March 21, 2013
In an hour, I leave for the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive where they are having a ceremony to dedicate the rebuilding and moving of an old jail Guard Tower. It was rebuilt, retaining as much of the original materials as possible, about 1990 or so. The Association decided it needed replacing because part of the flooring had completely rotted out. But, more on that when I return.
Over the years, I’ve learned there are very few Police Museums in the United States, mainly because there are destroy orders for just about everything related to police work once they have passed a certain date. We are lucky to have accumulated and pulled together artifacts and history of the people and procedures of law enforcement in the County of Alameda. We are also fortunate that we’ve had the permission and support of the reigning Sheriff along the way, who was Sheriff Plummer when we started in 1989 and current Sheriff, Ahern, now. All volunteers work and assesssion the archive materials, refurbish artifacts and display them for posterity. Sitting on the “pattern” table, an old store fixture donated to us, is a pepper fogger, refurbished by Les Moore. It sprays tear gas at an advancing mob and was used during the civil unrest of the 1970′s. When the retired deputies get together and talk they remember the first time they used it, the wind shifted and they ended up gassing themselves. (It is only funny now.)
This cycle shield and calling cards were donated to the archive in 2012. We still don’t have much of a history on Berdoo. The Angels and the Cops have a checkered history. They knew each other by first names because the encounters were so frequent. The Angels got started in Alameda County and riders today still like to imitate their “bad guy” persona. The Angels have cleaned up their act in recent years. An interesting story if someone could write it. Sonny Barger wrote his memoirs and it was loaned to my husband, (who arrested Sonny more than once), by the wife of Angel Magoo. Magoo died young and my kids went to high school with their kids and they are still friends today. Magoo’s wife, Lynn Tinsley, and a couple of her brothers also rode with the Angels. She wanted to raise her kids away from that reputation and did. She died in about 2004.
Because we are on a former military base, Camp Shoemaker, the department inherited many items from the military including the nickname for their brig, Greystone. Greystone became the punishment detention area for the jail. Old Santa Rita was torn down and rebuilt in 1985 as a prison, a jail no longer, a complete lock-down facility. We are there to document the changes from its inception in 1948, under Sheriff Gleason. Gleason was sheriff when I was hired in 1958, and I’ve known every sheriff since then. This has been and is an interesting project that my husband (since deceased) and I started in 1988.
August 18, 2012
A week ago, Friday, a group of us met at Murphys Pizza Plus to celebrate Paul Moeller. While there are many things to treasure here, Paul is considered by the community to be “Our Local Treasure.” Like a blogger, he always has his camera and takes pictures wherever he goes, a lifelong habit. But his major accomplishment, among many, since retiring here in 1964, is having founded Public Access Television in 1983. Our Board of Supervisors didn’t know what Public Access was. He had to educate them before we could get consideration in the cable contract for channel access. Paul got a studio built in 1992 when we had no money. And he produced over 3,000 shows for Calaveras Community Television, Public Access. Except for studio equipment, those shows have been shot and edited on his own equipment. I’m proud to say, I am one of the founding members of CCTV.
I wrote the reason for our celebration on the Pizza Parlor’s blackboard. The mortgage on our studio, named for him, has been paid off. None of the counties around, Amador, Tuolumne, not the big cities closest to us, Modesto or Stockton, have a studio. Only Sacramento has a studio. Our studio is considered the Jewel of the Mother Lode. We’ve had offers to rent it from Reno, Tahoe, Lodi and other entities. Claveras High School, and Columbia College at one time held video classes there. It is an exclusive and valuable asset to our community, just like Paul.
In 1992, Paul went to the carpentry class at Calaveras High and asked if our non-profit, CCTV raised the money, could the class build us a studio? Yes! The class started the foundation upon Paul’s design and volunteer Betty Deakin’s professional drawing. But then, school was out, and the kids and teachers all went home. Did I mention that Paul has a fierce work ethic, he is impatient and likes to get things done now?
Paul spoke to local Supervisor Dick Gorden and he said, “You know, we need a studio. Do you know anyone who could help us?” Gorden knew Contractor Gary Hensley, who was trying to keep his crew working when work was slow. Hensley’s first question was: “How much do you pay your people?” Paul told him, we are all volunteers, we pay nothing. “How about programs, and mileage and gas and stuff like that” Paul repeated, nothing, we don’t get mileage or gas, or video tapes. Everyone volunteers and pays for everything including their own cameras and equipment. We pay nobody. Hensley was in. With promise of help, the bank gave us a loan for $84,000 for materials, at 12% interest, secured by the County from funds from the Cable Company designated for Public Access. Hensley is the guy in the center in the white shirt with his crew around him taking a break. Paul is videotaping.
