PEOPLE AND THEIR PLACES

 

 

Another music neighbor is Fantasy Records, who are now the repository of the great jazz and blues catalogues of the '50s and '60s; among them Prestige, Contemporary and Riverside. Many of these recordings are available on their CDs and LPs. Their offices, recording and mixing studios and their archives are in our neighborhood at Tenth and Parker and one of their web pages is www.fantasyjazz.com.

 

 

 

 

 

If Jerry is a hunk, then Anthy is a babe and John, a man of few words and good-looking, is most like their dad, Nick. After Nick died some years ago, he appeared to me in a dream. "Don't worry" he said "Everything's all right." That was easy for him to say, for judging from his peaceful calm he had gone to a place of no worry. (This is the opening of a story about one of our neighborhood's oldest family-owned businesses, V & W Door and Window. The story will be one of the first in Features.)

Jerry Victor of V & W with an old time customer, Larry Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are the L.J. Kruse boys my favorite plumbers? Probably so, . . . certainly they're my neighbors and a "class act" - for just how "class" see their web site at www.ljkruse.com and for their "time and grade" go to the history page Also check out their facility at 920 Pardee. (They planted those blossoming fruit trees shortly after they moved in - the blossoms brighten late, grey Winter.) And on the sides of their trucks they have painted "a century of service," which, in their case, is more than a slogan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My former UPS driver, Gary Williams

and his

Suzuki GSXR 1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juan's Place is my favorite Mexican restaurant in the world -- mostly because the food tastes good, the ingredients are fresh, the plates are hot and Juan can be seen early every morning sweeping the side-walk in front of his restaurant -- also, the portions are generous and the prices are reasonable. (Dr. Adelman's friend from Mexico, a professor at the University of Veracruz, and very beautiful, offered on finishing her lunch "I like it, it's what we have at home.") Juan's Place is at 941 Carleton and his telephone number is 510-845-6904. I have been Juan's neighbor for several decades.

 

 

Mi Tierra Foods is a refreshing bicycle ride away from much of Potter Creek. It is just South of University at 2082 San Pablo Avenue. The owner, Jesus Mendez, features Hispanic products from Mexico, Central and South America and his business card advertises "FRESH TAMALES, TORTILLA & BREAD DAILY." His food is good and really reasonably priced. He has baked goods, produce, canned goods, meat and fish, dairy, and at the back of the store there is a delicatessen.

 

 

 

Recently I was taken to Rick and Ann's for breakfast. It was pretty much "round up the usual suspects" -- another variation on the California Breakfast theme. A theme to which I can speak with "authority" as I worked at the Buttercup Bakery in the '70s when Richards and Mike Haley invented the California Breakfast. (They invented it at much the same time Alice Waters invented California Cuisine -- in its lowest form, undercooked vegetables and a piece of fish.) But I was struck by how much Rick and Ann's offering was much the same as the Buttercup breakfast of thirty years ago.

Now, for a fresh approach to breakfast out, I recommend Bacheeso's -- an American breakfast with a Mediterranean and European flair. This is a breakfast skillfully prepared from the freshest ingredients by the Assli family. The fruit-side is always fresh and juicy, the deep-fried potatoes are golden-brown outside and creamy inside, the flat bread fresh, the home-made jams sweet and tasty, the eggs cooked just right, the portions fair, and the prices very reasonable. I have come away several times wondering how breakfast can be such a treat with such subtlety and variety. And I'm amazed at how the ingredients of a simple breakfast can combine into these wonderful flavors and aromas.

Bacheeso's is at 2501 San Pablo Avenue and their phone number is 510-644-2035. (Make sure you have their homemade flat-bread with the homemade preserves.)

For a story about Buttercup Bakery seem my 8/8/03 post.

 

 

 

Harvey my Mailman loves to fish: Here he is catching a rainbow trout in Lake Chabot. Netting the trout is Harv's fishing buddy, Myland Fong, and the young girl with crossed fingers is Maya Wong. The photo was taken by her Dad. (Harvey also loves mountain biking.)

Harvey my Mailman and his friends

 

Harvey coming in third-in-class at the Napa mountain-bike race

 

 

 

 

Meredith May does not live in Potter Creek but she often writes of education in Berkeley for the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a Mills graduate, really smart, a fine writer, a tough reporter, and has a good heart. Her stories can be read at

sfgate.com/meredithmay

She did once take a welding class in the foundry at the end of Grayson.

