Part 2: Your favorite places, inspired by Berkeley Rep’s Place/Settings

They include the once bustling scene on Telegraph Avenue, a sign in a pool hall, Totland, Berkeley Iceland, Lake Anza and, of course, the Codornices slide.

A rainbow over Totland in 2017. Photo: Koseli Cummings

In Place/Settings, a new audio series from Berkeley Repertory Theatre, artists, writers, composers and playwrights from around the country wrote short stories and articles about their favorite places in Berkeley. The locations varied widely from West Berkeley to Jewel Lake in Tilden Park to Codornices Park.

As a media sponsor of the project, we teamed up with Berkeley Rep to ask our readers about their favorite places in Berkeley. You shared them in droves. This is Part 2 of the selection we chose for publication. (See Part 1, which we published on Feb 2.)

Want to share your own favorite place in Berkeley? Leave a comment below.

Only in Berkeley

It was when I first moved to Berkeley for grad school from a typical NJ suburb. I was walking down Telegraph near Ashby and a human sized rabbit walked by in tails and a top hat. He tipped his hat to me and continued down the street. The best part was that cars just drove by. I knew then that I had left New Jersey. Carol Silverman, Emeryville

Berkeley Bowl. Photo: Erin Scott from The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook

The favorite memory that comes to mind is very small, but for me, an “only in Berkeley” moment: I was wandering through the aisles at Berkeley Bowl and came upon a toddler, pitching back and forth in the front seat of the grocery cart and gleefully chanting/demanding “Tofu! Tofu!” Jennifer Kapczynski, Berkeley

Sometime in the 1960s there was a pool hall in the back of Kit’s Burgers on Durant. A sign on the wall read: “Play Pool. If You Flunk out of School, at Least You’ll Have a Trade.” Michael Fullerton, Berkeley

Standing at the sun-dappled corner of Bancroft and Telegraph, the entire world splayed out before me. A UC Berkeley drum circle pounds at my back as I cross Bancroft. A stop at Fat Slice (cheaper than Blondie’s), then the walk-up window at Yogurt Park. Hate Man, resplendent in a maroon dress. Rasputin’s, then Amoeba, music demanding to be heard. People’s Park. Cody’s Books and Comics & Comix, as The Dark Knight and Watchmen upend the medium. Plop Art. Café Intermezzo, salad and bread overflowing everywhere. Hare Krishnas, stepping lightly with their finger cymbals. 1986. I was 13. It was yesterday. Chris Kim, Orange County

My son was born at Alta Bates. Every time I drive by there, I blow five kisses reflexively. I’m not sure why that number, but it’s always five. It’s the only time I’ll ever be pregnant, the only time I’ll ever meet my child. It’s not a uniquely Berkeley story, but it is a Berkeley tale all the same. Allison Landa, Berkeley

Totland Playground, Virginia and McGee. January, 1969: Eight years old, my best friend and I play here alone every day on the swings. Pink paving for bikes and roller skates. Bathroom scary and dark. August, 1988: Green-painted picnic tables, my toddler girls munch Rye-Raisin-Rabbits. Pushed my gigantic buggy all the way up University Ave to Totland because my dad still lives near. Am nine months pregnant with my third child; water breaks in that dank bathroom, mucus plug hits the floor. September, 2020: Leaving my dad’s house hours after his at-home death, I drive past “Totland under quarantine.” Its bright murals shine alone. Rachel Hope Crossman, Berkeley

Lothlorien Co-op, 1981-1982. We sprawl over each other on the foyer couch like puppies in the foggy bay window. A woman stretches, and the room brightens. “You yawn and the sun comes out,” says one elf. “I wish I could do that.” I had traded contracts so I could live in Lothlorien, the vegetarian co-op, where I felt accepted and liked, never judged. A new friend and I became work shift managers, and we attended to the needs of the house, adding night shift and morning bake to the elves’ tasks. We worked well together. Six years later, we married in Tilden Park. Alisa Golden, Berkeley

