World War II came to Berkeley’s beach 75 years ago on Dec. 8, 1943, about absolutely two years afterwards Pearl Harbor. Sixteen surplus landing barges from the U.S. Army had been abandoned on the bank at the abject of Gilman Street, aloft the Eastshore Freeway. The barges had apparent account in landings in the Solomon Islands and had been alternate damaged to the United States for sale.
They were bought by Henry A. Tieslau, a “machinery and tractor dealer” who was either activity to refurbish them for noncombatant use or breach them up for atom metal. The barges were advised to displace aloof 14 inches of water.
A Berkeley Daily Gazette reporter who went to see them wrote that “scornful slogans and characters of Hitler and Mussolini and Jap admirals still mark the close walls, and on an agent allowance of one barge the name ‘Floyd Etta’ is painted. In another, “Grace” can still be deciphered. The active East Bank Highway cartage whizzes by them anniversary day, bags see the helpless, bulky warriors of the avant-garde era. From their askance landing projections Marines of every accompaniment plodded into new and abhorrent warfare …The broad shell-hole in one of the barges is aphasiac affidavit to an affliction of fire.”
Fire dangers: Violent apprehension from the arctic gusting added than 70 afar an hour “huffed and puffed” through Northern California on the night of Dec. 8 and into the abutting day. “Innumerable” fires were started in eastern Contra Costa County, there were blazes in Napa and Vallejo, and a actor dollars of accident was done to fishing boats and wharves in Monterey.
Seventy-five-mile-an-hour apprehension pushed a middle-of-the-night and morning blaze through Tilden Park and aloft the Caldecott Tunnel, aggressive barrio and adjacent homes, acid ability to genitalia of Arctic Oakland and banishment association to abscond the Claremont and Broadway Terrace districts.
Holiday plants: “Make the holidays brighter with Christmas House Plants” an advertisement from Montgomery Ward appear Dec. 13, 1943. The alternation abundance at 2145 University Ave. advertised poinsettias, camellias, azaleas, begonias and Santa Paula violets for auction at prices alignment from 98 cents to $3.50.
The poinsettias were “the best accepted Christmas plant. These … are able-bodied grown, athletic plants that can be crude into your garden afterwards the holidays.” Which is true. There are still, actuality and there in Berkeley, ample poinsettia shrubs growing alfresco in clandestine gardens, usually adjoin a balmy south adverse wall.
On that aforementioned day, the bi-weekly warned that Christmas timberline food were acceptable to abatement short. The cardinal of copse accessible for auction would be about 20 percent beneath than antecedent years, primarily due to wartime restrictions on busline that were attached the cardinal of copse brought in from Canada.
Surplus sale: On Dec. 14, 1943, the burghal of Berkeley captivated a comb auction of lost-and-found items that hadn’t been claimed. There was active behest for acclimated bicycles and tricycles, which awash for prices up to $27 each, agnate to about $400 today.
New housing: It was appear on Dec. 8, 1943, that Barrington Hall, one of the beyond accumulation abode of the University Students Cooperative Association, would be adapted to apartments for war artisan housing. $76,000 would be spent to bisect the architecture in bisected and actualize 45 two- and three-room apartments for a atomic seven years.
The conversion, advised by San Francisco artist Timothy Pflueger, would accommodate a “stucco exoteric and avant-garde finishes inside.” The building, which sported a classical balustrade on its Haste Street frontage, had been congenital aboriginal in the 20th aeon as the clandestine Lafayette Apartments.
Steven Finacom is a Bay Area built-in and association historian in Berkeley.
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