“They helped to build three cities”
Silver Anniversary, 1937 – 1962
The Rotary Club of Niles Fremont, California
Published by The Rotary Club of Niles in December 1962
Historical Research Committee: C.W. Kraft, Robert A. Blacow, Joseph C. Buchen, Edward E. Enos, John A. McDonald and Dr. Tom C. Wilson.
As the Rotary Club of Niles, chartered on December 9th, 1937 celebrates its Silver Anniversary, it should be noted that a unique challenge for community service was accepted by many of its members who helped to incorporate three new cities within the club’s generally defined rural territory.
These Rotarians, approximately 60 of them, have served or continue to serve without pay as mayors, councilmen, commissioners or in other capacities in the Cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City.
These became the 11th, 12th and 13th cities in Alameda County, the first municipalities formed in the county since 1908.
Fremont, the third largest city in area in California and 24th in the United States, is unique in its consolidation of five country towns, records of the League of California Cities indicate. It covers nearly a hundred square miles of scenic hills and canyons, a flat valley floor and the south-eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay.
Fremont is expected to have a population of over 200,000 before another quarter century has passed. In 1937, the combined population of the eight towns in the new club’s territory was estimated at about 13,000.
This brief commentary is in no way intended as a history of the area involved, nor does it minimize the efforts of other civic-minded citizens in community building. Due, however, to mandatory brevity and the nature of this report, only the names of Rotarians are used, unless otherwise noted.
Related here are merely the recollections of 25 years of service by members of this club, as I observed them while covering a beat for a metropolitan newspaper.
expresses his evaluation of the past 25 years with emphasis on “the fun and fellowship of working and playing together over a lot of years – best summarized by Rotary as ‘The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service’.”
Kraft was born at Buffalo, New York; received his B.S. Degree in Business Administration at the University of Illinois in 1928; served with the Military Reserves for six years and is now president of Kraftile Co., Fremont. He and his wife, Anne, have five children, James F., Herbert L., Mary Martha Peltzer, Charles S. and Leonard W.
As chairman of the club’s historical committee, he should be credited largely with the completion of this document, assembled during the past eight months, but first suggested about three years ago.
Elwood A. Weitmann, 26th president, during whose term the Rotary Club of Niles published its Silver Anniversary history, is a native Californian, born at Sacramento.
He attended the Sacramento Junior College and the day after graduation in 1936 went to work for the Bank of America. He is now the bank’s branch manager at Fremont. He and his wife, Grace Marie, who did the sketches for this history, moved to Fremont on August 1st, 1956.
Weitmann remarks that, “Having reached the 25th anniversary, we will continue our day to day endeavors in community service and civic responsibilities that will later become a part of our club’s history. We cannot and we will not rest upon the laurels of the past. We must use them as an inspiration in our unceasing effort to further the ideals and the objectives of Rotary in our community and throughout the world.”
Rotary Comes to a Country Town (1937)
The suggestion that a Rotary Club be organized at Niles was greeted with spontaneous enthusiasm along Main Street. It was not really Main Street, but that is what everyone called it. On the Alameda County maps it was First Street.
But it was the main street – as a matter of fact, the only street in the so-called business section. For the most part, it was a one-sided street with the bus depot, and most of the stores and offices along the west curb facing a line of tall trees on the east.
The trees had been planted by Giles Chittenden when he and his wife, affectionately known by the community as “Nanna,” built the Hotel Belvoir in the 1880’s. Giles had hauled water in barrels in a horse drawn wagon and watered those trees with a bucket.
In back of the trees were the railroad tracks and the Niles Depot. “Niles” was the name of a railroad official whom the “town” was named when the first trans-continental railway was completed at the west end of Niles Canyon in 1869.
The settlement had been previously known as Vallejo Mill because of the flour mill built at Highway 9 (now Mission Boulevard) and the Niles Canyon Highway by Don Jose Jesus Vallejo, first secular administrator of the Mission San Jose de Guadalupe which is about four miles south of the canyon intersection of the road to San Jose.
Some historians claim the mill was the first on the Pacific Coast, built in the 1840’s or 1850’s depending upon which source you prefer.
Frankly, not too many changes have been made along Main Street. The fire hall has been moved to Second Street. The local office of the hand-cranked telephones has disappeared along with the advent of the dial system. The studio of the Essanay Film Co., where Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin with their contemporaries made motion pictures in the early 1900’s has been removed.
However, some of the homes of the film stars are still occupied as residences on Second Street. Two Niles Rotarians were identified with the silent movies here – Ben Murphy, mortician and a former grocer, one of many local residents who served as “extras,” and Leon Solon, former motorcycle officer who became “personally acquainted” with many of the film stars.
For the most part the business district looks about the way it did twenty-five years ago when the possibility of a local Rotary Club was discussed at the City of Florence Restaurant.
Rotary Makes History at Niles
The new club would be the first in Southern Alameda County. It also would be the first Rotary Club to be organized in an unincorporated area in Northern California. In these respects it would be making history in one of California’s most historic communities.
Advocates proposed the club would cover Washington Township’s eight rural settlements, some of them started more than a century ago. Others in addition to Niles were Mission San Jose where the mission was founded in June 1797; Alvarado, where the first Alameda County Court House was located in 1853; Centerville, where the Mormons had built their first chapel and school in the early 1850’s and where an 1847 gravestone in the Blacow plot in the 1853 Presbyterian Church cemetery constitutes the earliest visible evidence of non-Indian occupancy of the township.
The other communities were Newark, where the mission padres started what has become the world’s largest solar processing of salt; Warm Springs, where the natural hot springs, claimed by the Indians to have medicinal value, attracted a resort development in the 1860’s; Irvington, home of the 1872 Washington College attended by many Bay Area notables; and Decoto, named in honor of the pioneer family whose land furnished the site for the town established in the 1870’s.
These were the neighborhoods, which would furnish the members for the new Rotary Club. They covered 113 square miles of scenic and varied topography, a valley covered mostly with orchards and farmlands, reaching from Hayward’s southern boundary (about twenty miles south of Central Oakland) to the Santa Clara County line, and from the rolling hills and canyons on the east to the south shores of the San Francisco Bay on the west.
Mission Peak, reaching 2,517 feet into the clouds above the old mission, and the higher hills were sometimes snow covered in winter, and in the years of heavy rain, which were not too frequent, the Alameda Creek and other streams overflowed, flooding hundreds of acres of land, roads and sometimes, even homes.
The eight towns were acutely conscious of their individual identities, although few of their citizens, if any, knew the exact locations of the boundaries, which divided their eight elementary school districts, fire districts or the scores of over-lapping county and state jurisdictions.
The idea of incorporating the whole township into one city had been mentioned off and on, but nobody got excited about it, one way or another. The fostering of some kind of unity among the separate districts was one of the ideas considered in a more or less general way by some of those favoring the introduction of Rotary into the township.
The only argument against it was that the new organization might interfere with or detract from the Niles Chamber of Commerce, organized in 1908 and revitalized about 1921, the only businessman’s group functioning a that time.
A Junior Chamber of Commerce had been formed at Niles in 1935 and was responsible for the 40 by 150 foot concrete “Niles” sign, which can be seen on a hillside east of the business center just north of the intersection of the Niles Canyon Highway and Mission Boulevard.
The community service philosophy of Rotary would help the Chamber of Commerce, advocates argued.
The first mention of a Rotary Club at Niles had been made at the then District No. 105 assembly held in Oakland I August 1937. President Al Frager brought the matter before the Hayward Rotary Club in September, and on October 12th, District Governor Allison Ware instructed Ralph H. Anderson of Hayward as his special representative to proceed with organizing the new club.
E.F. “Ted” Glassbrook, manager of the local water office, was the first to mention the proposal at Niles, initially to Dr. Tom C. Wilson, dentist, and to C.W. “Chuck” Kraft, president of a terra cotta tile firm on the Niles-Alvarado Road.
Soon, others were drawn into the discussions during the lunch hour at the Florence. Sixteen days after District Governor Ware’s move, sixteen members were enrolled in the provisional club. On November 10th, word was received that the Rotary Club of Niles had been accepted into full membership with Rotary International.
