2010 MECHANICS BANK CALENDAR
FEATURES NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S RICH HISTORY
Richmond, CA, December 22, 2009 -- Mechanics Bank has released its 2010 calendar, illustrated with a collection of historic photos showing scenes from many of the Northern California communities the bank has served over its 100+ years.
From Pittsburg coal miners to busy downtown cityscapes in Oakland and Lafayette, from a traditional pre-mechanized Napa grape harvest to a 1921 ROTC encampment in El Sobrante, the sepia-toned photographs capture the lives, activities and landscapes of the region, in the process bringing to life the bank’s own rich history.
Eddie Downer III, grandson of the bank’s founder E.M. Downer, says his favorite among the 13 carefully selected images is the 1948 photo taken at an Oakland Oaks Pacific Coast League baseball game at Oaks Park in Emeryville.
“When that photo was taken, I would have been 14,” said Downer. “I might even have been at that particular game. It was a tremendous season and you wouldn’t believe all the great players on that team. Casey Stengel was the manager—and so successful that he was quickly snapped up by the New York Yankees. Seeing that photo brings it all back—the park, that great team and the pleasure of spending afternoons there with my father.”
Downer’s father was a good friend of the owner, C. L. “Brick” Laws, who bought a controlling interest in the Oaks in 1943. Even though he held no ownership interest, Downer’s father served as the official team treasurer.
That year was the team’s high water mark, when the Oaks won the Pacific Coast League championship. Referred to as the “Nine Old Men,” the team actually included some younger players who went on to make baseball history—such as rookie second baseman Alfred ‘Billy’ Martin (who followed Stengel to New York in 1950) and shortstop Artie Wilson, who led the Pacific Coast League with a .347 average that year. “But the team was dominated by seasoned players on the way back down their career ladders, like Ernie Lombardi, Cookie Lavagetto, Nick Etten, and Catfish Metkovich, names any serious fan of the game would have recognized from their days in the big leagues,” said Downer. “Even though his career was ebbing, Etten had an epic season that year, hitting more than 40 home runs. It was thrilling.”
For Dianne Daiss Felton, Vice Chairman of Mechanics Bank and a fourth generation member of the founding family, the 2010 Mechanics Bank Calendar also brings a flood of memories. The cover features a photo of her grandmother, Hazel Downer, posing with her classmates from the 1909 5th Grade class at Pinole-Hercules Grammar School.
“Even at age 11, she looked just like the woman I remember so well, staring the camera square in the eye,” said Felton.
Hazel Downer was the daughter of the bank’s founder and sat on the board from 1939 to 1985. “She made an indelible imprint on the people around her through her personal fortitude and business savvy,” said Felton. “In the midst of the Great Depression, widowed and the sole support of her daughter (my mother), she found herself the owner of a laundry, the collateral on a loan made to a friend who had passed away. Although she didn’t know much about operating a laundry, she was a superb businesswoman. The laundry flourished under her management, and became almost a legend in my family as an object lesson in the value of perseverance and hard work. Her strength of purpose, perseverance, and work ethic are a part of the fabric of this bank’s culture.”
The 2010 Mechanics Bank calendar contains many more memories that will resonate with long-time Northern California residents and fans of the area. Visit a Mechanics Bank office today to request a copy—or sign up to be on next year’s mailing list.
# # #
About Mechanics Bank: