Friday, June 16, 2017

The Iconic Brinley Building Over a Half-Century (265)

Nighttime 1965

On reason I collect DHS and UCD yearbooks is the startling and enlightening historical photos I sometimes happen onto in them. I was recently fortunate to have yet another such positive experience when an old friend emailed me that she had acquired a 1965 DHS yearbook that, if I did not already own it, I could buy from her for the $10 she paid at a garage sale. I did not own it and I was delighted to pay $10 in order to hunt for a remarkable new photo (among other topics I peruse in these volumes).  

I was not disappointed. Spanning pages 146 and 147 and measuring 13 inches wide by eight inches tall, we are given the glorious view of the Brinley Building ablaze at night seen here and labeled Nighttime 1965. (It is of course best viewed on a large screen desktop computer and after you have clicked on it in order to zoom it up to full-screen.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In Fond Memory of RIchard Berteaux, 1929-2017 (264)

                                                                       Davis Enterprise photo, July 16. 2013

Davis: Transformation, page 87.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The 1926 University Farm Sewage Treatment Plant (263)

1. One of two photos on the cover of the April, 1930 issue Pacific Municipalities. Looking northwest. 
2. Caption to the two photos on the April, 1930 cover of Pacific Municipalities.

From the beginning, agricultural research and education at the UC Farm created an unusual density of humans and other animals in adjacent corners of rural Yolo and Solano counties. Not commonly recognized but of fundamental import, that density produced a large and increasing stream of what is politely termed “sewage.”

Merely to avoid inundation--much less health and aesthetic disasters--significant control measures were required. One of these was a “sewage works” plant constructed in 1926 in the northeast section of the intersection of Old Davis Road and the South Fork of Putah Creek (images 1, 2 and 8).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Oldest Known Film of the UCD Campus? (262)

Still picture from the California Sewer Works Association film linked below.

The UCD Department of Special Collections website includes a selection of “Historic Picnic Day Films,” one of which is reported to be “the oldest known footage of campus,” here: https://www.library.ucdavis.edu/dept/specol/collections/media/?media=picnicday

That footage is dated April 22, 1939 (screenshot below).

“Est” declarations, such as “oldest,” tallest,” “fastest,” “best,” and the like, are implicit challenges and, I suppose, even part of human DNA. Once issued, an “est” challenge sets a benchmark for evaluating future events of that type.

So, when I came onto a film made on the UCD campus on April 21, 1930, one of my thoughts was “this might be the oldest UCD campus film!” In that spirit, I call attention to it on Davis History Today.*

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The 1965 UC Davis Picnic Day: Moments At the End of an Era (261)

1. L to R: Clark Kerr, Emile Mrak, Pat Brown
Browsing Davis topics on eBay, I recently acquired at auction a reel of 8 mm home movies that included about two minutes of 1965 UCD Picnic Day scenes.

Among other moments and views, there are shots of Pat Brown, Clark Kerr and Emil Mrak riding together atop a long convertible, of Aggie males chasing panicked greased pigs, and of the elaborate floats student groups made for the parade.

I was quite struck by the perhaps two dozen scenes making up the film and I think they are worth sharing. I have therefore converted it to the MP4 digital format, enhanced it, slowed the some two minutes to a more viewable 8-minutes, and uploaded the result to YouTube,  here:


Most striking to me is the fact that we are looking at California post-WWII boom and exuberance at their height and this exaltation is -- at the same time and outside these views -- starting seriously to come apart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Davis History 1870-1970 Is a Microcosm of The Most Important Century in Human History? (260)


Robert Gordon’s majestic, thousand-page treatise titled The Rise and Fall of American Growth is best known for the argument that rapid economic growth from about 1870 to 1970 was a one-time artifact of a unique conjunction of innovations that cannot and will not be repeated.  

The declining and sluggish growth since the 1970s is therefore not easily remedied or perhaps even remediable. Such a thesis is, of course, heresy to the political left and right alike.

As important as the economic growth issue may be, it is not the reason I want in this post to draw attention to Gordon’s wonderful book.*

I savored this work a bit at a time over several weeks because I was enchanted by the “unique century” claim of Gordon’s informing thesis that economic growth was essentially zero in human history before 1870, climbed greatly between 1870 and 1970, after which it has declined and will continue to be low.

Because of a flurry of physical and social innovations over 1870-1970, that century can be claimed to be the single most significant one in human history. The burden of the great bulk of this extraordinarily complex book is to, chapter after chapter, chronicle the “Great Inventions,” the networking of American homes (water, sewer, electricity, etc.), and other widely adopted technical and social innovations.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Today’s Organizational Websites Foretell a Revolution in the Configuration of Local History? (259)

In studying Davis history, I have sometimes puzzled over what the detailed stories of various organizations actually were, including those of even the best known and longest existing entities, such as the Community Church, the Masons and the Davis Enterprise, as well as shorter-lived but key institutions such as the Buena Vista Hotel, the original Varsity Theater, the Davis Joint Grammar School, and Harby’s Meat Market--among a great many others.
There is, of course, at least some information available on these and other organizations. For a few, there are even fairly detailed accounts. But, overall, the record is sparse. The consequence is that our picture of ordinary Davis life fifty, a hundred, or more years ago is fuzzy and faded.

The simple fact is that no one kept detailed records on organizations, or, if they did, those materials have long since been thrown away for want of storage space or for other reasons.

But, in recent years, all that has begun to change. We are living at the start of a new era of compact and detailed organizational record keeping. We see this in two forms.