On December 9th, 1937, the charter night dinner was served at the Veterans Memorial Building at Second and E streets. A downpour of rain greeted the 275 guests assembled to witness the presentation of a charter to Club No. 4455, Rotary International, by District Governor Ware, past president of the Chico Club.
The dinner was served by the Washington Township Post of the American Legion and it’s Auxiliary. Attending were representatives of eighteen Rotary Clubs along with other distinguished guests and their wives.
Introductions were by H.J. Brunnier, a charter member of the San Francisco Club which was the second to be organized after Rotary was founded in 1905 at Chicago. Brunnier was the first district governor of District No. 2.
Among the guests were District Governor Charles Wheeler, District No. 104; Past District Governors Charles Heywood and Harvey Lyon of old District No. 2; Alameda County Supervisor George Hellwig; Judge J.A. Silva, Washington Township Justice of the Peace and later a Rotarian; W.B. Kirk, president of the Niles Chamber of Commerce; Mrs. C.H. Franklin, Niles Parent-Teacher Association president, and members of the press.
Dr. Tully C. Knoles, then president of the College of the Pacific at Stockton, a former district governor and past president of the Stockton Rotary Club was the speaker. The new club was showered with gifts by representatives of Rotary Clubs and their Rotary Annes from Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Burlingame, Los Gatos, Oakland, Palo Alto, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Stockton, Sunnyvale, Tracy, Walnut Creek and Hayward.
Charter officers introduced were C.W. “Chuck” Kraft, president; E.F. “Ted” Glassbrook, vice-president; Richard C. “Dick” Attinger, secretary; Dr. T.C. “Tom” Wilson, sergeant-at-arms; E. Dixon Bristow, director; Clark A. “Griff” Griffin, John E. Kimber, George Mays, Julius J. “Jack” Vieux, Fred V. Jones, Dr. Edgar C. Dawson, Robert A. Blacow, George Bonde, Henry O. McCormick and Dr. E. C. Grau, all of Niles; and George L. Smith of Decoto.
With the exception of Smith, Kimber and Mays, all of them had offices on or within a block of Main Street and its northerly extension, now Niles Boulevard. Within a few years, the club roster represented all eight township communities. Eventually, it sponsored new Rotary clubs at Livermore and at Newark. Approximately 60 of its present or former members in 1962 are serving or have served without pay on boards, commissions or committees in the three new cities they helped to create within the club’s territory as it was generally defined in 1937.
By the end of the charter year, the club had gained its first new member. John A. “Mac” McDonald, garden hobbyist, veteran judge at the Oakland Spring Garden Show, one of the organizers of the Fremont Garden Club and the Fremont Flower Show.
“Mister Daffodil” was a nurseryman by profession before retiring to his own garden near the old Mission several years ago to originate new daffodil varieties, contribute to garden magazines and assist with flower shows and photographic contests.
He has been a Niles school trustee and a fire commissioner and participated in incorporation studies. He was the club’s man of the year in 1947, has served as club secretary, “Pinion” editor and on numerous committees.
The second new member was Edward E. Enos, then Niles Postmaster. His list of community services are too numerous to mention here, but his name appears frequently throughout this 25-year story. He is now a director of the Washington Township Hospital District, which he helped to establish, a member of the Alameda County Planning Commission and is Fremont’s representative on the county mosquito abatement board.
Others joining during the club’s first half year were the Rev. Richard C. Day, E.E. Dias, Dr. Kermit Schaaf and Judge J.A. Silva.
Historic Meeting Place
Weekly noon luncheon meetings were held at the historic Hotel Belvoir. At the orchard entrance to this well-known Bay Area Spot, the club erected a ten-foot Rotary wheel.
Postcard pictures of the wheel were distributed to advertise the meetings of the “smallest club with the biggest sign” and its slogan: “Double four, double five, small club but doubly alive.”
The postcards and the big wheel attracted more than the average number of “make-ups” and other visitors at Thursday meetings.
“The bringing in of such outside contacts and the realization that Rotary is a world-wide organization with a very definite bond of sympathy and understanding among Rotarians everywhere did much to eliminate the narrow outlook that sometimes exists in small communities.” Kraft said.
At the charter dinner, one speaker had said: “This marks a new concept – kindling the spirit of Rotary in small districts as well as in large cities.”
Three months after charter night, the club issued the first of its weekly newsletters, The Pinion. Of the seven new clubs in the District that year, the Niles Club was one of two that published weekly bulletins. The original staff consisted of President Kraft, McDonald and Wilson, who is again at the editor’s desk, twenty-five years later.
Also in March, the sponsoring Hayward Club hosted the first inter-city meeting for the new group. “Our fellows are thrilled over the fine showing our lusty offspring has made,” remarked Hayward President Al Frager.
Niles Rotarians became active in District affairs. In April, George Smith and Tom Wilson topped the Oakland Club’s spring golf tournament and went on to win the Clarksburg International trophy at the Rotary International Conference in June.
The Conference was held in San Francisco where the Niles Club distinguished itself as one of the few that had 100 per cent attendance. The “On to San Francisco Committee” was composed of George Smith, Ed Enos and Jack Vieux. Another club honor was the appointment of President Kraft to the general conference committee.
Club members divided credit with their Rotary Annes for the following letter received from Herbert Shuey, San Francisco Rotarian: “I have heard a great deal about your young club and I want to congratulate you on the fine standing and reputation you have built up in such a short time. I wish that there were more clubs as active and industrious as you are – my heartiest congratulations!”
A letter of similar import was received from District Governor Ware: “Upon reviewing again in my own mind the accomplishments of your club during the last year, I seriously suggest that you enter your club for honors in all divisions of the ‘Club of the Year’ contest. Your participation in our conference, the erection of your road sign, the increase in your membership (37.5 per cent), our (92 per cent) attendance record, that have been done in the development of your organization, may not win you first place in such a contest, or any place, but they will constitute a remarkable and romantic story in Rotary achievement on behalf of a baby club in a half year.”
The Niles Club received an honorable mention in the Club Service Division that year. Members credit much of the success of the club, particularly in its early days to the “good advice” from Al Ware, the district governor. Ware stressed the importance of gearing the club program to Rotary’s “Ideal of Service – to encourage and foster:
The Four Objects
- The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.
- High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying by each Rotarian of his occupation as an opportunity to serve society.
- The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to his personal, business and community life.
- The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through world fellowship of business and professional men united in the ideal of service.”
Ware stressed another four points in “getting started right:” Start the club singing and have an accompanist who can pitch the music to suit untrained male voices. (The Niles club had several: John Kimber, Rotary Anne Peggy Crane, Mac McDonald, Harold Faria and Cal English, to name a few.) Ware’s other admonitions were to remember that fines for fun; always have a good program and strive for perfect attendance with recognition for those who achieve it.
The Niles Rotary Club vindicated the arguments of its founders that a service club would help and not hinder the Niles Chamber of Commerce. Glassbrook, Jones, Kraft and Wilson volunteered on the Chamber’s membership committee and with Chamber officers called personally on all business and professional people of the community to secure memberships.
The Chamber doubled its roster, from 29 members in 1937 to 60 in 1938. The larger membership increased the chamber’s financial status and two large neon directional signs were installed at the two town entrances from the new highway, which had by-passed Main Street.
The Chamber also successfully advocated improvement of the road between Niles and Alvarado a program that in effect extended Main Street into what has become Niles Boulevard, an arterial between the new Cities of Fremont and Union City and providing access to and from the new Nimitz Freeway. (Charter member Kimber is credited with suggesting that the Oakland-San Jose freeway be named in honor of Admiral Nimitz.)
Other community activities that year in which Rotarians participated as Chamber members were promotion of the improvement of the Niles Canyon Highway and a move, which led to the substitution (March 4th, 1942) of a modern dial telephone service for the old hand-crank system.
Oakland Rotary Club member George C. Roeding, Jr., of Niles, contacted the state regarding the canyon road improvement. The narrow, winding road furnished access to many popular picnic spots in scenic Niles Canyon but was too narrow in several spots to permit cars to pass. Nearly every winter rains washed mud and boulders from the steep cliffs, closing the road. Sometimes the Alameda Creek overflowed its banks onto the narrow shelf of pavement.
