I found the house Sue Villiani and I lived in on Bella Vista in 1968. There was a little balcony outside our bedroom. It was very romantic. Our landlady took the painting I did on 13th. Street for back payment of rent. I was living with the Loading Zone when I painted it. We paid $250.00 a month and owed her two months. It was a very celestial seascape of McClure’s Beach. The Broderick-Stuttmeister home was a couple of blocks away were the Presco family dwelt for a year. We walked down Bella Vista to go to Bella Vista School. This house may have been one of the cottages built by Francis Marion Smith. Gertrude Stein lived four blocks away on 13th. Avenue. My grandparents must have known the Stein family. Did Gertrude attend the functions at Arbor Villa?
We bought a 1942 Ford from a older woman in Berkeley who looked a Beat. To see it parked in front of our abode, took you back. It cost a hundred dollars.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, notable writer and art collector Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) lived in Oakland from 1880-1891. Their first year in The O, Stein and her family stayed in the Tubbs Hotel before moving to their farmhouse, which was located at what is now the intersection of 13th Avenue and East 25th Street. 1 Arriving at the age of 6, Stein moved to Baltimore (aka the East Coast’s Oakland 2) when she was 17, following the death of her parents. 3
“No ‘What’ Where”?!
Ohhh snap. And just when everything was cooling out, she had to go and make the biggest dis ever against Tha Town … or did she?
What was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.
—from Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), Ch. 4
Ouch. One shudders to think what she must’ve thought of Pittsburgh …! (And by the way, before anyone asks: yes, the above is just how she (usually) wrote – in a minimally punctuated, “cubist” style, not entirely un-reminiscent of the rambling, stream-of-consciousness circumlocutions of your typical Berkeley street person, and/or possibly James Joyce.)
Though made infamous, Stein’s notorious statement about visiting Oakland was not, in fact, her assessment of the city itself!
Rather, these words reflect her return to Oakland in 1935 while on a lecture tour in the United States. During the trip, Stein went to visit her childhood home and farm, only to find the house had been demolished, and the farmland converted to housing developments:
The house the big house and the big garden and the eucalyptus trees and the rose hedge naturally were no longer existing, what was the use, if I had been then my little dog would know me but if I had not been I then that place would not be the place that I could see. I did not like the feeling, who has to be themselves inside them, not any one and what is the use of having been if you are to go on being and if not why is it different and if it is different why not.
Since her absence, the city had grown nearly tenfold, expanding from a population of just 35,000 in 1880, to nearly 300,000 by 1935.2 In her book, Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), the following paragraph continues:
It is a funny thing about addresses where you live. When you live there you know it so well that it is like an identity a thing that is so much a thing that it could not ever be any other thing and then you live somewhere else and years later, the address that was so much an address that it was like your name and you said it as if it was not an address but something that was living and then years after you do not know what the address was and when you say it it is not a name anymore but something you cannot remember. That is what makes your identity not a thing that exists but something you do or do not remember. 4
When put that way, what else can anyone (especially if they’ve been around long enough to forget!) reply, but “I feel ya, uh … what’d you say your name was, again?”
Gertrude Stein’s Old Address
Posted by Alexis Madrigal10AUG
Gertrude Stein, one of the most famous writers of the 20th century, once lived in East Oakland. In her 1937 autobiography, she described a trip back to her old neighborhood, long after she’d become a celebrity and development had transformed it.
From Everybody’s Autobiography (1937):
“It was funny when we went back one day when I was in America to see how East Oakland, that is Thirteenth Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street as it was then looked. The little houses on Thirteenth Avenue looked very much the same, a good many of them quite as neglected as I remembered them and the hill quite the same but the old Stratton house as they called it where we had lived was of course gone and had been built over with little houses, they looked as if they were the only new houses in all that region. When they used to ask me in America whether I had not found America changed I said no of course it had not changed what could it change to…
It is a funny thing about addresses where you live. When you live there you know it so well that it is like identity a thing that is so much a thing that it could not ever be any other thing and then you live somewhere else and years later, the address that was so much an address that it was a name like your name and you said it as if it was not an address but something that was living and then years after you do not know what the address was and when you say it it is not a name any more but something you cannot remember. That is what makes your identity not a thing that exists but something you do or do not remember.”
William Broderick married Alice Stuttmeister, the daughter of William Stuttmeister and Augusta Janke, and lived on 13th. Avenue and 31st. St. in the large Victorian seen above. The Prescos moved there in 1953 and lived in the top half of this beautiful house. I am going to take you on a tour of the Oakland the four Presco children had come to dearly love. Leaving here was a tragedy we never recovered from. These is a light, a bubble around our neighborhoods.
William Oltman Stuttmeister, born 1862. He married Augusta Janke June 1888. Alice L. Stuttmeister, born October 13, 1868 in San Francisco, CA; died February 13, 1953 in Roseville Community Hospital in Oakland, CA. She married William Broderick October 02, 1897. He was born Abt. 1871 in Ohio.
Children of Alice Stuttmeister and William Broderick are:
Frederick William Broderick. Melba Charlotte Broderick.
Melba married Victor Hugo Presco and born one child, Victor William Presco who married Rosemary Rosamond who born:
Mark Presco. John Presco. Christine Presco. Victoria Presco
Two houses down on 13th. is the Beatnik house Bill Arnold and used to visit after school when we were thirteen. There were crutches hanging in the large tree, and a grave marker under the branches. There was a Beat living in a shed in the backyard were used to talk to. Someone needs to do the history of this house whose owners owned the small gas station across from us. I will be sending our family photos to the Oakland Library.
Mark, John, and Christine went to McCheznie Junior High six block up the street on 13th.
Going up Park Boulevard you arrive at the Glenview shopping area. We used to get food on credit at the Savemore Market. The hungry Presco children were sent there to get hamburger meat and milk after our limit was reached. This is why Christine overloaded her refrigerator after she became rich and famous.