University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
ON THE WATERFRONT:
AN ORAL HISTORY OF RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA
M. M. SNODGRASS
MEMORIES OF THE RICHMOND-SAN RAFAEL FERRY COMPANY
An Interview Conducted by
Judith K. Dunning
Copyright 1992 by The Regents of the University of California
M.M. "TUBBY" SNODGRASS
Photograph by Judith K. Dunning
This manuscript is available for research purposes.
Requests for permission to quote for publication should
be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office,
486 Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720,
and should include identification of the specific
passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages,
and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited
M. M. Snodgrass, "Memories of the Richmond-
San Rafael Ferry Company," an oral history
conducted in 1985 by Judith K. Dunning,
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, ^Berkeley,
SNODGRASS, M. M. (b. 1911) Ferry employee
Memories of the Richmond-San Rafael Ferry. 1992, 75 pp.
Blackfoot, Idaho; to Richmond, California, 1923; Richmond-San
Rafael Ferry Co., 1924-1956: description of ferry, fees and
schedules, crews, accidents, labor disputes, WWII impact;
ferrying prisoners to San Quentin; loss of downtown Richmond,
Introduction by Jim Quay, Director, California Council for the
Interviewed 1985 by Judith K. Dunning for the Richmond
Community History Series. Regional Oral History Office, The
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Acknowl edgmen t s
The Regional Oral History Office, on behalf of future
researchers, wishes to thank the following organizations whose
contributions made possible this project, "On the Waterfront:
An Oral History of Richmond, California."
The CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES, a state division of
the National Endowment For The Humanities
Crowley Maritime Corporation
Moore Dry Dock Foundation
Marco F. Hellman Fund
Kaiser Healthplan, Inc.
Bechtel Power Corporation
Friends of The Bancroft Library
The completion of the oral history volumes and their
distribution to participating Bay Area public libraries was
funded through a grant by the U.S. Department of Education under
the provision of the Library Services and Construction Act
administered in California by the State Librarian. The work
was done in cooperation with the Richmond Public Library.
INTRODUCTION by Jim Quay
It is a great pleasure to introduce "On the Waterfront" to
you. I myself was introduced to the project in September 1983,
shortly after becoming executive director of the California
Council for the Humanities. Both the Council and its mission of
bringing the humanities to out-of-school adults were relatively
new to me when Judith Dunning came to my office to talk about her
proposal. Ms. Dunning wanted to document an important period in
the life of the Richmond, California waterfront, but she didn't
want to write a study for scholars. Instead, she proposed to
interview most of the oldest surviving waterfront figures,
collect historic photographs of the port and its workers, and to
create from these an exhibit for the public. Would the Council
be interested in supporting such a project? ,-
Happily, the two dozen scholars and citizens who sat on the
Council then were interested and, convinced of the project's
importance, voted to fund Ms. Dunning 's proposal in early 1984.
Six years later, I now know what I couldn't have known then:
that "On the Waterfront" had all the features of a typical public
humanities project: a powerful subject, caring scholars, a
resourceful and dedicated project director, and uncertain
You can appreciate why even the best public humanities
project and "On the Waterfront" is one of the best doesn't
easily attract funding. In a state focused relentlessly on the
future, the next quarterly statement, the next development, the
value of such a project doesn't show up in a cost-benefit
analysis. Who would care about the lives of Calif ornians past?
Who would care about a waterfront whose boomtime is passed?
The answer is: thousands of people, as Judith's project
proved. First and foremost, Judith, who didn't just study
Richmond, but moved to and lived in Richmond. Like so many
project directors, she gave time and life to this project far
beyond the amount budgeted. In the language of accounting this
is called "in-kind contribution"; in the language of life it's
called devotion. Those of us privileged to know Judith know that
the project both exhausted her and enriched her, and she has won
the admiration of those who supported her and the affection of
those she has interviewed and worked with.
After Judith came a handful of interested scholars historian
Chuck Wollenberg, folklorist Archie Green, and oral historian
Willa Baum who gave their time and expertise to the project.
Next, a handful of people at organizations like CCH, Chevron and
Mechanics Bank, who thought enough of the idea to fund it.
Finally, eventually, came the thousands of visitors to Richmond
Festival by the Bay during 1985-87 and saw the photographs and
read the excerpts from interviews and realized that they too
cared about these people. And now, you, the reader of these
interviews, have an opportunity to care.
In its fifteen years of supporting efforts to bring the
humanities to the out-of-school public in California, the Council
has seen two great themes emerge in the projects it funds:
community and diversity. "On the Waterfront" embodies both. I
think such projects are compelling to us because in our busy
lives, we often encounter diversity more as a threat than as a
blessing, and community more as an absence that a presence.
"On the Waterfront" gives us all a chance to experience the
blessings of diversity. The life details that emerge from these
pictures and voices make us appreciate how much the people of the
Richmond waterfront are unlike us, how much attitudes, economies,
and working conditions have changed. Yet because the portraits
are so personal and intimate, we can also recognize the ways in
which they are like us, in their struggles, their uncertainties,
their pride, and their fates. What seemed like difference
becomes part of a greater sense of who "we" are.
In the lives of waterfront people, we can also glimpse how a
community grew and waned. Busy with our own lives, we often
neglect the activities that knit communities together. Judith
Dunning 's project allows us to see what we are losing and how
communities are created and destroyed. And so, "On the
Waterfront" fulfills the oldest promise of the humanities: that
in learning about others, we learn about ourselves. For the gift
of these twenty-six lives, we can thank Judith Dunning.
California Council for the Humanities
March 2, 1990
San Francisco, California
ORIGIN OF THE PROJECT
"On the Waterfront: An Oral History of Richmond,
California," began in 1985. Interviews were conducted
with twenty-six. Bay Area residents including early Richmond
families, World War II Kaiser Shipyard workers, cannery
workers, fishermen, and whalers.
I was first attracted to this shoreline industrial town
located sixteen miles northeast of San Francisco in 1982
while enrolled in a documentary photography class. For ten
weeks I concentrated on the Richmond waterfront, often
accompanying the crew of the freighter Komoku on its
nightly run from Richmond to C & H Sugar in Crockett. It
was then that I began to hear colorful stories of
Richmond's waterfront and the City's World War II days.
The question which captivated me in 1982 and still does
is what happened to Richmond when World War II transformed
this quiet working class town into a 2 4 -hour-day industrial
giant? With the entry of the Kaiser Shipyard, the number
of employed industrial workers skyrocketed from 4,000 to
100,000. An unprecedented number of women entered the work
force. The shipyards set speed and production records
producing one-fifth of the nation's Liberty ships. By 1945
Richmond's shipyards had launched 727 ships.
There were other enormous changes. During the wartime
boom, Richmond's population rose from 23,000 to 125,000.
The ethnic composition of Richmond and the entire Bay Area
changed dramatically with the influx of workers recruited
from the South and Midwest. There was little time to
provide the needed schools and community services. Housing
shortages were critical. Twenty-four thousand units of war
housing were built but they were soon filled to capacity.
People were living in make-shift trailer camps along the
roadsides and the all-night movie theaters were filled with
sleeping shipyard workers.
James Leiby, professor of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley,
called Richmond a "spectacular" case of urban development.
What happened to other communities over a period of decades
occurred in Richmond in a few years.
Some of the questions I wanted to explore in the
interviews were who were these newcomers to Richmond and
were there reasons, beyond the promise of a job, which
brought them in steady streams by trains, buses, and
automobiles hauling make-shift trailers? And was this
destination of Richmond, California, all that they had
Other questions were just as compelling. After the war
ended and Kaiser and fifty-five other industries moved out
of Richmond, leaving this new population suddenly
unemployed, what made people stay? And for those who left
Richmond and returned home to their families in the South
and Midwest, what made them come back to Richmond a second
time, often bringing relatives with them?
As intrigued as I was by this new population, I also
wanted to know how Richmond natives experienced these
changes. In a sense, as others moved in to find new homes
in Richmond, the longtime residents were losing their once
small and familiar home town.
Initially, I tried to locate people who were living and
working in Richmond before the World War II boom. They
worked in the canneries, at the Chevron Refinery, or made
their living fishing in San Pablo Bay. Most of these first
interviewees were California natives, born and raised in
Richmond. But the majority of the interviewees for this
project came from other places Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma,
Missouri, Iowa, Idaho, Utah all to start a new life in
California. Each one had a story to tell. Armed with a
tape recorder, a camera, and lots of unanswered questions,
I set out to record these local residents.
With few exceptions, the initial interview took place at
the narrator's home. Because I was recording a diverse
group, the interview setting varied dramatically. One day
I might be in a neighborhood where residents, fearing stray
bullets, keep their curtains drawn and their lights dimmed.
Another day I would be in a home with a sweeping view of
the bay, built by a former cannery owner during the
When possible, I recorded additional interviews and
photographed at locations where the narrators had lived or
worked. Some of these included the former Filice and
Perrelli Canning Company, Ferry Point, Point San Pablo
Yacht Harbor, and the last remaining World War II shipyard
structures. . .since torn down. I also spent many days off
shore. When interviewing Dominic and Tony Ghio, fishermen
for over sixty years, I accompanied them on dawn fishing
trips in San Pablo Bay. However, following a turbulent
twelve-hour whale watching excursion to the Farallon
Islands with former whaler Pratt Peterson, I vowed to
continue my research on land.
When I asked some project participants to give me a
personalized tour of Richmond to see what landmarks were
important to them, all too often I was shown vacant lots
where a family home, church, or favorite cafe once stood.
The downtown, once bustling with movie theaters, dance
halls, and department stores, is eerily quiet for a city of
82,000. I found that local residents are still angry over
the loss of their downtown district during" the 1960s
redevelopment era. Longtime residents spoke emotionally of
the city losing its center. Hilltop Mall, built on the
outskirts of town and accessible by automobile, was no
substitute for a shopping district in the middle of town.
The struggle to rebuild the downtown and to attract new
businesses is an ongoing one for the City of Richmond.
After the interviewing was completed, there were photo
sessions in the narrator's homes and former work places, as
well as meetings in which we went through family albums and
trunks. Some wonderful photographs and the stories behind
them were uncovered during this process. - Copies are
included in the individual volumes.
PUBLIC USES OF THE ORAL HISTORIES
From the early stages of this project, both the text
from the oral histories and the collection of photographs,
have been used in community events. Examples include photo
panels and maritime demonstrations at Richmond's Festival
by the Bay, 1985, 1986, and 1987; and Oakland's Seafest
'87. An exhibition, "Fishermen by Trade: On San Francisco
Bay with the Ghio Brothers," produced in collaboration with
the Richmond Museum in 1988, was developed from the oral
history interviews with Dominic and Tony Ghio.
In an effort to present the oral histories to the public
in a form which retained the language, the dialects, and
the flavor of the original interviews, I wrote "Boomtown,"
a play about the transformation of Richmond during World
War II. "Boomtown" was produced by San Francisco's Tale
Spinners Theater and toured Bay Area senior centers,
schools, and museums in 1989.
A new direction for the oral histories is in the field
of adult literacy. Nearly fifty years after the
recruitment of men and women from the rural South and
Midwest to work in the Kaiser shipyards, some former
shipyard workers and many of their descendents are enrolled
in LEAP, Richmond's adult literacy program, where the
students range in ages from 16 to 85 and are 70 percent
Our current goal is to make a shortened, large print
version of the oral history transcripts for use by adult
literacy students and tutors. We think that by using the
true stories of local residents as literacy text, there
will be an additional incentive for adults learning to
read. The characters in the oral histories are often their
neighbors, friends, and families speaking in their own
words on such topics as the Dust Bowl, the World War II
migration of defense workers, waterfront industries, family
and community life.
"On the Waterfront" project has had many diverse layers,
including the University of California, the advisory
committee, a wide range of financial supporters, and of
primary importance, a large group of interviewees. I want
to thank all of the project participants who donated their
time, enthusiasm, and memories to this project.
Special thanks is due Jim Quay, Executive Director of
the California Council for the Humanities, who has been a
source of good advice and inspiration from the beginning.
The Council's grant in 1984 got the project off the ground,
kicking off the campaign for matching funds. Jim Quay's
counsel last summer set in motion the completion of the
oral histories by introducing me to the California State
Library grant programs.
Bay Area historian Chuck Wollenberg and labor folklorist
Archie Green have been my primary advisors, as well as
mentors, from the early planning stages. Chuck provided
insight into how Richmond's transition during World War II
fit into the larger picture of California history. Archie
Green reinforced my belief that as chroniclers of history
we must continue to document the lives of working people.