The crew would come in at 6 a.m. and work half a day for us, then go to their paid job for the rest of the day. Our only cost was to bring a load of volunteers to unload lumber, have it ready for them, provide water and bring a picnic lunch for everyone before they left. In three weeks, we had the shell of our building finished. By the way, it sits on leased land belonging to the Calaveras County Water District with a very generous lease of $1 per year guaranteed for over 25 years.
Local contractors did work, and many of them donated their time. Even PG&E returned our check for a permit to hook up.
Paul called the sheet-rockers on stilts, acrobats. Once the electrician, plumber, air conditioning and window guys were gone, the rest was up to the volunteers.
Paul installed the many spotlights. We painted and got donated pieces of used carpet that we taped to the floor like a patchwork quilt. Spray painted egg cartons became sound proofing on the ceiling. Paul found a second hand studio curtain for $700. ($5,000 new). He built a stage and sets.
None of this would have happened if the Supervisors, the local business people, the water company and the community did not believe it could be done under Paul’s tenacious and unrelenting work habits. Always punctual. Always there, wherever and whenever needed or asked. We’ve shared a lot of productive years together volunteering in this county. On Thursday, our “local treasure” was in a serious car accident. Somehow, he failed to see a red light and T boned another car at the intersection.
Paul was seriously injured and taken to Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. But, before they took him away in an ambulance, he took pictures-OF COURSE.
Before I got to his house yesterday afternoon, he had already developed and printed pictures for me to see.
Both cars were totaled. The wheel sitting in the middle of the intersection is from his car.
He had two shoots arranged for today, and was willing to cancel one, but the other he must do, he told me on the phone. Our Studio manager, Ed Lark, convinced him he would take over his shoot and Paul could edit it. Paul reluctantly agreed. He has another show on the 22nd that he expects to do.
He is soon to be 85 years old. His sternum and back have suffered major trauma. He can barely get up and down from a chair. It is even more painful to lie down and rest. He is walking with difficulty and is on major pain medications. He can lift nothing with his left arm. Could I find someone to help him with the shoot? I told him I would hire some-one to set up his camera and unload his van that he uses for location shoots. I then called his anchor person, Mearl Lucken, and asked him if HE could talk Paul into resting and let somebody else do his programs for a couple of weeks. Whatta ya’ gonna do with a guy like that? But, now you know why we have a jewel in the Motherlode, because our “local treasure” is a hard working, trusted and admired individual who never gives up.
Paul lost his wife of 65 years two years ago. He named his driveway, Martha Lane. He told me he pats her pillow every night and says goodnight to her. Now it is our turn to take care of our “Local Treasure”, if he will let us.
August 17, 2012
I’m used to good mileage in my Prius and filling up the tank of my old 1994 Ford Ranger put a good-sized dent in the wallet. I made it to the Bay Area with nary a hint of a leak and it was certainly worth it to drive my truck and let it know I still cared about it. It responded by purring all the way to the Bay. I expect a lot from this truck when I need it.
I founded the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Archive Association and worked hard over the intervening years to get it up and running, along with a lot of volunteer help, of course. When I turned it over to Bill Rhodes, top left, it was the right decision. He has made so many positive changes that every time I do attend a meeting, I hardly recognize the place. He has expanded our buildings, is having a new one built and is rebuilding our old guard tower. Next to him is Vic Agapalo and attending with a broken foot is Rich Barlow.
Al Ianarelli checked in as did Bud Harlan, not pictured.) New is a case made for this missing child’s bust that came out of evidence. The new building will hold a mock cell with old style jail doors we have stored, along with other heavy equipment.
We will go from three large rooms and three storage rooms to one-third more space and we have enough stuff to fill it. It is a great project and my contribution since being on the road with Jim is to interview deputies about the history of the department. I spent my time interviewing Rich Barlow, yesterday.
A recent donation to the archive was business cards and a shield that once belonged to Hell’s Angel Berdoo. The Angels have changed their image from the old days. When my husband was a detective, he arrested Sonny Barger and confiscated his stolen motorcycle and put it into evidence at the County Garage Impound Yard. The way it worked, when someone came to pick up their vehicle, he took the elevator down to the garage, the civilian clerk would ask for their release order, then he would open the locked gates to drive the vehicle out. Sonny, out on bail, with a friend, went to pick up his vehicle. He had no release. The friend distracted the clerk and Sonny got into the yard rolled his motorcycle into the elevator and went out with it through the building. My husband couldn’t make his case without the evidence and Sonny went free. The clerk, of course, was not a cop.
