Sidewalk maker: Gene Tribuzio

December 2, 2016

Gaetano “Gene” Tribuzio was born 3 July 1889, in Bari, to Francesco Tribuzio and Isabella Siciliano. The Italian records give his birthplace as Mola di Bari, a seaside village east of the port of Bari, but the family and the U.S. immigration records say he was born in Acquaviva delle Fonti. He emigrated to America with his brother Nicola (see Nick Tribuzio), leaving two brothers behind and entering the U.S. on 6 March 1913.

Nick and Gaetano operated briefly as the Tribuzio Brothers, which I mentioned in my post about Nick. The 1926 directory lists him as “Guy,” living with his wife Mary (born Maria Cerimele) at 425 Market Street. Soon Guy, or Gene as he later called himself, was working on his own. His earliest surviving sidewalk stamp in Oakland is from 1928.


In the early years he would often stamp the month underneath the mark.


After 1936, he filed the address off his stamp and continued to use it into the 1950s. Presumably that’s when he moved to 3706 Porter Street. (If I ever get over that way and the house is still there, I’ll take a photo and stick it here.)


This hand-drawn mark from 1940 shows a hint of his style. Notice that he misspelled his name Tribuzzio.


The Tribuzios had six children, five sons and a daughter. The 1940 census records list the couple as “Gene” and “Mary” along with their children, living at 3706 Porter Street.

Some of the sons joined Gene as “G. Tribuzio & Sons.” I’ve recorded marks with that name, all of them hand-drawn, from 1948 to 1955. Solo “G. Tribuzio” stamped marks survive in Oakland up to 1954.


He was the most prolific Tribuzio, and he left his work all over this city.

Gaetano Tribuzio died 9 October 1974. Various of his descendants have left comments on this site over the years, and I greatly appreciate their personal information.

Special marks: “Master Concrete” holders II

November 25, 2016

Lately I’ve found two more examples of “Master Concrete” bugs that I can add to the list. Gene Tribuzio was the holder of number 1, and there must be a story behind that.


And Angelo Marin held number 5.


Here are the other ones I’ve documented. Between numbers 1 and 18, I’m now missing 3, 9, 10, 13 and 15. There may be more beyond 18. Must keep eyes peeled.

Sidewalk maker: Nick Tribuzio

November 18, 2016

Nicola F. “Nick” Tribuzio was born in the city of Bari, Italy, in 1894 and emigrated to the United States in 1913. He served in World War I as an Army private. While stationed in England, he met and married his first wife Marian, and they had two sons, Francis and Philip.

As of 1925, he was listed in the business directory as part of the Tribuzio Brothers.


There were two Tribuzio brothers, Nick and Gene (Gaetano). More about Gene some other time. Tribuzio Brothers marks are very rare in Oakland, and I’ve documented examples only from 1925 and 1926. Nick lived at 355 Adeline.

By 1927 Nick was living at 7518 Weld Street and producing sidewalks under his own name.


By 1930 his phone number had changed. It would change again before the decade was out.


After 1931 there are no examples of this mark left in Oakland, but Nick left several hand-drawn marks in 1937-39. He was a widower by this time, and listed as such in the 1940 census. By 1941 he had acquired a new stamp that bore his full name.


This is the only year I’ve found with this mark in Oakland.

In World War II he enlisted again and served as a Seabee (naval construction). He married Marylyn O’Brien in 1946 and moved to Castro Valley, where he became a beloved character, wearing various costumes in town parades. At this point in time his record in Oakland ends, presumably because there was plenty of work in his new home town. I’d love to see examples of his mark from down there.

Nick Tribuzio died in 1971 and is buried in Lone Tree Cemetery, Hayward.

Sidewalk makers: The DeGuardas

November 11, 2016

Three generations of DeGuardas have built sidewalks in Oakland and elsewhere in the Bay Area. It all began with Salvatore P. Guardalibeni (1884-1977), who immigrated from Italy in 1910. The family name is also commonly spelled Guardalabene, Guardalibena, etc. He married Mamie in 1910 and they had their five children (Marino, Leonard, Theresa, Salvatore and Marie) in New Jersey between 1913 and 1922.

“Salvatore DeGuarda” shows up in directories from 1923 to 1928 living at 1363 88th Avenue. Over the years he was listed as a contractor, a laborer, a builder, and a cement worker. His earliest surviving mark in Oakland is from 1926.


Several undated marks in East Oakland must date from this period. The majority of surviving marks are of this elegant design.


The 1930 and 1933 directories listed Salvatore and Mamie at 1801 34th Avenue. As of 1934 they were living at 2918 E. 16th Street.

The next date found in Oakland is 1938, on a stamp without the address, just the name “S. De Guarda.” Other undated examples must also date from the 1930s. Salvatore and Mamie were living at 2175 38th Avenue that year along with Leonard, Marino and Theresa, although a newspaper story from that year puts Leonard at 1175 38th Avenue.


