Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

A Rainy Day in Berkeley

Rain in June is a rare event in the Bay Area. This has been a good opportunity to sit down and catch up with writing projects I had previously promised to myself and others.  One is a statement I plan to read at the memorial for my deceased housemate Bob Berry this coming Friday. I will print that here later. I am reminded of some rainy days past.

In January of 1980, Melissa, my wife at the time, and I were in the process of making the final decision to relocate to the Bay Area. We decided to take a week’s vacation to stay with Bob in his South Berkeley basement flat. I had just finished my first full-time political job.

The previous summer, I quit a job at a contact lens factory and went to work for Bill Press. Press had left his job for Governor Jerry Brown and was wanted to qualify a ballot initiative to create a tax on the profits of oil companies. I was drawn to the initiative campaign because the money was intended to fund public transportation and alternative fuels. I was sick of seeing support for buses dwindle in San Diego, especially after the passage of Proposition 13. I wanted to live without a car, which was I found to be a heavy financial burden with my minimum wage factory job. I was happy that I was a able to ride a bike to work every day because no bus could get me there that early in the morning.

Ironically, the job of gathering voter signatures all across Southern California forced me to drive hundreds of miles each week. The job took longer than expected, as well. We stood out in front of shopping centers over Thanksgiving and then the busy Christmas shopping season. We finally finished after New Year’s, and I was exhausted. I needed a vacation and a chance to get away from the Southland.

Bob said we could sleep on his floor for a week. He knew we were seriously considering a permanent move. When we got there, I planned to just park my truck to walk and ride the bus the rest of the week. However, there was one damper to our vacation I did not take into consideration. January is the start of the rainy season, and the Bay Area gets a lot more rain than San Diego. It was raining when we got there, so we decided to wait to go out until the weather cleared up. We sat around, listened to KSAN, and read Bob’s books while he was at work. After a few days, we realized the weather was not going to clear up. We were starting to get cabin fever.

Our daughter was four years old, so we decided to take her to the San Francisco Zoo. We stopped in Chinatown and bought umbrellas that were colorfully painted and made of bamboo. We took the streetcar to the zoo where we walked all day in the pouring rain. I remember having a good time, although I learned something about the lacquer on those umbrellas we bought in Chinatown. When they get wet, the umbrellas have a strange and unpleasant chemical odor. They don’t last very long either.

It rained the entire week, but I had already decided before we left that we would be returning to Berkeley to stay. We loaded up all our possessions in our Datsun pickup and completed the move in one day. That was February 29, Leap Day, 1980.

June 4, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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