From the preliminary research to the completed project,
Kathleen Rupley, curator of the Richmond Museum, has been
enormously supportive. Working in collaboration with
Kathleen, and Museum staff Paula Mutton and Joan Connolly
on the "Fishermen by Trade" exhibition was an invigorating
experience as well as an excellent example of how two
organizations pooled their talents and resources to create
a popular community event.
Stanley Nystrom, a Museum volunteer and lifelong
Richmond resident, has been a continuing resource to me. A
local history buff, with a great sense of detail, he
assisted me often.
Finally, I want to thank Adelia Lines and Emma Clarke of
the Richmond Public Library, Sharon Pastor i of the LEAP
program, and Rhonda Rios Kravitz and Gary Strong of the
California State Library for their support in making
possible the completion of these oral history volumes and
their distribution to several Bay Area public libraries
which serve minority populations.
In my work I am most interested in recording the stories
of people who are undocumented in history and who are
unlikely to leave written records behind. For me, the
strength of this project has been seeing the transformation
in how the interviewees view their relationship to history.
They came a long way from our first contact when a typical
response to my request for an interview was, "Why do you
want to interview me?" or "What's important about my life?"
And "Why Richmond?" With some encouragement, many became
actively involved in the research and the collection of
photographs, and began recommending others to be
interviewed. "On the Waterfront: An Oral History of
Richmond, California," became their project, with a life of
This set of oral histories is by no means the whole
story of Richmond. It is one piece of its history and one
effort to generate community-based literature. I hope that
it will encourage others to record the stories, the songs,
and the traditions of our community members. They have a
lot to teach us.
Judith K. Dunning
Regional Oral History Office
Room 486 The Bancroft Library
University of California
M. M. "Tubby" Snodgrass
I interviewed M. M. "Tubby" Snodgrass, a native of
Blackfoot, Idaho, in February of 1985. We met at his office on
Macdonald Avenue in Richmond. He was a retired employee of the
Richmond-San Rafael Ferry Company who had spent a good part of
his life working on the ferry. "I was a dishwasher, a cook,
ticket agent, a toll collector, the commissary manager, and the
Port Superintendent." He began with the company in 1924, at
age twelve, and worked until the ferry's last trip on August
I was interested in talking to Mr. Snodgrass not only
because of his experience on the waterfront but also because he
was an active member of the Council of Richmond Industries. I
wanted to get an insider's view of Richmond's business scene.
After the first interview session, Mr. Snodgrass acknowledged
that he was in no position to speak freely about this work.
For our second meeting I asked Mr. Snodgrass to accompany
me to the former site of the Richmond-San Rafael ferry landing
near Point Molate. We met at the Richmond Plunge in Point
Richmond early one morning and drove out to the old ferry
landing. The sign read Red Rock Marine Harbor, and the area
was run down with heaps of abandoned cars, boats, and wooden
piles jutting out of the water. Except for a few people
fishing off the pier, the area was abandoned. I shot some
photographs while Tubby chatted with the fishermen.
We continued our waterfront tour by car with Mr. Snodgrass
pointing out landmarks along the way. We drove past the
Winehaven buildings, and to the site of the old whaling station
and the still-operating rendering plant. I found this informal
tour helpful. Mr. Snodgrass was relaxed and talkative off-
Mr. Snodgrass was very supportive of the project and
interested in helping out. He advised me on fund-raising and
made several phone calls on the project's behalf. Often he
would call me early in the morning and if he happened to catch
me at home, he asked me why I wasn't swimming at the Richmond
Plunge. If he reached me at the office on a sunny afternoon,
he asked why I wasn't out enjoying the day. I enjoyed his
sense of humor.
Tubby Snodgrass is eighty years old now, and is on the
Board of Directors of the Richmond Museum. Because there was a
lot left unsaid in this oral history I hope that Mr. Snodgrass
will add to his story. He could offer us some valuable
insights into the political and business scene in Richmond.
Judith K. Dunning
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
M. M. Snodgrass Table of Contents
Family Background 1
Growing Up in Blackfoot, Idaho 1
Description of Parents 5
Marriage in 1938 8
Presbyterian Church in Richmond 9
Education and Teenage Ambitions 10
Beginnings with the Richmond-San Rafael Ferry Company,
Description of the Ferry 15
The Kitchen 15
Steaks and Chops in a 30-Minute Crossing 17
Fees and Schedules 18
Rules of the Workplace 20
The Crew 21
Ferries: Woodenhulled to Steelhulled 27
Labor Disputes 29
Recollections of Strikes 32
Chinese Cooks 36
Changes in the Ferry 37
Impact of World War II on Ferry Operations 38
Changes in the Richmond Waterfront 43
Background on the Richmond-San Rafael Ferry and
Transportation Company 44
Captain Raymond Clarke 45
Ferrying Prisoners to San Quentin 50
Ferry Safety Record 53
Changes in Bay Traffic 57
Growth of the Trucking Industry 57
Work Schedule 58
Other Recollections of the Ferry 61
Richmond as a Historical Place 66
World War II Transforms a City 67
Loss of Downtown Richmond 72
Regional Oral History Office University of California
Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720
(Please write clearly or type. Use black ink.)
Your full name Marion Myers Snodgrass
Date of birth December 24, 1911 Birthplace Blackfoot. Idaho
Father's full name Howard Bertram Snodgrass
Occupation Merchant Birthplace Shambaugh, Iowa
Mother's full name Edith Marion Howell
Occupation Homemaker Birthplace- Albion, Idaho
Your SpOUSC(s) Mar-i^ T.hm'gg SnnHpra g g
Your children Kathryn Marie Snodgrass Peterson
John Thomas Snodgrass (Deceased)
Where did you grow up? 1-12 Blackfoot r Idaho then Richmond, CA
When did your family first come to California? 1924
Reasons for coming Land of opportunity - Father opened Variety Store
Present community _ El Cerrito How long? 51 years
Education (and training programs) High School - Armstrong Business College
Accounting - La Salle Correspondence School - Various training program
Occupation(s) Richmond San Rafapl Fprry Company
Public Relations Consultant
continued on back page
Special interest or activities Government and community activities
Home and family
Ideas for improving Richmond's image Continue to clean-up City -
Rring in .TOR PRDDIir.TNf; TNDII.9TKTF.S - H^lp -j n pypry way
to educate citizens, both young and old
What do you see for the future of Richmond? Nothing but good!
Growing Up in Blackfoot, Idaho
[Interview 1: January 24, 1985] ##
Dunning: Mr. Snodgrass, where were you born?
Snodgrass: I was born in Blackfoot, Idaho.
Dunning: What year were you born?
Snodgrass: In 1911, December 24th.
Dunning: Where did your parents come from?
Snodgrass: My mother came from Utah and my father from Iowa.
Dunning: When did they come to Richmond?
Snodgrass: In 1923.
Dunning: Do you know what brought them here?
Snodgrass: Yes. My dad opened a store here, a variety store
Dunning: Did they know anyone else in Richmond?
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tape has begun or ended.
Snodgrass: No, they didn't. Not a soul.
Dunning: Do you know how they happened to choose this part of
Snodgrass: No, except it was sunny California. That's about
all. I know how disappointed we were when we got
here to see what it looked like.
What did it look like?
When I came, I came with a fellow in an old Model T
Ford. When we crossed the Rodeo-Vallej o ferry into
Contra Costa county, the hills, were all brown. It
was in July, see. We expected to see all green grass
and orange trees, which of course we didn't see.
I'll never forget the first Fourth of July
parade we saw downtown. I was here with my dad
before the rest of the family. I remember very well
how the wind blew that day, and how cold it was when
I first came from Idaho. In Idaho it was real hot by
the Fourth of July.
Dunning: You and your father, were you sent out to California
Snodgrass: No, my dad was already here, and I came with a fellow
who was going to be his partner in the store. Then I
was here maybe a month or two with him before the
rest of the family came.
How many sisters and brothers did you have?
Snodgrass: One sister and one brother.
Dunning: And where were you in the family?
Snodgrass: In the middle.
Dunning: What was your hometown like that you came from in
There was a very small town right next to the Fort
Hall Indian Reservation, so we had a lot of Indians
walking around, of course in blankets in those days.
I can't remember the population, but it was less than
five thousand, I know that. Everybody knew everybody
in town. It was a little farming community. Mostly
Mormon people lived around there.
Dunning: Was your family Mormon?
Snodgrass: No. My grandmother was a Mormon, but she was the
only one in the family, although I attended the
Mormon Church with her for a long time back in Idaho.
Dunning: You were eleven years old when you came. Was that
difficult for you to leave?
No, it wasn't difficult for me to leave. I know that
I started at Roosevelt Junior High School, and that
would be in the seventh grade, so I would have to be
twelve years old.
Dunning: Do you recall the first home you lived in in
Dunning: Where would that be?
Snodgrass: At 724 Ninth Street. I remember the number very
well. As a matter of fact, I've been by to see the
house lots of times since.
Could you describe it?
It was a little white house with three bedrooms, one
bath. I remember it pretty well, yes.
Dunning: What was the neighborhood like at- that time?
Across the street was a kid with the name of Ray
Byers. I remember him very well. Next door was a
Portuguese family with a couple of real little kids.
When I came here, in Idaho we didn't have
Portuguese or Italian people, and half the people
here were Italian and Portuguese. We had Indians
instead of foreigners so-called foreigners. I
remember that some of the names were amazing to me
when I got to school at Roosevelt, Baciagalupi and so
And of course the schools were very much
different here. I know I talked to the kid across
the street, and he was talking about machine shop and
wood shop, which we didn't have in Idaho at all. As
a matter of fact, I was in grammar school in Idaho,
and here I started in Roosevelt Junior High School.
Snodgrass: Also, the kids in those days, there were guys
seventeen, eighteen years old going to junior high
school. As a matter of fact, they had an A and a B
football team and baseball team. They had some real
big kids going to school then.
Dunning: Do you know why there were seventeen and eighteen
No, except that that was in days you didn't have the
opportunity that you have now to go to school. I
suppose some of those kids I remember some of their
names, but I don't know why they were so far behind.
Dunning: Were some of them first generation immigrants?
Snodgrass: I doubt it very much.
Dunnning: I was going to ask you a little about your mother.
What was she like? Could you describe her?
I don't know how I would describe my mother, except
that she was not very big. I remember, of course,
exactly how she looked naturally, but I don't really
know how to describe her.
Dunning: Could you describe a typical day for your mother when
the children were young? Things that you remember
her doing the most?
Snodgrass: No, I can't remember that, except that I know that
she always took awfully good care of the kids. We
never left without breakfast. Of course, I left
without breakfast when I started to work at the
Richmond-San Rafael ferry because of the fact that I
got there at five-thirty in the morning, and I worked
in a restaurant, so I didn't have to wait to eat at
home. But my father, when he had to get up early,
she got up early and got his breakfast.
Dunning: Do you consider that there are important things that
your mother tried to teach you?
Snodgrass: I'm sure that one was honesty. And everybody in the
family worked. I remember very well that she never
would buy anything on credit. I've always been the
same way. If you didn't have the money, you didn't
One of her favorite things was she never
believed in paying for something after she had eaten
it, which I've never forgotten. Of course, things
are exactly the opposite today. I would say that we
had a very good bringing up and a good home life.
Dunning: Did your mother ever work outside the home?
Snodgrass: No, she did not. No.
Dunning: Did she ever earn money at home? I know a lot of
people took in boarders, or did sewing, or
Snodgrass: No, she didn't do that.
Dunning: What kind of work did your father do?
Well, he had this variety store for a good many
years. Then he was a store manager for a grocery
store chain, Pon Honer. Later, he was a ticket agent
at the ferry, the same place I worked.
Could you describe a typical day for your father when
you were growing up? His usual schedule?
I can't remember his usual schedule, but I remember
when he owned the variety store. He was there early
in the morning and stayed there all day until closing
time at night, except to run out^and get some lunch.
I would say he was a very hard worker. He was very
thorough, and very neat, and everything had to be
just so. I'm exactly the same way.
Dunning: Taking after your father?
Snodgrass: That's right.
Dunning: What kind of work did he do in Idaho?
Snodgrass: He had been a railway mail clerk, and then he was in
the bank there. He had worked in Stanrod Bank in
Were there many other people, or any other people, in
your town that also left for California?
Snodgrass: Yes, but none that came right here. They went to
Southern California. I don't remember anybody coming
to Northern California.
Do you consider that was a brave move on your
family's part to leave and relocate?
Yes, I would say that, yes. Of course, I don't
remember all the investigation that was done before
he did that, but I know there was a lot of work done
before he ever decided to come here.