 

 

 

Sarah Klise is one of my neighbors. Sarah and her Sister publish children's books and can be reached at their Website

Sarah's illustration from an upcoming story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New to the neighborhood, but not new to quality, is Sharffen Berger Chocolates, the "Brough Superior" of chocolates. Sir Lawrence of Arabia rode a Brough, "The Rolls Royce" of motocycles. Find out something about our new neighbor at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker.

Then, perhaps go over to their shop on Heinz and buy some. It's the European kind that Grandma Penndorf only put out on special Sunday afternoons.

A story by Sally Sampson in the November & December 2002 Cook's Illustrated asks "Sharffen Berger [chocolate] costs three times more than Baker's. Is it that much better?" The short answer is yes, and some excerpts from the piece "Are Expensive Unsweetened Chocolates Worth the Money?" tell why.

"We wanted to see if all the fuss over premium chocolates is based on quality . . . . We selected unsweetened chocolate because it is the building-block ingredient in countless desserts . . . Not for nibbling, it is pure, unadulterated chocolate . . . . We constructed a blind tasting . . . sampling a classic American brownie . . . .

Our assumption going into this tasting was that, in general, the more expensive brands would prevail . . . . However, we found a surprising range of taste differences. If unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate, how could one brand be so different from another?

The first thing we learned is that chocolate companies don't like to talk about their product in detail. With the exception of Scharffen Berger. . . . So we turned to outside experts to uncover the trade secrets of chocolate manufactures [and we found that] there is more chocolate in unsweetened than in any other type, so quality of the bean matters more. Every expert told us that the flavor of unsweetened chocolate is largely determined before it gets to the chocolate processor. Country of origin and specific bean blend are the most critical factors. Scharffen Berger cofounder Robert Steinberg [added ] , 'A processor can ruin a good bean but cannot make a good chocolate from an inferior one.' . . . When it comes to chocolate, you have to star with good ingredients."

Scharffen Berger's Steinberg allows that taste is his company's priority when it comes to buying beans, and they are willing to pay more to secure the taste.

If the quality of a bean is one important determinant of flavor, the blend of beans is another. Of most interest . . . is whether a company roasts bean types individually or together [and] roasting varieties of beans separately allows the roaster to be more selective. . . . Of the companies whose chocolate we tasted, Scharffen Berger is the only one that would confirm that it roasts beans separately by type.

One final production issue is conching, which aerates and homogenizes the chocolate, thereby mellowing the flavor and making its texture smooth and creamy [and] only Scharffen Berger and Valrhona conch their unsweetened chocolate, and these chocolates finished first and third in our chocolate sauce tasting.

What do we recommend? The more expensive chocolates. . . . . [But] it's important to remember though, that chocolate, much like coffee, is a matter of personal preference, so consider each brand in order to find a chocolate that suits your palate. The gamut of flavors runs from 'nutty' and 'cherry' to 'smoky,' 'earthy,' and 'spicy.'"

The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker biography offers: "John Scharffenberger's . . . palate, entrepreneurial spirit, and background in food technology and agriculture were key elements in the founding and running of Scharffenberger Cellars, one of the premier sparking wine manufactures in the U.S. At Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, he turns his expertise to fine chocolate. [And then partner] Robert Steinberg wrote to Bernachon, a small family owned chocolate maker in Lyon,France to ask whether it would be possible to work with them for a short time and [then spent] two weeks working there. . . . At Bernachon, he was able to see how chocolate was made on a small scale, and to taste chocolate that was distinctly different from any mainstream American or European brand."

It's this kind of premier chocolate that they make. This fine chocolate can be purchased at their chocolate factory store or at many retail outlets, sometimes there at a savings.

I believe that I hadn't really tasted chocolate until I had some of their semi-sweet. I never thought I'd say this about chocolate, but - aarrgh- it has a wonderful cherry aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

It the '70s and '80s one of Potter Creek's irregular visitors was Kary Mullis, the winner of the Noble Prize in Chemistry. He came by to see me and I went to his place in Medocino to see him. We had long talks during which he would talk about astronomy and I would talk about astrology. In the years I knew him I can't say we really communicated. But for his quirky look at the world I suggest the only book of his that I understand , Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. I particularly recommend "No Aliens Allowed" and not just because I'm ever so briefly mentioned.

