Seventy-five years ago, March 8, 1938, Berkeley's venerable Hink's Department Store was holding a blowout 66th anniversary sale. "Thank you, our kind and loyal patrons, who have made our 66 years outstandingly successful!" proclaimed a full-page advertisement in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on March 7. "Hink's, for 66 years YOUR Quality and Value Store!"
Among the special sale offerings were deals to photograph children and provide four 8- by10-inch prints for $2, yarn for 59 cents a hank, men's shirts for $1.19 each, and "smart new coats" for women for as little as $16.66.
If you haven't been to the Berkeley History Center recently, stop by to see the last month of the Berkeley Historical Society's current exhibit on vanished businesses and institutions in Berkeley, including an extensive display on Hink's that has been very popular with visitors who remember the big downtown department store that once occupied the space now used by the Shattuck Cinemas.
The memory of Hink's is even more endangered now. A developer has recently proposed to demolish what remains of the old Hink's building west of the Shattuck Hotel and build an 18-story apartment tower on the site.
A one-day Berkeley Conference on Family Relations opened at the First Baptist Church (then at Haste and Dana streets) to overflow crowds on March 8, 1938. Future sessions of the conference moved to the larger First Congregational Church a block north.
Attendees heard Dr. Paul Popenoe, general director of the Institute of Family Relations in Los Angeles, advise that "Marriage is not a static relationship, it's dynamic -- it's continuous interplay of constantly changing features."
He also said that "Among the infantile traits that can still be discerned in many adults are enjoyment of muss and mess; enjoyment of fussing, squalling, and making a racket; being amused by trifles; being credulous and lacking in critical judgment. Parents who want their children to outgrow such childish traits must set them a good example."
As part of an Arbor Day celebration on March 9, 1938, an elaborate musical and poetic ceremony was held at John Muir School on Claremont Avenue to plant a coast redwood "in the west yard." The tree was "dedicated to the late Charles Keeler, beloved Berkeley poet and naturalist."
Northern California had been hit hard by heavy rains and flooding in February 1938. In March it was the Southland's turn and at least 139 were known dead -- and more than 60 others missing -- after flooding on March 2.
"The worst storm in the history of Los Angeles" wrecked havoc. The Santa Ana River flooded five cities, railroads, roads, telephone and power lines were washed away, an estimated 10,000 people lost or were temporarily displaced from their homes.
The 10th annual Academy Awards had to be postponed because "President Frank Capra had no boat with which to leave his home in Malibu Beach."
Studio lots in Burbank were damaged, and the flotsam included "a sad, blue eyed whale" made out of rubber that was swept out of the Warner Brothers lot and down the Los Angeles River.
Actress Shirley Temple had to spend the night in her studio bungalow since the road home was washed out, and Gypsy Rose Lee was allegedly seen stripping, taking off her dress to wade through floodwaters to her car.
"Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim and Riverside were hit hardest by the disaster," according to the news report.
A TWA passenger flight from San Francisco to Arizona crashed somewhere in the Sierra after it turned to avoid the storm. There was heavy rain and wind in the Bay Area and some landslides, but no major damage reported in Berkeley.