Archive for the ‘Profiles’ Category

Sidewalk maker: Charles A. Peterson

January 27, 2017

C. A. Peterson left his mark over much of Oakland, using a stamp that showed his address at 3908 Maybelle Avenue, above the Laurel district.


The name is far too common for me to learn anything from the usual genealogy sources. All I know is what I’ve gleaned from the local business directories.

Charles A. Peterson first appeared in the 1906 directory as a cement worker at 1743 Blake Street, Berkeley. In 1907 he had the same address, along with Alfred, Arthur and George. In 1908 only he and Alfred were left. In 1909 he was listed at 96 Maybelle Avenue in Oakland, and in 1910 he was at 92 Maybelle. Presumably the house numbers changed when the area was annexed to Oakland, and from 1912 to 1925 his address remained 3908 Maybelle. This is the house at that address.


It has two nice strikes of his stamp on the sidewalk out front.

As of 1925, the directory showed that he had a wife, Adelle.

The 1928 and 1930 directories listed him as a rigger, at 3922 Maybelle. And after that I know nothing.

Sidewalk maker: Angelo C. Sposeto

January 6, 2017

Angelo Charles Sposeto was born in Pennsylvania in 1912, the son of Italian immigrants Dominic (formerly Domenico Esposito) and Frances (formerly Francesca Valenti) Sposeto. The family moved to Des Moines, Iowa the same year, and little Angelo grew up in the bootlegging business, eventually running nightclubs there. He met and married Mary Jaquinto (formerly Iaquinta) in 1931. The 1940 census records him in Des Moines, Iowa, with four children, the youngest age 1. He was recorded as looking for work. The family records say that he was looking for a way out of the Mafia life he was born to.

They came to California in 1941 and lived in Albany and El Cerrito at first. There Angelo invented a concrete mix he named Marblecrete. It was used in his Rainbow Carwash at MacArthur and Broadway. His son Dominic, an attorney, has recorded a wealth of the family’s history in a book he is now giving away free. I have relied on it for these details.

His work on Oakland sidewalks is scarce and scattered. An Oakland Tribune item mentions him as a concrete contractor in 1946. The earliest sidewalk mark I have of his is from 1947, showing that he was a member of Local 594 of the OPCFIA at the time.


The records of the Berkeley School Board show that in 1956, he was awarded a contract to install a retaining wall and drainage system on the Berkeley High athletic field.

Later in the 1950s, he acquired a proper concrete stamp.


The only other date I have is 1963, drawn by hand inside the barrel-shaped mark.

The 1967 business directory listed Sposeto’s business at 9300 G Street, while Angelo and Mary lived at 2655 Wallace Street, a curious little road across 14th Avenue from Highland Hospital.

Angelo died in 1975, age 62, and is buried in Lafayette at Queen of Heaven Cemetery. He and Mary Sposeto had five children; with the death of son Frank Albert last week, only Dominic survives today. Frank worked for his father’s firm after serving in the military, and I’m sure he could have shared some stories about his dad and the streets of Oakland.

Sidewalk maker: Manuel Medis

December 30, 2016

Manuel D. Medis was born in Massachusetts to Manuel Medis, a Portuguese immigrant, and his wife Ella, a local of Portuguese descent, on 17 September 1895. He was the oldest of four children when the family moved to Oakland, where they were counted in the 1910 census. He served in the military during the first world war, after which he married an Ohio girl named Sylvia Mae Quickle.

Medis got into the concrete business right away. He was listed in the 1922 directory at 3806 Hopkins, in the Laurel district. As of 1924 he and Sylvia were living at 2427 Scenic Avenue, where they stayed the rest of their lives. The house is a typical working-class dwelling, though it’s been added on to since the 1960s.


In the 1925 directory he was listed as part of a team, “Medis and Rose,” with an older cement worker named Manuel Rose. No marks from that pair survive, and they may not have used a stamp. Be that as it may, Medis the solo practitioner left his stamp on sidewalks all over Oakland. It never changed.


I’ve documented examples dating from 1927 to 1940.


I don’t know much much longer he practiced, but he was listed in the 1941 directory. He would have been in his mid-forties.

Manuel Medis died in 1954, and Sylvia stayed on at the Scenic Avenue house until her death in 1968. They seem to have been childless, but perhaps his three sisters stayed in town and supplied them with nieces and nephews. He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery next to Sylvia.

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.

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.

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.