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El Cerrito/Richmond then and now: A former drug store building enters the natural food age

Amerio Drugs in its neon sign glory days had an ice cream fountain counter and parking in the back, shared with neighbor El Nido Market.

The neon sign and soda fountain of Amerio Drugs on San Pablo Avenue are long gone, but the building (actually located on the Richmond side of the city limits) is still there.
Amerio succumbed to the fate of most independent pharmacies, eventually being replaced by a paint store and then sitting vacant for a number of years.
After an extensive remodeling it reopened earlier this year as The Annex, the prepared store of the El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company, which established a thriving location next door at the former El Nido Market.
The neon sign on the front of the former drug store has been replaced by a wood facade, with solar panels installed on the roof.

The El Cerrito Natural Grocery Company Annex has opened in the Amerio Drugs building, offering a salad bar instead of ice cream sodas.

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Richmond Museum of History exhibit features home front-themed quilts, including three related to Japanese-American internment

Fourth grade students at Posten Relocation Camp in Arizona stitched their names onto panels they made while imprisoned during World War II.

Richmond Museum of History Director Melinda McCrary describes the quilt made by fourth grade Japanese-American students of teacher Masako Hirata in the Posten War Relocation Camp in Arizona, part of the “Quilts of the Home Front” exhibit at the museum through June 6.
The 70-plus-year-old quilt is one of three on display in the exhibit related to the Japanese-American internment during World War II.

Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment


“Piecing Memories: Recollections of Internment,” a work by quilters of the Berkeley-based Japanese American Services of the East Bay, has panels of images of life in the camps, including guard towers, prisoners in uniforms and people huddling to shelter themselves from the harsh and dusty desert winds.

Threads of Remembrance


Threads of Remembrance done in three sections, with a middle panel showing a guard tower stitched into the background behind barracks denoting each of the camps.

The exhibit is on display through June 6 and there is a special admission charge of $3 along with the regular museum admission of $2. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more details visit www.richmondmuseumofhistory.org or call 510-235-7387.
See video of the fourth-graders’s quilt and a description of it by museum director Melinda McCrary on the West County blog at www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/.

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Arlington Avenue in Kensington through the years

Arlington and Amherst avenues circa 1914.

The former Arlington Drugs in Kensington has been a familiar sight since it was opened by Louis Stein Jr. (Cal class of 1924) in the 1920s. The store changed hands a couple of times after Stein retired and finally closed its pharmacy window last year, converting to a general store that closed earlier this year.
The location has recently reopened as the second location of longtime Berkeley business Country Cheese Company. Store co-owner Shirley Ng remodeled the interior to accommodate the change to a food business, but also worked with the U.S. Postal Service to retain the postal window established during the drug store days and beloved by Kensingtonians.
She also said this week that the Rexall Drugs sign on the outside of the store is also something of a local landmark and will be retained.
Here are some views of the area over the years.

Arlington at Amherst circa 1950.

Arlington at Amherst today.

The Rexall Drugs sign will be retained at the Country Cheese Company store.


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Vote online through Friday to help the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante win a $25,000 grant

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante is in a tight Facebook voting competition to land a $25,000 grant from Windmere Realty and is appealing to the community for help.
The club has been a central part of the community for more than half a century and provides minimal cost after school and other programs for young people in its part of El Sobrante and Richmond. An award of $25,000 could be made to go a long way for the nonprofit organization
Voting can be done once a day through Friday at this link or this one. Scroll down to the El Sobrante listing and click. Your vote(s) could be the difference.
Below is the message the club has been sending to its supporters:

Friends and Family,

We really need your help.

Our Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante has been selected as the only NOR-CAL non profit to participate in a Facebook Voting challenge to win a $25,000 grant for our Kids!

Please help us win by taking a few seconds of your day to vote for The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante by going to the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante’s Facebook page or by using the link provided below.

You can VOTE ONE TIME, EVERY DAY,
from NOW until APRIL 4th .

Every Vote, Every Day counts and you can help us win 25K for all those children that need us most! Thank you in Advance for joining us for this Challenge!
WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

Please Vote for Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante here: https://apps.facebook.com/windermere-re/charitychallenge OR on the Windermere Facebook Page (tab at top): https://www.facebook.com/WindermereRealEstate

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It’s a Beautiful Day plays Point Richmond; another concert coming up

David and Linda LaFlamme and It’s a Beautiful Day (Acoustic) perform their 1969 hit “White Bird” at First United Methodist Church in Point Richmond on March 28.
The next show in the Point Richmond Acoustic concert series will be songwriter Craig Carothers and Bay Area’s own Grammy-nominated duo Quiles and Cloud on April 11. Tickets and details: www.pointacoustic.org.

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Richmond’s Rosies get VIP sendoff for trip to meet vice president in Washington, D.C.

In this photo released by Virgin America Airlines, Former Journeyman Welder Phyllis Gould, (center) 92, and original ‘Rosie the Riveters’ from the Bay Area: (L to R) : Marian Wynn (87), Kay Morrison (90), Priscilla Elder (93) (3rd L) Gould and Marian Sousa (88) are joined by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik (C 2nd row) and First Officer Denise Beringer and Teammates during red carpet reception and sendoff from San Francisco International Airport before they began their journey East for a special invitation meeting with U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, Saturday, March 29, 2014 in San Francisco. The “Rosies” will board VX Flight 1 from SFO to DCA that will be piloted by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik and First Officer Denise Beringer on an “un-manned” flight. Virgin America donated seats in the airline’s Main Cabin Select premium cabin service for their trip.’Rosie the Riveter’ icon represents the American women who worked in factories that produced war supplies during World War II and were employed as electricians, journeyman welders, draftsman and pipe welders. (Photo by Virgin America/Bob Riha, Jr.)

