"Berkeley's Exposition Week, a seven-day program in which all citizens have been invited to participate in advertising the community to the Nation as one of attractive residences, the home of the University of California, and East Bay headquarters of the Pacific International Exposition, opened today", the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported 75 years ago, Sept. 19, 1938. The event was a centerpiece of the local run-up to the Golden Gate International Exposition that would open on Treasure Island in the Bay in February 1939.

"Several hundred Berkeleyans" attended a "kick off" lunch that day at the Hotel Whitecotton (today's Shattuck). The event also celebrated the 38th anniversary of the local Chamber of Commerce. The guest of honor was Leland J. Cutler, president of the exposition and chairman of the board of trustees of Stanford University. He praised City Manager Hollis Thompson, local impresario Samuel Hume, and UC President Robert Gordon Sproul for their assistance in exposition planning.

A four-part Berkeley promotional strategy included "Exposition Week," "designed to draw attention to Berkeley's business establishments (and) to induce citizens engaged in a great campaign to make Berkeley the stopping place of vast numbers of visitors during the Exposition year."


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The second part was a campaign to encourage Berkeley people to prepare hotels, apartments, and extra rooms in private homes for exposition visitors.

Third was a "100,000 Letter Club" busily writing to people outside Berkeley encouraging them to visit.

Fourth was an Exposition bureau to serve as a clearinghouse for visitor inquiries and local services.

Hillside club

Also getting into the spirit of the coming exposition, the Hillside Club transformed its clubhouse on Cedar Street into a "Treasure Island Fair" for members on Sept. 19, 1938. There were "ten appropriately and beautifully decorated tables, each representing a Treasure Island concession."

The toastmaster for the evening left the head table and went to each dining table in turn, asking a member seated there to describe its particular theme. The tables represented: China and Japan; transportation; the South Sea Islands; Mexico; Alaska; Hall of Science; forestry; fisheries; dairy. Appropriately, Robert Shuey of a prominent Berkeley dairy family gave the response at that table, and Professor John Gregg, head of the department of landscape architecture at UC, represented forestry. There was also a stage skit to represent the "Gay Way," the planned entertainment zone at the Exposition, and the attendees joined in singing "I Love You California."

European crisis

Overseas, the Czech government bowed to what it described as "irresistible pressure" from Britain and France, agreeing to German demands to surrender the Sudetenland within a week. "Europe surrendered to Adolf Hitler today the key to Nazi dominance of Central Europe" was the lead on the wire service story in the Gazette. The front page featured a large photograph of Hitler, captioned "Dominating Figure in Europe."

Dr. Vlastimil Kybal, "noted historian and former Czechoslovakian minister to Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Argentine and other Latin republics" spoke at the University of California. He called the situation "a struggle between a democratic and a humanitarian republic on the one side and on the other an autocratic and chauvinistic empire, which, under the pretext of protecting members of its own race, is gathering its strength and preparing to extend its control and domination over Central and Eastern Europe."

Train crash

On Sept. 20, 1938, "eleven persons were killed ... and 106 persons injured, some so seriously they may die, when the Southern Pacific's Argonaut crashed through a switch and plunged into the Californian, which was waiting with its sleeping passengers on a siding on the Mojave Desert near the little town of Niland."