The true story of women, shotguns, and a standoff with garbagemen in the East Bay? Sounds like a musical to me.
With our mission of telling the stories of Bay Area heroes, history, concerns, communities, and ideologies, FOGG has a built-in commitment to our local community. And the stories we’re finding from all over the Bay Area throughout time showcase this commitment as well. Take, for example, the Albany Garbage War.
Berkeley, concerned that the city was becoming a breeding ground for diseased rats, passed an ordinance outlawing the dumping of trash within city limits. Residents of Berkeley looked toward their neighbor to the north, an unincorporated area known then as Ocean View, to be their new dumping grounds.
The residents of Ocean View organized to stop the garbage dumpers. They sought the legal counsel of the District Attorney who issued a warning to the Berkeley garbagemen to cease and desist their illegal dumping. The garbagemen ignored the warning and continued to dump their refuse north of the Berkeley border.
That’s when the Albany Garbage War began.
On April 1, 1908, the women of Ocean View took up shotguns, and gathered on Buchanan and San Pablo for a standoff against the Berkeley garbagemen. For hours, the women held their ground impeding the garbage wagons. Ultimately the police thwarted the rebellion, but the women of Ocean View did not relent.
A few months later, driven by a lack of municipal protection, they incorporated as the City of Ocean View (now known as Albany) in an effort to legally protect their borders, thereby preventing the dumping forever.
The moral of the story: don’t mess with Bay Area women! Not only will the speak out against injustice, they’ll go to any length necessary in order to ensure law and order prevails.
We love this story exemplifies because it exemplifies commitment to community. You can always count on Bay Area residents to come together and fight whatever is negatively impacting our communities; be it Berkeley free speech protesters in the 1960s, the establishment of the women’s building in the Mission, or an armed militia of women staving off illegal garbage dumpers.
Wouldn’t this story make a great musical? We think so, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be seeing Not In Our Backyard: a tale of the Albany Garbage Wars on stage near you!
Got another Bay Area story you think would be irresistible on stage? Let us know by commenting below! We’re always looking for inspiration.
And consider supporting us so that we can continue to unearth and bring fascinating Bay Area stories like this this one to life.
Join the Newsletter