I am trying to get an idea of the whole California
dream. What brings people here?
Well, if you lived in a little town in Idaho, there
really at that time wasn't very much opportunity
unless you wanted to be a farmer. The winters were
bad, the snow and freezing, and summer is hot. I
guess that California then was the land of
But you say it was kind of disappointing when you
Snodgrass: It was very disappointing, but it didn't take very
long to get used to that. I personally would never
want to leave here.
Did you ever go back to Idaho?
I think it was 1955 before I ever went back. It so
happened that the young lady I married [Marie Louise
Snodgrass] was also born in Blackfoot, Idaho. We
Snodgrass: took the kids and drove back in '55 f because her
grandmother still lived there. I've been there twice
Dunning: How did you happen to meet your wife who was also
Snodgrass: Well,- her family moved away and we moved to
California. They moved to Spokane, and then ended up
in Portland. One year the year was 1932 because I
remember it was the first year I ever voted, and
Roosevelt was running for president I was going on a
vacation in the fall.
I was going to drive up to Canada all by myself.
My mother told me to be sure and stop in Portland and
see the Quillins. So I did, and that's where I met
the young lady that later became my wife.
Then you brought her down to this area?
Right. In 1938 we were married, and she came to 1 ive
here. As a matter of fact, we bought our first home
in El Cerrito in 1939.
Presbyterian Church in Richmond
Dunning: One area I was going to ask you a few questions on is
the church. I know there are so many different
churches in Richmond. Did your family attend a
Snodgrass: When we first came to Richmond we went to the
Where was that located?
That was located on the corner of Twelfth and Bissell
as I recall it. We went there for quite a while.
But I -worked on Sunday morning, so there was very
little church that I ever got to go to. Because in
the ferryboat business, the biggest business was on
weekends, so we always worked on Saturdays, Sundays,
So that cut you out of church and Sunday school?
Right. It did, yes, because I got up at five o'clock
in the morning to go to work and didn't have the
opportunity to go. I attended other church functions
in the week, but not on Sunday morning.
Dunning: Have you continued to be associated with the
No, after I was married we started going to the
Congregational Church in El Cerrito, and we're still
Education and Teenage Ambitions
Dunning: We touched a little bit on your education, but I'm
curious about what schools you went to when you
Snodgrass: Well, I went to Roosevelt Junior High School, and
then to Richmond Union High School, and graduated
from Richmond High. Then I attended Armstrong
Business College for a couple of years.
Dunning: Where was that?
Snodgrass: That was in Berkeley. Then I took a correspondence
course in accounting from LaSalle and that was the
end of my education. I was working at the ferry all
that time. As a matter of fact, I worked nights out
there in the ticket office when I went to Armstrong
in the mornings.
Dunning: You must have been a pretty busy person.
Snodgrass: That's right.
Dunning: Did your parents want you to follow a particular
Snodgrass: Not necessarily, no.
Dunning: As a teenager, do you remember some of your
ambitions, what you wanted to do in your life?
Snodgrass: I remember at one time I wanted to be an architect,
but that never worked out because I actually never
stopped working at the ferry. When I worked in the
restaurant, I worked for a fellow who owned a
concession, and then later I went to work in the
ticket office on a temporary basis, and I was there
Snodgrass: permanently for a long, long time. Then I became the
first commissary manager, and then the
superintendent, so I really had a good job.
Dunning: Let me trace that back a little more closely. What
was your first job on the ferries?
Snodgrass: My first real job was a dishwasher on the boats.
Dunning: Could you give me the full name of the company at
Snodgrass: The Richmond-San Rafael Ferry and Transportation
Dunning: What year did you join up with them?
Dunning: Not too long after it was organized in 1915?
Snodgrass: I don't remember exactly when it was organized, but
it was something like that. It wasn't too long
Dunning: How old were you?
Snodgrass: I was twelve years old, because I would have been
twelve on the 24th of December, 1923.
Dunning: My real question is r how did you happen to get that
job at age twelve?
Snodgrass: Well, because a kid that I went to school with told
me that he had a job there as a dishwasher. So I
went out and met the boss, and talked to him. It was
about two weeks after that that he called me to go to
work. I remember it was a Sunday morning, and as I
recall, it was March 28th, 1924.
Dunning: To be exact.
Snodgrass: Yes. Eight-twenty in the morning, the first time I
went to work.
Dunning: What were your hours?
There was no such thing as an eight hour day in those
days. I used to go to work, and generally we worked
at least eight hours. I would go to work at six
o'clock in the morning, and be off at two in the
afternoon. Six to two-twenty,, I think would be the
exact hours, as I remember it.
Dunning: Where did you fit in school?
I only worked Saturdays and Sundays after that, and
holidays, and the summertime. When I was in high
school, I was the afternoon cook on the same place.
I got out of school at two o'clock and went out there
and worked until ten, six days a week. So in my high
school days, I had very little opportunity to
participate in any school functions.
Do you remember your first salary?
As I remember, it was about two dollars a day, which
was really good pay. I remember when I was the
afternoon cook, I got $3.50 a day. On Sundays I used
to work a double shift, and that would make it seven
dollars. For the last year that I was a cook there
that's* when I worked the double shift on Sundays and
on Monday, on payday, the boss would come around and
hand you a check, and then he put a $20 bill in my
hip pocket for working so much extra on Sunday. That
made me $27 for one day's work. That was more than
most men were earning in a week then. That continued
all summer long.
Dunning: You must have felt like a wealthy young man.
Snodgrass: Right. I was a wealthy young man.
Dunning: What did you do with your money?
Snodgrass: Put it in the bank.
Dunning: Did you put any back into your household? Did your
Snodgrass: No. I furnished the car for the family, but I never
paid board and room. They never asked me to. They
wouldn't let me as a matter of fact. But at one time
I had two cars. I had one good car and an old junk
that I used to drive to work. Neither my mother or
dad could drive a car, but my brother and sister
could both drive. So I furnished the transportation.
Dunning: That was quite a contribution. How did your father's
grocery store do?
Snodgrass: It was a variety store.
Variety in that was it like a five and dime that had
That's right, yes. It didn't actually set the world
on fire. I can't remember how long he kept it. He
finally sold out though. It was a lot of work for
the amount he was making on it.
Can you tell me anything about the first ferry that
you worked on?
Yes. I remember the jy of $ an Bsfael was the name
of it. It was an old sidewheeler paddlewheel boat.
I think it held about thirty or thirty-five cars. Of
course, the cars were a lot smaller then they are
I remember exactly what the kitchen looked like. I
remember that the cooks were Chinese, and we washed
dishes. They had a coal and wood stove, and we
Snodgrass: heated water with steam and washed and dried the
dishes all by hand.
Dunning: You were working with one other person as the
Snodgrass: With the cook, yes. Just me and the cook.
Dunning: Oh 1 That was it?
Snodgrass: The cook and the dishwasher, right.
Dunning: You said that you remember the kitchen. For someone
who's never been inside a ferry- kitchen, could you
I could describe it all right, because it had a big
old coal and wood stove with a grill on each side
that you could cook hotcakes on. We had a big steam
table, where the soup and the mashed potatoes were,
and the steam table was full of water and all heated
Then off the kitchen was a little anteroom with
a refrigerator, ice of course, and a long metal sink
that was really not very large, because I know we
would have to put part of the dishes on the floor in
buckets and wash part, and then refill the sink.
That about does it as far as the kitchen is
Steaks and Chops in a 30-Minute Crossing
Dunning: I'm trying to get an idea of what people ate on
board. Did they have full dinners, or snacks?
Snodgrass: Yes. We did have dinners then. It took a half hour
to crass, or a little bit more.
Dunning: To cross from Richmond to Point San Quentin?
Snodgrass: Right. Then maybe, if you were one of the first ones
aboard, you would have five or ten minutes while we
were loading the boat, so you may-be had forty minutes
at the very most, so we had to work fast. But we had
complete meals then. Even steaks and chops.
Dunning: All in a half hour people would have their meal?
Snodgrass: You would have to eat pretty fast.
Dunning: I guess so. Did most people that took the ferry come
on with their automobiles?
Snodgrass: Right. It was an automobile ferry.
Dunning: Were foot passengers also allowed?
Snodgrass: We had foot passengers too, yes.
Dunning: I don't quite recall whether you mentioned the
capacity for the automobiles. How many?
I can't quite remember how many those little boats
carried. But it must have been around forty, because
as I recall it, we had a seating capacity for about
sixty people in the dining room, and it used to fill
Fees and Schedules
Do you recall what the price was to bring your
Yes. It was seventy-five cents for the car and
seventeen cents for each passenger. I remember very
well the car and driver was ninety-two cents, and the
car and two passengers was $1.09, three was $1.26.
That's been quite some time ago.
Did many people use it every day as a commuter?
Later years they did. A lot of people did, because
many people worked at the Standard Oil and the
Standard Research then.
Dunnning: They would be coming from San Rafael to Richmond?
Dunning: How about the reverse?
Snodgr ass :
Not so much the reverse. We had sales people that
went over with bread trucks and this, that, and the
other thing every day. But really the commuters came
How many runs did it make every day?
Well, -we operated from six o'clock in the morning
until ten o'clock at night. For a couple of years we
ran all night. Then we cut that back until two
o'clock in the morning. But in later years, when I
got to be the boss out there, we quit at ten twenty-
three at night except on Saturdays and Sundays. Then
it was twelve o'clock.
Dunning: Which of the years did it run all night?
Snodgrass: It must have been in 1929, 1930, because it ran all
night at the same time I was going to Armstrong
College, because I worked there at night.
Dunning: Did they get enough passsengers and automobiles?
Snodgrass: Not really to pay. No, not enough.
Dunning: Do you know why at that point they chose to go all
night? Was it an experiment?
Snodgrass: It was more or less an experiment. People claimed
they were going to use the boat later, but it didn't
work out quite that way.
Dunning: What was the ferry called?
Snod grass: The Richmond-San Rafael ferry
Dunning: It didn't have any other name?
Dunning: Where did the ferry leave from in Richmond?
Right out where the old dock is still out there. It
would be just a little bit north of where the
Richmond-San Rafael bridge is now. If you would go
out past Quarry Products, and around the hill, the
dock is still there. [Point Molate exit]
But it's not used for anything at this point?
No, there's some little yacht harbor in there now.
Last time I looked there was a couple of big old
boats at the end of the dock.
Rules of the Workplace
Dunning: Were there certain rules at your workplace about
smoking, or eating, or breaks?
No. There was no such thing as a break.
You just worked straight through?
That's right. And there was no such thing as a work
permit or anything for kids. You just worked. No,
there was no rules about smoking or anything, because
all the cooks smoked. As long as you didn't get it
in the soup, you see. I don't recall any rules,
although the place was spic and span and clean. We
kept it very clean, I know that.
How about the noise? Was the noise level pretty
Snodgrass: No, not bad. Not bad.
Dunning: You probably got used to it real fast, too.
Snodgrass: Yes. You mean the engine room noise?
Snodgrass: No, it wasn't. It didn't bother you on the upper
deck at all.
Dunning: Who was the superintendent when you started?
Well, they really didn't have a superintendent then.
As a matter of fact, the main office of the ferry was
in San Francisco, and all we had then was I don't
even believe they called him a port captain, but we
had one captain and a crew that used to do a lot of
repair work, like putting new buckets in the wheels
and things like that.
Then finally one of the captains was made port
captain in later years. Then they moved the main
office from San Francisco over to Richmond and had it
right out at the point where we were. The president
of the company was there.
When I was the commissary manager, they had the
commissary manager and the port captain who actually
was a licensed captain. Then when he left, instead
of calling it the port captain, they called it the
port superintendent. Then I was both the port
captain and the commissary manager. At the time we
had a port engineer who was in charge of all the
repair work and the engines. But I did all the crew
assignments and everything like that for him, too,
When did you get your first promotion from being a
I was only a dishwasher a couple of years until I was
an afternoon cook. Then, for a couple of years, I
was a relief cook in the summertime. That meant that
I relieved the other cooks and I did all the cooking.
That was on the morning shift. It really wasn't very
long that I was a dishwasher.
Dunning: That was your jumping off point?
Right, yes. I was a dishwasher, a cook, a ticket
agent, a toll collector, the commissary manager, and
then the port superintendent.
Snodgrass: When we quit, I had been the president of the Kiwanis
Club, and they gave me what they called a "This Is
Your Day." I remember the president of the company
saying that if we had had another year, I would have
probably had his job. But that was in 1956. I still
have this. August 31, 1956, was the last trip we
made on the ferry.