In the '70s part of this warehouse -- 2743 8th Street -- was used by the Buttercup Bakery for storage and woodworking. Among the people who worked at the Buttercup, and here, were the night manager, Kary Mullis; the assistant day manager, Suze Orman; and counter person, and now California School of Arts and Crafts department head, Mary Snowden. (Marvin Lipofsky didn't work at the Buttercup but his daughter did.) Among other things, Kary Mullis used to invent drugs and then test them on himself: I remember one particularly speedy run to Mendocino. And though Dave Kruse certainly never worked at the Buttercup, my memory is that he had a friend, Dotty Gunderson, who did. Dorothy and I drove through Marin once and I played Bruch's Scottish Fantasy for her on the Jaguar's stereo. I still remember her "You don't have to do drugs to get stoned, do you?" One time Mullis brought a Winchester down from his place in Mendocino and we, . . . or was that Jerry Victor who brought his Remington. I don't remember now.

 

 

 

 

One of my oldest neighbors is Advance Heli Welders Manufacturing Company at 938 Pardee. (More accurately, I am one of their oldest neighbors as they've been here much longer than I.The foreman just retired after forty-five years on the job.) Known to me always as the welders, I've taken them for granted. That is until a few weeks ago when driving by in the morning I noticed their yard as if for the first time. It's really tight -- a spit and polish facility. The welders are fully responsible neighbors and a good example of one of Potter Creeks oldest firms keeping up with changing times. (In the Day, they were one of the few people who would weld aluminum. I have to this day a 1956 AJS motorcycle with their perfectly repaired side-case.) Their phone number is 510-849-2811.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regan Bice's elegant design for Susanne Hering and John Philips' building

 

 

 

 

Margret Elliott is one of our neighborhood's long-time residents.

In 1971, with a Masters degree in art from U.C. Berkeley, I needed a studio so I rented a metal building at 2737 10th Street. I sublet portions of the building and lived and had a studio in part of it. I was a single mom trying to pursue a career in art (M.A. U.C.Berkeley 1971) and to raise a child at the same time. The building was metal with a concrete floor, no insulation, and our only heat was a wood-burning stove. The bathroom was a little outhouse with a toilet and shower that had been built by the occupant of the brick building next door (Fantasy furniture which made waterbeds very popular in the '70s). I was given the choice of electricity or gas for that little bathroom building. Naturally I chose gas so I could have a good, hot shower whenever I needed one. I didn't care if I had to shower by candlelight. Living in the studio was very uncomfortable and also very wonderful. Before we occupied the building it had been occupied by someone who built trimaran boats (I actually knew someone who had built one in that building in the late '60s and had sailed to Panama in it). In any case, they had left the plywood templates used in the trimaran construction behind and I used them to build some enclosed loft-like rooms for my son (5 ) and me. I replaced some of the corrugated panels on the roof with corrugated plastic skylights. Plants hung everywhere and we also hung a swing from the metal beams that were the skeleton of the building. Plants hung everywhere and we also hung a swing from the metal beams that were the skeleton of the building.

After one year of living there I moved into a proper house with some friends in another part of Berkeley, although I maintained my tenancy and my studio in that building until 1983. Even though it was uncomfortable and a little scary (especially when hailstones rained down on the uninsulated metal roof) and uncomfortable (when the temperature dropped below 50 degrees and our tiny wood burning stove which had formerly been used to heat a caboose on a train couldn't make a dent in taking the chill off of the place) my son, as he was growing up, always referred to that time when we lived in the studio in a voice full of wonder, implying that we had lived in Eden.

I knew we were living in that space illegally. Live-work did not exist as a legitimate concept then. My greatest fear was the building inspector would discover we were there. In 1976 I went to work for the City of Berkeley Housing Re-habilitation program and in 1984 I became a building inspector for the City. I had become the thing I had most feared! In 1991 I became the Building Official for the City of Emeryville (until 1999) and one of the first things I did there was to write a Live-work Ordinance. Funny how things turn out. I continued to maintain my studio and to rent out spaces to other artists in the metal building until the owner, Joseph Davi (a son of one of those original Italian immigrants) died, about 1983. The brick building next door (on the same parcel) had several artists studios behind the waterbed factory. The metal building was torn down a some years ago. The brick building now houses a company doing computer animation and special effects for film.