It was along this road that club members and guests travelled on the night of November 10th, 1938 to the Castlewood Country Club at the other end of the canyon for the Rotary club’s first birthday and ladies’ night dinner.
A Horn to Blow
On October 1st, 1938, the charter membership dinner of the Southern Alameda County Musical Association was held at Castlewood. The association was formed largely through the efforts of John Kimber, assisted by Wilson and Glassbrook together with other local music lovers.
The association embraced the communities of Hayward, Washington Township, Sunol, Pleasanton and Livermore. Kimber, then director of music for the Washington Union High School District, was elected president.
With about 300 members enrolled, the charter dinner was attended by 114. Ralph Anderson, then Hayward Rotary Club president, was another of those giving outstanding aid to the association. The dinner at Castlewood was addressed by Glenn Wood, music supervisor of Oakland Schools, who is credited with the slogan: “Give a boy a horn to blow and he will never blow a safe.”
Subsequently, instrumental and choral programs were presented by the association throughout Southern Alameda County. And thus, Rotary’s first year ended “with the sound of music” throughout Washington Township and neighboring communities.
The War Years – 1938 to 1945
Another kind of music was to be heard soon throughout the world, with Niles Rotarians among the marching men who once again volunteered to fight for freedom and the self-determining rights of individuals.
The club’s second president, Dr. T.C. Wilson (1938-1939) was one of these. He volunteered in 1943 to service with the U.S. Army Dental Corps and six years later as one of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Aero-Squadron commissioned at the Oakland Municipal Airport on January 31st, 1949. He had served with the Naval Air Service, 1918 – 1921.
1939 to 1942
The years 1939-40, Ted Glassbrook, president; 1940-41, George Smith and 1941-42, Judge E.A. Quaresma witnessed an increase in Rotary membership and activities in spite of the depression and World War II.
December 7th, 1941 – Pearl Harbor, Rotarian Harry Cesari was there – one of the lucky survivors. In 1942, Judge Quaresma went to Brazil as assistant special representative of the Board of Economic Warfare at Rio de Janeiro, remaining in that post for three years. He returned to become Justice of the Peace at Niles in 1946 and in 1959 became the first judge of the Fremont-Newark-Union City Municipal Court, a position he still retains.
The judge recalls that while in South America, a celebration was staged at Rio de Janeiro to honor personnel from other countries. A United States man was chosen as speaker as a complimentary gesture toward this country. The gentleman in question could not speak Portuguese and the honor was passed to another country.
“Our prestige took a dip,” the Judge said. “The least our government people and business representatives could do would be to speak the language fluently,” he suggested.
Communication through interpreters is not a satisfactory substitute for knowing the language, the Judge insisted. “Business envoys sometimes have a lot more to do with international relations than do our government representatives,” he asserted. In Rio, he was concerned with buying strategic materials for the war program. He won the appointment because Washington was looking for attorneys who could speak Portuguese, widely used in South America as well as Spanish.
“Speaking the language, understanding the people, making friends – these are the things which make for peace around the world,” he declared. This could have been a quote from some International Rotary opus?
The Home Front 1942 – 1945
George Malcolm Stratton, 1942-43 president, a Newark salt firm executive, was responsible for a substantial sum of money appropriated by the club for magazine subscriptions for servicemen at the Camp Shoemaker Hospital at Pleasanton.
Many Rotary Annes served in various capacities with the Red Cross at the hospital. L.R. “Chick” Burdick, 1943-44, not only furnished leadership for many home-front wartime contributions but probably holds the record for the most laughs during the grim days.
It was Chick who presented at the club board’s direction my honorary Rotary Anne badge – one that I have carried to Rotary headquarters north and south of the borders and across the seas. Incidentally, it is probably the only one of the original issue remaining – the others having perished along with Rotary supplies and emblems in the fire which destroyed in 1960 the International Kitchen, the club’s “home” for many years.
Last month, a real “Thanksgiving” meeting was held in the rebuilt Kitchen, once more to become a center for Rotary and other community affairs with Rotarians Querners in charge.
Chick Burdick served as chairman of all five Washington Township war loan drives. Fellow Rotarians helping out to put all of the drives over the top included Bob Blacow, Niles Chairman; Walter Oakey, Alvarado and E.E. Dias, Ed Enos and Niles Chamber president L.R. Batman.
Batman’s paper on June 2nd, 1944, carried a photograph of Dias and six members of the drama section of the township women’s federated club lined up to sweep Main Street in exchange for purchase of war bonds by merchants.
Nobody remembers the total amount of the bonds so sold, but it is safe to recall that no businessman had the poor judgment to resist the clean sweep made by Mesdames Tom Robbins, Ted Logan, George Goodale, Loren Marriott, Blake Hill and Allan Hirsch as they swept the debris into and from the gutters for the war effort.
It was during Burdick’s term that club meetings were moved to the Florence Restaurant after the Hotel Belvoir dining room was closed. When the restaurant also closed briefly for repairs, Rotarians brought their own lunches and ate at the tables placed on the sidewalk in front of the Florence.
“Just like Paree”, quipped a soldier home on leave. The curbside sessions caught the attention of metropolitan press photographers. On August 25th, 1944, Ed Enos conducted the organizations meeting for the township War Chest, assisted by George Smith and E.D. Meeker.
Jack Vieux headed the aircraft spotting crew, which operated from a tower erected by workers at a local steel plant at the Veterans Memorial building where the Niles club had received its charter.
Schoolmaster charter Rotarian, E.D. Bristow, did his war work as a laborer at the steel plant and another school man, L.W. Musick (Decoto School principal), juggled bales of hay at a Decoto warehouse before Uncle Sam called him to Navy duties.
These and many others left their routine paths to work in the canneries, to harvest crops or perform other menial duties – the women beside the men. Again and again, the press was filled with photographs of those who had previously appeared in the news in professional, civic or social roles.
Joe Buchen, 1944-45, followed Burdick and under his presidency, the club membership increased to thirty-six. Ten cent fines were replaced by twenty-five cent fees and for a birthday, the take was $1.50 on the grounds that “You are lucky to be alive.”
On October 4th, 1944 Rotary appropriated $50 for the production of Washington Township maps which were placed in Fire Halls, schools and other public places. Buchen retired four years ago after serving as vice-president of a Newark salt firm, one of the country’s largest, for fourteen years. He had been with the company for thirty-four years. Harry E. Olsson, a former Niles Club Rotarian, succeeded him.
Dell Quincy Grabill, 1945-46, died a few days after he completed his term as Rotary president. He succumbed to a heart attack while visiting a daughter in Wisconsin, soon after completing his presidency on June 30th, 1946.
“D.Q.” pastor of the Niles Congregational Church, president of the Niles Chamber and chairman of the Niles War Chest had released to the press shortly before his death a story:
“An all-time high record for community service has been established this year for the Niles Rotary Club with members holding 30 non-paid positions in Washington Township program,” the story began.
The positions listed included officers of the Niles Chamber, the Red Cross War Fund, Coordinating Council, veterans’ re-employment, Selective Service Board, fire commission, war chest, March of Dimes, high school board, and other such projects.
Those holding these 30 positions were Robert Blacow, chairman of the township planning commission; E.D. Bristow, chairman veterans’ re-employment; E.E. Dias and J.A. MacDonald, fire commissioners; Ed Enos, chairman township war chest; E.F. Glassbrook, ration board mileage chairman; E.A. Ellsworth and George Bonde, directors Niles Chamber and L.R. Burdick, war loan chairman.
Their other duties included Red Cross committees, war bonds, Selective Service Board, March of Dimes, School boards and similar programs.
On August 25th 1946, a memorial service was held at Niles for “D.Q.”
Mission Sesquicentennial Pageant
Rotary president E. Dixon Bristow, 1946-47, held the spotlight in the June 1947 Sesquicentennial Celebration which was held at Mission San Jose in observance of the mission’s 150th anniversary.
Bristow played the role of Father Lasuen who founded the mission at the foot of Mission Peak. The pageant staged in the open on the hillside near the Dominican Convent and almost across the highway from where Fremont’s city hall now stands, attracted thousands of spectators during the three-day festival.
