A Look Back in History: Sawyer Camp Picnic Reservations in 1925

The Archive has a record of groups taking advantage of Peninsula “Open Space” during the 1925 picnic season. There are a lot of Clubs and Lodges on the list, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and the San Mateo Elks Club. But several obscure ones are included as well, such as the Bay City Lodge and the Argonne Lodge, each booked on the same day near the end of June.

And then there are the Oriental Lodge and the Fidelity Lodge each booked on the same day in mid-August. Most dates are double-booked. One may wonder what happened on September 7 and 9, a Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

1925 Sawyer Camp Reservations.

Right at the top of the list is the Sierra Club. They might have been fighting mad about Hetch Hetchy, but that didn’t stop them from availing themselves of other resources of the Spring Valley Water Company. What was the Sierra Club up to in 1925? The San Francisco Chapter had just been organized the year before. And in 1925, the Club inaugurated a photographic collection for loan to educational and other institutions.

Sierra Club Bulletin, 1925.

On July 4, the reservation for one of the spots was for W.B. Lawrence. Lawrence was the Superintendent for Spring Valley’s Peninsula Division. This insider didn’t have to pull strings very hard to nab this picnic site for some group.

Signature of W.B. Lawrence, Superintendent for Spring Valley Water’s Peninsula Division.

Entries for May 10 and again May 31 reference the Bavarians and the Bavarians Soccer Team, respectively. Was this the same group, or was the Bavarian Soccer Team a competitive team within a larger Bavarian social club? There were many German immigrants in San Francisco from very shortly after the Gold Rush.

As early as 1853 the first German Festival took place in San Francisco and indeed on the West Coast. Turnverein Hall at 625 Polk (more recently known as California Hall) was the Teutonic Rathaus built by the German Association in 1912 to replace the hall that had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.

The Standard Oil Company held a picnic at Sawyer Camp in April of that year. In 1911, after dissolution of the Standard Oil empire under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, eight companies retained “Standard Oil” in their names, but by the late 20th century the name had almost passed into history. In 1961 Standard Oil of California had acquired Standard Oil of Kentucky and in 1984 it was renamed Chevron Corporation in 1984.

Turnverein Festival – San Francisco – 1850’s.
Standard Oil Headquarters – Manhattan 1956.

The California Grays had a place on the list in June. The California Grays was a military club formed in 1890 by a groups of Sunday School boys.

By the time World War I (the Great War) broke out, there were 120 active members. Most of them enlisted in that war. But before that, they served as guards of honor at the Panama-Pacific Exposition to many notable persons. And they were invited to participate in President Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration in March of 2017.

One of the most interesting sounding organizations reserving picnic space that season was the League of Henry IV.

One of the most interesting sounding organizations reserving picnic space that season was the League of Henry IV. In French parlance known as “The Ligue Henri IV”, this organization had been established in 1895 by French immigrants in San Francisco. The original members were from South West France. The organizers formed the society for the mutual aid of their compatriots from southwestern France. The Ligue Henri IV exists today as a non-profit 501(c) fraternal. The goals of the Society are to maintain a fraternal understanding and camaraderie among all its members and to ensure the preservation of French culture in the Bay Area.