When I first moved into the house I now live in, the building across the street (now 22 live-work units) was a factory. The punch-press began at 7:00 AM by my alarm clock and, sadly, there were no other kids in this neighborhood for my son to play with. Across 9 th street, on the same side of Grayson were a couple, Joe and Evelyn, who had lived in the corner house for many years (now Regan Bice's office.) Joe told me this neighborhood had been occupied by Finns and Italians. He said that the Italians had been brought over from the sulfur mines in Sicily to work in the sulfur refining plant on the corner of 7th and Heinz. And when I first lived here the building now housing Acme Bakery, on 9th and Pardee, had an Italian restaurant and bar called Granadas. I only went into the bar once, it closed soon after I moved here.

(The owner was a jazz-lover and it is rumored that the Kenton Band rehearsed their when in town. Whatever, he had great jazz on his Jukebox. R.P.)

 

 

 

 

 

Marvin Lipofsky makes beautiful art glass and he had a retrospective of his work at the Oakland Museum of Fine Arts. We've been neighbors for decades. Here he is seen playing in the fountain at Lednicke, Rovne, Slovakia during the International Glass Symposium. That's his crystal in the fountain. Marvin can be reached at mlipofsky@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have my own peculiar view of dog ownership. I don't any longer believe in dogs in the city. (Just watch a sporting dog come alive in the country.) Though I must admit to owning three Bassets at once in the early Sixties, and even to breeding them in the back of my house on Hearst. But my neighbor's Claudia and Cameron not only have three dogs in the city but publish The Bark, a magazine for dog lovers. I thought their magazine's view a bit extreme until in my mind I substituted the word "motorcycles" for the word "dogs." Then I came to understand their passion. You can contact Claudia and Cameron by email and read a story about Claudia and The Bark in the Oakland Tribune.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, within easy driving distance of Potter Creek, I can go to both an In-N-Out Burger and a Krispy Kreme Donuts. They are within a block or so of each other in the Shopping Center off Highway 80 in Pinole. At the end of a ten minute drive, I can not only have a cheeseburger with extra grilled-onions but now I can also have a jelly-filled donut. My life has changed for ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though the Border's Emeryville store is part of their nationwide chain, it doesn't feel like it. With worn-in carpeting and even a few easy chairs, it has its own identity and is real comfortable. But more comfortable than the easy chairs are the people who work there. I regularly take my mid-day break at Border's and browse, read, buy, or order a book. (Their prices are very competitive and their bargain books are a particular value. A few of the best books in my aviation collection come from this section.) But the store's real value are the friendly, helpful staff. Through my visits I've come to know some by name. Altogether these people are a mix as rich as the one I remember from Moe's in the 1980s . . . and Moe would have liked the idea that at Border's managers also shelve.

Border's Emeryville store is at 5903 Shellmound Street and their phone number is (510) 654-1633 -- they have plenty of parking.

 

 

I believe Bayer in the near feature will have use of all the land along the railroad tracks from Dwight Way south to Grayson. It is probably the largest land-holder and employer in the area. It is, of course a multi-national corporation. And, it would seem, a good and responsible neighbor.

One view of Bayer's past can be read in Chapter Two, "The Empire of I. G. Farben" in Antony C. Sutton's Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler. One paragraph is unforgettable. "One of the more horrifying aspects of I.G. Farben's cartel was the invention, production, and distribution of the Zyklon B gas, used in Nazi concentration camps. Zyklon B was pure Prussic acid, a lethal poison produced by I.G. Farben Leverkusen and sold from the Bayer sales office through Degesch, an independent license holder. Sales of Zyklon B amounted to almost three-quarters of Degesch business; enough gas to kill 200 million humans was produced and sold by I.G. Farben. The Kilgore Committee report of 1942 makes it clear that the I.G. Farben directors had precise knowledge of the Nazi concentration camps and their use of I.G. chemicals. "

Bayer's financial and cultural contribution to my neighborhood, Berkeley, and the Bay Area has been considerable and is valued.

 

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