The overall count was 40,000 visitors, festival committees estimated. Other Rotarians and scores of township citizens joined the principal promoters, mostly Mission San Jose residents, in the colorful and historic festival, which called attention to the fact that this area was one of the first in Alameda County, or for that matter, the Bay Area, to attract non-Indian occupants.
Five years later, Bristow retired from the Alameda County Board of Education, a position he held for 27 years. At the time of retirement he was the board’s president, district superintendent of Niles Schools and had been in the education field for 29 years.
A Tenth Anniversary
Prior to Bristow’s retirement from the club presidency, the organization celebrated its 10th anniversary by helping to start another, the second Rotary Club in Southern Alameda County. The Niles Club co-sponsored with Hayward Rotarians a new club at Livermore. Charter president Kraft served as the special representative of District Governor Willie Osborne, completing jointly with Carl Ekoos of Hayward an earlier move, which had been interrupted by World War II.
And once more the Niles Club moved its meeting place – this time to the International Kitchen on the Niles-Centerville Highway, later named Fremont Avenue, and now known as Peralta Boulevard.
Beginning the club’s second decade, still in a rural area, R.A. “Dick” Jolly of Newark, a druggist, headed the organization, 1947-48. President Jolly’s officers and chairmen indicated the township-wide scope of the club and its expanding fields of service.
The original 10 committees had increased to 31, and the membership from 16 to 59. President Jolly did not have to wait until the end of his term to win an award. As he took office he received from McDonald, who had been the man-of-the-year during the previous term, the fabulous concoction of funnels and tubes designed by Rotarian Ernest Frick, head of a local plumbing firm.
During Jolly’s term, the club collected a truck load of clothing for the Friendship Train of the Society of Friends, with much of the credit going to President Dick “for the swell job he has done in getting the support and cooperation of all,” The Pinion reported.
The club purchased a registered Hereford heifer from Hayward Rotarian Guy Warren, the animal donated to the Future Farmer’s first stockbreeding project at the Washington Union High School, at that time the township’s only high school.
The high school’s Memorial Stadium was dedicated on September 25th 1947, with Ed Enos, high school trustee, as master of ceremonies. Judson Taylor, then coach, presented his lineup for the one-time “big game” in Southern Alameda County between Washington and Livermore.
The $10,000 lighting system was financed by a six-months script sale with Warren Gravestock, vice-principal as chairman and Vernon Ellsworth, secretary. The $500 script purchased by Rotary was later designated a scholarship.
A New Hospital District
During Jolly’s term in 1946, a move was initiated to establish a hospital district in the township, where none had ever existed. The closing of a maternity home, which had been the area’s only so-called hospital facility, precipitated the program. The late Dr. George Holeman, Centerville Lion, headed a citizens committee investigating the possibility of getting necessary amendments to the state law to permit a hospital district.
Vern Batman, then Niles Chamber president and Dr. E.M. Grimmer argued for a tax-supported district in lieu of a proposed privately owned institution. On August 1st, 1947, Batman then serving also as chairman of the Washington Township Planning Committee, appointed Ed Enos as chairman of a hospital district committee. Enos assembled a group of 14 men and women including Judge Ed Quaresma, Claire Lopez and Bristow’s Rotary Anne, Virginia Bristow.
In June 1948, in a special election, residents of the township voted 2,600 to 500 to establish a tax supported hospital district. Also chosen at the election were five directors, later appointed by the county supervisors. They were Rotarian Fred Melhase, Loins Allan Walton, E.A. Alameda and M.F. Silva, and a Niles druggist, L.S. Whitaker. Melhase and Walton moved from the district and were succeeded by Sam Scott of Newark and Rotarian Ed Enos. A this year’s election, Whitaker, Scott and Enos were reelected.
The $3,000,000 hospital on a 10-acre site on Mowry Avenue opened on November 24th, 1958. Among the first nine doctors serving as an advisory staff for the hospital were three Rotarians, Drs. Lyle Buehler, E.C. Grau and E.M. Grimmer.
The original proposal for the hospital was for a 50-bed institution, but in 1952 voters approved by a vote of 3,404 to 857 a bond issue of $1,500,000 to add approximately 100 beds. The average daily bed occupancy in October of this year was 90. In November, a year ago, the average was 107.
The hospital administration reported last month that for the first time the income from patient care and the 20-cents per $100 assessed valuation has been sufficient to meet current bills.
1948 – 1949
Warren Gravestock’s Rotary term included signs of change throughout the township. At a Niles Chamber meeting, someone brought up the idea of control of land use by means of a county zoning law.
Trustees of the Washington Union High School District and the nine elementary school districts discussed redistricting. In April 1948, McDonald was made first vice-president of the Washington Township Community Concert Association, serving with Lion Dwight Thornburg, president Jack Parry, treasurer, and directors Dick Jolly, Rotary Anne Peggy Crane and Mary Virginia Bristow, Dixon’s daughter.
An estimated 500 members attended the first concert but after two years the association was discontinued. There were not yet enough residents who were interested in supporting the program. May 1st to 3rd 1949, Tom Wilson served on the reception committee for the 12th annual conference of Rotary District No. 105 at the Hotel Claremont at Berkeley.
A Postmaster President
In 1949-50, Ed Enos, Niles Postmaster, was Rotary’s president. Romeo Brunelli, head of a pioneer automobile firm in Centerville paid an all-time high fine of $35 for becoming a grandfather. He got part of the money back in the form of a high chair presented to him at the next meeting. Romey’s son Richard, was to become the Niles Club’s 25th president.
On December 1951, Judge Quaresma was master of ceremonies for the 78th anniversary and dedication of a new Niles Post Office building. Enos was postmaster from 1937 through January 23rd 1960, when the post offices of Fremont were consolidated on the city’s fourth birthday. Ed also served as president of the California Postmaster Association.
Dr. Will Lamoreux stressed Rotary’s foreign service and international relations during his term, 1950-51. His son, Larry and family recently returned from a year’s study at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Kimber’s son, Arthur, represents his father’s business in Europe. Other sons and daughters of Carl Flegal, Fred Stoltz, John Whipple, Judson Taylor and Bill Rodes have contributed to international friendship by participating in student or Peace Corps programs, or as visitors in Europe, Mexico, South and Central America.
Flegal and Earl Jackson have hosted students in the foreign exchange program. Another innovation during Dr. Lamoreux’s term was the vocational information program conducted by Rotarians for local high school students.
During Dr. Lamoreux’s presidency, probably the most outstanding young speaker, John Akar, graduate student in international law at the University of California, from British West Africa, was given an ovation after his address to the club on September 7th 1950.
The second world war drove America into a position of world responsibility and placed upon this country the economic burden of the world, Akar declared.
He said the Negro enjoys a better standard of living in America than anywhere else in the world in spite of certain racial discriminations; that you cannot blame democracy for the attitudes of a few and that the success of democracy is demonstrated by the unity that is achieved in this land of different races, religions and social classes.
He expressed gratitude that service clubs, schools and churches are attacking the race “problem” – a word he said implying solution.
It was also during the term of Dr. Lamoreux that the Alameda County Rapid Transit Committee began studying the increasing traffic problems in the Bay Area. Serving on that committee were Rotarians Mike Cimino of Newark, Judge E.A. Quaresma and Vern Batman of Niles and Bruce Michael of Warm Springs.
Last month, November 6th 1962, eleven years later, a bond issue to finance a rapid transit district system, which will include Fremont, was approved by the voters of San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
In 1951-52 with Peter D. Juhl as president, Bain Leask directed the civil defense program at Niles. Juhl termed his eight years in the township as PG&E manager “the real high point of my life…Rotary’s fellowship there cannot be duplicated anywhere.”
During the presidencies of Clifford K. Dennis (1952-53) and Richard Nicklasson (1953-54) the new Baptist Church on Peralta Blvd., with the Rev. Noel P. Glover as pastor, was completed.
Nicklasson’s club membership reached 70 with all eight communities of the township represented.
Rotary’s Golden Anniversary 1905 – 1955
The Niles club celebrated International Rotary’s golden anniversary along with nearly 400,000 other Rotarians in 1955. The anniversary issue of The Rotarian, international organization magazine, was presented to nearly 100 civic and professional leaders of the community at an anniversary luncheon.
