Good times in Oakland

Perusing Flickr today I was delighted to see this photo from one of my contacts:

click photo for source

That was my view upon walking out of my apartment in Oakland for two years starting in 1996 or so. This iconic coin laundry is located at the corner of Telegraph in 59th in what was optimistically advertised as "Lower Rockridge" when we looked at the listing. It probably is better described as "Upper Temescal" now. I spent many a quarter there at the 'lectric washouse. The manager was a mailman and he would often be there late at night sweeping the floors and collecting quarters in his US postal service duds. I think it was open all night.

I spent the first year in that house frantically riding a couple miles up Telegraph to campus to TA 8am labs. The second year I spent frantically riding down Telegraph, around Lake Merrit and down through the flats to my job at a foundry near the Oakland Coliseum. It was at that corner that I lived with the first of the epically round cats in my life, mighty Cymba.

Anyhow, it was a nice 10 minute walk to the Rockridge Bart and the glories of North Oakland's eating and coffee, so it was a pretty nice place to live, if on the transition to weirder and worse neighborhoods. Our upper flat was burgled once by an athletic burgler who shimmied up the side of the deck, through a unlocked window and cleaned us out of our meager valuables. We kept the bikes heavily locked up in a detached garage, so no worries there. I think 75% of the residents in the house had their car stolen in the 2.5 years I was there. The JW temple on the back side of the house meant that the streets were usually well swept, but the well muraled but very cheap apartments next door resulted in many disturbing overheard conversations often escalating to police involvement, the most memorable being an argument that left a very tall older man with a pair of scissors inserted in his leg. These were the post-crack-wars dotcom boom salad years in Oakland, so I thought living there was interesting but relatively safe, I can't say what it is like as a neighborhood now. I would guess now that Temescal is super hip, the neighborhood should be even better, but I don't really know.

Just on the other side of 59th from the washouse 'lectric was Williams liquor, whose liquor I never remember buying as they did not really cater to the microbrew set, more to the cheap hard liquor in tiny bottles set. They did however sell some adequate to excellent ice cream sandwiches, depending on how hot it was. It was disturbingly difficult to get fresh ice cream sandwiches in oakland, but a few places had enough turnover on the stock to make it worthwhile, william's was one of these. They also had the nice blinky heart sign, which in my memory never really was firing on all cylinders. According to adventurous friends who grew up in Oakland, they would sell liquor to underage women with low cut shirts, guaranteed. Finally, I do not have fond memories of the deli part of Williams.

click photo for source

Big thanks to Todd of Telstar Logistics for snapping these pics.


James Black said...

You're giving me nostalgia for a place where I have never lived.

wildtomato said...

We still pass through the old hood on occasion, and we still exclaim, "Look, it's the Electric Crackhouse!" everytime we drive by.

Jonny Hamachi said...

We prefer to call it Bushrod now and it's still a Goodtime. We've been at 57th and Dover for the last 12 years.

Tarik Saleh said...

You are welcome,

I have passed through there a few times in the last 5 years or so, but did not go inside it or williams. I thought we called it the lectric washole...Say hey to Perwrenchy

Bushrod! I had no recollection that that was the Park's name at all. I like the name, it seems like it is on the wrong side of telegraph for rockridge and the wrong side of the freeway for temescal. Dover is a good biking cross cut betwixt telegraph and shatsuke there. I moved from there to 40th and San Leandro down in fruitvale on the tracks. That was a much worse neighborhood honestly. A lot less street traffic and alot more vagrants and open dealing at the time...