Monday, October 5, 2009

2308 Haste Street

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=2308+Haste+St+94703&oe=utf-8&client=firefox a&ie=UTF8&gl=us&ei=uZHJSuvkOIvmM5DqqPIH&hq=&hnear=2308+Haste+St,+Berkeley,+California+94704&t=h&z=16
This is the house, still brown shingle, evidently quite unchanged. If only the link to the Street Level view works. This technology is a wonder, but anyhow you can enter 2308 Haste Street, Berkeley, CA, and you'll get the map and can select the satellite and then the street level. Only in the mildest part of the mildest climate that I know would this brown shingle of the first quarter of the 20th century still not only stand but with its original shingles.
It was divided into four apartments, and in exchange for sweeping the stairs and porch regularly and showing an apartment when one was vacated, I paid $10 less per month, $35 instead of $45. A laundromat was only two blocks away on Telegraph Ave.
I find that basic facts are hard to pin down: When did I move here from Durant Ave.? Was it when C. joined Seabees (but I think I mean Merchant Marine) that he let me have the apartment, its privilege of managing the building, and the use of much of his furniture while he was away—and let me move in immediately, while he got a room a couple of streets over till he shipped out? I remember his coming over for supper almost daily one summer: was it at this time? Was it at this time that, while I still had the apartment alone, we got three black kittens from a friend of his? I kept two, one with a Greek name, Makron, the other with a Japanese name, Kochon (Japanese being C.'s field of study; I had met both him and P., my longhand USPS lifelong correspondent in ART 1D: India, China, and Japan, in Fall, 1953, my first semester). The third went to my neighbor in the rear upstairs apartment at 2308, which he shared with his sister, and was named Richelieu for the Black Cardinal. I was taking more advanced Asian Art courses myself, and I pored over the fine, large chart of the Chinese radicals that was under glass on C.'s coffee table, which occupied the whole center of the bed-sitting room. With German, Latin, and Greek on my plate, though, I had to choose, and I did not pursue Asian languages further. In the street level view of the house in Google, that was upper left; upper right was the kitchen-study. It was delightful to sit in the corner with windows on both the west and north. I had potted African violets there, too, but I find that the only sketch I have of violets dates from the time at 2622 College Ave., so they belonged to Nati Baldeon, not to me. A student desk set perpendicular to the wall just east of the eating corner had bookcases, I think brick-and-board or apple boxes or liquor boxes (then of stout wood and quite smooth: orange crates were rough), which lined the corner walls behind the desk chair. On the narrow strip of wall between the north window and the bookcases, I had prints, about 9" X 12", of the poets Walther von der Vogelweide and Tannhäuser from the famous Minnesinger book.
The door to the apartment opened on a landing (the rear apartment's door faced it); running west of that, was a kind of wide hall or narrow room and at its end the bathroom, which did have a window. The apartment below mine was just like it, except for the position of the door. It was occupied by D.S., whom both C. and I knew from the UC Library. D. was in electrical engineering, and from him I learned the essentials of good high fidelity components (and assembling amplifiers from Heath Kits, so that they really worked) and good performances of lots of recorded music that I hadn't heard before. I didn't mind at all that he was studying French Horn. When he went to work for Service Bureau Corporation in San Francisco, a wholly owned IBM subsidiary, and worked till midnight, when I heard him come in, if he put on music I'd go down to talk and to listen.
Eventually, the rear ground floor apartment was occupied by my friend S., a fine pianist, and her first husband, J., a cantor. Her second marriage was to a gentile mathematician. It worked. They had two wonderful children, one of whom became a professional musician. I tried to visit them whenever I came to Berkeley and kept in touch even in Louisiana. Now she has died.
You will have concluded that apartments that were a pleasure to live in were never advertised; we might just pin a For Rent sign on the porch for a couple of days if no one we knew was in need of a good place with us as neighbors (lovers of Classical hi-fi and French horns preferred). Not that they were spacious apartments by present-day standards or had improved plumbing or heat except from the oven of the cooking stove or AC except by opening windows. The cooking stove was the kind on four legs, with oven and broiler high, and matches rather than pilot lights for the gas (safer, as I explained in describing the 1930s).
Best of all, my apartment was painted a rich brown, except for the ceiling. The windowless hall room was green, not pale, I'm nearly sure. And I had, from this time forward, the olive, rust, and black cotton corduroy drapes inspired by the colors of the Kabuki theater.
I think that I lived in 2308 Haste from sometime in 1955 to 1959, when in June I sailed to Europe and to Greece.
It will take me some time to find pictures that go with my first real home; this is just the period for which the box containing all my prints and negatives was trashed by my brother in law Ch. But I do have one. Someone took it with, presumably, a Brownie Hawkeye, or the like. It shows me holding my very new first nephew, B. III, when my sister Lorna and her Bill brought him to show my mother; it was taken at my mother's place, and this was the only time I was there, so I can only say that it was somewhere in the Berkeley flatlands.

Aunt Pat with Bill III, about six weeks old.