It was the Niles club’s 18th year and Harley Bradley, a Newark salt company executive was president. That year, John Berchem assumed his post as a Washington Union High School trustee. The membership of the club reached 88.
1955 – 1956
John Brahmst, a native of Hamburg, Germany, became club president in 1955. He recalls that he got his first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in October 1923. He attended Omaha University, majoring in electrical engineering; met “a beautiful blonde named Martha;” learned the joy of “a good coon hunt across the rolling hills of Iowa after the first snowfall” and in 1937 received his certificate of citizenship, USA.
Brahmst came to Newark in 1941 and later set up his own business on Main Street at Niles. In 1950, he became president of the Southern Alameda County Shrine Club. During Brahmst’s Rotary term, Kraft headed a committee to collect books for the war ravaged Philippine Island libraries. Local schools contributed over 2,000.
A Twentieth Anniversary
Charles Gordon Dubuque, 1956-57, was the first Rotary Club president to become an official in one of the new cities he and fellow Rotarians had helped to create. He was one of Fremont’s first planning commissioners.
On June 20th 1956, the new Ground Observer Corps tower back of the Alameda County Office Building on Peralta Blvd., was dedicated and began operation under the supervision of Bain Leask.
Ralph Carmichael, 1957-58, presided at the club’s 20th anniversary dinner at the Kitchen. Song leader Bill Helm and pianist Peggy Crane staged a novel musical – “Do you remember?” honoring the past presidents attending.
These were Kraft, Wilson, Smith, Quaresma, Buchen, Bristow, Jolly , Enos, Lamoreux, Juhl, Nicklasson, Bradley, Dubuque and Brahmst. That year, the Warren E. Gravestock Memorial Scholarship was established, honoring the memory of another past president. Dr. E.C. Grau headed the committee for the “Eye Bank.”
During the year, Rotary director Bill Rodes and his family left for Bogota, Colombia. For three years he served as branch manager of a pipe firm with which he had been employed in the township. His assignment took him to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the Republic of Panama. He was a member of the “Club Rotario” of Bogota, the Anglo-American Club, the American Society and the Colombian National Fishing Association.
His Rotary Anne Mary was active in a branch of the women’s hospital service league, carrying on the work she had started at the township hospital here. She served one day a week as surgical nurse at the Children’s Hospital at Bogota, and was active also in the American Women’s Club and Girl Guides.
Friends welcomed the Rodes clan back to Fremont in 1960.
A School Teacher President
Judson Taylor, a former coach at the township’s first high school, Washington, became principal of the district’s second high school at Union City when Logan High opened on September 8th 1959, a few months after Jud finished his Rotary presidency.
The $3,000,000 school is located on a 50-acre site on the Niles-Alvarado Road, which you could term, in effect, an extension of “Main Street.”
During Jud’s Rotary presidency, on November 24th, 1958, the last 10-mile link of the Nimitz Freeway between Oakland and San Jose was opened with ceremonies near Mowry Avenue. Dan Bodily, 1959-60 president, one of the first to build new homes in Niles, adding about 200 residences in developments north and south of the business district. He later became president of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and was one of the chief boosters for the Mormon College, which is to be built in Fremont within the next few years.
New State College
During the presidency of Earl E. Jackson 1960-61, Rotarians participated in ceremonies at the site of the Southern Alameda County State College expected to open in the fall of 1963. Rotary secretary Tony Scafani, Niles District school superintendent, was one of many educators participating in inaugural ceremonies signifying the beginning of the college program in temporary quarters in the old Hayward High School in 1959.
GM Plant, Air Traffic Center
Also during Jackson’s term, Rotarians, city officials and civic leaders participated in the dedication of the Air Traffic Control Center, moved from the Oakland Airport to Central Avenue, Fremont. More than 300 people were at the ceremonies on October 15th, 1960. Personnel would reach 400, it was indicated.
The following December 15th, it was announced that General Motors would build a passenger car and truck assembly plant on a 400-acre site in the Warm Springs District, to employ more than 4,000 people when completed in 1963.
GM’s choice of the site was hailed as a victory for the planning program of the new City of Fremont in which Rotarians had participated as planning commissioners.
Rotary Comes to Newark
During Jackson’s term, a new Rotary Club was established at Newark, with Kraft once more as special representative of the district governor. Twenty-four charter members attended the dinner at the El Campo Country Club on Jarvis Avenue in Newark on June 2nd 1961.
Eleven of the charter members were transfers from Niles: President S.M. Cimino; vice-president Alan Woodhill; directors Elmer P. Marks and Lauren Kanninen; sergeant-at-arms Richard Nicklasson; Charles Gordon Dubuque, Francis E. Cauhape, D.E. Hartquist, Clarence W. Lesser, Fred W. Stoltz and James R. Estep.
Other charter members were Secretary James R. Mulkey, treasurer James M. Golden, James H. Black, Lawrence Conrad Jr., Gordon Dennis, J.A. Gonzsalves, R. Irving Hird, Paul H. Leavitt, Wesley Mart, Robert McCaffrey, Franklin S. Schiell Jr., and William L. Stanton Jr.
Jackson represented the Niles Club at the International Convention at Tokyo in June 1961. He has also served as chairman of the Alameda County New Industries Committee, director of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, vice-chairman of the Alameda County Water Resources Committee and as a member of the Alameda County Business Climate Appraisal Committee.
On November 7th 1960, fire destroyed Rotary’s “home” at the famed International Kitchen. Until the Kitchen was rebuilt and the club returned there, sessions were held at the Gondolier in Newark and the Italian Village at Niles.
The Twenty-Fifth President
Richard Brunelli was the Niles Rotary Club’s 25th president. In July 1962, he handed the gavel to Elwood Weitmann who would preside at the anniversary dinner at the Kitchen on December 8th 1962. Regional and city parks held the spotlight during Brunelli’s term.
At Christmas time 1961, it was announced that the East Bay Regional Park District to which this area had been annexed by a vote of the residents in 1958 had acquired the 2,776 acres of the Brinker Ranch.
Oakland Rotarian George C. Roeding (who was re-elected to the regional park board this past November) headed a citizens committee, which held its first meeting at the International Kitchen on November 19th 1957. The committee, formed to promote the annexation of Washington Township to the park district, involving a 5-cent property tax also included Rotarians Carl Flegal, E.C. Parks, Ralph Carmichael and Gordon Dubuque.
Officials and others in the three new township Cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City urged the acquirement of the Brinker Ranch, described as the most beautiful wilderness area left in Alameda County. The park site lies not far from the Calaveras Reservoir on Geary Road.
The other park involved in Rotary’s 25th year was the Fremont Central Park where more than 1,500 people responded to the Niles Rotary Club’s invitation to a pancake breakfast at the Community Recreation Building on May 20th. Proceeds from the benefit were to purchase an estimated $2,500 worth of picnic equipment for the city’s first park. On the committee were John Brahmst, Harold Fudenna, Vernon Ellsworth, Dick Condon and Dan Bodily.
The Changing Countryside
In the early 1940’s there was evidence that the good old days of more or less placid pursuits that had marked the pre-war era in Rotary’s territory had passed from Washington Township and would not return.
Several circumstances may have been contributory – the feeling in the Bay Area metropolitan centers that urban ideas and jurisdictions should be extended into outlying rural districts – the natural restlessness and desire for change which follow war – or the subconscious effect of Rotary in Washington Township in connection with that original goal expressed by proponents of the new club that the “four objects” would bring a new unity among the communities.
The influx of new residents, of course, was partly responsible.
On August 16th 1944, the first local area-wide planning meeting was held at the home of Edward E. Enos on the Hayward-Niles Road. The home, incidentally, was his birthplace, one of the first 20 residences between Hayward and Niles built by his pioneer parents.
Ed says he recalls that the meeting of local and Bay Area civic leaders had been called to consider postwar metropolitan area planning. A meeting of Metropolitan Oakland Area Council representatives was held in that same rumpus room a little later.
Paradoxically, many credit the incorporation of the three new cities here at least partially to the desire of local residents for government completely separated from outside influences.
