The July 4 holiday fell on a Monday 75 years ago, but that didn't stem the enthusiasm of local revelers in 1938. It was "Berkeley's greatest celebration of the Fourth of July," according to the Berkeley Daily Gazette.

The traditional municipal picnic and speeches were held at Live Oak Park, followed in the evening with "a brilliantly illuminated water carnival and marine parade" at the recently completed Aquatic Park and "the largest display of fireworks ever touched off here."

The speaker of the day at Live Oak Park was Samuel Hume, remembered today primarily for his distinctive Berkeley home -- the medieval style Hume Cloister on Buena Vista Way -- but notable back then for his civic involvement, his downtown bookstore, and his leadership in local dramatic activities.

"In a political and social system such as ours, where every man and woman has a vote and votes as he chooses, public opinion is really the government," Hume said. Meanwhile, the day before, Berkeley ministers preached sermons that "warned the people against ideologies contrary to the Christian ideal."

Water sports kicked off the celebration with "the city's first fishing derby" on July 2 at the old ferry pier, now renamed Sportsman's Pier. Later that morning model yacht racers and fans would gather at the southern end of Aquatic Park for the two-day Pacific Coast Championships. Racers entered from as far away as Seattle and San Diego.

The yacht pool at the park was officially dedicated July 4.

New building


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"The heart of Berkeley's business district within a few months will be graced by a new building of the latest design of architecture," the Gazette reported July 5. No, it wasn't the mammoth 18-story Southern California-style residential tower now proposed to loom over the Shattuck Hotel; that's a 2013 plan. In 1938, the proposal was more modest, calling for a building on Berkeley's old downtown train station site, at Shattuck and Center.

Joseph W. Harris, of local "Call Me Joe" men's clothing fame, had bought the southern tip of the site and was planning a modern two-story-plus basement streamlined glass block structure "in conformity with the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce's Arts and Beautification Committee's requirements."

The building Harris constructed is long gone, replaced by a bank and then the "Kaplan Building" at the end of the Shattuck Square gore.

Berkeley tennis

Don Budge of Berkeley won Wimbledon for a second consecutive year, July 1, 1938, defeating Henry Wilfred Austin of England. "Budge, ruler of every major court in the world, was the first American since 'Big Bill' Tilden to win two in a row at Wimbledon," the Gazette reported on the front page.

"The gangling California red head" won in straight sets, cementing his number one world ranking.

But that's not all! The next day, the final in women's singles was an all-Berkeley affair, pitting Helen Jacobs against Helen Wills Moody. Moody would win, making her an eight-time Wimbledon champion.

The two women, the Gazette reported, were "bitter feudists ever since they were little girls in Berkeley" and "frigidly shook hands at the net."

Fire

On June 30, 1938, a fire destroyed the soil and irrigation building at UC Davis. "Included in the loss were records of nationally important agricultural experiments, it was said, and the loss of notes taken on the experiment (sic) will be a serious setback in solving many agricultural problems throughout the United States," the Gazette reported the next day.

This fire seems to have been an unpleasant echo of the 1897 fire on the UC Berkeley campus that destroyed the institution's first free-standing agriculture building and many records and collections there.