The City of Berkeley commemorated Memorial Day 75 years ago this week. On May 30, 1938, veterans gathered at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito for their annual service. The Rev. Warren T. Howe, pastor of the Berkeley Park Chapel, delivered an address that "rapped those who spread anti-American sentiment here which originates abroad."
"We have within our borders several groups who hate our Flag, despise our laws, threaten our government and have sworn allegiance to foreign rulers," he said. "We are admonished to 'be at peace among ourselves.'
"Well, I'm no authority on the settlement of factional and racial differences, but I do know that much of our unrest in America today is fostered by anti-American sentiment that is of foreign origin," he continued. "I am for peace but to have it we must silence the discords that interrupt it."
The previous day, some 300 Berkeleyans joined the traditional "Service on the Waters," casting wreaths into the Bay in remembrance of "sailors, marines, soldiers and aviators." In previous years this service, as you may recall from my earlier columns, had been conducted from a ferryboat. In 1938 the platform was the U.S.S. Henley "one of the Navy's later types of destroyers."
"God of our fathers, grant that the drums of war forever cease to sound an alarm, and that the angels of peace stand at our gates," said Berkeley Mayor Edward Ament.
(Only three and a half years later, the Henley would be at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by Japanese warplanes. On Oct. 3, 1943, the Henley sank after being torpedoed near New Guinea. The attack killed 15 crew members, while nearly 250 were rescued.)
On May 31, 1938, the City Council blessed the creation in Berkeley of "Junior Pride Clubs" in the local schools.
"In a letter to the council, Lulu B. Bacon, secretary of the current events section of the Northbrae Women's Club, stated the purpose of the club, already installed in the Oakland schools, is to encourage children in the work of attaining greater beauty of surroundings by planting trees and shrubs about the school and home in preparation for the Golden Gate International Exposition, and to instill in them a greater sensitivity to cleanliness, which will result in a desire to keep their school free from all unsightly debris and promote a feeling of civic responsibility."
After its regular meeting that day, the council adjourned to view "as guests of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad ... the new streamlined train displayed by the railroad this morning at West Street and University Avenue." A bike path is there now.
On June 1, 1938, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce voiced "unanimous endorsement of a police administration building and scientific laboratory for Berkeley" to be built with local and federal funds.
The low level Broadway Tunnel (now the Caldecott) may have opened in 1937, but construction litigation was still working its way through the courts in May 1938.
A San Francisco judge had been reviewing a $3 million suit by the private construction contractors -- the Six Companies -- against the highway district, and the district was counter suing for $2 million.
"Six Companies brought the suit on the grounds the district engineers had led them to believe the earth in which the tunnel was bored was sturdier than it actually was. The district claimed the companies owed it $500 daily forfeit for 400 days because the companies withdrew from the project and left it for the district to finish," the Gazette reported May 31.
That day the judge dismissed the contractor suit, and started hearings on a motion to dismiss the district suit.