"Planning to devote the next four years to active duty in behalf of the community, Berkeley's new Mayor, Frank S. Gaines officially took over the duties of his office and the reins of city government early this morning at City Hall," the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported 75 years ago, July 1, 1939.

"Mayor Gaines, retired vice-president of the California Corrugated Culvert Company, succeeds Edward N. Ament, who did not seek re-election to the position of Mayor because of failing eyesight. The new executive is well acquainted with the workings of the city government, having been a member of the City Council since 1936.

"Mayor Gaines stated that one of his purposes will be to encourage a livelier interest in participating citizenship," the Gazette added.

"Mayor Gaines declared that in his belief a better general understanding of the city government by the entire citizenry of Berkeley would decrease the multiplicity of demands for desirable things that cannot be adequately financed at present under the existing arrangement. It is his wish, he said, to have installed in the Council chambers a large bulletin board upon which can be placed in large letters the desirable objectives toward which the city government can work and plan."

Gaines, born in Butte County, "considers Stockton as the hometown of his youth." He lived with his wife at 1108 Shattuck Avenue, above Amador.


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Gaines came to office in the tried-and-true way of insider Berkeley politics. He was first appointed to a council seat in 1936, then "re-elected" the next year to a full four-year term with the advantage of running as an incumbent. Mid-way through that term he ran for mayor. His associations included the Oxford School Dads' Club, Boy Scouts and Community Chest.

One out-of-the-ordinary piece of his background was extensive world travel -- "40 countries on four continents" -- during his business career manufacturing and marketing metal culverts. He traveled, the paper reported, "wherever there was rail or highway development, where irrigation, reclamation, or hydroelectric work was underway."

At his first official City Council meeting on July 5, Gaines received accolades and orchids -- literally -- from supporters. He was presented with a large basket of orchids grown by John Carbone, "famed Berkeley florist and orchid grower," and wore an orchid corsage sent by a woman admirer.

Gaines was the lone vote at the meeting against the creation of a position of "Mayor Emeritus" for former Mayor Ament. "I do not want to embarrass the five other living mayors of Berkeley and I believe that in creating the office we are establishing a precedent that is unwise at present."

Fourth of July

Berkeley celebrated the Fourth of July in 1939 with a "lighted boat parade" at Aquatic Park, followed by a "water display." There was also the traditional municipal "old fashioned picnic and outing" at Live Oak Park, with "band concert, oratory, games and contests."

The paper admitted, however, that Treasure Island would probably be a bigger holiday draw. The Gazette celebrated with a red, white and blue front page and a map showing how the United States had expanded over the decades from the original 13 colonies.

Fleet arrives

"Fifty-seven warships of the U.S. Navy streamed through the Golden Gate today, bringing nearly 50,000 officers and men on a 17-day visit to the San Francisco Exposition," the Gazette reported July 1. "Five thousand men from the fleet will join veterans in a parade on Treasure Island July 4."

Danzig

Overseas, all was not well. Tensions between Germany and Poland were intensifying. Thousands of Nazi storm troopers appeared in the free city of Danzig posing as a local "defense corps."