Posted in Model/Display Homes, Montclair

Silver Windows – Piedmont Pines

Oakland Tribune Jan 1937

“Silver Windows” was a display home in the Piedmont Pines section 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
Oakland Tribune Dec 06, 1936

Sunlight through “Silver Windows”

Oakland Tribune Dec 13, 1936
Oakland Tribune Dec 13, 1936
Oakland Tribune Dec 1936

From the curved window in the living room you could see all of Oakland , plus two bridges,

Oakland Tribune Dec 1936
Oakland Tribune Dec 1936

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

Oakland Tribune Feb 14, 1937
Oakland Tribune Dec 1936

Silver Windows Today

Google maps

Links and More:

Posted in Montclair

Playhouse at Montclair Park

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.

Oakland Tribune Apr 1960
Oakland Tribune 1960

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.

Oakland Tribune Sep 1960

The playhouse was designed and constructed by members of the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department

  • Bert Trubody
  • Robert Savattone
  • Paul Mortensen

They name is “Merrivilla”

Oakland Tribune Sep 19, 1960
Montclarion 1960
Montclarion 1960
From Beth Reynolds
March 1964 from Mary Jo Losso
Jan 1973 from Mike Shuken

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

Swiss Chalet at Pinto Park
Oakland Tribune Apr 1963
Oakland Tribune Apr 1963
Oakland Tribune August 1964

I will add more photos as I find them

The End

Posted in Home Building, Montclair, People

On Moraga Avenue

An Enterprising Family and Their New Home in the Montclair District.

Oakland Tribune

Mr. and Mrs. John W Martinsen’s like many others in the area took on the task of building their own home.

Mrs. Martinsen would serve a hot lunch for them from a cabin they had built in the back of the lot.

The home is located on the corner of Moraga Avenue and Estates Drive.

1923
1930
From the 1943 Directory

They lived there until sometime in the mid-1940s.

She dresses in a regulation feminine hiking costume, and is able and effective assistant to her husband

Oakland Tribune

Photos

Intersection with Estates Drive c 1950
Public Works Photo,
Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, Oakland City Planning Department
intersection with Estates Drive, this east image from 1951
Public Works Photo,
Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, Oakland City Planning Department
From Google Maps

Location

The Martinsen Home – Google Maps
  • 5901 Moraga Avenue at the corner of Estates Drive
  • John W. Martinsen – builder and owner
  • $10,000
  • 1922

More…

Oakland Tribune Nov 03, 1930

The End

Posted in History, Montclair

Sunalta or Montclair?

The Sunalta District – was almost the name given to Montclair.

Back in 1919, the Oakland Real Estate Board advertised in Oakland Tribune, “$50 cash Prize” to come with a name for the area now called Montclair.

Oakland Tribune 1919

The deadline was Jan 1, 1920.

On Jan 11, 1920, the Tribune reported that the received about 2000 suggestions and decided on Sunalta.

Sunalta Wins

Oakland Tribune 1920

Sunalta was proposed by C.S. Rice of Oakland.

But for some reason they felt there was yet a better name.

They extended the contest until Feb 15, 1920.

I have yet to find out the winner of that contest. I assume someone came up with Montclair. Thank you!

I do wonder what other names people came up it. With 2000 entires there had to be something better than Sunalta.

The End

Posted in Montclair, Oakland, People

Living Double-Lives in Montclair

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

Wilmington Daily Press Apr 23 1953

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.

Oakland Tribune Dec 1953

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.

Double Lives

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

Santa Cruz Sentinel Dec 02, 1953
Oakland Tribune April 16 1953

Reds Call Labor School ‘Ours,’ Witness Testifies

Oakland TribuneJan 26 1956
Oakland Tribune Jan 25, 1956

California Labor School of Alameda County

Oakland Tribune Sep 17,1944

The California Labor school presented a Russian film “One Day in Soviet Russia” with English narration.

Oakland Tribune Aug 12 1945

Lectures on the ‘Roots of Fascism’

Oakland Tribune Nov 29, 1945

More Info:

The End

Posted in Business, History, Montclair, People, Uncategorized

Freeway Variety

Freeway Variety
Photo by Bill Boyd

C 1978

If you grew up the Montclair District of Oakland from 1956 to about 1990 you shopped at Freeway Variety.

The Montclarion March 1956

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.

The Montclarion March 1956
The Montclarion March 1956
The Montclarion March 1956

In 1957 Iventosch bought out his partner Fritz.

The Montclarion Apr 17 1957
The Montclarion Apr 17 1957
The Montclarion May 1957

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
Joan G
  • 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
Christopher W
  • 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!!!!ยท    
  • 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 Christmas Memory 1983
  • 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!
  • Stephanie W: Florence was my auntie
Susan S
  • Susan S: Look what I found cleaning out my closet
Donna
  • Donna:   I still have my Ink bottles and pens.
Basket from Freeway Variety

Obituary David Iventosch – Oakland Tribune – April 2019

The End