Dunning: So they gave you this piece of marble?
Snodgrass: The officers did that, the deck officers. Then the
waitresses and the cooks gave me that.
Dunning: They gave you the clock and the calendar.
Snodgrass: Yes, and I've had them ever since.
Dunning: Was that kind of an early retirement for you? How
old were you when you left?
In 1956 I was forty-five years old. I was too old
really, to get another job, and. besides that, when I
was made the superintendent of that ferry, it was
just like owning your own business. That's when I
spent the money, like it was my own. I cbuld come
and go as I please, except that as the superintendent
of a ferry boat company that runs seven days a week,
you're on call twenty-four hours a day. It's not any
eight hour day job necessarily.
Dunning: Are there any particular stories or incidents that
were connected with the ferry that stand out in your
mind that you think should be documented?
Not that I can think of. I think of a few things
that happened, like the first and only time we really
had a real bad accident, by the boat coming in full
speed ahead and knocking the place down.
Dunning: Knocking what place down?
Knocking the dock down, the slip. That happened.
You would have an accident every once in a while and
break a few piles, or something like that, but this
particular time there was a new engingeer and he got
mixed up in the signals. Instead of going full speed
astern, he went full speed ahead. No one was
injured. It was just lucky. But it did take a
little doing. We had to get a crane in order to get
the cars off.
The other time that I'll never forget was one
Sunday night in the fog, where the captain of one of
the boats got stuck in the mud and was there with a
full load of cars for more than six hours. This was
in way later years when we had the big S.P. [Southern
One of the deck hands had a heart attack and
they had to bring him ashore in a lifeboat. That was
quite an experience, with the coast guard, and
Snodgrass: everybody and his brother, and all the newspapers out
there on that. That took a little doing on a Sunday
Dunning: Did he survive?
Snodgrass: Yes, he did.
Dunning: Did you ever have to use the lifeboats other than
Snodgrass: I think in all the years that I was there I can only
think of a couple of times that they ever lowered the
lifeboats. Once when somebody fell overboard. You
see, it's only three and a half miles across the bay.
Actually, you could run into the mud if you got off
the course in some areas.
We were inspected by the steamboat inspection
service just like we were a ship going to sea, so
they had lifeboat drill all the time, boat drill,
fire drill, and so forth. When they had the boat
drill, they just swung the boat over the side. They
didn't lower it all the way down and get in or
anything except twice a year when the steamboat
inspectors were there. Then they had to do that.
But no, we never had any bad accidents.
That seems pretty incredible. You mentioned that
somebody went overboard. Was that just a one time
occurrence, and how did that happen?
Snodgrass: I don't even remember. See, if something like that
would happen, I would be up there cooking. I was on
the boats then. I wasn't out looking out the window.
Dunning: You would hear about it after the fact.
I would know about it because the boat would have to
stop. But I didn't happen to be on the boat the day
that that happened anyway.
Snodgrass: I know that you would normally think that there would
be a lot of things happening in thirty-four years,
but not really. They didn't. We had some bad
storms. We had to tie up a few times, not because
the boat couldn't go back and forth, but because you
couldn't load and unload the cars. We had a lot of
foggy weather, though really not as much of that as
you would think.
Dunning: I know you would think that there would be quite a
bit of fog in the bay.
Snodgrass: But in the wintertime there was some times when it
was real foggy. I can remember a few times we did
tie up in the fog, too.
Dunning: When you say tie up, you just tied up to the dock?
Snodgrass: Right. We ceased operations, but generally only for
two or three hours at the very most, because they
Snodgrass: steered with a compass anyway. But you didn't have
all the fancy equipment that you have nowadays.
There was no such thing as radar or anything like
that. All you had was a whistle, and listening to
the foghorns and the fogbells.
Dunnning: You must have seen a 1 ot of change in the equipment
and in the machinery over those years.
Snodgrass: No. We never did have any of that equipment, because
I don't think any of the ferry boats in the bay ever
had any radar. It wasn't available at that time.
Ferries: Woodenhulled to Steelhulled
How many different ferrys did you work on?
I worked on the iy of Bisfcuionfil , the iy pf
Bfifael, the Spnpma y^Hey, and the Similes y^n D^amme.
That was in the days when I was a cook. Then in
1939, or 1938, the company bought three of the
Southern Pacific boats that were a lot larger,
Steelhulled boats. Ours were old woodenhulled boats.
They weren't sidewheelers; they were screwboats.
Dunning: Could you differentiate between a sidewheeler and a
Yes. A sidewheeler had side wheels and buckets, the
wheels going around and around, and the screwboat had
a propeller on each end. The screwboats were much
larger boats. That was after they opened the Bay
Snodgrass: Bridge. The Southern Pacific ceased operations in a
couple of years, in the automobile ferries, that is.
Dunning: Was the Richmond-San Rafael ferry about the last
ferry in the area?
Snodgrass: They were the last ferry actually in the bay. They
still -had some little ferry up in Martinez, the
Martinez-Benicia ferry. But I would say that we were
the last of the ferry boats.
Did the construction of the Richmond-San Rafael
Bridge begin in 1953?
I think it was '52, because I know that when we had a
six month strike at the ferry, and that was what
really started the movement for the bridge. Then I
had been there for so many years that I told the
president of the company that I would stay and see
him through until the bitter end if they would let me
open this public relations office.
Normally, I was supposed to be off on Wednesday
and Thursday. I was still on call, but those were
supposed to be my days off. So I had two jobs for
just about five years. I got up every morning at
four-thirty and went down to the ferry. After eight
o'clock, after the maintenance people came to work, I
could be free to do whatever I wanted to do. I had
an extension of my downtown office telephone at the
So I actually had two jobs, and I was working seven
days a week then all the time. I would always work
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays at the ferry.
I know 1955 was the first time that I ever got
three weeks vacation. That's when we did that trip
back to Idaho, in the summertime. With the ferry, I
never -got a vacation in the summertime. I always had
to have wintertime vacation. Summertime was when we
did all the business at the ferry.
Dunning: You mentioned very briefly about the strike. Could
you talk about that?
Well, they went on strike. The Fourth of July was
one of the biggest days we had in the year, the
weekend, the three day holiday. The guys went on
strike on the First of July.
Dunning: What guys?
All the crew. Actually, we had two or three unions.
We had what was called the Inland Boatmen's Union.
That was a part of the Sailor's Union of the Pacific.
Then we had the Marine Engineers Beneficial
Association, a union for the engineers. The captains
and the mates belonged to the Masters, Mates and
Snodgrass: All the deckhands, the firemen, the waitr esse s, and
the cooks belonged to the Inland Boatmen's Union. If
they went on strike, of course, the others were out
too. They all went out on strike. I think it was
some time in December when they settled that strike.
Dunning: December of which year?
Snodgrass: I can't remember for sure, but it must have been
1950. That's what really pushed that bridge ahead.
What were the issues of the strike?
I don't even remember now, but it would be more
money and I don't really remember, because I really
never had anything to do with the unions, except for
the working conditions, not the pay.
Dunning: Who would?
Snodgrass: The president of the company.
Okay. It was the president, then the superintendent?
I'm just trying to get an idea of the hierarchy.
My boss was the president of the company.
And you were right below him?
Right. Well, he had a secretary, whose father used
to be one of the main owners, but really I reported
to the president of the company.
Dunning: What was his name?
Snodgrass: Oliver J. Olson, Jr.
Dunning: Were you also a member of the union?
Snodgrass: No. I was always on the other side.
Dunning: Was that difficult, at certain points, being on the
Snodgrass: No. I hired and fired everybody, and I was their
father confessor and friend. I never had any
problems like that. We had a few problem people,
just like you have every place, but by and large I
would say we were more or less -a happy family. Not
quite that in 1950, but
Dunning: Right. A few unhappy members.
Snodgrass: I used to go up and have coffee with the pickets on
the picket line, and no real problem.
Dunning: Were there women working also?
Snodgrass: We had waitresses.
Dunning: At what point did the waitresses come to work on the
ferries? Was it right at the beginning?
Snodgrass: Yes. As I recall it, we had about thirty-two women
working there as waitresses. We had two on each
shift. In later years, we even had a couple of women
Dunning: Were they also members of the Inland Boatmen's Union?
Yes, they were.
Do you know if any of them are still around?
Yes. I saw one about a month ago. I was with my
wife out in Macy's, or one of those stores out there
in Hilltop, and we were going to go in and have
lunchi I walked in there and here was one of them I
hadn't seen for twenty-five years sitting at the
counter eating. She spotted me before I spotted her,
but I stopped and talked to her for a while.
Most of the old-timers at the ferry, the
officers, are all dead now. As,far as the deckhands
and the crews, there might be a couple of them around
now, but most of them were older people then, so
they're all gone. But not the waitresses. There's
still a couple of them around.
Recollections of Strikes
Dunning: Was that 1950 strike the only strike that you recall?
Snodgrass: No, we had quite a few strikes, but never for any
great length of time.
Dunning: Any that particularly stand out in your mind?
Snodgrass: No, except that I remember one where I was the
commissary manager, because we had a port captain and
Snodgrass: a port engineer, and the three of us had to take care
of that place. It was in the wintertime, and there
were some bad storms. We were having an awful time,
the three of us, trying to get a steel cable out to a
dolphin, and the wind was blowing so hard you could
hardly stand up. I remember that very well.
B-ut that strike didn't last very long. I can't
remember how many, but we had several strikes that
didn't last very long at all. Of course, we didn't
operate at all.
Everything would just shut down?
Yes. I can't remember how long the strike lasted,
but I remember that the guys went out on strike, and
in the end they got a five cent an hour increase in
pay. I figured it would take the captains seven
years to get back the money they lost on the strike.
Of course, they didn't want to go on strike, but they
couldn't do anything about it.
Would the public get involved in the strikes at all?
Snodgrass: No, except to do a lot of squawking about it, because
it was a great inconvenience for them. Especially
those who worked on this side.
Dunning: How would they get across? Would they have to go all
the way around on the Bay Bridge?
Snodgrass: Right. Either that, or go across the Carquinez
Bridge and come around that way. Otherwise they
would have to take two bridges. Some of the workers
Snodgrass: at Standard Oil had a charter boat that they came
back and forth in for a long time during the six
Dunning: Did the pol ice ever get invol ved in the strikes? Was
Snodgrass: No, th-ere was no violence at all. They had a picket
line, but they didn't cause any trouble.
Dunning: Are there any strike leaders or organizers that stand
out in your mind?
Snodgrass: No, not many. I can remember a- couple of guys who
were the ringleaders. A fellow by the name of Mike
Maloney, I remember him just like yesterday. Another
one, Steve Traverse was his name. Those two guys I
remember very well as being what we call
Dunning: What were their jobs normally?
Both of them were deckhands, able seamen. They all
had to have certificates, just like the guys going to
Did you ever fire someone after a strike?
No. The only thing we did, on the last strike, we
had three or five days to report. One guy, actually
I can't remember his name, but I remember himjust as
well as anything. I remember that he had bought a
bunch of baby chicks and was raising chickens. He
al so was a ringleader inthe strike and was up inthe
streets of Richmond popping off his mouth. I don't
quite remember how that happened, but I remember
knowing all about it.
He was supposed to be a good friend of mine, and
he called me and told me that he couldn't leave those
baby chicks. He would have to take care of them for
a few -more days, would it be all right if he didn't
show up on time.
I told him, "No, if you're not here on the
morning that you're supposed to be here, you will be
unemployed as far as I'm concerned." He was. He was
In later years, I had the office down on Tenth
Street. He didn't get mad at me. He used to come in
and see me all the time. We would sit around and
talk. He was the only one that I can ever remember
that didn't make it back after a strike. The guys
were all very friendly. It wasn't a case of taking
out any spite on them or anything like that. We
didn't do that.
Dunning: About how many people were working at the height of
In later years, in the summertime, as I recall, we
had somewhere between one hundred and thirty and one
hundred and fifty people. We were running five crews
each day, so you had to have quite a few people.
Would they change crews for every run?
Yes. They changed crews every eight hours. Twice a
day. Then we had a maintenance crew that did all the
repair work, and toll collectors, so we had about one
hundred and fifty people.
Was there an ethnic mix? What was the composition of
I can only remember, in all the years that I worked
at the ferry, there was only one black sailor that
ever worked there, because there were very, very few
black people that were sailors. Mostly there were a
lot of Portuguese that came from the old Southern
Pacific people. Swedes, just. -all Americans, you
know, a general mix of people.
