Posts Tagged With: Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive




DSC07871 (Copy)Dale Toussaint, right, has re-energized the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive. Gary Nelson stopped by and took a shot at identifying a photo Toussaint scanned into his laptop.

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Bill Selles and Dave Hoig pondered identities. Everyone who arrived knew everyone else, but some of the guys are new faces to me.

DSC07863 (Copy)In one of the display rooms is a sign left by protestors during the riots on the U. C. Berkeley Campus. Blue Meanies was a term coined by the protestors given to Alameda County Sheriff’s Riot Squad when they switched from regular uniforms and dressed in mechanics coveralls by request of the deputies. Their uniforms reeked of tear gas from one fracas to the next. Mechanics coveralls could be tossed in the washing machine after each shift.  In fact, the Sheriff’s Department didn’t have a so-called “Riot Squad”. The Civil Unrest that began in Berkeley was the first of it’s type. During worker strikes or mob situations of the 1920’s and 30’s, the deputies waded in and beat senseless anyone within reach,  and jailed anyone who fought back.  The right to civil protest was not respected. Oldtimer, George Wisner, told me the Sheriff’s Department and Oakland Police Department came down hard on union organizers and strikers. It was policy to always take the side of the company. Another requirement of those early times?  You had to be a Republican to be a cop. DSC07862 (Copy)Marc Thompson and a bunch of guys from squads one and two signed the Blue Meanie sign. He pointed to his name and I took his picture.

DSC07864 (Copy)If you recognize your name, come visit and I’ll take your picture with the now famous sign. Well, famous among the deputies, anyway. The riots were an important thing for deputies. They were never paid overtime, and wages were decided at the whim of the board of supervisors. Old Captain Creel would give you compensatory time-maybe. Many deputies worked side jobs to make ends meet. Sheriff Houchins had no choice but to go the board and ask for contingency funds to pay overtime for deputies who were on the streets for 10 to 15 hour shifts while others covered regular duties with equally long workdays. The riots brought wages up to par with the rest of society.

DSC07873 (Copy)People don’t think they can contribute anything of value to the archive. Behind Dale showing me this picture is a group looking at the Sheriff’s assignment board. We guessed it was from 1994. But the guys knew what year they were assigned certain shifts and they informed us the board was pulled off the wall in 1997. Everyone has knowledge of their time and place and can add to the history of the department in big and small ways. All are welcome on the third Thursday of the Month unless it is a holiday.

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Bill Smith.

Dale and Chris

A woman named Connie came in. I thought she might be a retired deputy.

DSC07877 (Copy)It turned out her husband was the retired Deputy. I didn’t remember either of their names but thanks to Pat Higgins, they are Richard and Connie Krimm.

DSC07870 (Copy)Ralph Streicher, one of the new volunteers, with Bud Harlen, one of the old volunteers. The place was humming. Remembrances of the past were flowing like water along with plenty of laughter. DSC07865 (Copy)And part of that hum was a busy Ralph Streicher. He kept saying, “I love this place.” He is the fastest talker I ever met. I know I’ve gotta get him to sit down for an interview some day. I’ve got three promised now. I keep telling myself life is getting easier with age and retirement.

DSC07868 (Copy)Dave Hoig. Tell your friends.

DSC07867 (Copy) Don’t wait. Get involved. Its fun to talk shop.

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It is foreign to my nature to give myself a big pat on the back. Sheriff Greg Ahern had requested to see me at the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive Association meeting, but none of the board members would tell me why?

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Sheriff Ahern presented me a Letter Of Commendation for meritorious service as Founder of the Archive which is was accompanied by an official  brass plaque given to people who have been contributors to the betterment of the Department. He informed me that he does not hand out these plaques frivolously, they have to be earned and mine was the first given to a civilian.  I was overwhelmed and stunned. And grateful.

DSC06356 (Copy)I asked then Sheriff Plummer in 1989 if he would allow me to take over any archival materials the Office of the Sheriff had saved over the years if I could get five volunteers to work with me. He agreed and gave us a small room above the Santa Rita Fire Department. We started with George Matzek, James Moore, Larry Santos, James Rashe, and Frank Bernard. The sheriff sent us several boxes of materials that all fit on an eight foot table. We decided from day one, there was no rank at the archive. We were all equal players.

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Within a few months we attracted a few more volunteers and we attracted artifacts that retired officers felt were historical to the department. They felt there was no place to put them. We established an official board and a mission statement and incorporated into a Non-Profit in 1992 or 93.

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Now we have three big display rooms of 1500 square feet, plus three storage rooms, and a guard shack filled with artifacts and records. We recently received a collection of female deputy uniforms from Maureen O’Connell.

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The guard tower has an operating siren on top of the guard shack.

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The archive has only had two Presidents. Myself and Bill Rhodes who took over from me. Yesterday Bill, (left) and Vice President Bud Harlan got an old jail tracking device mounted and working. If an inmate was out of his or her prescribed area, the lights would show the person moving and a small siren would alert the staff. Bill has done an incredible amount of work at the archive and has made much of our collections visible.

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We have analyzed our archive and decided we need to reorganize to promote the archive, to also recognize that we are part museum, get a better flow of materials that tell a story in a progressive way, with moveable displays since we are now chuck full from floor to ceiling. At some point, a manned archive could be safely opened to the public and more useful to people doing research.

