Berkeley, a Look Back: Local teens aid 1944 war food production

As part of the home front war efforts 75 years ago during World War II, “100 harvest volunteers, 49 girls and 60 boys from East Bay high schools today are making their first contribution to the Allies’ 1944 food production goals in the fruit packing sheds of Placer County,” the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported June 19, 1944. “They departed yesterday from Berkeley in a bus caravan which safely landed the girls in their new summer home at Auburn and took the boys to their destination at Loomis, nearby.”

They would be paid 50 cents an hour initially for an eight-hour day sorting, grading and packing fruit and later could earn as much as $6 to $8 a day. Their room-and-board charges would be $1.60 a day, and they would stay in buildings belonging to a local high school and junior college.

At the same time offices in Oakland and Berkeley were enrolling women and families to do similar work picking and packing apricots in eastern Contra Costa County. Tent communities were being erected and child care would be provided for “children too young to work in the harvest.”

Downtown armor: An amphibious tank appeared in June 1944 on Shattuck Avenue between Center Street and Allston Way, where the BART plaza is now located. It wasn’t there to either assault or defend the city, however. It was a prop in front of the local Woolworth’s five-and-dime store for Berkeley’s Fifth War Bond Drive. It apparently worked, because on June 20 Berkeley reached the $1 million milestone in the drive. The city’s goal had been $7,236,105.

New manager: Berkeley’s new City Manager Gerritt Vander Ende was “enthusiastically welcomed into the City fold” on June 15 with a dinner for 60 at the Berkeley Yacht Club. City department heads arranged festivities at the event. June 17, many Berkeley residents came to the Council Chambers in City Hall to meet him, and a program of introduction was recorded for radio broadcast.

Local crimes: Berkeley courts were busy with local prosecutions in mid-June 1944. Fifteen shipyard workers were sentenced by Judge Oliver Youngs for “willfully and illegally playing with dice for money” on the Shipyard Railway trains that passed through West Berkeley conveying workers to Richmond. Plainclothes officers boarded one train and joined in dice games. The police then stopped the trains at Ninth and Gilman and the dice players were arrested.

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Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle


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