Dunning: You mentioned when you started as a dishwasher that
the cooks were Chinese. Was that fairly common? Was
that a usual position for the Chinese?
Snodgrass: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, we had a house out
there, and the Chinese cooks lived there in the
house. Even up until we ceased operations they were
still living there. They had the best job of anybody
because they got their board and room and laundry,
and all their earnings, and they were paid on the
minute basi s j ust 1 ike the crew, time and a half over
eight hours, and all that. Their money was all
Dunning: Are any of the cooks still alive that you know of?
I don't know. Every time I used to go to Chinatown
in San Francisco, I would run into one of them, but I
haven't been there for years. That was twenty-five
years ago. Fifty-six is longer than that, see.
Did you see changes over the years in the atmosphere
or the mood of the ferry from the time you started
Sure, because when I first started working the crew
consisted of a captain, a mate, three deckhands, a
fireman, and an engineer. Then when we got the S.P.
boats, the crew size increased. In those days,
that's when they used to call that the happy family,
because everybody knew everybody.
Then, there was no union that ever I heard of,
and there was no eight hour day, so there was no such
thing as overtime. All of that changed when they got
to be unionized.
Approximately what year was that?
It must have been the early thirties that the Inland
Boatmen's Union organized the deckhands and firemen.
Later, just like every place else, the unions got a
little stronger and feeling their oats. Times
changed, so you had certain troubles. Other than
Snodgrass: those little strikes, we really never had too much
During the war, we couldn't compete salarywise. We
had to hire peopl e. We used to say if they were warm
we would hire them. We could always send them over
to the steamboat inspection, over to the coast guard,
and get them an ordinary seamen's certificate. You
made a lot more money in the shipyards, and we
couldn't compete with them, so ii was tough to keep a
You must have lost a lot of people during the war.
Snodgrass: Well, we had a lot of changes. During the war,
that's when I started getting up at four-thirty in
the morning, because I had to get out there, and in
some cases pick up some of the crew in order to get
them there at all because it was that tough to get
people. Sailors, of course, over the years, have
been a bunch of drunks, or are noted to be. It was a
rough go to keep the boats going.
Dunning: Where would you pick them up?
Snodgrass: At their homes. Out in the war housing in Richmond
is where a 1 ot of them 1 ived temporarily. Then for a
1 ong time they had a training center to train sailors
that worked on the ships going to sea. Those fellows
would get their training, and then they would have to
wait for a ship.
I could call up and order three guys, like
ordering some bread or something, and they would send
three guys over, or whatever I wanted. They had
sailors who looked like the real sailor, little white
cap, and a duffel bag, and so forth. I would have to
find them a place to live, a room, in the Point, and
finance them, because they didn't have any money, and
take care of them like they were kids. They were all
nice guys really, but they used to get drunk and get
Dunning: Were they pretty young?
Young, yes. They would be early twenties. So I had
to advance them money and just about be like their
father and take care of them. But that's how we used
to keep going, by hiring those people. They might be
there a couple or three months, and then they would
get a call that they would have to go.
They would go to sea then, so I would have to
replace them. It was a tough go in those years
trying to keep the boats operating.
Did many of the ferry people join the armed services,
or did they go to work in the shipyards?
Snodgrass: There weren't very many of them that went in the
service, because they were all older people. They
had better jobs. Of course, they could make twice as
Snodgrass: much in the shipyards counting overtime. After all,
there were at one time over one hundred thousand
people employed in the shipyards here.
Dunning: That must have really increased the traffic on the
Snodgrass: Yes, it did. We got a lot of business, a lot of
business. And a lot of trouble trying to keep things
Dunning: It must have been pretty hectic.
Snodgrass: It was. Every time that telephone would ring,
something had happened.
Dunning: Were you ever tempted to work in the shipyards
Snodgrass: No, not really. I was married and had a daughter.
As far as the draft was concerned, I was the boss of
an inland waterways transportation company, and they
didn't bother me.
I sometimes think that I would have been better
off had I gone into the service, because I would have
been able to get a job as a port director or
something. So they told me. I would have had
certain pensions, and of course at the ferry, when we
ceased operations, we got dismissal pay. You got so
much, a certain percentage of your month's pay for
every year that you had been there.
Of course, there was only one guy that had been there
longer than I had. He was a firemen. A lot of
people thought I got paid off with a lot more money
than I did, but I did get what was then quite a
I already had a pretty good business built up.
I knew that I would never be satisfied to go
someplace and sit behind a desk for eight hours a
day. I had been doing a lot of this public relations
business for free, so I was urged to open this
office, which I did. I had the opportunity of
course. I was being paid at the ferry all the time
As a matter of fact, the first retainer I got in
the public relations business was more than they paid
me for a month's pay at the ferry. I still have the
Dunning: What do you mean by a retainer?
Snodgrass: I got a retainer from a company for so much money to
take care of certain things for them.
Dunning: For the P. R. ?
Dunning: Have you been in the public relations business from
that point on?
Snodgrass: In 1952 I opened up.
Did you feel that the ferry was going to be ending?
I knew. They had already started building the
bridge. I knew it was limited, because the day they
opened the Richmond-San Rafael bridge was the day we
ceased operations. There was nobody that would ride
a ferry boat if they could go over that bridge,
that's for sure.
Dunning: Was there any public outcry against the bridge?
Snodgrass: No, not really.
There's a lot of people that always said afterwards
that they wish we had the ferry boats, because they
used to ride back and forth once in a while. If you
had to wait two or three hours in San Quentin over
there on Sunday night, or any holiday, you would have
to wait on both sides, see. We used to move them
pretty fast in later years, but I can remember when
there would be a line of cars from Point San Quentin
back to San Rafael on Sunday night.
Dunning: All waiting their turn.
Snodgrass: Right. We kept running until we got them all over,
Dunning: Was that the agreement usually?
That's what we always did, yes f pick the last one up
if it was midnight or one o'clock. That's when they
usually gave up, midnight or one o'clock.
What did the waterfront look like in the early years?
I'm wondering if there were visible changes in the
Richmond waterfront that you saw.
Sure there's a lot of changes. You would never
recognize it now, the way it used to be.
Can you describe it when you were so very young and
started on the ferry?
When I started on the ferry the slip had just moved
from the old quarry up to where the dock is today.
The dock is there, and the old office building, and
the toll gate was there the last time I looked down
there. That was around past the Blake Brother's
The street went through the Standard Oil, and
the streetcars ran out there then. That's all
changed now. You can't even see where the old street
used to be. It's all Chevron's property now.
Then later in the war years, the navy built a
big dock, and it's still there too. Then on out
farther is Winehaven, and it's still there. But
Snodgrass: there's nothing there now except the navy and some
industries farther north.
But that was all--Blake Brothers used to have
tow boats. They used to barge gravel up the river,
so the barges and tow boats went into the Blake
Brothers. That's long since ceased too, of course,
but it still looks about the same as it always did
out there now.
Dunning: Do you ever go out there?
Snodgrass: Once in a while I ride out there and take a look
around, see what's going on, .but not very often
[Date of Interview: February 19, 1985] ##
Dunning: Would you describe the organization of the ferry
It was a private company, actually owned by the major
stockholders, who were Oliver J. Olson Sr. and Andrew
F. Mahoney Sr. They, along with Captain Ray Clarke,
organized the company. Then, for many years after
Charles Van Damme was in there too. He was actually
one of the major stockholders.
Tubby Snodgrass and co-worker, circa
Left to right:
M. M. "Tubby" Snodgrass,
Edith M. Snodgrass (mother) ,
Howard B. Snodgrass (father),
Kathryn L. Snodgrass (sister)
Marie Quill in (now
Mrs. Snodgrass) and
Tubby Snodgrass. Circa
Snodgrass: But after Van Damme passed away, then Mahoney was
president one year r and Olson was president the next.
They just took turns at being president of the
company. Their office was in San Francisco.
Actually, both their sons, Andrew F. Mahoney Jr.,
became secretary of the company, and Oliver J. Olson
Jr. was the company president until it folded.
Dunning: Why was their office in San Francisco rather than in
Richmond or San Rafael?
Because they were both in San Francisco, Olson and
Mahoney, and so was Van Damme. They finally moved
their office from San Francisco over here to
Richmond. In fact, the building is still out there,
where the office was. That was long afterwards.
That was I think maybe about 1930, or '31 that they
moved from San Francisco over here.
Captain Raymond Clarke
Dunning: The story goes that Captain Clarke was the one who
conceived of the idea of the ferry. Did you hear
Snodgrass: Yes, I heard that story many times.
Dunning: Did Captain Clarke have a version of it that he liked
Oh, yes. He would talk about it in a minute.
Captain Clarke was with the ferry for many, many
years. As a matter of fact, I ended up being his
boss. He didn't stay until the bridge was built. I
can't remember when he left the company, but he had
other interests. He had the Point San Pablo Yacht
Harbor, and I don't know what else he had, but he was
pretty- well off too.
Dunning: Would you tell me what you recall of the story he
told you about why he started the ferry?
No, I can't even remember the story of why he started
the ferry, except he was a deckhand or something when
he first started on the ferry. They had the old
ElleB. I think it was all in the book. [Harlan,
George H. , an FjaDcisco ^ y erryt>pas. Berkeley:
Howell-North Books, 1967.] Did you read it in the
book? That's the boat they started with.
Of course, there was no other way to get from
San Rafael to Richmond except to go around by either
crossing, go up and go across the Martinez-Benicia
Ferry, or go to take the Sausalito ferry, and then
come back to Oakland on the ferry. So it was a link,
the shortest distance between two points, between
Point San Quentin and Point Richmond.
Dunning: The Yan Damme was really the first ferry specifically
built for the Richmond-San Rafael line. The
was only in commission a few months?
Snodgrass: Right. Then they had the harles Van Damme, and then
after that the iy of Richmond, and after that, the
Snodgrass: City of ao
Then they bought the Sonoma
Dunning: Was the Spnoma
the old Sao Jose?
Snodgrass: Yes. Then, in 1938, they bought three of the
Southern Pacific boats, the old steel boats, and
renamed them. Then they bought the Western Pacific
boat, the old Ed#ajd T.. Jgffsry, which was supposedly
the fastest boat in the San Francisco Bay. They
bought that one afterwards too.
Dunning: I had heard that when the yan Damme was designed,
that pedestrians had really not been taken into
consideration in terms of the design. Mostly it was
for cars. Also, cattle was not taken into account.
Is this true?
No. I know that they used to take cattle on the
hoof. It was designed as an automobile ferry. All
of the boats were automobile ferries, but there was
nothing to keep foot passengers from boarding too.
They had an upper deck, and all they had to do
was walk up the stairway to get to the upper deck,
and on the Carles yan Damme too. As a matter of
fact, the hajl yan Damme even had a barroom up
there, and had two little cabins where some of the
crew, in fact the cook, used to sleep at one time.
The bar was separate from the dining area?
Snodgrass: It was all in together, but it was a separate room
really, right off the kitchen.
Dunning: What would they serve?
Snodgrass: I suppose they served booze at one time.
Dunning: During Prohibition, was the selling of wine and
liquor completely out on the ferry?
Snodgrass: It was, yes.
Dunning: Did the bar close down, or did they sell other
Snodgrass: When I went to work there in 1924, the bar was never
used. The room was there until they remodeled it
later on. It was right off the kitchen, and it was
never used at all.
Dunning: Do you recall when it was resumed? Was it
immediately after Prohibition that the bar opened
Snodgrass: No, it never did open.
Dunning: Never did open again?
Snodgrass: No. We sold beer and wine on the boats after '32.
We served beer for a long time, and finally we served
wine too. But the Y3D pamme was no more then. They
had already discontinued the use of the
Dunning: Back to the cattle. Were pens constructed?
No. I don't remember ever being on the boat when
there were any cattle. I don't really believe that
in my time out there they did take any aboard, but
they hadn't had pens before. They just had to hold
them, put chains up on both ends of the boat. There
was a chain up there anyway.
Where -was their destination? Were they coming from
Richmond, or going to Marin, or ?
Snodgrass: I imagine they were coming from Marin to Richmond.
Dunning: And then do you know where they went?
Snodgrass: Probably to the slaughterhouse out in Oakland.
It could be a busy week.
I've heard that some of the local ferrymen came from
Portugal or the Azores, and some of those who didn't
choose to be on farms or ranches became ferrymen.
No, I don't think that was right. I never heard of
that. The Southern Pacific boats had a lot of
Portuguese deckhands and captains, but I never heard
of them handling any cattle on the boats. During my
time--I started in '24--I never remember seeing any
cattle on the boats. The only thing that we handled
on the boat was milk in cans, because they had
regular trucks, hand trucks, that they used for that.