Virgin America Airlines gave five former World War II defense workers from the Richmond shipyards the VIP treatment as they departed Saturday at San Francisco International Airport for Washington, D.C. and a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden.

The official news release from the airline:

March 29, 2013 – Saturday morning, Virgin America hosted a special red carpet send-off at the departure gate at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for five original “Rosie the Riveters” from the Bay Area as they began their journey to the White House to meet Vice President Joe Biden. Virgin America sent the “Rosies” off in high-style and donated seats in the airline’s Main Cabin Select premium cabin service for their trip. “Rosie” Phyllis Gould received a special invitation to the White House from the Vice President on Veteran’s Day in a phone call thanking her for her service to the country. The Rosie the Riveter icon represents the American women who worked in factories that produced war supplies during World War II, replacing male workers who were called into service in the military. The Bay Area “Rosies” worked as electricians, journeyman welders, draftsmen and pipe welders at the local Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California during World War II, helping to build Liberty and Victory cargo ships. Several of the women still work as docents at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

The five “Rosies” were celebrated at a swing-dancing red carpet reception and sendoff by Virgin America teammates and Chief Marketing Officer, Luanne Calvert, who payed tribute to these pioneering women who paved the way for generations of women workers. The “Rosies” boarded VX Flight 1 from SFO to DCA, piloted by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik and First Officer Denise Beringer. Virgin America is flying the “Rosies” in its premium Main Cabin Select service that offers guests 38″ of seat pitch, unlimited complimentary cocktails and snacks from the airline’s award-winning menu, an all-access pass to in-flight media content, priority security access/boarding, dedicated overhead bin space and one free checked bag.

Rosie the Riveters head to Washington on Virgin America

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Richmond harbor used for regional park district oil spill training

oilspill1

The Shoreline Unit of the East Bay Regional Park District held an oil spill training on Wednesday in the water between the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor and Barbara and Jay Vincent Park in Richmond.
Training sessions are not new, but since 2012 have been increased to twice a year by the EBRPD unit as a result of the Cosco Busan oil spill in 2007 and the Dubai Star oil spill in 2009, both of which had consequences for the district’s shoreline parks, said EBRPD fire Capt. Aileen Thiele.
“When something real happens, there are things you prepare for and things you haven’t prepared for,” she said. “We now have formalized training that the unit puts on.”
Two representatives of the state Department of Fish and Game were also involved in the exercise.
The Dubai Star spill resulted in a damage assessment of $850,000 for natural resource restoration and improvements at Crown Beach and other shoreline areas in Alameda.
The Cosco Busan spill reached district shoreline areas in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond.

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Remembering the Berkeley Heliport

An SFO helicopter takes off from the Berkeley Heliport in this Berkeley Chamber of Commerce photo from the early 1960s.

It seems quaint and even hard to imagine in these days of national security and air travel safety restrictions, but Berkeley once had its own heliport where airline passengers could board an SFO 10-passenger Sikorsky helicopter bound for San Francisco or Oakland international airports. Some airlines included the service at low or no cost as part of the airfare.
The heliport was located on the waterfront west of the Eastshore Freeway (Interstate 80) just north of University Avenue and operated from 1961 to 1974, when San Fracncisco Oakland Helicopter Airlines relocated its operation to the roof of the new Holiday Inn in Emeryville.
The Berkeley facility was part of a network of heliports that included downtown Oakland, downtown San Francisco, central Contra Costa and Marin County, and at one time was touted as the most patronized system of its kind in the United States.
The Berkeley Heliport, which the Chamber of Commerce took the lead in attracting and promoting, broke ground in September 1961 and opened later that year. It was touted as a certain economic boon for the city, particularly in attracting conventions.

Dignitaries at the groundbreaking for the Berkeley Heliport in September 1961.

Along with the attraction of avoiding Bay Area freeway traffic and free parking, it offered the novelty of getting to fly over the area in a copter.
A low point for the Berkeley facility came in 1972, when an armed man entered the heliport and demanded to be taken via helicopter to the airport, where he intended to hijack a plane to Cuba. He was eventually talked out of those plans by a Berkeley police sergeant.

Coverage of the attempted 1972 helicopter hijacking in Berkeley.

Dignitaries arrive at the Berkeley Heliport in 1962.

SFO Helicopter Airlines was touted as the world’s busiest in 1962.

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce map of sightseeing destinations includes the heliport (No. 2).

Along with passengers, priority mail was ferried by helicopter to Bay Area airports.

A 1973 ad for SFO Helicopters.

Delta Airlines promoting helicopter service in 1967.

The era of the Berkeley Heliport ended in 1974, when SFO relocated it to Emeryville. SFO ceased operations in 1976.

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El Cerrito shop’s Little Free Library is recovered

lfl

The Little Free Library that was stolen from in front of The Glenn Custom Framing shop on Stockton Avenue on Monday night or Tuesday morning has been recovered.
Shop owner Kathleen Glenn, who received the take-a-book, leave-a-book library last year as a birthday gift from her daughter, plans to have it back on the sidewalk as soon as weather permits and possibly with some modifications to make it harder to take.
The library had been secured to its post with long screws, but the perpetrator was able to pry it off.