Growing up in the Golden Gate
on March 26, 2012
Charles Porter, 68, has lived his most of his life in the Golden Gate district of Oakland.
Porter grew up in a two-story Victorian at San Pablo Avenue and 63rd Street that his parents purchased for $7,500 in 1949. He spent much of his youth at the Golden Gate rec center and the public library, playing games and reading books. He remembers San Pablo Avenue during the 1950s and 60s as a a commercial corridor—department stores, grocers, barber shops, car mechanics, five and dime stores, donut shops, even a movie theater. Back then, Porter remembers, it was one of the first Oakland neighborhoods to open up for African Americans.
Over the past 60 years, he has watched the neighborhood go through a number of changes, and seen the community change with it. For Porter, the changes are just part of the natural life cycle of the neighborhood.
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I attended Golden Gate Jr High School and graduated in June 1946. There were 38 in my graduating class, but I kept in touch with only a couple of them over the years because I lived in Berkeley while attending GG and had to go to Berkeley Hi while my classmates went Oakland Tech.
I remember the Gateway Theatre at Stanford and San Pablo. There was also a BofA, a men’s clothing store, a Chinese restuarant, a pharmacy and a miniature golf course. In those days the local movie theatre was the center of the district. The street car ran down San Pablo from Ashby to downtown Oakland.
There was a commuter train that ran
San Pablo to the ship yards in Richmond durning WW2 to take people to work.
Us school kids ate lunch at Rudy’s Hotdogs there by the school. The Tunnel Inn, the neighborhood watering hole, was a couple of blocks up toward Stanford.
In the other direction from the school was Trader Vic’s, a posh nightclub, where chauffer driven limos were common. Across the street was the Tiki Village, another highbrow nightclub, so we thought in those days.
I have fond memories of the timeswhen I lived there.