That may be what somebody was talking about, I think,
but not cattle.
Snodgrass: Marin County, of course, was full of dairy farms, and
still is to a certain extent. I remember that big
old hand truck that they used. It was like the
trucks which you've probably never seen around the
railroad station when they were putting mail bags on
the mail trucks, like the railway mail clerks used.
Dunning: You call it a band truck?
Snodgrass: Well, it was a long four-wheeled truck, on iron
wheels, with a tongue to guide it. It was just
pushed on and off. The crew took care of that.
Dunning: Do you recall any other unusual ^freight? What kind
of freight was the most common?
The most common freight would have been on trucks. A
lot of grapes, apples, other fruits and vegetables,
and lumber were hauled through there from up the
Redwood Highway. But just everything you could think
of, including cattle, but in a truck, not on the
Dunning: So there may have been cattle after you joined up,
but it was always on the trucks?
Snodgrass: Oh yes. Right.
Dunning: Okay. That was sort of unclear to me. It makes
sense. Harlan also mentioned in his book, and I have
Dunning: heard this from Stan Nystrom, that San Quentin Prison
brought additional business, and deputy sheriffs from
all over California would bring prisoners to San
Quentin via the ferry.
Yes, they came on Saturday mornings. They came up on
the train known as the )wl. They unloaded at
Sixteenth and Macdonald and put them all in taxis and
brought them to the ferry. Then we fed them all
going over, ham and eggs. On the San Quentin side
they were picked up and taken up to the prison.
We had some very famous guys. I'm trying to
remember the guy that threw the,-salt shaker through
the camera, at the guy trying to take his picture. I
was on that boat that Saturday morning too, working
in the kitchen. Who was it? Some murderer, I can't
remember what his name was.
They would bring along up to fifty prisoners
with the deputies. What they had for deputies
though, were guys that wanted to come up and spend
the weekend up here. They would just deputize them
and use them, see.
Dunning: So some of them were actually civilians? They
Oh sure, yes. There were a couple two or three of
them that were the gun-packing guys, the deputy
sheriffs from Los Angeles. These were all Los
Angeles prisoners, really.
Most of them came from Southern California?
Snodgrass: Right. They all came together.
Dunning: Would they always come in large groups?
Snodgrass: Right. Every Saturday morning. We used to be all
ready for them.
Dunning: How would you prepare for them?
Snodgrass: Well, we would have some ham already cooked, and the
minute on the dock we would see the taxis, we would
start cooking, because we had to feed them all going
over. They got first choice. They came in and
actually filled up the dining room.
Dunning: Any particular prisoners that stand out in your mind?
Snodgrass: There are, but I can't remember their names now.
Dunning: I heard a quote from Captain Raymond Clarke that
"I've dined with the most desperate of criminals."
Snodgrass: Yes, that's no lie.
Dunning: Would he just sit down and join them?
Snodgrass: Yes. He would be sitting in there eating breakfast,
Dunning: Did anyone try to escape as far as you know?
Snodgrass: I never remember anybody. But they had no place to
go, you see. They couldn't get off the boat unless
Snodgrass: they jumped overboard. They were all handcuffed
anyway, but they took the cuffs off while they ate.
Dunning: They weren't shackled at all?
Snodgrass: No, not really.
Do you think a few would have tried over the years?
I don't recall. They had a lot of help along with
them. I think they had about one deputy for every
two prisoners, something like that as I remember it.
I had also read that statistics have proved that
there was no safer place to be than on a ferry boat;
ferry sinkings were startlingly few, and in the
hundred year history of Bay navigation, loss of life
on the Bay Area was less than one millionth of a
percent on the ferry.
I would imagine that's right. I've never heard of a
ferry boat sinking. They did have one, the old yejka
Byena I think it was, that was a Key System boat, a
passenger boat, where they had tanks on both ends.
When the people all rushed to one end, they would
fill the tank on the other end. Somebody fouled up
and they dipped down going across. Some of them, I
don't remember how many, lost their lives. They got
pretty wet. That's in the book too, I think.
Did you feel like you were out in the sea in that
short crossing, thirty minutes?
Well, in rough weather you would, because a lot of
people used to get seasick. Some of the waitresses
used to get seasick. It got pretty choppy out there,
especially with the old first boats we had,
paddlewheel boats. With the wind and the tide, in a
real rough sea, sometimes the boat actually stopped
and you would hear a loud noise when the wheels
stopped for a second or a minute. It used to bounce
around quite a bit. After we got the big boats it
was not bad.
How about you and seasickness?
I never was seasick.
You couldn't have kept your job for so long?
It never bothered me.
Pretty amazing. This is sort of a morbid question,
but before the Golden Gate Bridge, did people ever
j ump off the ferry for a suicide?
They might have jumped off the Golden Gate Ferry or
the Southern Pacific Ferry. I can only remember one
ever going overboard on our ferry. I guess it was on
purpose, but they picked him up. He didn't drown.
I suppose people in order to hit the waterwould
have to jump forward of the paddles so that they
Dunning: wouldn't get crushed. It would be rather tricky just
jumping clear into the water.
Snodgrass: It would have been easy enough because the paddles
were in the center of the boat, in the middle. You
could either be fore, or you could be aft, and clear
that easy enough. It would be no big problem to
jump. - The big problem would be the same as on the
other boats; they would be out to pick you up. It
wasn't any comparison to the bridges.
Did the tule fogs occur often?
Well, they call it a tule fog, but the worst fogs we
ever had were in the times when we had the lowest
tides. It was a problem with us because in those low
tides, all you had to do was get a little ways off
the course and you're going to be on the mud.
I think we talked before about the time that one
of our boats did go on the mud and was there for six
hours. Of course, they got on the mud several times,
but never for any great length of time. Maybe two or
three times in all the times I can ever remember did
we ever tie up on account of the fog.
One time I remember, that was even after the two
bridges were built, it was so foggy you couldn't go
across to either bridge. The cars just lined up out
Snodgrass: there. Our boats were steering by the compass
anyway, so they could still go in the fog.
Dunning: The compass was really the only instrument?
Snodgrass: That and the horns.
Dunning: Yes, the horns and the whistles. Would the ferrymen
have to memorize those sounds to know what they were
Snodgrass: No. For a long time we had a bell on the dock.
After the navy came into Point Molate, they had a big
foghorn on their dock. There was a bell on Red Rock,
and of course we had a bell on the San Quentin pier.
The other horns you would hear would be other boats
going up and down the San Francisco Bay, so there
were a lot of whistles blowing.
Dunning: I would think the ferrymen would have to know exactly
what whistles were for what to know what to avoid in
Well, they would have known about the Brothers Island
and the horn on the other dock there, but those were
the only horns that they would have to know the sound
of, because the other horns would have been on the
Dunning: But it seems like they would have to be able to
recognize some of those sounds from the boats too, to
know what they were coming up against.
Snodgrass: No. I think that when you start hearing those
whistles you start slowing up. You don't know who it
is, or what it is, unless it was somebody like maybe
the ferry boat that used to run from San Francisco to
Vallejo. But there were lots of boats, and tow
boats, and freight boats in those days, in the early
Change. s_in_Bay_Ir.af fj.c
Growth of the Trucking Industry
Dunning: How does the traffic compare to what you see out
You don't see any. Of course, I'm not out there
enough to see any traffic now, but there's no traffic
now compared to what there used to be, because the
trucking industry has now taken over.
Snodgrass: You don't see barges going up and down the bay like
you used to see. So that's a lot of traffic out.
And you don't see freight boats going.
The only thing that you're going to see now is a
Standard Oil tanker, or a tanker going up to Union
Oil, or boats going up to the sugar refinery.
There's still a lot of traffic, but not like it used
Was that change gradual?
Yes, but slowly but surely the trucks took over all
the freight lines. The boats were too slow. That
phased out pretty fast.
Were holidays special on the ferries?
They were special in that that's when we did a lot of
business. That was the only thing special thing that
I know of.
Dunning: In Harlan's book, he mentions a couple of incidents
of commuters being given a gift, .or Santa Glaus being
on the ferry.
Snodgrass: That might be. That would have been on the other
passenger ferries, because people commuted there all
the time. We didn't have that kind of traffic. We
had some commuters, but not to that extent that they
Dunning: So it was business as usual?
Snodgrass: Right. All it meant was more business, much more.
Dunning: I think I perhaps asked you last time about your
schedule. Did you get many vacations?
Snodgrass: Yes, I got two weeks vacation a year, but never in
the summertime. I had to wait until the busy season
was over before I got a vacation. And only once, I
think, did I get off at Christmas, because that was
another busy time. Well, I got off twice at
Christmas, because one Christmas I got married, and I
was married in Portland.
Dunning: They had to give you the holiday.
Snodgrass: I was pretty anxious to get up there then. A couple
of times after I got married, we did go up to
Portland for Christmas or Thanksgiving, because my
in-laws lived in Portland. Never in the summertime.
Dunning: Were you working a forty hour week? How were your
When I first started to work there, there was no such
thing as a forty hour week or an eight hour day, even
for kids. We were probably one of the last companies
to go to a five day week.
I was supposed to work five days, but I was on
call all the time. There was no such thing as a
forty hour week for me, because I was there on
Sundays for fourteen or fifteen hours, and weekends
or holidays. Whatever, if there was any trouble I
had to go.
It sounds more like a fifty or sixty hour week.
That's right, or more.
How did your family appreciate that?
Not too well, but you can't have your cake and eat it
too. I had a good job in those days. That was a
real good job.
Dunning: I have been running into some people that have been
exposed to health hazards. Was that a problem on
the ferry, like lung problems?
No, nobody paid any attention to anything like that.
That would be no problem on a boat anyway. Nothing
like that in the ferry boat days. In those days, the
old-timers at the Standard Oil Company said that the
bad odors smelled like ham and eggs to them.
Dunning: Was there a social life connected to the ferry?
Snodgrass: I think the crew members used to socialize together,
but I don't think you could call it any social life.
They just happened to be friends.
Dunning: Were there any athletic teams?
Snodgrass: No. We came to work, not to socialize.
Dunning: Would you describe your work as exciting?
Snodgrass: I wouldn't exactly call it exciting. Some people
might have thought it was romantic or exciting, but
as far as I was concerned, it wasn't very exciting.
Dunning: You mentioned the last time that you still dream
about the ferry. Are there any dreams that stand out
in your mind?
Not really. I still dream about it. Not as often as
I used to, but I still do. Every once in a while I'm
back out on that ferry boat.
As a matter of fact, I've been known to say to
my wife when I was coming down here to my current
office, "I'm going down to the ferry."
I did that for a good many years. I still dream
about a lot of things.
This is an opportunity to record anything that you
think should be remembered about the ferries. Is
there anything that you would like to add about that?
The ferry boats were really, for most people, sort of
a romantic thing, if you want to call it that. The
kids loved to go on the boats, and it was a real
treat to go on a ferry boat and be able to go up in
the restaurant and get something to eat.
I had a lot of good times. A lot of trouble,
but I had a lot of fun or good times, because I knew
everybody. We were all good friends.
Snodgrass: Not that I was not glad to be finished, because I
was. Like I told you before, I had two jobs the last
few years, so it was like having a vacation for me to
be able to go home Friday and not have to worry about
going to work until Monday morning.
People still ask me about the ferry boats, and
tell me how much they enjoyed going on the boats,
even if they had to wait for hours sometimes. They
still liked it. It's not very romantic to go across
Dunning: BART is even less romantic.
Snodgrass: Yes, but very handy. I would have to say that I had
a good job, and all during the Depression, I never
missed a day's work all that time. I had a good
time, so I have no regrets about the ferry.
People say to me every once in a while, "I wish
the ferry boats were back." But if they were back,
they would only use them when they wanted to use
They wouldn't have to use them.
And they wouldn't wait like they used to have to
wait. You know how people are today, they don't even
want to wait to get across the bridge.
I was going to ask you a little about World War II
and the ferry. Did you have to change your operation
No f not really. We didn't change our operation, but
we had an awful time keeping people working to run
Dunning: Everyone went into the shipyard industries, or the
That's right. The scale of pay to be a deckhand on
the ferry didn't compare to working in the shipyard.
We had to have licensed people, so it was nip and
tuck. We had a lot of part-time people, because
there were a lot of guys that worked, for instance,
at the Standard Oil, who had seaman's papers. We
used to hire them on their days, off, Saturdays and
It was real tough to keep the boats going during
that time. That and the problem of buying enough
food to keep the restaurants going was all part of
It seems like you probably would have had more
business then, too, with the shipyards going.
