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The History Corner February 2022

by David Mostardi, Club Historian

Once Upon A Hillside: 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago

February 1922

Business Meeting: Dr. [Agnes Fay] Morgan spoke on some of the conditions of our

schools and laid particular emphasis upon the overcrowded condition which exists at the

present time in Berkeley. Mr. Hennessey brought out the fact in his talk that Garfield

school, of which he is principal, needed an auditorium and gymnasium. The address of

the evening was made by Dr. Jose M. Galvez, exchange professor at the University of

California, from Chile. Dr. Galvez spoke on “Elementary Education in Chile.”

Board of Directors Meeting: It was moved and carried that a committee of two delegates

and two alternates be appointed to represent the Club on the Berkeley Motion Picture

Committee [see the December 2021 History Corner for more information on the Motion

Picture Committee].

February 1947

Fireside Meeting: We shall have the pleasure of hearing of one of our own members,

Mrs. Piccirillo, speak to us on the subject of “Italy of Today.” Mrs. Piccirillo, though her

many friends in Italy, has kept informed of the most recent developments there. [Mrs.

Piccirillo, née Maria Teresa Tommasini, was born in Italy.]

Evening of Music: We always look forward to our annual Evening of Music. This year

the program will be presented by some of our new members and some distinguished

guest artists. Mrs. Mary Pasmore Burrell, a member of the San Francisco Symphony

Orchestra, will play selections on a new type of instrument, called the Viola d’Amore.

Mrs. Gertrude Lansing, soprano soloist, will be accompanied by Mrs. Opal Hiller. Mrs.

Helen Saylor Sizer, pianist, will play a group of numbers for us. There will be songs by a

male quartet, one of the members being Mr. Spencer Beckwith. With all of this talent, we

are assured a very fine Evening of Music. [The viola d’amore is a 6- or 7-stringed

instrument, played under the chin similarly to a violin. In addition, there are an equal

number of sympathetic strings underneath the main strings, which aren’t played directly

but vibrate in sympathy with the strings played.]

February 1972

Fireside Meeting: We will have an intensely interesting 21-minute film entitled “Nuclear

Fingerprinting of Ancient Pottery.” Our speaker and narrator is Mrs. Helen Michel, a

research chemist at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory [now Lawrence Berkeley Lab] at

the University of California. The “fingerprinting” of ancient pottery consists of a novel

chemical analysis of the potsherds which attempts to find out where the material

originated. The technique used is to collect a large sampling of pottery shards from a

location. Then, if all reveal the same chemical balance, it may be assumed that they all

originated in the one place. However, and this has often proved to be the case, when

potsherds are found that are obviously of a different origin, but in a common location

with others more numerous, it is possible to trace them back to their sources. [Helen

Vaughn Michel (born 1932) is a chemist best known for her efforts in the fields of

analytical chemistry and archaeological science, including radiocarbon dating. Along

with Luis and Walter Alvarez, she was co-author of the famous 1980 paper in Science

that proposed that an asteroid impact caused the mass extinction event at the end of the

Cretaceous era. She was also the lead author on the paper that analyzed the famous

“Drake’s Plate of Brass” and concluded it to be a forgery (see the June 2021 History


International Relations Section: The committee will present Professor Robert Scalapino,

who will address the club on the topic “What Does 1972 Mean For Asia?” Prof.

Scalapino attended Santa Barbara College, and earned both his A.B. and Ph.D. degrees at

Harvard. He served there briefly as an instructor before joining the Political Science

faculty at the University of California in 1949. He is the author of four major books, has

been the editor of Asian Survey since 1962, and has been an advisor to three presidents of

the United States. [Robert Scalapino (1919-2011) was the Robson Research Professor of

Government Emeritus at the UC Berkeley, renowned worldwide for his many

accomplishments in the field of East Asian studies and distinguished career at Berkeley

spanning six decades. He published 39 books and 553 articles over his long career, and

received the Berkeley Medal, the campus’s highest honor, in 1999.]

Farewell to the Oak Chairs: The Board of Directors at its January meeting decided to

offer the oak chairs for sale first to Hillside members at the rate of $2 each, or three for

$5, until February 10, after which time the chairs will be sold to the public. First come,

first served. Fifty chairs will be kept by the Club for unusually large events when more

than the 150 new chairs may be needed. [Those 150 new chairs are the chairs that are still

in use today.]

February 1997

The Club’s archive of printed monthly newsletters ended with the May 1994 issue. If you

know of a source for any newsletters between 1994 and the Club’s renaissance in the

early 2000s, your historian would love to hear about it!

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