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June 18, 2008 > History: This Month in Hayward - June 1898

History: This Month in Hayward - June 1898

By Heather Mellon

As the summer heat hits, it is easy to become nostalgic and reflective. What did we do last summer? For that matter, what did people do during the summer 110 years ago? By looking back at old editions of the Hayward Journal we can see that as different as life was in 1898, in some ways it was very similar to how life is today.

In 1898, just as in 2008, students were celebrating graduation and the beginning of summer. Parties and receptions were held for graduates, such as a reception for Miss Jennie Cahill who graduated from the University of California (now known as UC Berkeley) and a reception held for Union High School No. 3 at the Native Sons of the Golden West Hall. The Native Sons Hall was a popular place to hold events in Hayward, and was located on the corner of C and Main Streets, where a fire station is now located.

With the warmer summer weather, everyone was ready to go out and have some fun. Various social clubs held picnics, such as the Azalea Social Club and the Thyra Lodge, Society Danica. Card parties were held at Haywards Hotel, with people gathering to play the popular card game at the time, euchre. Musical entertainment by the Haywards Quartette livened up a surprise party for a Mr. J. Ghiradelli at his summer cottage adjoining Haywards Hotel. Longer days mean more time to play in the evenings, and according to the newspaper, "young people" were out enjoying themselves with the entertainment of the times - horseback riding.

June is also sandwiched by two major holidays: Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Memorial Day began as a holiday after the Civil War as a way to honor those who died. It was officially proclaimed a holiday in 1868 by General John Logan, a national commander for the Grand Army of the Republic. Memorial Day became a widely celebrated holiday throughout the United States by 1890, and in Hayward, Memorial Day was celebrated through parades and visits by veterans to cemeteries. The Fourth of July was also widely celebrated in Hayward, with the Haywards Athletic Club planning a huge Field Day of Sports to be held on the Haywards Athletic Club grounds. Scheduled for the day was a hose race contest between San Leandro and Haywards firemen, a "battle of the giants" of baseball between the Haywards Fats and the County Officials, and other various sporting events. Admission was 25 cents and only 10 cents for ladies.

In those days, the major national news event of the time was the Spanish-American war which began in April 1898 with the Cuban fight for independence from Spain. The United States sent a ship, the USS Maine, to Cuba to protect its own interests. The ship was sunk by a mysterious explosion in Havana Harbor. Two hundred and sixty-six Americans died, and the ship became a rallying cry for the Americans. The explosion of the USS Maine led to fighting between the United States and Spain at Spanish colonies throughout the world, particularly the Philippines. Men from Hayward were volunteering to join US troops fighting in the Philippines, an event which was highlighted in the newspapers regularly, with headlines such as "Our Boys Going to the Front to Defend the Old Flag." Local Hayward resident Ivy Wandesforde Kersey even wrote a song, the "Battle Hymn in Memory of the Maine."

The Haywards Red Cross Society, established in June 1898, worked hard to support the troops fighting in the Philippines. They held benefits to raise money, including one at the Native Sons Hall where they charged 25 cent admission and provided ice cream and other refreshments. That particular benefit raised $75 for the Red Cross Society. Throughout the month of June, the Haywards Red Cross Society gathered almost $140 in donations, 326 bandages, and almost 650 comfort bags.

Looking back at old newspapers can also help us appreciate the change in prices from 1898 to today. In 1898, a five room house on B Street was listed as for sale at $1400. Dresses could be made by Mrs. John Silva, the oldest established dressmaker in Haywards, for five dollars and up. The Haywards postmaster's salary was set at $1500. Bargains were available at M. Magnes' store, with coffee for sale at twenty cents a package, and sugar cured ham at ten cents a pound.

While reading old issues of the Hayward Journal is fun, it can also tell us what has changed and stayed the same in Hayward over many years. As we go on vacation or just enjoy the beautiful summer weather, it is nice to know that some things do not change.


Heather Mellon is the Assistant Archivist for the Hayward Area Historical Society. To learn more about Hayward's diverse history, visit the Downtown Museum at 22701 Main St. in Hayward. For more information on current exhibits and programs, visit their website at www.haywardareahistory.org.

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