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August 19, 2009 > History: 1950

History: 1950

A cold arctic storm ushered in the year 1950 and blanketed the hills with a crust of snow. There was some concern that this would be "the year of the big freeze," but floods caused more problems than the cold weather.

Richard Lincoln of Oakland began a new tract of homes in Centerville in January, and the new Assembly of God Church in Newark was dedicated. The largest retail establishment in Washington Township opened in October, the new Safeway store on Fremont Avenue (now Peralta). Other construction projects included expansion of the Leslie Salt Company plant, a new Newark post office, a U. S. Pipe and Foundry Company at Decoto, the Niles Sanatorium and plans for 18 new homes in Newark. The Ellsworth Orchard Tract developed by Dan Bodily was featured in the January issue of the "Architect and Engineer."

Water problems continued to dominate the news as Warm Springs residents struggled with dry wells and some people were forced to haul water in barrels from neighbors. Rain finally came in torrents, and in November the worst floods in 10 years forced Alvarado residents out of their homes and littered the area with debris.

Irvington, Niles and Centerville squabbled over the site for the proposed new county building. The Board of Supervisors finally accepted the offer of Dr. Elmo "Chuck" Grimmer for three acres on Fremont Avenue. The first man assigned to Washington Township's Sheriff Substation was Detective Lowell Creighton.

Schools were always in the news. Decoto was reconstructing the old school, completing Henry Barnard School, and building a third plant. Alviso was constructing a classroom and auditorium and Niles was buying a school site. The Washington Huskies won their fourth consecutive baseball league pennant, and 149 seniors graduated in June. Registration records showed that 2,608 students were attending the seven grammar schools and Washington High.

The Union Sanitary District held a special election to raise money for a sewage disposal plant. Niles, Newark and Centerville voters elected George Coit, Manuel Bernardo, H. L. Scott, George Burr and S. G. Scott to be the board for the newly combined district.

James Roosevelt, Democratic candidate for governor, spoke at Niles and Centerville in February and Governor Earl Warren visited in May. A record vote of 4,598 by the 29 local precincts in the eight communities chose Warren by 360 votes.

A mass meeting was held to discuss the preparation of Washington Township in the event of a major war attack. Sheriff H. P. Gleason called for volunteers to serve as special deputies. He warned local residents that they had a big stake in the civil defense program.

Local directors of the Washington Township Hospital Board led a State Department of Public Health official on a tour of Washington Township. This was part of the planning process for the new hospital.

Kraftile sponsored a parade down Niles Main Street to observe their 25th anniversary and provided 4,000 silver dollars for the February payroll. The Township Register featured a picture of Chester Weaver purchasing an automobile from Caesar DiGiulio at American Garage and paying for it in silver dollars.

The Alameda County Planning Commission re-elected R. L. Wright of Irvington their chairman for the third consecutive year. They were actively rezoning farm land for industrial development. The Board of Supervisors pared their proposed tax increase after heated objections.

Civic and social activities of residents made the news. Pauline Alameda was elected president of the Country Club of Washington Township, which announced the second edition of its history book. Margaret Nunes reigned as queen of Centerville's Holy Ghost Festival. W. Earl Freitas was named to head the newly organized Washington Township Credit Bureau. Mrs. Arthur Gomes was nominated commander of the Washington Township Post, American Legion, the first woman to head this district organization. Edward Ross, Irvington merchant, was seated as president of the Centerville Lion's Club and Edgar Van Scoy succeeded Dallas Paul as president of the Centerville Chamber of Commerce.

The newly formed Ministerial Alliance of Washington Township held a mass meeting at Washington High School. Participating churches included Newark Assembly of God, Centerville Assembly of God, Irvington Presbyterian, Niles Nazarene, Baptist, Four-Square, Full Gospel, Congregation and Assembly of God churches.

Newspaper headlines for 1950 emphasized zoning, water and sewage problems, school bond votes, road improvements and other signs of development. It was the year when Washington Township began to feel the real impact of change and growth. It was generally expected that 1951 would continue this upsurge in activity.

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