Snodgrass: Yes, we did have. We paid a lot of overtime during
that time. But we kept the schedule all the time.
Dunning: You didn't cut back on the schedule?
Snodgrass: No, no.
Dunning: Was it running on a twenty-four hour at that point?
Snodgrass: No. The first boat in the morning was five-forty,
and we tied up at ten twenty-three except Saturdays
and Sundays, and then it was twelve o'clock.
Dunning: Would the swing shift have already started at the
shipyards at that point? Did you coordinate with
Snodgrass: Not really, no, because the only shipyard workers we
had were the people from Marin City, and they were
all day workers as far as I remember.
Dunning: Were there blackouts?
Snodgrass: We had some blackouts, yes, once in a while.
Dunning: How would you describe that?
Snodgrass: I don't recall we ever had a blackout to bother the
ferries at all. I remember blackouts, but the boats
were easy to black out anyway, because all they had
to have were the running lights.
Dunning: Is there anything else you would like to add about
the ferries at this point?
Snodgrass: No, I don't think so.
Dunning: Well, if there's another time, or even during the
rest of our discussion today anything comes to your
mind, just let me know.
Dunning: One question I did want to ask. Were logs kept?
Snodgrass: On the boats?
Snodgrass: Yes, daily logs.
Dunning: Are they still around?
Snodgrass: I don't imagine that they're around. I can't
remember, but I think everything was destroyed like
Dunning: I just think it would be interesting to
Snodgrass: Have an old log book?
Dunning: Just go through a month, or see what was jotted down.
Maybe the Maritime Museum might have some of the
Snodgrass: I don't think so. I don't know. But they kept a log
of the courses and everything like that.
Dunning: Were there ever any songs or poems written about the
Richmond-San Rafael ferry?
Snodgrass: Not that I know of, no.
Dunning: If you ever hear of any, I would love to hear them.
Snodgrass: I'm afraid that's out.
Well, I think I'll switch gears a little bit. Do you
see Richmond as an historical place?
I would imagine that Richmond is about as historical
a place as a lot of other places that are around. Go
back to the early days of the Standard Oil Company
and there are some historical spots around here, yes.
I don't remember anything. Of course, they made
history during the war right out here in the
shipyards, building all those boats. I imagine that
you could call that an historical event.
That was really a whole transformation in a two year
I think I will talk about that, but first I wanted to
ask you about your memories of what Richmond was like
when you were a child when you first arrived here,
what it looked like, and who lived here.
Well, I think the population then was eighteen or
nineteen thousand, or something like that. It was
just a quiet little city. I remember you didn't have
to worry about locking your front door or anything
like that in those days. I used to get up at five
o'clock in the morning and walk from Ninth and
Pennsylvania up to Macdonald Avenue and think nothing
about it, you know, in the dark. As I recall it, it
Snodgrass: was just a
real nice place. Everybody knew
Dunning: What was the ethnic population pre-World War II?
Well, there were a lot of Portuguese and Italian
people. That is, a lot of the people that I went to
school with were of Italian descent. The only way
you would know it was by their name. There were very
few black folks here then. As a matter of fact, in
school, the only ones I remember were Walter Freeman
and the Ellison family. They all lived out in North
Richmond then. Other than that it was just the usual
mix of people.
Dunning: What is your ethnic background?
Well, I guess I'm part Scotch and part English,
really. My grandmother was born in Nova Scotia. My
mother was born in Idaho, and my dad was born in
Dunning: When did you first start seeing changes in Richmond?
Really, the war is what changed Richmond, because
just about overnight the shipyards started. There
were one hundred thousand people working in that
shipyard out there. That really changed things
Dunning: Was there any preparation for that? Were people in
the town consulted on any of the planning?
Snodgrass: They might have been, but I wouldn't know anything
about it. They just really started to go to town
here. It just about happened overnight.
Dunning: What were the first changes that you saw?
Snodgrass: When they started the shipyards you saw all kinds of
people here. A lot of business. People were working
around the clock and sleeping in the shows, in the
Dunning: Because they had no place to live?
Snodgrass: That's right. They had no place to live. Then they
built the war housing.
Dunning: Where exactly was the war housing?
Snodgrass: It was on the Southside, starting on Ohio, down to
Cutting, and all the way out to Gerrard, and all the
way to Twenty-third Street. Then on the other side
of Cutting they had some more housing too, as I
recall it. But that was all taken up with the
shipyards out there anyway.
Dunning: Did you feel any loss of that small town feeling?
Snodgrass: It didn't take very long, I'll tell you, until you
Dunning: It must have seemed like a whole different city.
Oh, yes. It was a different city. It was nothing
like it used to be at all. That happened very fast.
Schools were crowded, everything was crowded.
Had you already moved to El Cerrito by this time?
I was married in 1938, just at the end of the year,
and we moved to El Cerrito in '39. That was our
first home as a married couple, in El Cerrito.
Dunning: Were you glad that you were out of Richmond?
No. I've never been out of Richmond. I have been
here for years and years. I j u&t happen to live in
El Cerrito. There's no difference between El Cerrito
and Richmond, really.
Dunning: Suddenly, with the shipyards, there were groups of
Midwe sterner s here, and Okies, and blacks from the
South. How did everyone get along?
Snodgrass: Oh, there were a lot of fights and so forth around,
but I can't remember that they didn't get along. The
friendliest people in the world were the Okies and
the Arkies anyway.
Dunning: You hear lots of stereotypes about Okies,
you describe an Okie?
Snodgrass: I don't know how you would describe them. They would
call each other Okies if they wanted to kid a little
bit. "Hey Okie."
Snodgrass: At the ferry we had some Okies and Arkies that were
the salt of the earth, really nice people. The only
thing, in all the time that I was on the ferry, there
was only one black fellow that ever worked there. It
just so happened that there were no black sailors.
This guy was a marine fireman.
Dunning: What about as deckhands, or in the kitchen, or ?
Snodgrass: Never had any.
Dunning: Was that discrimination?
No. The deckhands had to have seaman's papers, and I
don't recall even anybody in the kitchen. We hired
Chinese people, who actually had their own home right
there, because we had a house for them on the dock.
So we never had any black folks out there at all.
Dunning: What about the Asian population pre-World War II?
I've heard that there were a number of Japanese
living in Richmond before the time of internment.
Snodgrass: Yes, we had quite a few Japanese. I remember quite a
few Japanese kids going to school. They came from
San Pablo Avenue and vicinity where there were a lot
of hot houses, and several Japanese nurseries. The
Oishi family, the Saki family. I remember a lot of
kids that went to school with me, and they're still
Dunning: They came back after internment?
Snodgrass: Those that were interned, yes,
Dunning: What about the post-war years during the war years
people had the jobs, so that there was money coming
in, and then right after the war Kaiser shipyards and
fifty-seven other war industries left.
Snodgrass: It got tough. That really changed things around.
Were there visible changes? I'd like to hear your
impression of those times. For an outsider it seems
like the changes would be incredible. I mean, just
Well, I don't remember too much about what happened,
but all of a sudden there were^a lot of people and
not enough jobs to go around. Of course a lot of
people left, too.
Dunning: Where would they go?
I guess back home. But a lot of them stayed here.
There were a lot of black people here then. Of
course, you know that in Richmond the blacks are the
majority now. And there are a lot of other
minorities around here now too.
It's easier for me to remember fifty years ago
than it is to remember twenty-five years ago.
Actually, a number of people do say that.
I can remember a lot of things that happened at the
ferry, but I'm having a hard time right now
remembering just what happened after the war and how
things changed, because 1956 was the end of the ferry
boat days for me. After that, things are harder to
remember than they were before.
Snodgrass: I remember how Richmond was still a nice place and
still had a good downtown and all that, because my
office was down on Tenth Street, across the street
from where the Hotel Don is. Then gradually, when
the redevelopment agency started taking over, the
downtown started going. When Hilltop opened, that
was the death knell for downtown. We're trying to
bring it back now, but not too successfully so far.
Dunning: Was the downtown supposed to be redeveloped?
Snodgrass: That was the plan, yes.
Dunning: This was in the fifties and sixties?
Dunning: And then Hilltop was built in the early seventies?
Snodgrass: I don't remember the dates. I moved out of downtown
in about '68 or '69, I think, right here to this
Dunning: Were the same planners involved with the so-called
renovation of downtown and Hilltop, or were they two
totally different groups?
Snodgrass: Totally different.
Dunning: Who were they? Who was involved in the downtown?
The Hilltop was built by I can't even remember the
name of the people that actually put that thing
together out there. Now Chevron Land is out there
running the show. If you haven't been out there to
look around, it's worthwhile to look at.
Dunning: I have. There's quite a bit happening. Do you think
there can be a thriving Hilltop Mall and a thriving
I think that the downtown would come back never to
like it was before, but it would come back if we
could get one big building started, like the Camino
West that they're working on now.
Is that a residence?
No. That would be an office building. If you got
the one building started, maybe that would be the
thing that would trigger a come back. It'll never
come back all the way like it was before though.
Dunning: I heard that there were three or four movie theaters
right in downtown.
I think it was one, two, three downtown. The old Fox
Theater is still downtown, I mean the building is
there. Maybe they tore it down the other day.
Dunning: What about the development on the waterfront, like
Marina Bay? There seems to be quite a few empty
condos at this point.
Snodgrass: Yes, they've had a problem selling those condos. I
know the bank is taking it over now r and they've got
some kind of a sales program going on out there to
try to sell land. I think they've still got over a
hundred of them to sell.
Dunning: Do you have any notions of why it's so difficult?
Snodgrass: I have a lot of notions about a lot of things around
here now, because that's part o. my job, but I don't
have any notions I want to put on that tape.
Dunning: That's it. I feel like you're holding out.
Dunning: You will have a chance to read over your transcript
and take out anything.
Snodgrass: Yes, I know, but there's some things you just really
don't talk about on tape.
Dunning: I'm just looking for the fullest story.
Snodgrass: I know, but there's probably a 1 ot of difference of
opinion about what the problem in Richmond is.
Dunning: Well, I hoped to document that difference of opinion
too. Thank you for telling me what you could. If at
a later time, some things come to mind that you want
to record, please feel free to call me.
San Francisco Chronicle, 17 September
Golf and 12- SI ice Toasters
BYHARRE W. DEMORO
ef ore the great bridges were
built, the world's largest fer
ryboat fleet sailed San Fran
Since 1850, when the little Kan
garoo inaugurated San Francisco-
Oakland steamer service, about 110
ferries have worked the Bay, in
cluding the small fleet running to
More than 60 million passen
gers and 7 million motor vehicles
rode the ferries in 1930, the peak
The largest system/operated by
Southern Pacific Golden Gate Fer
ries Ltd., had 27 automobile-carry
ing boats on seven routes in 1930.
SPGG ferries ran from San
Francisco's Hyde Street terminal to
Sausalito and Berkeley, and from
the Ferry Building to Alameda,
Oakland, Richmond and Vallejo.
Southern Pacific also ran huge
paddle-driven passenger-only fer
ries from the Ferry Building in San
Francisco to piers in Oakland and
Alameda, where they met a net
work of red-colored electric com
SP subsidiary Northwestern
Pacific Railroad operated ferries
decorated with a huge redwood
tree painted on their paddle-wheel
boxes. NWP boats steamed from the
Ferry Building to Sausalito, where
commuters boarded electric trains
for Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Fair
fax and San Rafael.
There also was the Six-Minute
Ferry from Crockett to Morrow
Cove and the Nickel Ferry between
Oakland's First and Broadway and
the Ferry Building, which opened
in 1898 and was one of the busiest
terminals in the world until the
So many ferries jammed the
Bay that when the fog was thick,
the boats ran at 40-minute intervals
rather than the usual 20 minutes to
minimize the risk of collision.
CJOliirj 1 ;.4>., uoui SCfletlUlfcS
called for commuter boat depar
tures every 15 minutes. Automo
bile-carrying ferries departed as
soon as they were filled with vehi
cles when travel was heavy on
weekends and holidays.
Almost every ferry had a dis
tinctive-sounding whistle so cap
tains navigating without radio or
radar could find their way across
the fog-shrouded Bay by listening
for familiar sounds and echoes.
SP and its subsidiaries painted
their ferries white for visibility in
the fog. But the upstart Key System,
formed in 1903 to challenge the SP's
monopoly of East Bay commuter
service, put the same orange on its
ferries as it did on the electric trains
that met the boats at a terminal at
the end of a wooden trestle near
Yerba Buena Island.