Ed was made secretary of the group, which chose the name of Washington Township Planning Committee. The next year L.R. Batman, local newspaper publisher, became president. Ed continued in his position until he resigned to accept the chairmanship of the citizens committee proposing the local hospital district in 1947.
For several years, the planning group, made up of representatives of various township community organizations, refused to change its name to Washington Township Chamber of Commerce.
Inter-town jealousy would prevent community-wide improvement; the diversity of interests would result in disagreement between the industrial and the agricultural contingents; and “it had been tried before and would not work,” it was contended.
Proponents of a township chamber pointed out that in the past there had been no paid executive with time to promote the program, that the new organization would not replace weekly neighborhood luncheon meetings of civic groups wishing to discuss purely local problems and that the advancement of the are could come only through united effort.
In September 1947, the group changed its name from Washington Township Planning Committee to Washington Township Planning Association to avoid confusion with the Alameda County Planning Commission.
A representative of the San Francisco Bay Area Council, a guest at the meeting, warned against inter-city “bickering” which he said had lost industries for the Bay Area in competition with Southern California.
The approximately 30 men and women representing township organizations, in 1948 included Rotarians R.A. Jolly of Newark and J.A. McDonald of Niles, president and secretary; Batman and Vernon Ellsworth, president and secretary of the Niles Chamber of Commerce Jack Parry, representing the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
The issues they were considering included the proposal to secure a hospital for the township where none existed; a proposed regional park in Niles Canyon; an effort to make Dumbarton Bridge toll free; a second street in Centerville’s one-street business section; a water supply for Warm Springs, then served only by private wells precluding establishment of a sanitary system and sufficient water supply for fire protection; and a hope expressed by Decoto that a “twenty-year promise of more street lights” would materialize.
On July 22nd 1947, president Batman was successful in getting the Niles Chamber to endorse a resolution proposing a state park in Niles Canyon, an idea advanced by the Junior Chamber before the war. Vernon Ellsworth had been one of the first proponents.
The local parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West had attempted as far back as 1936 to have the site of the old Vallejo Mill at Niles restored. Later the Niles Women’s Improvement Club and other groups endorsed the idea.
In 1962, the City of Fremont is in the process of acquiring the mill site at the west entrance to Niles Canyon.
Washington Township Chamber of Commerce
In August 1949, the Centerville Chamber initiated another try at establishing a township chamber. This effort at last proved successful. In December, the chamber was organized with Dallas Paul, a Centerville Lion representing the oldest service club in the township, chosen president.
Niles Chamber secretary Ellsworth was made secretary of the new chamber. The following year, Rotarian Bruce Michael who was then president of the Warm Springs Chamber became president of the township group with Rotarian Walter Oakey of Alvarado as secretary. A township unity to some extent had finally been accomplished.
County Taxes vs. Do It Yourself
During the next few years, 1951-56, developments in the Bay Area and throughout California re-emphasized the need for unity and for inter-group action by Washington Township organizations.
In April 1951, the township chambers were calling attention to an Assembly Bill, which would deprive certain unincorporated areas of county services unless paid for by a tax on the area involved.
This would mean, if the bill passed, some pointed out, that Washington Township communities would not be eligible for county-provided services such as police protection, street and road construction and maintenance, and other aids then being provided by the county without a special tax assessment.
It was also noted that opposition was being voiced throughout the state in connection with the so-called free ride, which rural areas were receiving from county governments without being specifically taxed for such services.
Warm Springs Chamber president Bruce Michael, headed moves there to secure a land use map, which would relegate industry to areas along the railroad tracks and south of the “town” which consisted of a store, a small restaurant, a garage and a post office plus a couple service stations.
Approximately 25 per cent of the property owners had donated money to secure engineering maps and for the circulation of a petition for a sanitary district. About half the property owners had signed petitions to form a water district to connect to the Hetch-Hetchy line. The community cleanup committee, even though it constituted a personal financial loss, had billboards removed from their properties. (Rotarian Michael was to get his reward five years later when the Fremont election ballots were counted.)
The old family album “stills” gave way to moving pictures in Washington Township in the early 1950’s. Rotarian Bodily and his building cohorts were busy; so were the moving vans headed for the township.
In August 1951, Michael, then president of the Warm Springs Chamber, the Washington Township Chamber, vice-chairman of the Washington Township Disaster Council, added the presidency of the Washington Township Community Chest to his calendar.
In October, the purchase of a 10-acre site for Decoto’s third school had been approved when that district, headed by Rotarian L.W. Musick, inherited overnight almost, 600 new students from the Hillview Crest subdivision, the first large housing development in the township.
At Newark, Rotarian W. Edward Dutra was engineer for the first 60-home development in that community. At the time, the press considered the building boom such big news that the names of the first occupants were reported. Judson Taylor, who was to become a Rotary president, was one of them.
In 1952, more than 100 residents attended the first showing of a proposed master plan for Washington Township. The courtroom at the county building was filled with a cross section of citizens.
The situations had changed. The 1930, the U.S. census gave 6,021 as the township population figure. This figure had more than doubled six years later, based on public utilities data. In 1947, the district hospital committee estimated the population of 18,000. Earlier this year Fremont officially welcomed its 60,000th resident.
Alameda County Centennial
One of the first projects of the new Washington Township Chamber of Commerce was to endorse in January 1950 the site for the Alameda County Office Building on Fremont Avenue, between Centerville and Niles.
Later, this building housed Fremont’s first city hall, and is still the location for the city’s police department and one of its branch libraries. Rotarian R.E. “Dick” Condon, then a lieutenant in the county Sheriff’s Department and to become Fremont’s first chief of police, was advanced to captain and placed in charge of the 23-man staff at the new substation, activated on October 15th 1951.
This was the township’s first around-the-clock enforcement group. The building housed the county health department, welfare, justice court, library and numerous other county offices. Niles Rotarian Dr. E.M. Grimmer donated the land for the $200,000 building.
The facility was dedicated on September 16th 1951, under the auspices of the township chamber. In June 1953, a significant portion of Alameda County’s centennial celebration was held in Washington Township where county government began in 1853, and where the East Bay Area history had begun in June 1797 when the padres established the Mission San Jose de Guadalupe.
Among the local centennial committeemen were Rotarians John Ratekin of Alvarado, Don Querner, Stuart Nixon and Dr. Lyle Buehler of Niles, and Ernest Vayssie of Irvington. The two-day festivities included the official marking of the first county court house at Alvarado; a parade and silent movies at Niles commemorating the old Essanay studio operating here in early 1900’s; a “Fashions of a Century” show at the high school sponsored by the Washington Township Historical Society; and a 100th anniversary service at the 1853 Presbyterian Church on Main Street, Centerville.
Visitors expressed amazement at the display of historic articles on exhibit at the high school, some suggesting that a museum should house such “priceless mementos of county history.”
Rotarian E.C. Parks of Niles, a past president of the historical society says he is “working on it.” Mrs. Joseph Clark (Florence) Shinn was president of the historical society during the centennial year. She and her family have recently donated to the City of Fremont the 1878 Shinn home and its four-acre garden on Peralta Boulevard at Mowry Avenue for the city’s first historic park.
The Incorporation Study Begins
In May 1953, Rotarian Maurice Marks, president of the Washington Township Chamber conducted a meeting at the county office building to discuss a survey on incorporation to be financed by the local chambers.
He stressed that the survey, at the moment at least, was only a fact-finding project, not a proposal for incorporation. It was mentioned that if the township should be incorporated into the City of Washington, it would constitute the first such procedure in Alameda County since 1908; and that there had been no precedent in California for the formation of a single city from so varied and duplicating governmental bodies.
In the summer of 1954, Alameda County Supervisors were discussing possible contracts with the proposed new cities of Fremont, Newark and Union City for police, fire, street lighting, road maintenance and other services.
Community Chambers of Commerce were discussing the issues at their individual sessions, with Rotarians as usual prominent in the exchange of pro and con opinions. One January 18th 1955, at the Niles Grammar School officers were elected for a Washington Township Incorporation Study Committee. The school is just across the street from the Veterans Memorial Building where the Niles Rotary Club received its charter in 1937.
Rotarians Wallace Pond was named chairman of the new committee and Vernon Ellsworth, secretary.
