Seventy-five years ago, on Nov. 7, 1938, Berkeleyans and other Californians went to the polls in a general statewide election that included a race for governor.
Berkeley had 57,141 individuals on the voter rolls, "the greatest registration in its history" according to the Berkeley Daily Gazette. "Berkeley was expected to remain in the Republican ranks, as usual," the paper reported.
Nationally, the Republican-endorsing Gazette was glad to report that the general election "reversed the New Deal tide and restored the G.O.P. to the status of a national party." Republicans won 72 House and seven Senate seats held by Democrats. However, large Democratic victories in 1932, '34, and '36 meant that Democrats would retain control of Congress.
In California, the Republican tide fell short. Democrat Culbert Olson ousted Republican Gov. Frank Merriam and Democrat Sheridan Downey won a contested Senate seat against Phillip Bancroft from Walnut Creek. The California delegation to the House would have 13 Democrats and 7 Republicans.
The so-called "Ham and Eggs Plan," an initiative that would have paid state pensions of "30 dollars every Thursday," to those over 50, was defeated after an all-out attack by business interests, and a cool reception among many mainstream Democrats. The premise of the plan was that recipients would spend the money on necessities and stimulate the economy.
Charles Ellsworth Dunscomb, owner of the Berkeley Daily Gazette died suddenly in his Hotel Whitecotton (today's Shattuck) apartment on the evening of Nov. 7, 1938. He was 70, and had been sick for three weeks.
His memorial service was held three days later at the Niehaus Company chapel at 2640 Grove St. Dunscomb was eulogized as a 36-year journalist who had owned the Gazette since 1915. From 1902 to 1915 he co-owned it with Friend Richardson, later governor of California.
The Rev. Laurence Cross (later mayor of Berkeley) officiated and eulogized Dunscomb as a journalist who kept the Gazette "as clean as the untrodden snow. When a domestic scandal, or a revolting crime has made columns and columns elsewhere, the Gazette carried only the necessary lines of news ... Those of us who have been trying to keep the early impressions of our children clean and sweet have Mr. Dunscomb to thank that there existed a paper which we did not have to read in advance. When we have tried to make Berkeley not only a city of homes but of churches, we have found Mr. Dunscomb always sympathetic and generous with his newspaper space."
By prearrangement the Gazette newsroom and printing plant on Center Street fell silent for four minutes when the memorial service started at 10 a.m. In a front-page statement on Nov. 10, his widow, Flora E. Dunscomb, pledged to continue his editorial policies and family ownership of the paper.
New UC building
On Nov. 8, the Gazette carried a small story reporting unofficial word that three University of California buildings would be funded by the federal Public Works Administration. They included, "a new University Press building at Berkeley," as well as structures at UC Davis and UCLA. The UC Press building that was planned is the same structure now being converted to the new home of the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive on Center Street.
The Berkeley campus was also hoping for funding for "a classroom building, administration building, and women's dormitory." Those were ultimately not funded.
The 17-year-old violin prodigy Isaac Stern performed at the Men's Gymnasium on the UC campus on Nov. 13, 1938, with the California Symphony Orchestra.
Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and American novelist Pearl Buck won Nobel Prizes in early November 1938.