On April 1, 75 years ago, the Berkeley Daily Gazette ran a list of announced candidates for municipal office in the May 1939 elections. The office of mayor, four seats on the Berkeley City Council, and the post of auditor were in play.

Edward Ament was retiring as mayor, and Frank Gaines, a member of the City Council with two years left in his term, was running to succeed him.

His opponents were businessmen, E.E. Luther "manufacturer and chemical engineer," and Roswell J. Morgan, "owner and manager of the Morgan Professional Building, 2054 University Avenue."

Four council incumbents filed to run for re-election. They were Carrie Hoyt, a "prominent member of civic and patriotic organizations"; funeral director Frank Berg; Dr. Richard French, superintendent of the California School for the Blind; and attorney Edward Martin.

Twelve others filed for the council. They included James Corley, assistant to the comptroller at UC. Corley would later become a UC vice president and indeed serve on the council, holding what some referred to as the "UC seat."

Another candidate was Frances Albrier, whose occupation was described as "housewife." Although the paper didn't report it in this article, Albrier had helped organize the East Bay Women's Welfare Club to advocate for civil rights and the estimated 5,000 African-American taxpayers in Berkeley. Their first campaign had been an unsuccessful effort to get the school district to hire an African-American teacher. This was followed by Albrier's candidacy for City Council. She would be the first prominent African-American to run for council in Berkeley. You may recognize her name. Today, it's on the community center in San Pablo Park.


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Open house

On March 29, 1939, a "great throng" attended Berkeley's annual open house at City Hall.

The Berkeley League of Women Voters and the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which featured "more exhibits, demonstrations, and entertainment than ever before." Attractions included the new 85-foot ladder truck of the Berkeley Fire Department. The ladder was raised and lowered, and at one point provided a stairway for a city roofer to go to the top of the City Hall.

During the event an estimated 10,000 locals toured city offices and talked to employees. In the evening, the Berkeley High School band performed on the steps of City Hall.

"It was most gratifying to officials that so large a body of citizens should display the interest in their government disclosed at Wednesday's open house, which evidences an increasing appreciation of the quality of service the municipality is providing," the Gazette editorialized.

April festivities

"Fifty thousand acres of flowering orchards today greeted visitors who came to the Santa Clara Valley for the 40th Annual Saratoga Blossom Festival," the Gazette noted April 1.

To the north, at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, April 2 was Buddhist Day, "marked by many interesting events."

There was also a "Liar's Day" contest at the exposition, won by Lee Mitchell Roberts of 2329 Parker St.

The UC junior told a story about a country populated by "Vinegarians" who raised pickles and were undergoing a civil war between old-timers who favored sour pickles and radicals who promoted dill pickles. One might guess that the point of the contest was to tell the tallest, most entertaining, tale, rather than actually try to convince the audience of the literal truth of the statements made. Interestingly, this contest was held on April 2, not April Fools' Day.

Monarch dies

In Iraq (spelled Irak in the paper) 27-year-old King Ghazi I, "outstanding motor enthusiast," died April 4, 1939 in an auto accident. He left as heir a son not quite 4 years old.