Residents of Newark decided to go it alone, and on September 13th 1955, voted 1,252 to 94 to incorporate its 6.8 square mile area. It was Alameda County’s 11th city, the first to be formed since Albany was incorporated in 1908.
Clark Redeker, who was to become the first honorary member of the new Newark Rotary Club, was one of the five charter city councilmen elected. He later became mayor. George Silliman, Newark Chamber past president, received 999 votes and was chosen as mayor. He resigned in 1957 to become a director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, where he still serves.
The remaining seven township communities rallied an estimated 150 organizations for the incorporation study. Hayward reached southward for more land. Overlapping jurisdictions and court battles made it obvious that Alvarado and Decoto could not legally be included in an initial incorporation.
The study committee changed its name to Committee for the Incorporation of Centerville, Niles, Irvington, Mission San Jose and Warm Springs into the City of Fremont. Six of the committee of 21 were Rotarians: Stuart Nixon, chairman; Wallace Pond, vice-chairman; Vernon Ellsworth, secretary and Bruce Michael, Jack Parry and John Pihl.
A map drawn by Rotarian W. Edward Dutra of Newark was presented to Alameda County officials and on October 12th 1955 the supervisors indicated approval of boundaries for the proposed 99-square mile city, which would completely surround Newark and extend into the waters of South San Francisco Bay. Formal approval of the boundaries was recorded October 25th.
Pond filed as a candidate for the council. “Let’s finish the job we started,” he urged in campaign speeches. “It has ceased to be a question of whether you wish to be incorporated or not, but whether you wish to incorporate yourself or be incorporated,” he declared.
Among the other 16 candidates for the council were Rotarians Gordon Dubuque, Bruce E. Michael and John A. Parry. At a December 22nd Christmas dinner meeting of the Niles Chamber, George A. Mays, chairman of the Hayward City Planning Commission and a Niles charter Rotarian said “I am for Fremont because it offers a beautiful opportunity for planning – master planning while the land is vacant.”
Other Niles Rotarians involved in the pre-election studies were Maurice Marks, to consider a name for the new city; Dr. Joseph Enos, finances; Michael, boundaries; Peter Juhl, taxes; J.A. Ratekin, public services.
Others included Bain Leask, Dr. Tom Wilson, Romeo Brunelli, Edward E. Enos, Geoffrey Steel, Judge E.A. Quaresma, J.A. McDonald, Ernest Vayssie, E.C. Parks, Richard Nicklasson, Claire Lopez, Carl Flegal, Ralph Carmichael and Dr. E.M. Grimmer.
One hundred twenty-five citizens at a mass meeting at the Washington Union High School approved the proposed incorporation in November. Nixon announced headquarters would be opened at the former bank building on Main Street, Centerville, at Fremont Avenue, later to become Fremont Boulevard and Peralta Boulevard.
On December 8th, the Washington Township Junior Chamber of Commerce held a candidates night at the high school preceding the election set for January 10th 1956.
A Unique City is Born, Fremont Incorporates January 10th, 1056
Metropolitan press and Bay Area radio stations covered the election returns at the headquarters as wildly cheering crowds hailed the trend of returns.
Of the 7,481 registered voters, 5,474 voted 3,488 to 1,853 to incorporate the communities of Niles, Centerville, Irvington, Mission San Jose and Warm Springs into Alameda County’s twelfth city.
Two Rotarians led the tally – Bruce Michael and Wallace pond. Michael later tied (when absentee ballots were counted) with John L. Stevenson of Centerville for high vote and was named vice-mayor with Stevenson as mayor.
Pond nosed ahead of Jack Parry as returns came in from the last few precincts and became the fifth member on the council. Parry, holding sixth place was later named chairman of the planning commission, which also included Gordon Dubuque, seventh high on the list of votes received, and Claire Lopez.
First Council Session
The city council held its first official meeting at one minute after midnight at the Washington Union High School cafeteria on January 24th 1956, to avoid a lapse between county and city jurisdictions in fire, police and other emergency services.
As the new city set up its various boards and commissions which were composed of men and women who had demonstrated leadership in other community affairs as well as in the pre-incorporation activities, it became more and more obvious that the membership of the Rotary Club of Niles was playing a unique role in a unique city.
Robert Blacow, a member of one of the township’s oldest families and long-time bank manager at Niles, was appointed city treasurer, a post he still holds, serving without remuneration.
LeRoy Broun, former Centerville Lion and Chamber of Commerce secretary, one of those active in pre-incorporation studies, was named city attorney. Rotary was represented on other boards: Joseph S. Costa, board of appeals; Bain Leask, fire commission; Dan Bodily, Stuart Nixon and Oakland Rotarian George C. Roeding, Jr., of Niles recreation commission; Maurice Marks and E.C. Parks, City Beautiful Committee.
Named to study and recommend a business license ordinance were John Brahmst, Parks, Walter Sletten and Walter Chrysler. To assist the planning commission in recommending a master plan, Earl Jackson, Bert Loosmore, John Pihl and Nixon. Harry Olsson, Loosmore, Dan Bodily, Ed Enos and Ray Boege, industrial commission.
Others who were added to these groups in subsequent years were Geoffrey Steel, Parks, Carl Flegal and Anthony Scafani, planning; Chrysler, board of appeals; George Kritikos and Loosmore, recreation; Frank Serpa and Ernest Vayssie, City Beautiful Committee; Dr. W.F. Lamoreux, historical architectural review board; Vernon Ellsworth, water advisory committee.
City Hall Moves
Two small rooms in the Alameda County Office building were designated as the city hall, later moved to its present location, a former school in Mission San Jose on Mission Boulevard, where the council held its first meeting in its new and present location on September 17th 1956.
Fremont’s 1956 city hall is only a short distance from the Mission San Jose de Guadalupe where the Padres started in 1797 the development of the area, which became Alameda County 56 years later.
At the end of Fremont’s first year, a birthday dinner dance was held at Castlewood under the sponsorship of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and then headed by Claude Young, president.
Three years after the creation of the City of Fremont, the two remaining unincorporated Washington Township communities, Alvarado and Decoto, were at last successful in the formation of their own city, the 13th in Alameda County.
The name chosen for the 8½ square mile municipality was Union City, commemorative of one of the early-day settlements, which preceded the town of Alvarado. Efforts had been made to annex the two communities to Fremont prior to the election on January 13th 1959.
Rotary’s J.A. Ratekin was elected to the council, where he still serves, and later becoming mayor. The high vote went to Tom Kitayama, nationally known carnation grower, who polled 701 votes in the 837 to 220 returns, which approved the incorporation. Ratekin’s name was added to the list of members of the Niles Rotary Club who have been represented in the charter governments of the three cities they helped to create.
In November 1962, Union City annexed five square miles of sloping hill land east of Mission Boulevard, increasing the city’s area to 13 square miles. It includes the historic Decoto, which was named in honor of the pioneer family, which has contributed several noted citizens to the Bay Area, and Alvarado, where Alameda County’s first county seat was located.
The site of the first “court house,” a room above a store at Smith and Levee Streets was officially marked with a bronze plaque during he Alameda County Centennial celebration in 1953.
Another Rotary Club
Eight days after the Union City incorporation, a new Rotary Club embraced the Alvarado and Decoto areas when the South Hayward Rotary Club was chartered on January 21st 1959. Two years later, when the Newark Rotary Club was chartered in June 1961, under the sponsorship of the Niles club, only five of the original eight township communities which had been served by the 1937 club remained – Niles, Centerville, Irvington, Mission San Jose and Warm Springs, now constituting the City of Fremont.
As Fremont nears her sixth birthday, January 23rd 1963, the tempo of change increases. History is being made faster than it can be recorded. During the past six years, members of the Rotary Club of Niles have filled nearly 100 positions on councils, commissions, boards or committees in the three new cities they helped create.
There were 78 names on the membership roster of Rotary in 1956. Of these forty-four represented those who were connected in some way with the Fremont incorporation study or procedure. Ten others who later became members of Rotary were added to city files in addition to four prior members, some of who had withdrawn but are again on the Rotary list.