On the way home I stopped at a Costco to buy some batteries and refill on cheaper gas, at $3.93. Murphys price is $4.29. I found some beautiful U.S. wild caught cod and bought it, figuring my air conditioning would keep it cool enough to get home. Well, long story short, my newly cleaned truck smells like fish; I had to poach the whole package when I crawled through the door at about 6:30 p.m. I can’t possibly eat all that fish. I’ll have to be creative and invite company over. I had six messages on my phone. One an emergency call from a friend who was in an accident. It took me two hours to locate him. He was so drugged he was practically incoherent, one arm in a sling, and a whip-lash collar. His car totaled. Another cold beer night.
March 20, 2012
When I started travel blogging, I neglected old haunts and activities. The Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Archive Association is a powerful pull for me and I was grateful to be home in time for the March meeting. Instead of comptometers, teletypes and adding machines, we have electronic gadgets of superior performance that replace them. The jail I knew was a friendly place instead of a lock down prison as it is today. Much has changed. One officer told me: “This place is probably safer for both officer and inmate, but it has no soul.”
I’m going to cite some simple facts about incarceration today just as food for thought.
The United States has earned the distinction of being the world’s largest jailer, ahead of China and Russia. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
We have well over 2 million people in prison. Two million people not working, not supporting their children and living off the taxpayers for their room, board, and medical care. And, they are enduring mandatory longer sentences so we will be caring for them much longer than any danger they can present to society. We also render them “non citizens” who cannot participate in our democracy, who because of stigma, can no longer work or be productive without draconian effort if and when they do get out.
Mandatory sentencing, War on Drugs, Tough On Crime, Three Strikes Your Out, all political sound bites turned into hard legislation, have done little to protect the public. We now have overcrowded prisons burdening taxpayers.
White Americans commit crimes at the same rates as people of color. Biased enforcement and sentencing make a disproportionate number of Blacks and Latinos pay the price. One in nine young black men (age 20-34) is behind bars.
Nearly half of all state prisoners are locked up for nonviolent offenses. We are seeing a resurgence of debtors prisons. Thousands of people are jailed because they are two poor to pay fines for traffic tickets or other misdemeanors.
The U.S. Prison population rose by 700% from 1970-2005, outpacing the general population rate and the crime rate.
Spending on incarceration in 2007 was $44 billion rising 127% from 1987. In that same period of time spending on education rose 21%.
Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo, as promised, has implications far beyond the fate of men detained in prison. Indefinite detention is an erosion in our personal liberties, and our American values.
I don’t pretend to know the answer. I know it alarms me.
April 24, 2010
The Alameda County Sheriffs Archive is run by volunteers. Last Tuesday, we had Vic Agapalo, an expert on Police Olympics, Donna Boyer, who knows EVERYONE in the department and can identify people in pictures for us. Al Ianarelli, a published writer, who organizes career books for us, Jim Knudsen, also a master book maker and historian, Gary Lindsey jails expert and archive coordinator, and myself. A talented crew. In our workroom above, we have the old neon sign that once hung at Eden Township Substation in Hayward that Bud Harlan, who was absent Tuesday, had refurbished for us.
Donna was NOT identifying the above gents who were once incarcerated at San Quentin. In the 1920′s and 1930′s most men wore hats. Thus someone decided that every man should have his mug shot taken wearing a hat. Those that didn’t have a hat were given one, whether it fit properly or not. His crime and sentence were handwritten on the front of his picture.
While crime was mostly the enterprise of men, a few women were active such as this fancy dame whose specialty was GUN MOLL.
And this SHORT CHANGE ARTIST.
In the books, an occasional woman was arrested mostly for killing her husband (who probably mistreated her) or for prostitution, which was one of the only jobs open to her that paid decent money. The jail history reflected society then, just as it does today.Its an interesting place.
Working Deputy, Bill Rhodes, stopped by to make sure we all knew about the ACSO/DSA 2010 Reunion he has planned for many months to be held at he Nugget Hotel/Casino in Sparks, Nevada Friday Oct. 8th through Sunday, Oct. 10. Many pictures and artifacts from the archive will be on display at this event. Reservations can be made online at http://www.acsodsa.org and clicking on the Nugget Hotel Casino link.