your story

We solicited stories from community members and searched through the Archives for accounts and reminiscences to create a narrative of our history. Grouped together around common themes of daily life and activity, these stories come together into the exhibit as chapters in a book: Enterprise, Home, Education, Leisure, Infrastructure, Agriculture, and Turning Points.

The curator introduces each theme by providing the context needed to understand each topic.  Then, stories in the form of short quotes from community members, past and present, were added.  Those stories bring color and personality to the history of the area because it is their voice.  These individual stories show how everyone has a connection to the broader history of a community.  To accompany the text, we added photographs and artifacts from the Historical Society’s rich collection.  Some of these artifacts have either never been displayed or have been resting for many years.  A few key loaned artifacts help round out the presentation.

As visitors walk through the exhibition we hope that all the stories, photographs, and artifacts help them make their own connection to the history of the Hayward area.  At the end of the exhibit, we provided a space for visitors to share their comments and, hopefully, a story of their own that we will add to the exhibition in the months to come.  We intend to keep adding stories and rotating artifacts periodically to keep the exhibit fresh and engaging for everyone.  We hope you enjoy Your Story as much as we did bringing it together!

“In 1925 I worked at Plant #4. I drove one of the ‘locomotive’ on the railroad tracks we laid out across the [salt] ponds. It was the oldest of the ‘drivers’ and it had a defective steering mechanism which was always malfunctioning. The other men didn’t like to pilot this particular vehicle. Of course I had many derailments and delays and took quite a ribbing from the regular workmen…”–Alden Oliver

“Throughout the years, my family and friends would often visit Memorial Park. Whether for a hike up the creek trail to East Avenue Park, or a bike ride up the trail to the dam and a swim in the cool waters during the Summer months, the Sulphur Creek trail was an oasis in the middle of town. While walking the trail, you forgot that you were in downtown Hayward. My father would tell stories of the trout that he caught in the creek.”—Deborah Souza

“Having been born at home on Cherry Av (now known as Thomas Av) in an area of Hayward known as ‘Ramos Camp’ in 1928, I have seen many changes in the area of my childhood home. As a young teenager a simple walk to Bret Harte School became an adventure. Passing acres and acres of apricot orchards as we walked east from Silva Avenue on a two-laned Jackson Street, we would often stop to enjoy the beauty of the canaries and other birds captured in the private aviaries that were located next to the gas station at the Southwest corner of Jackson and Mission.” –Bernice Souza

“I grew up in “the Via’s” in the 60’s and 70’s. The major shopping area was at the Mervyn’s plaza. …I have fond memories of sitting on Santa’s lap at Mervyn’s. There was a glass display window on the corner of the building where Paseo Grande and Via Arriba converged, and that is where we all lined up to visit the jolly fellow. Of course Mervyn’s was the place to shop, and it also provided employment for many locals. Mom (Pat Bell) worked there for over 20 years, first in the fabric department and then home fashions. She often recalled how Mervyn’s bought out the bowling alley next door for extra space, and there was always the faint scent of beer in the storage room!”—Cathy Breslow