Pegasus Books. In the 1980s, I worked alongside a wonderful group of creative folks. Shelving books with Jonathan, I suddenly felt dizzy. I awakened to see the wooden stock room ceiling. Jonathan and Shelley brought me a cup of water, and I was fine. Decades later, after founding a literary magazine, I wrote to Jonathan Lethem, thanking him for picking me up off the floor, and asking if he had any stray or discarded short work I could publish. He replied that I remained “the only fainter” he had ever caught and kindly sent me an excised paragraph from his current novel. Alisa Golden, Berkeley

Growing up in Berkeley, I always enjoyed frequenting the Julia Morgan Theater, built in 1910. The creaky seats and old wooden pillars gave the building a feeling of antiquity, and I loved seeing the framed posters of past productions. Shows were affordable — only $10 a person — and the concession stand was really small but always had something you wanted. The productions were masterfully staged and superbly performed, one of my favorites being YMTC’s production of “Les Miserables” in the summer of 2009. I performed in Stage Door Conservatory’s production of “Grease” there that same year. Always will love the JMT. Nils Valdis Skudra, Greensboro, North Carolina

I grew up with a sweeping view of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. This was the background to all of my youthful adventures. One of my favorite memories is walking down Spruce Street with a dime to buy penny candy at McClarty’s on Shattuck and Vine. We reached into the bins that all children reached into with their grimy hands and fished out our pixie sticks, wax lips and candy necklaces. On the way home, we bought “chum gum” (two pieces per package) at Rose Grocery. Sweet memories of a beautiful place and time. Kristin Freedman Cernak, Seattle

It’s all about Berkeley Iceland

The former Berkeley Iceland property in June 2014. Crews had just begun work to convert the property into Sports Basement. Photo: Ted Friedman

Berkeley Iceland, 2003. Double glass doors. Narrow turnstile. Cashier’s window. One adult, one child. Smells of rubber, ice, and leather. We are venturing out after 30 days of mourning for my son, her brother. On the ice we sail fast; wind tickles our hair. A familiar song comes on, and women, teens, and children pause and line up, laughing. I don’t know the Macarena, and my daughter won’t teach me, but I long to join them. As we leave, my daughter says, “There is this world. And the real world.” We become regulars. Berkeley Iceland is gone now, closed in 2007, but the memories remain. Alisa Golden, Berkeley

Mouth ablaze with watery instant hot cocoa in a styrofoam cup, toes pinched in sweaty “sanitized” boots, ankles ache. A break from the ice to drop quarters in the Star Wars arcade, colored lines transporting me through space. Through field trips, birthday parties, and teenage dates, escape from the real could be found in a cavernous, magical, blue and white relic. Today, daydreaming of zambonis and fun long extinct, time crushes on but my mind is still at the rink. Andrew S., El Cerrito

My birthday is in December, so my birthday parties when I was little (and even sometimes as an adult) always were at Berkeley Iceland, now a Sports Basement. I remember the distinctive cold, musty smell, the winter-wonderland mural at the far end, the thrill of skating as fast as I could, and the nothing-is-better feeling of taking off your skates (white with sky-blue heels) at the end of a session. And I remember being small enough that my dad could prop me on a counter and lace up my skates with the blade on his chest. Daria Hepps, El Cerrito

Up in the hills…

Lake Anza. Photo: Josh S. Jackson

Lake Anza. Heaven and joy! A swimming hole in the middle of a mountain. Tilden Park. Welcoming nature. Friends. Teaching my children to swim and love water. Playing Marco Polo and shark. Building sandcastles. Burying — heads out, bodies in — taking turns being part of the beach. Sun and honeysuckles. Snack bar and sugar sticks. Duck families and swimmer’s itch. Training laps for Escape from Alcatraz swim. Freedom to explore the entire lake when the lifeguards leave! Summer balmy weather sunsets. Winter walks around. And now, green algae? Time to clean for swimming! Joy and heaven! Lake Anza. Shantee Baker, Berkeley