As of 1940, Salvatore lived with Mamie at 1636 36th Avenue, while in 1941 Leonard and Elva lived at 1725 E. 21st Street (listed as a salesman for Diamond Dairy).

Salvatore Anthony DeGuarda the son (1920-2012) had a storied life, starting as a swimmer (along with Esther Williams) in Billy Rose‘s Aquacade at the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island. He was also the model for the swimmer in white in Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity mural, made at the World’s Fair. A stint as a movie stuntman followed. He was for a time an associate of Mae West, appearing in one or more of her films under the name John Dexter.

Sal took over the family business in 1955, so it must have been he who drew this mark in 1956. The 1967 directory lists a “Saml De Guarda” at 3321 E. 16th Street.


Sal and his son Rocky carried on the family business together, moving it to San Francisco where it is fondly remembered on Yelp. However, neither of them used a sidewalk stamp, and more’s the pity.

Late in life, Sal Jr. adopted the mission of recreating the iconic Goddess of Pacific Unity statue from the World’s Fair.

Salvatore’s other son Leonard DeGuarda (1915-1960) had a shorter career, ending in 1938. His business address, at 4040 Quigley Street, appears to have been wiped out by construction of the 580 freeway. A small apartment building sits there today.


I thank members of the DeGuarda family for their help and memories.

The Piedmont streetscape

November 4, 2016

I’ve taken some walks through the beautiful city of Piedmont recently, getting a preliminary handle on its geology, and if you’re a fit person this is a fun walking town. There are some notable things about the sidewalks that appear to apply to the whole town, or at least around its main axis.

For one thing, all the work is of high quality, although for some reason the concrete is usually tinted. In Oakland, only in the Havenscourt neighborhood are the sidewalks tinted so consistently.


The pink kind of clashes with all the green — and I must say that unlike every single neighborhood in Oakland, hills and flats, the residents aren’t making much visible effort to save water in their landscaping.

The mature street trees have heaved up the sidewalks everywhere, so they have to be beveled fairly seriously. That helps prevent pedestrian injuries, even though walkers are pretty thin on the ground. Renewing these sidewalks will be a major civic project, but I’m sure Piedmont will do the job right to preserve the town’s valuable character.


The district east of La Salle Avenue has an impressive sidewalk design that involves a golden tinted concrete, consistent scoring and nice inset tiles. I’d like to know more about that.


Finally, only the best cement contractors were hired. Just a few different guys, all major.



This Prentice & Kaiser mark at 223 Mountain Avenue is pristine, so I had to include it.


And this A. Casqueiro mark at 107 Estates Drive has an unusual configuration, so it gets included too.


The work dates from the 1920s and 1930s, the high-water mark of Oakland’s sidewalk contractor community.

Sidewalk makers: Walter and Glenn Pool

October 28, 2016

Walter B[yrd] Pool was born in 1864 in Windsor, Sonoma County, the son of Henry J. Pool, who had emigrated to California from Missouri. Although two of his brothers stayed in Windsor their whole lives, as of 1908 Walter was living in Oakland with his second wife, the former Meta Lehmkuhl (1879-1966), and their son Glenn at 674 E. 23rd Avenue. The following year they moved to a new home at 3221 Lorenzo Street and soon gained a daughter, Roma. He died in 1933 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

The oldest Pool mark I have is a “Pool-Lee” stamp from 1920, probably a collaboration with James B. Lee.


Another Pool-Lee mark dates from 1925, but Walter Pool was also working solo as “Pool” and “W. Pool.” He appears to have made his marks by hand with the edges of his tools. The results were striking and always varied. Here are some of my favorites.




From 1928 to 1930 he used a large stamp that used the name “W. B. Pool.”


Finally, from 1931 I have a single example of a stamp (actually, more of a painted mark) acknowledging his son Glenn and giving the family’s address. Walter also left behind some “Pool” marks from this year.


Glenn W. Pool (1905-1984) carried on in the trade at the same address, where he lived until 1935 with his mother and his wife Edith (1908-1986). Here’s the house at 3221 Lorenzo today.


Curiously, he was listed in the 1934 directory as “W. Glenn Pool,” perhaps so his late father’s customers could find him.

Whereas most of Walter Pool’s work is preserved in middle East Oakland around Allendale and Seminary, Glenn is represented all over Oakland.

Glenn Pool did his job with a subtler flair than his father. His earliest surviving marks are from 1938, at which time he lived, with his wife Edith (1908-1986), in Alameda at 1064 Central Avenue. At that time he displayed a sure hand but little style.


Soon enough, though, he arrived at his mature signature.


This is the mark, always hand-signed, that he employed through the war years and into the 1950s.

My latest example of his mark is from 1952.

The 1940 census listed Glenn, Edith, and Glenn’s mother Meta living at 2610 Grande Vista Avenue, but at the time of their deaths Glenn and Edith were living in Concord.

Vestiges of Western Union 2

October 21, 2016


Another variant of the Western Union utility-hole lid, at 14th and Broadway. (Here’s the first.) There’s always something new to see, no matter where you are.