"Berkeley Protests" read an editorial headline in the Berkeley Daily Gazette 75 years ago, Sept. 6, 1938. This wasn't the sort of local protest that would become commonplace in later decades. Instead, civic leaders were incensed that Oakland was trying to appropriate county promotional funds to advertise the East Bay as "Metropolitan Oakland." Berkeley felt this threatened a potential $10,000 in county funds for Berkeley-only promotion in the run up to the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island.
Wrote the editorialist, "Berkeley is a peace-loving city. Its people are peaceful, and on the whole they are a patient lot. They are strong for fair play, ask only for their share, and they have no illusions of grandeur.
"For some time now they have been fairly content to allow Oakland whatever satisfaction it could get out of the high-sounding 'Metropolitan Oakland' prefix it appropriate, so long as it didn't take in too much territory."
"Berkeley did protest, though mildly, when the University of California and other Berkeley attractions, including the city's name, appeared in advertisements in eastern publications under the all-embracing banner of 'Metropolitan Oakland', and against flaunting the 'Metropolitan' advertising in the streetcars and busses operating throughout the East Bay Area.
"But the camel's back of our patience was broken when we discovered that the 'Metropolitan Oakland' group was maneuvering to obtain the exclusive handling of some $80,000 of County advertising funds to further exploit the 'Metropolitan' idea."
Up to that point, I was in accord with the indignation of the editorial writer. But then he piously added, "Berkeley has never gone in for advertising simply to increase its population." That's revisionist. All through the early decades of the 20th century Berkeley relentlessly promoted itself as a place to come live, including during the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The editorial did admit that now Berkeley wanted the "most desirable" new residents who would presumably come to visit California for the 1939 exposition and decide to stay.
"Berkeley is a distinctive community, known throughout the world as the educational center of the West -- the home of the University of California. It is a clean city, physically and politically. It has an excellent health record, a police department second to none. It is not ambitious to become a metropolis -- preferring to remain rather a city of homes -- a center of education and culture."
An interesting observation on Labor Day was made in a Gazette editorial, Sept. 5, 1938. "Most every man occupying high places in the political, commercial, industrial or professional life of this country, at one time or another in the course of his climb to success, has engaged in manual labor. To have labored with one's hands on the road to success is a badge of honor in the United States."
Europe stood on the brink of crisis again in early September 1938, as Germany threatened Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland and Hitler massed 1.5 million soldiers on the border.
In response, France ordered all diplomats and government ministers to return to their posts from vacation, and mobilized reserve troops on the Maginot Line.
Britain warned Germany of dire consequences and dispatched the Home Fleet -- from battleships to destroyers and submarines -- to take up its traditional crisis station in the North Sea. Meanwhile, one British naval unit, the heavy cruiser H.M.S. York, was showing the flag in the Bay Area while headed for the Panama Canal. (Serving in the Mediterranean during the coming war, the York would be permanently put out of commission in 1941 during an attack of the Italian Navy on Crete.)