To soothe the nerves of com
muters, Key put potted palms in
upper deck passenger cabins. For
years, the Key System's Christmas
parties on the ferries were spectac
ular and the company president, Al
fred J. Lundberg, would dress up as
The Alameda-San Francisco
ferry was a political and social insti
tution because the island city was
small and its power structure close-
knit. For decades, Alamedans of
any importance rode the same boat
each morning and Chamber of Com
merce and City Hall, business was
conducted over coffee and dough
Occasionally, an Alameda fer
ry's lower deck was rearranged so
commuters could drive golf balls
into the Bay, allowing commuters to
practice before tournaments at the
city-owned links on Bay Farm Is
Richmond-San Rafael ferries
had slot machines and were painted
a bright red and displayed a chain
symbol to emphasize the transbay
link. Before it merged into the
Southern Pacific system, the Gold
en Gate Ferry Co. painted its boats
Ferries had a transbay trans
portation monopoly. During the
week they carried commuters and
on weekends and holidays the boats
were gateways to recreation.
Northwestern Pacific ferries
and connecting electric trains at
Sausalito took pleasure-seekers to
the steam railroad that ascended
Mount Tamalpais from Mill Valley.
NWP steam trains rolled along To-
males Bay en route to Duncan's
Mills and Cazadero and rolled
through the redwood country to Eu
reka. For many years the NWP
steam train was the only route to
the Russian River.
The San Francisco-Vallejo
"Monticello Line" ferry carried au
tomobiles to Vallejo, the entrance to
the Napa Valley. But a rider didn't
need an automobile. He or she could
walk a few steps from the Vallejo
ferry dock to the electric trains of
the San Francisco & Napa Valley
Railroad, which ran to Napa and
terminated near the geysers at Cal-
Zepheniah Jefferson Hatch was
so enthusiastic about his Monticello
Steamship Co. that he named one of
his sons, who became the Vallejo
ferry's lawyer, C. Ferry Hatch.
Besides connecting with elec
tric trains for Oakland, Berkeley
and Piedmont, Key System ferries
also met the swift electric interur-
bans of the Sacramento Northern
Railway, which ran to Walnut
Creek, Pittsburg, Sacramento,
Marysville, Yuba City and Chico.
Graybeards generally agree
that the best ferry food was on the
Key System boats although SP retal
iated with fare prepared by its rail
road dining car chefs.
Since the Key System ferry
crossing took only 18 minutes, wait
ers had to be prompt and passen
gers chewed quickly. The most pop
ular Key System dish was corned
beef hash concocted from a secret '
recipe (forgotten today) and served*
on genuine china service with a cup
of coffee brewed from a blend
made especially for the Key System!
by MJB. A total of 121,162 orders of;
the famous hash were consumed
Some Key ferries had electric
toasters that could toast 12 slices o
bread at once. Commuters consid-;
ered that to be a culinary and elec j .
trical wonder of the age.
The ferries were too successful)
they generated so much business
they made bridges financially possii
ble. But in most cases, the boats;
hung on for a little while after the;
bridges opened, often because ferry;
fares were lower than bridge tolls
and employees hoped they could!
survive until they qualified for pen-;
The first major ferry abandon-;
ments occurred in 1937 and 1938,'
when Hyde Street-Sausalito* and!
Hyde Street-Berkeley runs weife dis-J
continued along with service from;
the Ferry Building to Richmond^
Vallejo and Oakland-First ^and;
Broadway. SP and Key Systenwlibm-!
muter ferries to the East Bay tyere!
abandoned in 1939 when theircon-;
necting electric trains switched to;
the new Bay Bridge tracks.
Alameda auto ferry service..was;
discontinued in 1939 and the Oak-;
land-San Francisco automobile ser-;
vice, the last to be operated by the!
once huge Southern Pacific Golden!
Gate system that was now bank-',
rupt, was discontinued on May; 16,;
1940. , . ;
Then on March 1, 1941, the com
muter service to Sausalito wa&dis-
continued and the electric trains re-',
placed by buses. ,., .'
SP kept a passenger-only ferry;
run until 1958 from San Francisco;
and Oakland to handle baggage,;
mail and passengers for its trans-,
continental trains. RichmondrSan'.
Rafael boats were abandoned in;
1956 when the new bridge opened-
and in 1962, the last of the automo
bile-carrying ferry routes, was re
placed by the Martinez-Benicia,
AUUougVi Uie in*!,. U aUrau^aV
ferryboat disappeared from the bay
in 1958, the Ferry Building was bt
without ferries for long. The first
new ferries to appear were Wttdst
boats operated by a Crowley Maflj
time subsidiary to Tiburon. Wfcen-e
strike temporarily shut dowiime
Crowley boats in 1970, the Golden
Gate Bridge, Highway and
portation District took over
vice temporarily. In the same
the bridge district bought the Go
en Gate, a rebuilt San Diego tour!
boat, for Sausalito service. ""*_"*
Then in 1977, three gas-lur-
bine-powered (since rebuilt wttb
diesel power) ferries inaugurate*
San Francisfio-Larkspur service-ua*
der the flag of the district.
However, the longest-livedifeiv.
ry line was one almost nobody knew,
about the Valle jo-Mare Island.
run. Service began in 1851, two
years before the Mare Island Naval
Yard was established to repaic.
wooden sailing ships.
Standard steam-driven ferry*
boats made the run until after*
World War II. Last month, the small:
diesel-powered launches that shot-^
back and forth on the bayV
ferry route, suspended- ser--
Kay 27, 1986
of industry to step down
By Lynn ft/defer
RICHMOND -r Friends call M.M. Snodgrass "Tub
by," but to most people he is "Mr. Industry."
Snod grass is the first and only executive director of
the Council of Richmond Industries, formed in 1965 to
promote the interests of refineries and smokestack in
dustries lining the waterfront.
Every Monday night Snodgrass takes the same seat
at city council meetings back row, far left Only illness
keeps him away.
He never speaks, he's there to observe and report
back to industrial leaders.
But his stolid presence is a visual reminder of indus
try's influence. ,- ; -
Jnodgrass, 74, will resign his post at the end of the
year, ihe square-jawed, /plain-talking lobbyist has been
^increasingly troubled by -chest ailments in recent months.
It 4s time to slow down, Snodgrass reflected.
It is also a time of shifting power. The resignation of
tee man wno was the voice of
Richmond industry lor more
than a quarter century symboliz
es to many political observers a
changing in the guard.
The 32-member Council of
Richmond Industries has seen its'
Fewer workers in the heavy
industries lining the waterfront
live and vote here.
And as development gobbles -
"Up shoreline around the Bay,.
Richmond's waterfront property
Becomes increasingly desirable
to commercial and residential
Industry lost two key battles
*o waterfront interests last year.
first, the City Council defeated
ina 3-2 vote a proposed expan
SJpn Of a Petromark tank stor-
depot. Located on the posh
t Richmond waterfront, the
ik farm is a tantalizing spot
Sr housing and retail develop
Then commercial developers
^>ent heavily in the 1$85 elec--
tjpns to defeat the two council
members who supported the
This is not a forewarning that
industry will disappear, only
ttiat it has to live with new de
velopment, observers say.
Snodgrass was philosophical
a%out the recent defeats during
4n interview in his modest Mac-
otnald Avenue office where he
alone, without even a sec-,
s is not the first time we
election. But things will
ut after a while. And I'd
s*y this council is not against
?y had to be real careful to
icted," Snodgrass contin-
Sveryone is so concerned
Iout the environment these
ys, about toxics," he said.
"Once candidates are elected
atad sit on the other side of the
cJBuncil table for awhile, they
Sfert to see things differently."
. Marion Myers .Snodgrass.
( with a name like that, it's no
vaonder most people preferred
Ipbby") was born in Blackfoot,
toaho. When he was 12 years old
h* moved here with his family.*
flls father opened a variety store
oft Macdonald Avenue and Sixth
Before graduating from Rich-
rfond High School, Snodgrass
hd started working on the Rich-
rtwnd-San Rafael ferries as a
dshwasher and a cook. He
naoved up in the business until he
tfecame a superintendent, a job
h* held until Oct. 30, 1956 when
tte new bridge made the ferries
Two years before, Snodgrass
hud set up a public relations
Itasiness. He worked both jobs,
^terting at 4:30 a.m. and not fin-
irtiing until after the gavel had
i?tn down on late-night council
and advisory commission meet
From the start, most of his
clients were industries and as-
piring City Council candidates.
He is proud of the years he spent
directing the local United Cru
sade charitable fund-raising
Interestingly, while building
his reputation in industry and at
City Hall, his brother, Woodrow
Wilson Snodgrass, was gaining
-influence in Richmond schools.
First a teacher at Roosevelt
Junior High, W.W. Snodgrass
eventually became superintend
ent of the Richmond Unified Dis
trict, and still negotiates teacher
contracts for the district.
Tubby Snodgrass works best
behind the scenes. He seldom al
lows himself to be quoted in the
news. It is even more unusual for
him to speak during public meet
In part, his success was based
on strong personal ties with the
top men in business, politics and
newspapers. Equally important,
Snodgrass made sure to know
what was going on. He read and
clipped newspapers, attended all
meetings and traded informa
tion with those in power.
Writing press releases was
hardly necessary when Snod
grass started his days with
morning coffee with Chick Rich
ards, the late editor of the Rich
mond Independent. The now-de
funct Independent was "the Bi
ble" as Snodgrass fondly recalls.
He phoned and met with indi
vidual council members regular
ly, slipping in information about
industry's stance on the latest
city proposal during comforta
ble conversations about families
He was especially close to the
late Mayor Tom Corcoran, who
died last summer.
"People criticize me for talk
ing to Tommy (Corcoran) every
day. But he was a friend of mine,
not just the mayor," said Snod
grass. "We'd discuss a lot of
things, hash things over."
In Richmond, if you wanted to
run for office, if you wanted to
learn about industry's position
on any subject, you went to Snod
"There's no question about it.
If you wanted to reach an indus
try, particularly an oil company,
you had to talk to Tubby," said
Bert Cof fey, a Democratic Party
leader who has helped put sever
al Contra Costa politicians into
"It was always wise to talk to
him before deciding to run for
office," said Don Greco, a two-
terjm Richmond council member
who lost his seat last year.
"He knew who was running.
He knew what kind of backing
candidates had. He could tell you
Whether you would be wasting
your time," Greco said.
For instance, Snodgrass cor
rectly predicted a defeat when
Greco made an unsuccessful bid
for the Brookside Hospital
Board of Directors.
Greco also worked on the
campaigns of Council members
John Ziesenhenne and Lonnie
Washington, former Council
member John Sheridan and
former Supervisor James Ken
Snodgrass does not believe
that candidates owe him favors
after they are elected.
II always told them that I did
not want to own them. I just
watat the right to talk with
them," Snodgrass asserted.
He downplays the notion that
industry used to control Rich
"I know it sounds corny but
industries are not interested in
running the city. All they are in
terested in is a fair shake and
Snodgrass has agreed to see
the industrial council through an
It will become a regional or
ganization, changing its name to
the Council of Industries of West
Snodgrass envisions all the re
fineries and heavy industries
along the waterfront up through
the C&H sugar plant in Crockett
It will strengthen industry's
hand with the numerous regional
agencies that now exert control
such as the Bay Area Conserva
tion and Development Commis
sion and the Regional Water
Quality Control Board, said
He is not disappointed that he
will not be part of the move.
"It's kind of a relief. For years
I've been trying to keep close
tabs on what happens. Now I can
go home at 4 p.m. and relax."
Although Snodgrass happily
describes plans to spend more
time with his wife, Marie, in
their El Cerrito home, he is
tight-lipped as ever about cur
His public relations practice
will continue. But the identity of
his clients will remain a private
matter between Snodgrass and
those who pay him.
Judith K. Dunning
Interviewer/Editor Regional Oral History Office since 1982.
Specialty in community and labor history.
Project Director, "On the Waterfront: An Oral History of
Previous oral history projects: Three Generations of Italian
Women in Boston's North End; World War I and II shipyard workers
at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston; and Textile mill workers in
Photography exhibitions: "Lowell: A Community of Workers,"
Lowell, MA 1981-1984 (travelling).
Fishermen by Trade: On San Francisco Bay with the Ghio Brothers"
Richmond Museum, 1988.
Play: "Boomtown" based on the oral histories of shipyard
workers, produced by San Francisco Tale Spinners Theater, 1989.
Member Richmond Arts Commission, 1988-1990.
Currently adapting Richmond community oral histories into large
print books for California adult literacy programs.