It was front-page news in the Berkeley Gazette 75 years ago, March 24, 1937, when Paul R. McWalter, a 22-year-old living at 1432 Allston Way was reported to have confessed to Berkeley police that he was responsible for as many as 42 separate burglaries.
A warrant had been issued for his arrest in January, but "for some time police have been aware that McWalter had been avoiding the Allston Way address, home of his parents, and had been leading a luxurious life in the night spots of San Francisco. They learned that he has been using the ferries in his almost nightly visits to Berkeley, intent on raiding local homes and apartments."
On March 19, Berkeley police keeping watch on the ferries saw him arrive in Oakland and take a train to Berkeley. When the train crossed the city limits, he was arrested. He broke free at Adeline and Alcatraz but was chased down by officers.
Police, who were holding him at an undisclosed location, said he had confessed to 42 burglaries going back to June 18 of 1937. The list of items he had allegedly stolen included numerous electric razors, wallets, jewelry, clothing, and radios. Many of the items were stolen from homes and apartments, with others taken from cloakrooms at local churches and clubs.
Police said that when he had been periodically stopped in apartment buildings or boardinghouses, he had "posed as the representative of a cleaning establishment."
"Articles stolen from Berkeleyans were immediately pawned in San Francisco shops and the proceeds spent for the expense of a gay life in and about San Francisco."
While McWalter was reportedly living it up on the ill-gotten gains of his crimes, a different side of the local crime picture appeared in another front-page article the same day.
Carl M. Bensted, "32-year-old unemployed waiter, 1052 Camilla Street," was arrested and confessed to one robbery on San Pablo Avenue.
"Hungry, tired and desperate after being out of work for more than a month, Bensted was unable to resist the temptation to stage a holdup as he walked by a creamery at 2701 San Pablo Avenue on Saturday evening" (March 19).
He took $7 from the cashier, and was arrested eight minutes later nearby.
"I guess I was crazy to do it," he was quoted as telling the officer. "But I have been out of work for some time and was becoming desperate. I have a wife, 9-year-old daughter and grandmother to support. I had walked to Oakland and spent the whole day looking for work."
The story added that, "Pawn tickets, showing that he had sacrificed many of his household belongings in order to feed his family, caused Bensted's story to ring true."
"In its three score years and ten the University of California has permanently enriched the life of this community, it has faithfully served the people of the whole State, it has won respect throughout the country, and it is honorably known in foreign lands," UC President Robert Gordon Sproul said during his Charter Day address in Harmon Gymnasium on the Berkeley campus on March 23, 1938.
Charter Day was the annual commemoration of the university's founding in 1868.
He announced gifts to the institution. "Among the outstanding gifts was the surprise announcement of $250,000 donated by Mrs. Rosalie M. Stern of San Francisco for the construction of a new men's dormitory on the campus." (Note: The phrase "men's dormitory" isn't a typo. Mrs. Stern did initially offer the gift for a men's hall; later, the arrangements would be shifted to provide for the first UC owned and operated women's dormitory, today's Stern Hall.)