Seventy-five years ago, Berkeley was in danger of not meeting its self-adopted charitable obligations, the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported Oct. 28, 1937. In a front-page statement Community Chest Chairman Dr. Monroe Deutsch -- also vice president of the University of California -- told Chest volunteer workers that only $119,104 of a pledge goal of $145,000 had been raised.

Five days remained to raise the remainder. (Adjusted for inflation, $145,000 in 1937 is equivalent to about $2.18 million today.)

"Berkeley constantly announces its civic pride, its friendliness; we ask now that it prove this not by words but by deeds -- not by public speeches but by coin -- not orally but by written pledges," Deutsch said.

"We realize the desperate straits of each and every one of these 23 agencies if we should fail to make the goal," he added. "The community will be depriving each agency that serves it, the children of the day nursery, the solitary travelers in our midst, those who go to the Salvation Army for aid, the Boy Scouts, the campus agencies -- each one will have to curtail and cut the service which it is now rendering to those who make use of it."

Diving death

Arvid Gustav Pirag, an 18-year-old UC junior, died Oct. 22, 1937 when he fell from the diving board of the swimming pool at the Men's Gymnasium on campus. He had climbed "to the platform of the highest diving tower", and "swayed back and forth, causing several spectators to believe he was preparing for a 'clowning' dive, and then fell forward into the depths of the tank."


Advertisement

Two other students pulled him from the water after he did not rise to the surface, but a fire crew was unable to revive Pirag.

Doctors were initially unsure if he died "from some kind of an attack" or from striking the bottom of the pool. "The tragedy occurred during an exhibition of life saving and swimming," with some 600 spectators present. Pirag was a participant in the program.

There's still a swimming pool at that site, although it's a newer one, built in the 1980s by combining the sites of the old, separate, swimming and diving pools. The Men's Gymnasium was rebuilt as today's Haas Pavilion.

Railroad underpass

Berkeley was planning to build a $175,000 underpass at the railroad tracks at the foot of University Avenue, the Gazette reported Oct. 26. The city was hoping for state funding "sometime during the next year." If it had been built, the underpass would have initially eliminated the need for the large overpass viaduct that now exists.

And it would have allowed, along Second Street, "a proper entrance to the Aquatic Park roadway and (would) make the park boating facilities easily accessible, as originally planned."

Albany rewarded

Albany notched two big accomplishments Oct. 26, 1937, the Gazette reported. First, the town was going to get a "classified Post Office" and mail would be canceled "Albany," not Berkeley.

The United States Post Office Department was looking for a site and promising "every type of service such as registered and insured mail, money orders, and so forth ..."

Second, it was announced that commemorative maps being issued by the Golden Gate International Exposition Committee had been revised, after protests, and would contain the name of Albany.

Republicans

On Oct. 27, 1937, former President Herbert Hoover said definitively he would not run for the Republican nomination in the 1940 election.

He was, the Gazette reported in a United Press story, urging a 1938 midterm Republican National Convention, and was in a "show down" for party influence with 1936 Presidential candidate Alf Landon.