A rainstorm "that almost reached hurricane proportions" swept over the Bay Area on the night of Dec. 9, 1937. Local damage was light.

"Given its first real storm test, the Berkeley Yacht Harbor successfully withstood the storm, except in a section in which the sea wall has not been completed" the Gazette reported the next day.

One must keep in mind that the marina was not then a harbor surrounded on three sides by extensive landfill, but rather a reverse "L" shaped stone breakwater extending into the Bay.

One 40-foot yacht nearly sank, but that was because the portholes and a seacock had been left open. The harbormaster summoned the fire department, which pumped out the hull.

The Gazette reported that "15 culverts, mainly in the west end (of Berkeley) were clogged and flooded intersections during the night," and a landslide partially blocked Canyon Road, "just north of Memorial Stadium."

Some basements flooded in North Berkeley and in one, at 830 Colusa, a cocker spaniel left in the garage/basement was stranded floating on a box in two feet of stormwater until rescued.

Between 8 a.m. on Dec. 9 through Dec. 10, nearly 3 inches of rain fell in Berkeley, bringing season totals "well above normal" to nearly 8.5 inches.

Elsewhere in and near Northern California, the weather damage news was worse. Five blocks of Gilroy were flooded when a levee broke; 15 acres of downtown Alturas were underwater when a dam burst above the town.


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The Truckee River roared through Reno, destroying bridges after "the heaviest rainstorm in 10 years."

Throughout and above the Sacramento Valley floods were feared, and materialized in some places, including Sonora, where a dam had to be opened, and "hundreds of persons (downstream) fled for their lives."

Six different breaks occurred on Sacramento River levees, flooding 25,000 acres. It was, the Gazette reported Dec. 11, "one of the most furious rainstorms in the records of the State Weather Bureau," but the storm was also appreciated in Southern California where it broke a major drought.

Williams passes

"Miss Cora L. Williams, founder and president of the Williams Institute and internationally known as a pioneer in 'group education' passed away yesterday at the Institute, on Arlington Avenue, following an illness of four months," the Gazette reported Dec. 14, 1937.

"Miss Williams was known throughout the country for her educational work and an as author and lecturer."

She was born in 1865 in Minnesota, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1891, and "Since that time she had devoted her entire life to educational work," the Gazette noted.

"She was the first woman instructor in mathematics at the University of California," and also taught at Oakland High School. "In 1907, Miss Williams founded the A-to-Zed School in Berkeley and 10 years later she founded the Williams Institute."

Telegraph gifts

"Gifts for Everyone from the Telegraph Avenue Shopping Center" were offered in the Dec. 13, 1937, Gazette.

Sather Gate Apparel Shop on Bancroft advised shoppers to "give a women something silken and lovely to wear" and offered white satin gowns for $11.50, and slips. The Sather Gate Book Shop advertised "all the latest books" along with "leather goods, gift wrappings, Christmas cards, fountain pens, stationery."

Men's clothing, toy trains, "holiday cakes and pastry," musical instruments, and "gifts of distinction" were offered elsewhere along the avenue.

Another ad, by PG&E, emphasized "Your Appliance Dealer: The Modern Santa Claus" and exhorted readers to buy electrical appliances.

"Never have electrical appliances presented such a desirable array of smart designs in roasters, toasters, coffee makers, waffle irons, sandwich grills, mixers, clocks, heating pads, corn poppers, razors, chafing dishes, hot plates."