcar.

Tillmany continues:

I really don’t think Garren every quite understood the 1960s or what was happening to his beloved theatre, but it had suddenly become part of the era and Foster was smiling all the way to the bank. I remember one evening, with a sell out crowd inside and a line around the corner and up the block waiting for the next show, and Garren stopped by and just looked around in amazement! Here it is in June 1967, with another tremendous success that Foster had milked dry at the Parkway and then moved up to the Albany for an even longer, continued run, Georgy Girl.

Albany June 1967
The Albany Cinema as it looked in June of 1967. In addition to its original conversion, the building by this time had undergone three remodeling projects inside or outside.

garren1934
Work to convert the meeting hall to a movie house began late in 1934 and it opened in 1935. The interior was gutted and the second floor removed to create an auditorium and the exterior was remodeled and a marquee added. Note that plans included an airplane beacon and a nursery with cribs and toys.

garrenremodel1945
Plans were filed in 1945 to remodel the theater’s interior.

Albany Newspaper 02 6 Jan 1965
Newspaper coverage of an exterior remodeling in 1950.

COMING UP NEXT: BATMAN COMES TO THE ALBANY THEATER

albanytheater2014a
The Albany Twin as it looks today.

albanytheater2014b