Thanksgiving in Berkeley 75 years ago was celebrated with a number of "union" church services where Christians from several denominations and congregations gathered together under the auspices of the Berkeley Council of Churches. On Nov. 25, 1937 participants worshipped in three locations for central, north, and south Berkeley services.

They were held at First Congregational; Northbrae Methodist; and the Church of the New Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Scandinavian churches held their own separate union service, and Episcopalian and Roman Catholic congregations carried out business as usual without consolidated services.

There was also a "Berkeley Unity Service" at the Women's City Club.

Berkeley Mayor Edward Ament issued a Thanksgiving proclamation that was printed on the front page of the Berkeley Daily Gazette. "We are thankful that we have passed through the dangerous strike situation, and we are hopeful of a peaceful understanding between labor and capital, and that we are at peace with all Nations," he wrote, in part.

"On this Thanksgiving Day ... all people should cease from their labor, and in the home, the church or in the aisles of some deep wood where God's smile is mirrored in the flame of Autumn's glory, give thanks to Him for the richness of harvest time; for the contentment of home, love and friendship."


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Of course there were the traditional Thanksgiving dinner specials offered by several local restaurants in one advertising section. They ranged in price from 45 cents at the Berkeley Inn (Telegraph and Haste) for a "Grand Turkey Dinner" to $1 at various establishments, including the Hotel Durant, where the choices included "Baked Smoke Ham, Pilgrim Style," Hubbard squash, "Colonial Dame Salad, Hot Mice Pie, Plum Pudding, Frozen Eggnog" and fruitcakes and fruit cups.

The Thanksgiving weather in Berkeley was "fair and mild" with "gentle northerly winds."

Local temperatures the day before Thanksgiving ranged from 46 to 60 degrees.

"The United States celebrated Thanksgiving today, attending religious services, eating turkeys, and watching football games," the Gazette reported.

Thanksgiving shopping

Shopping for bargains right after Thanksgiving was a phenomenon 75 years ago, as now. Hink's department store held its "last dollar day before Xmas" sale the day after Turkey Day. A full-page ad offered "200 smart dresses" discounted to $7 or $12 each, "500 winter coats" for between $16 and $49, and 87-cent card table covers, among other items.

J.C. Penney opened a bigger downtown store, with sale items from "virgin wool, moth proofed" blankets for $6.90 each to "Glamorously sheer Gaymode Silk Hosiery" for 79 cents a pair. The store at 2190 Shattuck Ave. had "more floor space; enthusiastic employees" according to a big spread in the Nov. 27, 1937 Gazette.

It ran 55 feet along Shattuck, twice the previous frontage. By today's standards the store, at the northwest corner of Allston, still looked fairly traditional, with a neoclassical brick facade. The store had several new departments and featured "Toyland, said to have the most complete stock of toys in Berkeley."

Future cities

The Nov. 26 Gazette carried an advertisement from Shell Oil with a large photograph of a model "City of Tomorrow." In that metropolis, the ad said, "you'll loaf along at 50 (mph) right through town. Complete separation of traffic moving at different speeds will end today's confusion."

Cities would have, the ad predicted, "express streets" for longer trips, with no pedestrians or stop lights, separate from "one-way local streets made wider by the elevation of sidewalks, elimination of parked cars, and loading trucks. Pedestrians will walk, shop, and cross the streets at the second-story level", while motorcars would park inside buildings.

The ad noted that average drivers in 1937 made 30 traffic stops a day.