The 20th Armistice Day, on Nov. 11 1938, was commemorated in Berkeley with a downtown parade and dedication of Constitution Place. It would be "the most impressive (Armistice Day observance) held in Berkeley in years," the Berkeley Daily Gazette predicted.
"Thousands" watched a parade that marched north on Shattuck from Derby Street to Addison Street, then west.
Parade units were reviewed by dignitaries, "with the machines (cars) drawn into a circle, facing Constitution Place."
The "Place" was officially dedicated at Center Street and Shattuck Avenue, where a tree had been planted some months before "as a memorial to the signers of the United States Constitution and the heroic dead who lost their lives in service to their country," the Gazette reported.
"In the years to come, the footfalls of free men will be heard as they pass this sacred memorial under the shadow of the growing tree," said Berkeley Mayor Edward Ament. "The flag of our nation will show her stars and colors as she waves above this place. The tree will grow larger and reach high in the heavens, and men will remember that liberty, justice and order will prevail so long as we preserve the charter of a free people -- the Constitution of the United States."
(Today, there's no trace of the memorial. Tree and flagpole are gone, and Berkeley's "tuning fork" sculpture stands on the spot. "Constitution Place" is incorrectly referred to as "Constitution Square." And Armistice Day later became Veterans Day.)
After the evening parade, 1,200 people packed the Veterans Memorial building for the second annual Armistice Day Ball and a card party.
At 11 a.m. the same day the Campanile chimes master played "Taps." Next to the UC campus, a "peace meeting" was held outside Sather Gate by the Young People's Socialist League. "Proposals made at the meeting included abolition of ROTC, support of a popular referendum on war, support of the Oxford Pledge not to bear arms, withdrawal of all American troops abroad, and labor boycott of Fascist-made goods."
The night before, Wheeler Auditorium had been the scene of a debate between the director of the League of Nations Association, noted professor of modern European history, Dr. Robert Kerner, and a student debater. "The first two speakers advocated that the United States take definite steps to establish the collective security among the world's democracies, and united action for peace. The final speaker argued for isolation, declaring that collective security had failed to force the retreat of Fascism."
Edward M. Gabbot, a 13-year-old climbing with friends Nov. 13, 1938 on the "steep embankment" near the fire lookout above Grizzly Peak Boulevard, was killed when he slipped and fell 40 feet to the pavement. He and his widowed mother had moved to Berkeley just two months before from Salt Lake City.
The Planning Commission held a hearing on the newly proposed site for Berkeley's Vedanta Society building at Bowditch and Haste. The institution had relocated its proposed building from Dwight Way and Piedmont Avenue, where neighborhood protest had stopped the plan. The commission supported the new proposal, noting that of 106 people who had signed a petition opposing the new site, only eight lived within 200 feet. The next Tuesday, Nov. 15, nearly 100 people attended the City Council meeting as protests against the proposal continued. The council set a public hearing for the following week.
In what would become known as Kristallnacht, German Jews and their homes, businesses, synagogues, and cemeteries were attacked by Nazis throughout Germany and Austria on the night of Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. The Gazette carried news of American protests in the following days.