Im’ soon to take a trip to Berkeley, California. I’m staying at the Claremont Hotel, where I grew up just a few blocks away! Sounds like a great, fun time. Now I thought I’d try to think of as many places that were around when I was growing up. Maybe you’ll remember a few of them.
- The Smoke House on Woolsey, I think. It was a little, and I mean little hut with a big grill that continually cooked hamburgers. You could smell the hamburgers from blocks away and most of us found our way to this afternoon delight.
- Botts ice-cream on College Avenue near Ashby. The ice-cream was never disappointing and it took at least 15 minutes to choose the special flavor.
- the Donut Shop on Ashby, just a couple of shops from College. A walk to that store was a way to start any Saturday morning. We’d bring them home and put them a big beautiful platter. And that was caused everyone to wake up fast!
- There were two drug stores with a soda fountain — and a soda jerk. Might sound like a funny name to call someone who was putting together a chocolate soda or banana split. Drug stores had a way to cure people’s ills by letting them sit on a spinning stool next to other neighbors and share a story or two. Everyone always felt better after the visit. In my day, there was Roger. We all had a crush on Roger who would put extra cherries in the cherry coke. We also enjoyed watching him drive off in his hot rod. He was the coolest! By the way, a cherry coke had coke syrup, cherry syrup and soda that spurted out from a metal fountain. Half the fun of drinking the coke was watching it get made and talking (flirting) with Roger.
- Hink’s Department Store. A two story department store on Shattuck Avenue. It also had a little eating area upstairs, where you could buy a piece of pie or have some ice tea or even a sandwich. I think it was there to let you think about that outfit that you put back. Hink’s had a feeling of fine clothes and you always were glad to bring home a special something. They also let you charge on your mother’s Hink’s credit card. Can you imagine that?!
- Berkeley High tennis courts. There were “pro’s” who could and would teach you during the summer as part of a city program. It was free. All you had to do is walk down to the courts and play. It was hot and fun and memorable.
- John Muir Elementary at the corner of Ashby and Claremont Avenue; There was a brick wall that was the back of an auto shop. We used to use it to play tennis by hitting the balls against the wall. I also went to school there in fourth grade. Fun school. Fun playground.
Wait, there’s one more: the Dry Cleaners on Ashby across from the Donut Shop. They once sponsored Mr. America to stand outside their door. I went down to meet him (I was in the fifth grade). I was VERY disappointed to see that he was the same height as me! But again, I was sort of empowered that I could look him right in the eye as I shook a man I had seen on TV.