The statistics were in, as of Jan. 19, 1938. Berkeley had "the lowest unemployment rate of any city of its size in California on the basis of unemployment census figures disclosed today", the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported 75 years ago.

"Based on 1930 census figures, Berkeley's rate is 3 ½ percent against 4 percent for San Diego, 4 ½ percent in Oakland and San Francisco and 6 percent in Los Angeles. On 1937 population estimates the rate is approximately 3 percent here. A total of 3,024 registered as unemployed (in Berkeley). Of this number 1,912 were men and 1,112 women. On emergency work were 1,356 and 1,314 Berkeleyans registered as partly employed."

If I understand that statement correctly, there were 3,024 adults in Berkeley without work, and another 2,670 who were working part time at government-funded jobs. That would mean nearly 5,700 adults without work or with temporary relief jobs in Berkeley.

The day before, the United Press had provided a statewide rundown of the unemployment statistics. As of November, 1936, "approximately 258,000 persons were without employment and desirous of work in California ... and half again as many were on part-time jobs and wanted more work to do."

Nearly 30,000 people were unemployed in San Francisco, and nearly 122,000 in Los Angeles County. California, at the time, had about 5,677,000 residents. Statewide, more than 99,000 people were "working at WPA, NYA, CCC or other emergency work projects."


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New laws

On Jan. 18, 1937, the City Council passed the first reading of "an ordinance providing for the regulation of private sanitariums and institutions in order to assure adequate fire protection and sanitary facilities."

Such facilities were defined as having "six or less inmates that fall under the classifications of aged, blind, infirm, sick, mentally-ill, convalescent, feeble-minded, drug addicts, dipsomaniacs or inebriates, and where a charge for care is made." (Note: dipsomania was alcoholism). There were "approximately 33" such institutions in Berkeley. Institutions with more than six residents were already classified and regulated as hospitals. The institutions were prohibited "in certain high-class residential sections of the city," but would be allowed in denser districts, with a $5 annual permit.

At the same meeting, the City Council prohibited riding bicycles on the roads or wharves at Berkeley Marina, and restricted parking there.

Emergencies

Spaulding Street resident Frank M. Horat was waiting before 6 a.m. for the bus at the corner of Sacramento Street and Dwight Way on the morning of Jan. 19, 1938. There was heavy rain, and when the bus came to the curb, it knocked Horat down, giving him "several severe lacerations and a number of bruises."

Instead of waiting for an ambulance, bus driver C.E. Pehrson "picked Horat up with the assistance of other persons aboard the vehicle and swung the bus up Dwight Way and into the emergency entrance of Berkeley General Hospital." (later Herrick Hospital and today the Herrick campus of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center).

"Pehrson then drove the bus and his passengers back to Sacramento Street and continued into Oakland on his regular route," sans Horat, who worked at an Oakland brewery.

The same day, Berkeley City Manager Hollis Thompson announced that the City Council would receive within two weeks "plans and specifications for a new police ambulance to cost between $2,000 and $3,000."

Thompson was also hoping to receive permission to buy a new $17,000 hook and ladder truck for the fire department.

Tilden trees

"Scores of redwood trees two feet in height" were planted in Wildcat Canyon by Girl Scouts on Jan. 15, 1938. The project was an effort to "reforest" a part of Tilden Park where a Girl Scout camp would be located. Some 200 scouts participated.