Berkeley was lobbying 75 years ago to keep federal relief workers in town. At issue was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in Wildcat Canyon that the federal government proposed to close.
The Feb. 23, 1938, Berkeley Daily Gazette reported that officials from the city and the East Bay Regional Park District had learned the camp would be closed in the summer.
Berkeley City Manager Hollis Thompson told the City Council that, "the boys in the camp have been of untold advantage to the city, cutting fire trails and roads in the hills and materially reducing fire hazards. Also they have played a part in developing the great Regional Park in the Berkeley hills. My wires (to Washington, D.C.) urge them not to terminate such a splendid service."
The same day, Thompson issued a statement denying he was leaving to head the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. He said, "I have no present intention of leaving my work here" in Berkeley, although he was flattered by the consideration.
Rally Day: Berkeley High School welcomed new students "at the traditional Rally Day" on Feb. 21, 1938. The competitive and bonding events included a pie eating contest, a pushball competition, tug-of-wars between different grade levels and a new event, the "tie up bout," in which male students were given ropes and unleashed to try to tie up the opposing classmen. (This sounds very similar to the hazing tradition of the "freshman sophomore brawl" that used to prevail on the UC campus.)
Some 800 new students participated in the event, which had been postponed from earlier in the academic term because of the bad weather.
Whale seen: February 1938 saw a whale, dubbed "Mopey Dick," appearing here and there around San Francisco Bay, and the Gazette dutifully reported the sightings. On Feb. 22, the whale spouted, "in full view of transbay ferry commuters."
Exposition: "A lively and colorful panorama of the wonders of the earth, the sea and the skies, geared to modern mechanisms and shaped into an exact reproduction of these forces, is to constitute the University of California's display at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939," the Gazette reported Feb. 17.
Presidential birthday: George Washington was born Feb. 22, and the Gazette of that date celebrated his 206th birthday with a half-page spread of photographs and prints. Berkeley Mayor Edward Ament issued a statement in which he warned, "when we individually or collectively fail to remember the deeds of our statesmen, heroes and veterans; cease to honor our flag; and neglect to assume our duty and privileges as free men under the Constitution of the United States, then we must be prepared to become the vassals of a demanding dictator. Where in all the pages of history can be found a name that compares to Washington's? ... His spirit still fills the breast of every true American."
Dollar days: The front page of the Feb. 17 Gazette carried a story about downtown merchants holding their first "dollar day" sale of 1938 on Feb. 18-19. The writer noted "Berkeley shows spring raiment a month or more before it goes on sale in New York. There is a good reason for this, as New York stores must unload winter stock before displaying Easter goods."
Suicide: "Despondent over failing health and because he had been out of work for five months," Conrad Becker of 1413 Allston Way committed suicide by running his car in the closed garage of his home on Feb. 1, 1938.
His body, and a note to his wife, who was traveling out of town, were found by his 20-year-old daughter.