Oral Histories

Joe Baxley

Joe Baxley‘s family moved to 2320 Spaulding Avenue (between Channing and Bancroft) in 1926 when he was 13.  The house, which is still there, was built in the late teens.  The family lived there until 1934.  During that time, there was a shopping center at Sacramento Street and Dwight Way with a Mutual Store (later the Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain) and a drugstore.  The area south of Dwight Way from Acton to Grove was a huge vacant lot where all the local kids played, built tunnels, flew kites, etc.  

The family of Elizabeth and Joseph Fox lived in a large Queen Anne cottage at 2246 Spaulding, on the northwest corner at Bancroft.  There were large palm trees in the front yard which are still there even though the house was demolished and eventually replaced by the Berkshire Retirement Center.[2]   

Demolished Queen Anne Cottage, 2246 Spaulding Avenue
 Photo courtesy Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (coming soon)

Elizabeth was known to the children as Grandma Fox and used to frighten them because she was always out in the back yard, even in the dark.  The neighborhood kids also considered the top floor of the Hunter House at 2418 California Street[3] to be haunted, because there were stories of a crazy person living on the top floor.

The storefront on the southeast corner of Bancroft at California was owned by the Syufy family, which also happened to own a chain of movie theatres. The Syufy family lived upstairs, according to Baxley.  Tom Roberts, Sr., a bricklayer who did a lot of brickwork around Berkeley, built the two brick houses at 2350 and 2348 Spaulding Avenue.
-- Joe Baxley was interviewed by Pat Edwards in 2001

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