In addition to these 58, W. Edward Dutra had served as Newark’s first city engineer, and J.A. Ratekin as charter councilman and later mayor at Union City. The number does not include those who have assisted the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
Besides the volunteers, Rotary is represented by former member F. Robert Coop, Fremont’s first city manager, who resigned, accepting a position as Chief of Public Services in the U.S. State Department’s technical assistance program in Yugoslavia; Howard Reese, Coop’s successor and Richard E. “Dick” Condon, Fremont’s first police chief who has retired.
Within the past week, the official roster at the Fremont City Hall changed to add two more names to Rotary’s roster of city officials. On November 20th Mayor Carl Flegal resigned because of increasing demands of personal business. He handed the gavel to Vice-Mayor Jack Parry, and on November 27th, the council names Parry mayor, the fourth member of the Niles Rotary Club to be so designated in the three cities.
A former Rotarian, Geoffrey Steel, vice-chairman of the Fremont Planning Commission, was named to fill Flegal’s term, to have expired in April 1964. Having an acute dislike for being behind the news instead of on top of it in self defense we set this day, November 28th 1962 as the cut-off date for this story, hoping that nothing else of front-page dimension will occur within the next few days before the first edition is off the press.
The current roster of Rotary at the Fremont City Hall now includes:
- Mayor: Jack Parry
- Councilman: Geoffrey Steel
- Treasurer: Robert Blacow
- Planning Commission: Claire Lopez, charter planner, resigned July 1962
- Recreation Commission: H. Guy Clouser
- Civil Service Board: Rev. Noel Glover and Fred W. Stoltz
- Historical Architectural R.B.: Dr. W.F. Lamoreux and Normal Hale
- City Beautiful Committee: Frank Serpa
- Water Advisory Committee: Vernon Ellsworth
- Sister City Committee: Maurice Marks and William van Doorn
During the past year, Mayor Flegal officially welcomed Fremont’s 60,000th resident, compared to about 22,000 when the city was incorporated in 1956.
Last May, the $97,000 recreation building was opened as a community center, and is currently being used for city meetings. This building, the first that Fremont has constructed, overlooks the Stivers Lagoon area where a complex, which would include the civic center, park, municipal golf course and a wildlife refuge, has been proposed.
A consultant, retained due to the generosity of Miss Olive Hyde, Fremont resident who donated $2,000 for a study of the area, is currently reporting his suggested plan to numerous city groups. In September, state, city and county officials attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the Fremont Boys Club, headed by H. Guy Clouser, president.
Nearly a year ago, Fremont’s 10,000th building permit had been issued for a new bank. The first permit issued was November 1957, coincident with the opening of the city’s building inspection department.
In 1961, Elwood Weitmann, Rotary’s 26th president, headed a committee of sixty-one, including thirteen Rotarians, which successfully promoted a $1,700,000 bond election for new fire halls, traffic safety devices and street improvements.
Fellow-Rotarians assisting Weitmann and Dan Bodily, co-chairman, were Ed Enos, Dr. Lyle Buehler, Ralph Carmichael, Ceasar DiGiulio, Vernon Ellsworth, Carl Flegal, Earl Jackson, Maurice Marks, Jack Parry, E.C. Parks, and Judge E.A. Quaresma.
During the preceding year, 1960, an $8,000,000 bond proposal had been defeated, many saying that the amount was too large, the separate issues not understood and that the campaign had failed because of political controversy. Assisting in that project were Don Querner, Gordon Dubuque, Dr. Tom Wilson and Dr. Ralph Alperin.
“The Past is Prologue”
In this section of California, years do not “end” – rather, spring begins as the winter rains green the hills and the first spring blossoms appear in the garden. It is so with Rotary, whose calendar bridges the dividing line of the years and “old” presidents find their new calendars filled with projects carried over the Christmas holidays or being initiated as New Year resolutions.
The Niles club’s 26th president, Elwood Weitmann, has a full agenda. Discussed during the past year and pending for consideration on the community service calendar, (for whatever assistance Rotarians wish to offer) are such projects as the proposed small boat harbor on the Newark Slough; a municipal airport; development of recreational areas in Niles Canyon and along the Alameda Creek as it winds through the city to the Bay, future recreational and water conservation uses of the numerous gravel excavations in the city; air pollution control; development of a civic center and the proposed wildlife refuge; routes for rapid transit and freeways through or around Fremont; redistricting of schools and expansion of housing and commercial facilities to accommodate an estimated 200,000 population before another quarter century has passed.
Fremont Chamber of Commerce
Also offering a medium for city building is the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, organized in April 1956, a few months after the city was incorporated. Three of its subsequent presidents have been Rotarians.
These were John Brahmst, 1958; Ralph Carmichael, 1960; and Dan Bodily 1961. During the first year, Vernon Ellsworth served as secretary. Others on committees or boards included J.A. Ratekin, Brahmst, Dr. W.F. Lamoreux, George Mays, John Hillman, C.W. Kraft, A.S. Enos, Bert Loosmore, Harry Olsson, Gordon Dubuque, Maurice Marks and Harry Querner. The 75 directors this year include 30 Rotarians.
The space allotted for this pleasant chore has been exhausted. If the repetition of names and minor events appears tedious, it has been intentional – –
To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s World War II declaration regarding the pilots of the R.A.F. who drove the Luftwaffe from the skies above England; Seldom has so much been “owed by so many to so few.”
Even after having watched first hand the tireless efforts of those few whose names are repeated so frequently in this simple quarter century story of eight country neighborhoods, the things that they have accomplished, in summation seem amazing… even in the light of the community service records of thousands of Rotary clubs throughout the world.
Regrettably, another part of Rotary has been omitted here in the interest of brevity – the good stories, the fellowship, the Rotary Anne luncheons and the dinner parties, bingo, Reno and gold, Ernest Vayssie’s Rotary Christmas parties for the children at St. Mary of the Palms, the May Day celebration at Dixon’s school, the color slides and travel pictures of Will Lamoreux, Maurice Marks, Gene Grau, Earl Jackson and a lot of others.
We can think of no more fitting finish as we write “thirty” than to quote in part, the words of Herbert J. Taylor, Rotary International president, as he wrote in the 50th anniversary edition of
The Rotarian, February 1955:
“It is never easy to determine beginnings. The very word ‘history’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘inquiry.’ We must question the past.
Shakespeare drew the plots of some of his greatest plays from the ancient Grecian biographer Plutarch, and acknowledging his debt, the great bard causes one of his characters to say that ‘What is past is prologue.’
Behind us lies the panorama of a half-century. If we should look upon this era in smug satisfaction, the purpose of our celebration would be lost.
The youthful mind is impressionable; the mature mind has become set… Rotary is a social movement and as such is in danger of the blighting effects of precedent.
But Rotary is an organization of businessmen, and modern business is almost revolutionary in its thoughts and methods. If Rotary is to realize its proper destiny, it must be evolutionary at all times, revolutionary on occasions.
Keep on with that Boy Scout troop, that trade association, that project for helping students from abroad… keep looking for new fields of service.
If we can find such inspiration in this anniversary, then these years of the past will indeed be but a prologue to a greater, more active future.”
Charter Members of the Rotary Club of Niles
December 9th 1937
|Charles W. Kraft||“Chuck”||Terra Cotta Manufacturing||President|
|E.F. Glassbrook||“Ted”||Municipal Water Service||Vice-President|
|Richard C. Attinger||“Dick”||Refined Oil Products – Retailing||Secretary/Treasurer|
|Thomas C. Wilson||“Tom”||Dentistry||Sergeant at Arms|
|Dixon Bristow||“Dixon”||Education – Public Schools Director|
|Edgar C. Dawson||“Doc”||Physician|
|Robert A. Blacow||“Bob”||Banking|
|George Bonde||“George”||Building Materials – Retail|
|Henry O. McCormick||“Mac”||Refined Oil Products – Distribution|
|Clark A. Griffin||“Griff”||Hotels|
|John Kimber||“John”||Poultry Breeding|
|George Mays||“Chuck”||Tile Pipe Manufacturing|
|Julius J. Vieux||“Jack”||Electric Appliance Distribution|
|Fred V. Jones||“F.V.”||Insurance – Fire|
|George Smith||“George”||Roofing Tile Manufacturing|