One lazy summer afternoon I walked three miles straight up Cedar Street with a huge piece of cardboard under my arm. On Senior Avenue I met up with my friend Yvonne, also carrying cardboard. We cut across empty fields to the top of the hill to do a bit of sledding. Lawrence Hall of Science was still a distant dream, and the hillside where it now perches was covered with tall, dry grass. Over and over we barreled down the hill, til the sky behind the Golden Gate began to blush apricot, laughing all the way. Carol Stabile, Washington State

The most outstanding memory I have of this beautiful city is the first time I biked up to the Grizzly Peak lookout. I took Spruce through the beautiful North Berkeley hills, then Wildcat and its verdant scenery. Then made the final push up South Park. The view at the top was breathtaking, views of the Golden Gate, Mount Tam, and so much more. Afterward I made my way down the hill to Durant Avenue for a late-night bite. Truly remarkable how a simple bike ride could be so fantastic. Berkeley is a wonderful place to reside with a little bit of everything for everyone. Ezri Meyer Mayeri, Berkeley

My favorite place is at Sather Tower, at the top of the steps, and overlooking the Golden Gate. This place is held dearly in my heart because it is where my now fiancé, said “yes” she would marry me. Daniel Y. Santos, Vallejo

I pass it several times a day on my way to do an errand, visit a friend, or go shopping. It is the focus of our neighborhood, a historic hub created when Berkeley was being developed. It has been the site of decay and rebirth. It has hosted protests and celebrations, and many pranks. It lights up at night and is colorfully decorated for the holidays. Four bear cubs, proud symbols of California are its center. It is lovingly maintained by the Friends of the Fountain and Walk. It is Marin Circle. Hope Alper, Berkeley

My favorite — not the corner table at Sconehenge, not the dark study corner I found in the Life Sciences Library at UC, not hanging out on the “steps” when at BHS, but the cold concrete of the Codornices slide. Hidden in the shadows on a hot summer day, the taste of childhood excitement at the back of my throat as I hurtled down the cool smooth surface, giggles escaping, to explode out onto the wet sand on the bottom, there to turn and run as quickly as I could, back up the winding stair to the top, to slide again. K. Lenihan, Berkeley

There’s a bench in a redwood grove by a creek on the UC campus. It’s there that I sit and toss rings for my little chihuahua to fetch and bring back. It’s an isolated spot that we seek once a week to feel like we’re deep in the woods far away from harm and stress. Helane Zeiger, Berkeley

… and down by the bay

sunset over water
Aquatic Park. Photo: David Abercrombie

It was a full moon on a winter dawn. Full tide was just beginning. The water was gleaming with stars and the moon above. It was Berkeley Aquatic Park, and I had just bought two packs of ghost shrimp moments before. As the moon disappeared and the sun rose I planted two ghost shrimp on a hook and into the water on Potter Street. Within minutes of sitting down and watching the tip of my pole… Bam! A bass fish, about 10 pounds and 24 inches, hit my bait. Adrenaline, a fight, a net, a catch! A moment in time and fish for dinner in Berkeley, California. Owen Krebs, Berkeley

My favorite Berkeley place is in mothballs, but let’s remember that it’s here: the Berkeley Pier. It’s our miracle mile with a million-dollar view, a place for families, for lovers, for solitary strollers, a place where Berkeley’s diversity is on view, and where it’s easy to say “how’s it goin’?” You might be rewarded with a little kid holding up a littler fish, or a disquisition on how to catch a crab. It’s a place to get away, to slow down and take a deep breath. City fathers and mothers, are you listening? Let’s bring back the Pier. Doris Kretschmer, Berkeley

The Berkeley Marina has been a place of solace and rebuilding for me. I found myself quite lost and alone approximately eight years ago, but after joining the amazing Berkeley dragon boat team, DragonMax, I now have over 150 dear friends. Even on days where I don’t paddle, I go down to this incredibly beautiful place to gaze at the bay and its beautiful surroundings. We are ever so lucky to have such an amazing place to go to relax — I only wish University Avenue at the marina was a better road. Henry, Berkeley