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Introduction to the "Narratives" section of the web site

A variety of persons who knew El Cerrito in its early days chose to write anecdotes and narrative pieces based on their memories and experiences. Reading these pieces is a great way for those who have come later to become more familiar with an earlier period in our city's life.  The Editorial Committee of the Historical Society felt it was important to present these works largely in the form they were written, as in many cases the writer's unique style lends a credibility to the work that could not be re-created by the most educated and polished student of literature and history.  For this reason the writings presented here have had only the most obvious spelling and grammatical errors corrected. Where something is known to be wrong, misleading, or incomplete, the Editorial Committee has generally inserted "editor's notes" rather than correcting what was written.

While we owe a great debt to all these people for their priceless works, the greatest debt is owed to Mervin Belfils.  Mervin lived in El Cerrito for almost his entire life. He worked for the Stege Sanitary District, was a volunteer fireman, and was a founding member of the El Cerrito Historical Society.  Mervin collected from families all over town many of the photos that form the core of the Historical Society's photographic collection today.

In addition to collecting photos, Mervin also wrote more than 35 narrative essays about every-day happenings in the early days and these essays form the foundation of almost everything we know about early El Cerrito.  They are also an enormously interesting and entertaining description of life in a place that once was just a scattering of houses and shops dotting the hills and fields among vast expanses of grass and wildflowers, with a few farms and dairies sprinkled in for good measure.  The Editorial Committee gives thanks every day that Mervin and the others whose works are represented here took the time to bequeath to us this wonderful legacy.

Click on an item below to read the article:

Bungalo Auto Court, by Mervin Belfils
Chung Mei Home, by Mervin Belfils
Community's Past - 1, by Mervin Belfils
Community's Past - 2, by Mervin Belfils
Community's Past - 3, by Mervin Belfils
County Line, by Mervin Belfils
Dr. Joseph T Brenemann, by Mervin Belfils
Dumps, by Mervin Belfils
Earthquake - 1906, by Mervin Belfils
El Cerrito airports, by Mervin Belfils/El Cerrito Historial Society
El Cerrito Quarries, by Mervin Belfils
El Cerrito Kennel Club, by Mervin Belfils
Fairmount Avenue, by Mervin Belfils
Fire Department, by Mervin Belfils
Gambling, by Mervin Belfils
Halloween, by Mervin Belfils
Henderson Tapscott Building & Capelis Airplane, by Mervin Belfils
Heroic Action, by Mervin Belfils
History of El Cerrito, by Fay Breneman
Home Built In 34 Minutes, by Mervin Belfils
John Balra, by Mervin Belfils
Judson Powder Works, by Mervin Belfils
More Saloons, by Mervin Belfils
Northern San Pablo Avenue, by Mervin Belfils
Old Richmond Street, by Mervin Belfils
Parks, by Mervin Belfils
Pee Wee Golf Course, by Mervin Belfils
Point Isabel, by Mervin Belfils
Praetorians, by Mervin Belfils
Prohibition, by Mervin Belfils
Railroad, by Mervin Belfils
Slaughter Houses and More Past History, by Mervin Belfils
Some Buildings on San Pablo Avenue, by Mervin Belfils
Stege Area Winery, by Mervin Belfils
Stege Sanitary District, by Mervin Belfils
Sundar Shadi, by Mervin Belfils
Tapscott Hill, by Mervin Belfils
Technical Porcelain (TEPCO), by Mervin Belfils
Tony Lombardo Building, by Mervin Belfils

 

 

   
PO Box 304, El Cerrito, CA 94530