Friday, January 02, 2009

Credits for POrt Chicago/ Nichols posts

Before getting yelled at or thrown into litigation, I must
state that photos herein are not originals, nor is the information.
Though I cannot pay reference to all that I come across (I
occasionally forget where they came from), I will say the Port Chicago
and Nichols photos and info come from Dean McLeod's books _Bay Point_
and _Port Chicago_. Some info also comes from Emmanuels _Contra Costa
History_. All are most excellent reads and go into better detail of
what is presented here. Fact is, if you're here, you'd be less than
living if you didn't pick up these books.

Port Chicago Prelude

Port Chicago

This is the site of my city,

A city of peace and contentment

Home of the industrious and the friendly

wishing only to be left to their duties;

To beautifying the homes they had builded,

To raising their families in comfort,

To living the lives of good people

And to contributing to the wealth of the nation

Till the cruel forces of the Navy,

With malicious and lying inventions

Destroyed the city forever

With dozers and dozers and dozers.

Where are the people of my city?
The people who fought so bravely
Against an enemy so powerful,

Against an enemy so unprincipaled

As to think only of wanton destruction?

Scattered like dust and leaves

Are the people of my city--

Scattered but not beaten in spirit

Are the people of my city.

Gone are the voices of children,

Gone is the laughter of maidens.

Still stands the site of my city,

Still reigns the spirit of the people

Who so gallantly fought for a principle,

Still blow the murmuring breezes,

Still lap the waves on the beaches,

Still stand these forces forever

Not even the powerful Navy

Can ever find ways to conquer,

Can ever find ways to destroy.

December 22, 1969

by Roy E. LeePrincipal, Bay Point School

Street Scenes of Port Chicago

Royal Hotel and Restaurant at the foot of Main, where travelers could get off the train get a meal and lodging

Smith Hospital (photo dedicated to Florence Ratched)

Blue Star Theater

Theatre after the Explosion on July 17, 1944. Playing that night to 195 viewers was "China" starring Alan Ladd and Loretta Young. The explosion in Apollo language is "A Whoopsie moment" or in military, SNAFU.

More damage. Hotel at foot of Main

Main St., around 1952

Main St., 1968, just months before vanishing into non-existence

This is the town that was destroy. This community, gone. The family, the friends the bonds, the comraderie. Ran over with legislation and a bulldozer.

'And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give

As Dean "Double Props" McLeod points out the irony, "Guarding rubble . . .watching the demolished street during the evictions of 1969".

Well, all good things come to an end. In 1967 theFederal Governemt decided to shut down the area, residences,businesses and all. This didn't come without a fight. San Franscico49er football player came out with shotgun in hand to ward off the demolition crew. Dan Colchino defended his home: Ignoring the sign on his gate reading :"No Trespassing. Unauthorized Violaters Will Be Shot," U.S. DeputyMarshal Richard St, Germain and another deputy were greeted by SanFransico football 49er Dan Colchino and his Winchester rifle.

The Ben Tre logic appears. Trust not when a government states thatit's "for the people". Just look at Kelo v City of New Haven (2005).Usage of Eminent Domain is questionable. Apparently, we have todestroy ourselves in order to save ourselves. The only thing left isto hum a few bars of Social Distortion's "Ball and Chain":

Well it's been ten years,
and a thousand tears

And look at the mess I'm in-

A broken nose and a broken heart,
An empty bottle of gin
Well I sit and I pray

In my broken down Chevrolet-

While I'm singin' to myself

There's got to be another way

If ever you think a community is "alive", that there is "spirit" in ablock party, step back. Someone's out to get you and break it alldown. All creations are free, some are just more free than others.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Map of Port Chicago now

Maps of Bay Point / Port Chicago then

A strange chunk of land, estranged from its history, with stories fenced

off into forgoten-ness. This crazy world with forces attempting to save

artifacts that no one knows the relevance yet no capital to follow up

these dreams, we can only write and tell stories of grander times. So

goes this town of Port Chicago.

Transfer of land holdings. First the Chupcan tribe of the Bay Area Miwok

walked. Am not seeing the title of this location during the Mexican

Rancho days, it appears wedged between Rancho Monte del Diablo (concord)

and Rancho Los Medanos. Then, the Americans moved into the area. While

boats were carrying cargo up and down Walnut and Grayson Creeks, while

the hamlet of Pacheco was continuously flooding and people were packing

up and moving to the town of Todos Santos / Drunken Indian / Concord (I

like Drunken Indian the best), this area, then known as Seal Bluff, was

being sporadically inhabited by new immigrants.

As with most areas of Contra Costa County, checkered regions of these
areas were company towns, and to do justice to the history, neglecting
the companies' and the industries' involvements would be sacreligious.
In the 1890's, Santa FE and Southern Pacific Railroads laid track
through this land. Also during this decade, Copper King Mines Ltd.
set up a smelter here, running its hand through hundreds of tons of
copper, silver, and gold ore but the company quickly folded.
According to Emmanuels, "the comapny's assayer was less than
competent. . . He ran off with an actress, leaving his wife and
children in Seal Bluff". Smith Lumber Co., operated by Charles Axel
Smith, set up shop in 1908, later named Coos Bay Lumber Co. The
lumber company also was responsible for renaming the area "Bay Point",
retiring the former label "Seal Bluff". All went swimmingly,
employing 190 men, if not more for the lumber company, until the
dreaded stock market crash of 1929, and they closed shop in 1932. An
olive oil plant opened up. Along came the Navy.

This last Photo taken during Port Chicago's zenith in the 1940's

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