East Bay Yesterday
Summary: East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
John Muir died on Christmas Eve of 1914, but his gravesite is finally just opening up to the public now. In honor of this occasion, we’ll take a look at a side of “the father of America’s National Parks” that’s not widely known — his life in Contra Costa County. This episode features interviews with John Muir Historic Site park rangers who share stories of Muir’s local adventures, his family and why he was often spotted carrying “pillowcases full of money.” For more info on visiting Muir’s grave: https://www.nps.gov/jomu/index.htm For more info on East Bay Yesterday: https://eastbayyesterday.com/
Although Oakland has one of the highest concentrations of lesbians in the country, the history—and impact—of this community is relatively unknown. Lenn Keller is trying to change that with the upcoming launch of the Bay Area Lesbian Archives, a wide-ranging collection of photographs, activist materials, meeting notes, videos and more. In this episode, Keller shares stories of why some of the world’s first lesbian of color groups formed, discusses the thriving network of collectives that existed here in the 1970s and 80s, and reminisces about some of her favorite lesbian bars of the era. Note: The Bay Area Lesbian Archives site has not launched yet, but to support the organization online, visit the fiscal sponsor's webpage: http://labryshealthcarecircle.com/ace/balhap.html
What do a Buddhist Church, a lighthouse, a 72-room hotel and a whole block of Victorian houses have in common? They’re all Oakland buildings that were picked up and moved from their original settings. This episode explores the history of structure relocation in the East Bay, from the Gold Rush to current projects. Warning: Assumptions about authenticity, technology and historic preservation will be challenged. Featuring interviews with: author Diane Donovan, Oakland Heritage Alliance board member Naomi Schiff, architect Jim Heilbronner and real estate developer Paul Gryfakis.
Instead of one long story, the 25th episode of East Bay Yesterday features four shorties. In one interview, a man reminisces about using very unusual bait while fishing with his grandpa at the Berkeley pier. In another, a longtime Oakland postal employee recalls his close calls with stray gunfire. From underground circuses to sideshows, this episode compiles quirky memories into an audio time capsule of East Bay history. Support for this episode was provided by my dentist, Dr. Curtis Perry. You can find information about his dental practice at: http://www.oaklandsmiles.com
Richard Pryor was one of the most influential comedians of all time, but when he first arrived in the East Bay, he said: “I don’t think I have a style yet.” This episode explores how living in Berkeley during an era full of riots and revolutionaries sparked Pryor’s creative evolution. Authors Cecil Brown and Ishmael Reed share memories of these tumultuous times and Pryor biographer Scott Saul explains how the controversial performer went on to change American culture forever.
From jumping off pianos with James Brown to running the streets with Etta James, Sugar Pie DeSanto has led a wild life. In this episode, the soul singer shares memories of performing in Oakland’s legendary 1950s blues clubs, stunning global audiences with her risqué moves, and making grown men cry. As Sugar Pie puts it, “I’m one of the roughest women you could ever know. I ain’t to be played with!” Listen now to find out what happened when one aggressive fan learned this lesson the hard way. Special thanks to Mr. Jim Moore and Jasman Records. Support Sugar Pie DeSanto by purchasing her music at: http://sugarpiedesanto.com/ Also, check out my article about Sugar Pie in this week’s issue of East Bay Express: https://www.eastbayexpress.com/
“OG Told Me” isn’t just a new book, it’s a survival guide packed full of advice that Pendarvis Harshaw gathered from more than 50 interviews with Black elders. This episode takes a trip back in time though hyphy-era sideshows, graffiti yards and even a possibly haunted building in downtown Oakland.
For decades, millions of drivers passing through Emeryville saw an ever-changing array of giant statues along the bayshore. In addition to the towering wooden vikings, dragons and other whimsical creatures, activists used driftwood and trash to build monumental projects responding to the tumultuous political era. This episode traces the rise and fall of this “renegade drive-thru art gallery” and explores the concept of public art. Featuring interviews with Joey Enos, Tom Enos, Denise Neal, Lincoln Cushing and Tim Drescher. Be sure to follow East Bay Yesterday on social media to see photos of the “Emeryville mudflat sculptures.”
Dorothea Lange is one of the most famous photographers of all time, but the local work she did during her many decades as an East Bay resident is often overlooked. This episode explores how she went from taking portraits of the Bay Area’s wealthiest families to documenting the poor and working class. Dorothea’s goddaughter, Elizabeth Partridge, and Drew Johnson, curator of the Oakland Museum’s new Dorothea Lange exhibition, share insights on what makes her photographs so iconic—and why they’re still so relevant. “Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing” is showing at the Oakland Museum of California from May 13 through August 13, 2017. For details, visit: http://museumca.org/exhibit/dorothea-lange-politics-seeing
Long before the Athletics moved to Oakland, teams like the Colonels, the Larks and the Aztec Stars played baseball in the East Bay. Special guest contributor Cyrus Farivar digs into the roots of our national pastime—and even visits “vintage” game. Did you know that Oakland’s first black mayor was a pitcher in the West Coast Negro League? This is just one of the many stories explored in today’s episode. Play ball!
Four decades after the U.S. government incarcerated nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans, long-hidden evidence revealed that the reason behind the mass imprisonment was a lie. This episode explores how the discovery a “smoking gun” report led to Oakland native Fred Korematsu re-opening his World War II-era Supreme Court case. Korematu’s lawyer, Dale Minami, shares how lessons learned from this “civil rights disaster” can help prevent another injustice of this magnitude—or worse.
Have you ever wondered what the East Bay was like before colonization? In this episode, Corrina Gould of Indian People Organizing for Change shares knowledge of how her ancestors, the Ohlone people, maintained a relatively peaceful culture here for thousands of years. Although this history was nearly wiped out, struggles to protect sacred shellmound sites—some of them older than the Egyptian pyramids—have sparked a movement to honor this region’s original inhabitants and reclaim “lost” languages, crafts and practices.
Bruce Lee’s time in the East Bay affected him profoundly. This episode explores how a legendary fight sparked an evolution that changed martial arts forever. Charles Russo, author of “Striking Distance,” and Gary Cagaanan, an Oakland native who trained in one of Bruce Lee’s schools, share insights into this hard-hitting history.
Although rarely credited, Berkeley became America’s first sanctuary city on November 8, 1971. This episode explores how an ancient idea was revived in protest of the Vietnam War and again to support Central American refugees during the 1980s. With sanctuary cities under attack by the Trump administration, learn how the sanctuary movement started—and triumphed over previous crackdowns by the U.S. government. Featuring interviews with: Jose Artiga, Sister Maureen Duignan, Bennett Falk and Prof. Jennifer Ridgley.
In the mid-1990s, the East Bay was the center of the punk rock universe. Lookout Records co-founder Larry Livermore shares his thoughts on the surprising origins of the scene that produced the biggest-selling punk band of all time and countless other influential (and occasionally notorious) groups. He also reflects on how letting his little record label grow beyond his bedroom into a multi-million dollar company sowed the seeds of its downfall. “It was far beyond the wildest dreams of the young assembly line steel mill worker that I started out as...”