Something to remember, as we enter a new year: Yesterday's history, Tomorrow is a mystery and Today is a gift, that's why it is called "the present". [Via]

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Remembering the Heroes and victims of Loma Prieta

Loma Prieta Earthquake

Heroes of the Cypress Freeway
Most of us in the Bay Area saw the disaster first from the air and it was an unbelievable sight. A 14-block stretch of Interstate 880, known as the Cypress Freeway, collapsed.

For many of the 42 people killed, it was over in an instant. Some sections of the freeway were crushed so completely, no one could survive. In other areas, there was just enough space between the top and bottom decks to allow some people to get out alive. Complete Story here

Memorial honors '89 earthquake victims, heroes

At precisely 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989, the upper deck of the Cypress Freeway — a 1.3-mile section of Interstate 880 that ran through West Oakland — pancaked onto the lower deck during the 7.1 temblor. Forty-two were killed and several were injured but managed to evacuatethe jagged structure with help from residents and workers from nearby companies. Ray Holmes, 50, husband and father of three, did not survive.

The freeway's demise proved to be a blessing and a curse for West Oakland. Although the structure itself severed the community when it was built in 1957, its collapse also touched many lives and left residents with deep emotional scars after they risked their lives by climbing the crumbling, still-shaking structure to aid the survivors.  Complete Story here

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oakland free training leads to opportunities to work in Hell’s Kitchen

There are opportunities to work in Hell’s Kitchen, after free training in the Kitchen of Champions program at Oakland’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Okay, so I may have embellished slightly, but it got your attention and it is possible. 

The Kitchen of Champions program is an extraordinary kitchen serving from 2,500 to 4,000 meals each week.

The free 12-week intensive culinary job training Kitchen of Champions   program prepares Alameda residents, 18 years old and older for entry-level job positions in food services and hospitality industries.

The training is Tuesdays through Saturdays at St. Vincent de Paul, 675 23rd St., Oakland and all interested persons must submit an application and attend an information session 10 a.m. on Tuesdays or Thursdays. 

Google, the Oakland Zoo, the Cheesecake Factory, Brown Sugar Kitchen, B Side BBQ, Berkeley and Oakland school districts, and AC Transit have hired graduates of the Kitchen of Champions. 
For more information, check out complete story here, call 510-877-9212  or 510-877-9216 , email, or go to

If this is not for you, there is an old adage “There’s always work at the post office.”

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Compared to what? Pullman Porters 1926

Set in 1926 West Oakland's Prescott Oakland Point neighborhood, at the end of the transcontinental railroad and the beginning of social and economic mobility for African Americans through the founding of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

This compelling story centers around two veteran Pullman porters rooming in a Prescott Oakland Point boarding house where their tales of unbearable working conditions unfold. Other characters include an Irish immigrant boarding house owner and a wealthy African American club woman, illustrating the diversity of the Prescott Oakland Point community during that era. A young male character, recently migrated from the rural south to potentially find work as a porter, helps personify the intergenerational dependence and impact of the Pullman Porter profession on African American’s social and economic mobility in the US after the civil war.

“These porters stayed the course for more than 11 years to achieve respectable working conditions,” says playwright Judith Offer. “They are high on my list of heroes. This play will reaffirm your belief in the rights of all working Americans. This is a labor story, an Oakland story, and a love story,” Offer added.

COMPARED TO WHAT? an Anniversary Productions offering, written and directed by Judith Offer, will be performed May 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 at 8:00pm and May 12 & 19 at 4:00pm at the First Christian Church, Fellowship Hall, 111 Fairmont Ave., Oakland, CA.

But we need your help to put on a great show!

Support COMPARED TO WHAT? and watch Oakland history come to life!

For more details on the play, photos and bios of the cast, plus historical images of Pullman Porters and Oakland visit us on Facebook at:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Every month I hear a siren

As a young child attending school in my kindergarten year, I remember how we learned to crawl under our (school) desk, stand within a door opening or line up and walk in a single line when we heard an emergency alert siren. The siren would indicate an air raid, earthquake, fire or any other emergency.

Because of 9/11 in Oakland, every first Wednesday of the month at noon, 27 alert warning system sirens are tested. Most siren sites are located in city parks, fire stations, corporation yards, schools, utility areas, and open spaces.

Chip Johnson, a columnist for the SF chronicle wrote in his February 2003 column:

After 9/11, Oakland expanded Capability made us aware of the new alert system in place for the City of Oakland.

The sound is a steady signal. Initially, it will sound like a fire truck siren, then increase in pitch and sound a constant tone signal until the alert is complete. At the end of the 3- minute alert, the siren will shut down. During the shutdown, the siren will decrease in pitch for 20-30 seconds until it turns off.