I’m proud of what I started, but in any organization, the credit must go to the many volunteers, and literally hundreds of people, who contributed in big and small ways to this worthy project over the years. I could have never gotten this thing moving without them. Amen.

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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.

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I had never been to a Mudfest before and wasn’t quite sure what I would see. It was a first time event at Quyles Kiln/Brice Station Winery about two miles above Murphys. Pam Quyle runs the pottery, her sister and brother-in-law have a winery and tasting room.  Great combination. But I was there to meet  old friends from Alameda County. The first thing  I ran into was a dog-head with a ball in its mouth.  Not surprising since there are plenty of friendly dogs around the place who love balls.

The second thing I hadn’t seen before was this  magnificent dragonfly garden piece. The eye never rests here. But, I walked in the showroom looking for my friend Pam, who was nowhere to be seen.

The Quyle family has been making pottery here since 1928. Families come to replenish their dishes from one generation to the next. Always quality pieces, that never changes. I treasure my colanders, serving bowls, casseroles and berry dishes. But you can find any vessel here, made by Pam or other potters who sell their work  here.

Not only pottery, but other art flourishes. Water color and oil paintings, etchings and greeting cards, and then I see this poster of a dog story. The artist, Marilyn Pyle told me they are popular with school libraries and veterinary offices.

Pam has a potter working here who does faces and busts. I don’t know his or her name and didn’t get to meet the potter, but I did run into this sculpture:

And these delightful faces.

I often find galleries on the road and get my art fix, but here I am at home and able to  do the same thing. For the Mudfest, potters and other artists were invited to put up a booth and present  their work.

I guess when Cathi Newlin says, “Happiness is a lump of Clay” you can see the passion people have for working with clay.  Her rats  were so life-like I accused her of starting a plague.

She works in Angels Camp and does nice framed tiles and  photography as well from her shop at the  The Square Peg.

I poked around the booths until my friends arrived and Don Hall’s work caught my eye. He does highly decorated pieces and much of  his stuff has an Asian look to it. Delicate flowers and plant life. He has a website, He came up from Turlock.

Pottery can be so individual and I always love to see work that is exciting and different.


While I was looking I could smell the chicken in a barrel cooking.  Then Denise and Gary Lindsay, my Sheriff’s Department friends from Alameda County showed up and we enjoyed sharing a bottle of wine and food. The people catering the meals, I wish I had gotten their names.  Unlike some events, the portions were very generous and everyone was bragging about the food. It was excellent.

Gary and Denise had stumbled upon the Kiln and Gary, now retired and moved to Tuolumne County, is also a clay person. He does beautiful mosaic tables and since moving, needs a place to have his clay fired.  He came to the right place. Gary was an avid volunteer and served as treasurer for the Alameda County Archives for many years and was making cocktail tables even then for is fellow deputies. He has quite a following. I’m sure he’ll be just as successful in Tuolumne County enjoying his hobby.

We ate dinner, the band began to play in the meadow behind the tasting room and I again think to myself, how lucky I am to live here. I  hope they have another Mudfest next year.  And, they better have the same caterer.

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From Mary’s desk:

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.

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 and clicking on the Nugget Hotel Casino link.

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I volunteer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive, and when I arrived at Santa Rita on Thursday, I found the book The West Coast Goes To War by Don De Nevi. It was donated by Jay Friberg.

The Sheriff’s Office has been described as a “semi military organization.” Veterans are given five preferential points on exams to enter and promote through the ranks. Many veterans serve in the department, only now they are Viet Nam or Iraqi vets. Since we haven’t had a war on American soil since the Civil War, I was surprised at the title of this book until I opened the pages and realized it was an apt title. Not the killing, bombing and bullets we see visited upon civilian populations that all war brings in the occupation, but a war even so, in stark contrast to today’s conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Civilians volunteered to man watch towers to spot airplanes all over the Bay Area. Signage like those above were made, paid for,  and erected by civilians.
My husband lamented the taking of the Japanese as he watched half his friends from his high school basketball team be deported to concentration camps. It was personal ugliness. The evacuations were handled by the Sheriff’s Department in Alameda County. I interviewed one Deputy, now deceased, who was part of that. The record is in our archive.
The Japanese family above were required to report to the Sheriff’s Department and every car carrying a Japanese person was stopped and searched when traveling over the Bay Area Bridges.
People bought bonds to support the war; canteens were organized for soldiers returning or leaving. Dances were held for them. Women went to city hall and wrapped bandages for the war effort. They had victory gardens and rationing of sugar, gas, and other needed war materials. There were blackouts and curfews and radio silence to be obeyed and enforced by Sheriff’s deputies. They covered the patrol cars headlamps with a black cloth that barely allowed them to see the road they were driving on. Production jobs, making bullets, ship building and so on were taken over by women. Many were married women who did it for the cause, and then returned to family duties after the war. (An interesting black note here, only white women were provided with child care while working the war industry. Women of color had to arrange their own child care.)
An escape route was built across the mountain tops of California in the event of bombings and there were various skirmishes in American territory, (subs, air breeches, one firing on a West Coast fort, and an altercation in Alaska)
For all of its support, let us never forget, war is about killing people.

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