Midtown History: Alvie & Martha Hartsog
Written by Stepheny McGraw

Alvie Hartsog and his wife, Martha, have lived at 730 Moreno since 1955. Their children grew up there. Now their three granddaughters' pictures and playthings fill the living room. Alvie built the house himself on a spot that used to be the cutting yard, where all the 4 x 12 cedar planks used for the all the forms, for all the houses built in the neighborhood were cut. When the floods of 1957or 1959 came, he carried sandbags to help hold back the water. Purity Supreme, the supermarket where the Coop was and where Walgreen's will be, had a bad curb that led the water straight to his lot from their parking lot. After the flooding fears, Purity quickly extended the curb another six or eight feet and the water was no longer a problem.
Photo by Annette Ashton
A CAL grad, Alvie served in the Pacific in World War II. When he came back to the Bay Area after the war, housing was scarce. While taking a walk in San Leandro, he looked out from a hilltop and decided that he needed to help build houses. I found a project, he says, to describe the building of houses on the Hayward side and then, this side, of the Bay. Besides houses, he built shelves for places like the old Emporium Store at Stanford Shopping Center and Norney's in Midtown during more than 40 years as a carpenter and member of the Carpenters Union. He remembers a young activist named Ralph Nader stopping by to try and settle a dispute -- Ralph was unsuccessful.

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