“Silver Windows” was a display home in the Piedmont Pinessection of Montclair. The home opened for public to see in 1936. The home was designed by F. Harvey Slocombe. It is on Darnby Drive.
Windows, from which one glimpses the bay through lofty pines are not the only feature of this new show home.
Oakland Tribune Dec 06, 1936
Sunlight through “Silver Windows”
Oakland Tribune Dec 13, 1936
From the curved window in the living room you could see all of Oakland , plus two bridges,
The kitchen with its floors curving into the wall, eliminating dust gathering corners was of special interest to the women visitors. The kitchen was “all-metal” with a gleaming sink, drain board, work board and cabinets. Oakland Tribune Mar 19, 1937
Most anyone who grew up in Montclair played at the park. The park was always full of kids.
If you played in the park during the 1960-1980s you will remember the two story playhouse. It was built in 1960 and was located by the swing-sets.
It was demolished after a couple of fires in the mid to late 1980s. It is rumored that the fires were caused by teens or someone smoking in the house.
I really enjoyed playing in small playhouse. I would pretend I lived there and that best friend lived next door.
Built in 1960
In 1960 the Montclair Junior Women’s Club of Montclair held fundraisers and worked with the Oakland Recreation Department to finance a playhouse for the park in Montclair.
Opening Day – September 1960
The 120 square foot playhouse incorporated such features as kitchenettes with running water and toy stoves and refrigerators It had a living room with built-in play television sets and a circular metal stairway leading up to the sleeping balcony and sundeck in each unit.
The exterior of the structure was covered with heavy wire to create the illusion of a closed building. Bright colored squares of orange, yellow, turquoise and white decorate the front of the playhouse.
The playhouse was designed and constructed by members of the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department
They name is “Merrivilla”
Not to be confused with a Dollhouse for Diane
The was also a playhouse located in Pinto Park/Carl B. Munck School play yard. It was built in honor who Diane “Dede” Dobson who lost her life during the Columbus Day Storms of 1962
A couple of years ago someone in a Facebook group I belong to asked if anyone else remembered a story or rumor that went around Montclair in the mid-50s. It was a story about a guy the ran repair shop on La Salle Ave who was a spy for the American Government or something like that. It took me a while but I found it.
Undercover Agent – Asked to Join
The tall shapely women said she joined the Communist Party after an FBI agent approached her and said:
Would you like to do this? There will be nothing it for you, but you would be doing your country a great service.
San Francisco Examiner April 1953
Joins Party to Help FBI in Roundup of Subversives
The tall shapely women was Sylvia Hill the wife of Dickson P. Hill of the Montclair District. The Hill’s lived had 3 children and lived on Snake Road. Mr. Hill owned Montclair Radio & TV Service at 6127 La Salle Ave.
From the outside they were your typical 50s family.
Dickson P. Hill said he and his wife were approached by Communists in 1944 and ask the FBI ( I think the FBI was already watching them) what they should do. The FBI told them to try to join the party so they could do the country “a great service.”
They joined the Communist party in 1945 at the request of the FBI, and rose to the positions of membership chairman and education chairman receptively, while serving as undercover agents.
Hill and his wife lived “double lives” as Communists for the FBI for about four years. He said he named more than 50 people in Oakland-Berkeley area he had met personally and identified them as Reds. He also identified 36 organizations as Communist Party clubs during his membership 1945-1949. Dec 03, 1953
Reds Call Labor School ‘Ours,’ Witness Testifies
California Labor School of Alameda County
The California Labor school presented a Russian film “One Day in Soviet Russia” with English narration.
If you grew up the Montclair District of Oakland from 1956 to about 1990 you shopped at Freeway Variety.
Freeway Variety opened in March of 1956. It was owned and operated by partners Cy Fritz and David Iventosch. They both had experience running the same type of stores in Berkeley.
In 1957 Iventosch bought out his partner Fritz.
I felt the best way to describe this most beloved and dearly missed variety store is by sharing memories of it which were detailed in a Facebook group. The group is lovingly called Forgotten Montclair. It is dedicated to preserving and sharing the memories of growing up in the Montclair District of Oakland, California.
Laura C: I bought my Beautiful Crissy doll there, in elementary school, along with my camping cookware for Brownie camp. When I graduated to high school, I bought my powder blue gym clothes there.
Joanne G: Freeway Variety was “candy land” heaven to me! My mom never let me have candy growing up – not ever once being able to trick or treat. So if I was ever able to ride my bike up to Freeway Variety from lower Broadway Terrace (all uphill)! The Now or Later were my first choice after a spin around the store to take in the isles of crazy stuff
Todd E: Lived in Montclair 1970 – 1992. Freeway Variety was like the ultimate dive bar of five and dimes. It was kind of dark with low ceilings, but it was comfy. It felt a little bit like a place where you could buy a Gremlin from some ancient guy in the back where all the wicker baskets hung from the ceiling. There were nuances to Freeway Variety that can never be replicated anywhere else. There was nothing funnier than riding your BMX down that strange concrete slope and dropping your bike down and entering the store in one fluid motion. It’s the place where I thought Army Men and those little parachute dudes where born. It had all the romantic stuff of childhood, candy, cards, Slurpee’s, video games, toys, Choose Your Own Adventure Books, a whole section on Movie Novelizations (with pictures in the middle!), strange arcane stuff like rabbit’s feet and real Mexican Jumping Beans.To me, the basic concept of what 1 mile is will always be the walk from my house over by Joaquin Miller School to Freeway Variety.
Christopher W: Ah there it is, my favorite store growing up in Montclair. While my mom shopped at Lucky’s I would be down at Freeway Variety looking for everything from match cars, Pez dispensers, loved the chocolate ones, and when I was really small, I would get a quarter and ride the horse in the front. Good times
Cherie L: We would walk down there from Westwood Way. Buster brown socks. Schools supplies. Candy you name it. Lived in Montclair from 1959 to 1982.
Nanette: I loved Freeway Variety! The old creaky wood floor that sloped down. You could get art (my favorite), craft, and school supplies. And of course where we got our Wacky Packs!!!!·
Dennis J: Does anyone remember the ladies of Freeway Variety store? Florence, Winnie, Mildred, and May. I worked there after school and weekends. Coolest boss ever: Big David Iventosch. My first real job!!!
Helene C: Loved everything about Freeway Variety. The smell of popcorn, candy, turtle pond scum. The only place where you could get candy, washcloths, home goods, toys, candy, an iron, a picture frame, valentines, Christmas cards, canning jars, toy guns, turtles, popcorn, and candy. And those old ladies behind the counter. A golden childhood staple and memory. I pity everyone else.
Dena M: I remember we would all go there to pick out our Halloween costumes and buy wax harmonicas.
Lara: I loved getting presents from here. Thanks to my mom, this is dated. I guess that means I am too! 33 years ago . . .
Erik H: Florence always gave me extra on my Icee. But you introduced me to the “Suicide “flavored slush.
Jan D: The ladies used to follow us around the store, thinking we were going to steal something!