National Geographic : 1969 Nov
San Francisco Bay, the Westward Gate ventilation structures ashore, which are solid ly anchored. Those connections are designed to move four or five inches vertically or hori zontally without breaking." It seemed a slender margin of safety in an earthquake, but Don only smiled. "Anything more," he said, "and there prob ably wouldn't be much left of San Francisco - or maybe of Oakland, come to think of it." Oakland Schools Face Thorny Problems People frequently do that to Oakland mention it as an afterthought to San Francisco. It's one of the things that vex my friend Daryl Ford, for he is enormously proud of his city. I met Daryl, a delightful 12-year-old Negro, one morning at an elementary school in Oak land, where I had gone to learn something about bay area education problems. Oakland's problem is twofold: The shift of population from run-down sections of West Oakland to less deteriorated East Oakland has left some schools under-enrolled, while overcrowding others. Moreover, like the city at large, the schools include a broad mixture of cultural groups, among them 54 percent Negro, 8 percent Spanish and Mexican, 5 per cent Oriental, 1 percent American Indian. The mixture is often blamed for the social up heaval that has plagued Oakland in recent years and overshadowed the city's many at tractions-attractions that once lured such literary figures as Jack London, Richard Hen ry Dana, Joaquin Miller, and Robert Louis Stevenson. To me, Daryl Ford is one of Oakland's star attractions. His family lives in the "flatlands," the crowded, relatively low-income area east of the city's waterfront. Under special pro grams, Daryl and a good many of his neigh bors attend school in the predominantly white and prosperous "hill area" overlooking the bay. He graciously gave up a recess hour with friends to discuss his city with me. According to his teachers, Daryl belongs in the category of "gifted students," which means -a s he explained it to me-"like they catch you reading when nobody said to." And what did he read? "History, and the sport section," he an- swered, "just like everybody. You ever hear of Earl Warren and Daryle Lamonica?" I admitted I had. In Oakland one can't escape hearing the names of two illustrious citizens-one the former Chief Justice of the United States, and the other the all-star quar terback of the championship Oakland Raiders football team. I asked Daryl what else im pressed him about Oakland. "There's the symphony and the new art museum, redevelopment, and all that stuff," he answered, obviously falling back on his reserves. Then, emphatically, "It's the best city, that's what." I asked Daryl then about another side to Oakland, about militant groups such as the widely publicized Black Panthers, who have been involved in many a bitter struggle be tween white and black in the city and made Oakland virtually a symbol of racial violence. "I don't think they have it," Daryl said thoughtfully. "People can't be all little pieces, they got to be one chunk together"-he waved toward the playground-"like me and my friends here." He paused. "You remember all the hippies and the fuss over in San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury district, with those drugs and stuff? I used to read about that all the time, but I don't see much any more. They fade, same as it's going to be with the fights here in Oakland." He laid a hand reassuringly on my arm. "Don't worry, now. It's all going to shape up." Daryl's part of the bay area, in fact, has been shaping up for years. The great fan of cities spreading into the East Bay hills bears little resemblance to the thinly populated res idential area that was once known dispar agingly as "San Francisco's spare bedroom." Area Grows in Fame and Wealth "Time was," says an Oakland research chemist, "when you were nobody around here unless you commuted to work in San Francis co. In those days, when an East Bay business man registered at a hotel in New York or Chicago, he often listed 'San Francisco' as his place of residence-because who ever heard of Richmond or Hayward?" Today a lot of people have-outsiders as "This is as far as the land goes, after this it is sea," wrote Berkeley poet Josephine Miles of San Francisco, the city that ever gazes west. On a foggy afternoon a family lingers in the shallows near Golden Gate Park. Attractions in the park reflect the lure of the Orient: a Japanese tea garden and the Avery Brundage Collection of Asian Art-a recent gift to the city-which has encouraged expansion of Asian art studies at Berkeley, Stanford, and Oakland's Mills College. KODACHROME @ N.G.S .