Sunday, July 24, 2016

An Oddly Rare Postcard of Davis’ Larry Blake’s Restaurant/Rathskeller (258)

Virtually all Davis history postcards have been identified and collected by the half a dozen or so people who work at that arcane hobby/obsession. Indeed, a good part of the interest in collecting such cards resides in the rarity of new finds.

As one of those hobby/obsessives, I was therefore jolted when I came onto the card reproduced here, which I had never seen before. It is an apparently 1960s image of Davis’ Larry Blake’s.

The view in the front side of the card, Image 1, seems to be from First Street looking northwest, with the equipment and truck rental firm there at the time visible across F Street on the left.

The reverse side, Image 2, features the two curious assertions that the place is only “one minute off the freeway” and that there is “community singing every night.”

The first assertion makes sense if one knows that Larry Blake’s was, in that era, a famous and iconic place on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue just a few steps from Sather Gate. So, freeway travelers could feel this was a place in Davis they could trust.  

I do not know the reference of the phrase “community singing every night.” I welcome reports on what this meant about what happened in the evenings at Larry Blake’s restaurant, rathskeller, or both.

I arrived in Davis in 1970 and I recall eating and drinking there both upstairs and downstairs, although I must confess my memoires of both locales are hazy. Among the few images of the place that have stuck in my brain is a some three by three foot cartoon/drawing on a wall in the Rathskeller showing a male with his arm up the rear area of a cow and an expression of pleasure on the face of the cow. As a newcomer to Davis, I took this to be an expression of indigenous, undergraduate “Aggie Spirit.”

As I have written elsewhere, this restaurant and its successor in the same building, Brewster House, were for a time premier Davis eating-places. While both aspired to modestly upscale food, the fare and atmosphere were about the same as the college “hang out” namesake in Berkeley.

For context, I also provide a circa 1985 view of the building when it was a closed down Brewster House (Image 3) that was subsequently demolished.