Saturday, May 07, 2005

Down The Embarcadero

Down The Embarcadero
The Embarcadero

When my family first came to California, San Francisco still had a working port. Stevedores could be seen working the ships actually handling the cargo, bag-by-bag, piece-by-piece. Young men from the surrounding communities could look back a few generations’ to fathers and grandfathers who worked the docks. These men with rough hands and sharp minds could advise how to move from a "B" Book up to an "A" Book. They cold also slap dominoes and tell stories of the rural South. But shipping and ship repair has all but left San Francisco. What is left has moved over to the Eastern Shore of the Bay.
Suspension Span Second Tower
Bay Bridge Suspension Tower

Down at the hiring hall for Local 6 of the ILWU, on Hegenberger over in Oakland they would tell you which warehouse was worth the gas to get to. Which one like the glass warehouse in San Leandro were best to stay away from... Seen a man get cut almost half in two, man... got to know what the hell you doing with glass, tricky shit you know. In many of the communities in the Bay Area people made their livelihoods in and on the fruits of the sea.

Eastside - San Francisco Bay Bridge

Now most of that is gone civilian and military sea terminals and shipyards have been shut. In a generation the sons and daughters of those who had built a thriving middle class especially in the black community, have now through necessity turned their back on the sea. The container cranes that dot the shores of the East Bay brought a needed touch of modernity to the shipping industry and shrunk the work force dramatically. As the suburban sprawl ate up farm after farm, spitting out tract homes and WalMarts, the docks and warehouses where turning into parking for the elites, restaurants and architecture firms.

Hills Brothers
Hills Brothers Building
Red's Java House Sleeps
RED's Java House

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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