Best Active Retirement
Emeryville is only a little more than one square mile of land and a little less than that of water. But in history, it’s quite a bit bigger. Don Hausler has dedicated his retirement years to chronicling the little city’s past as an epicenter of sordid amusement. Hausler has lived most of his life in Oakland, including 32 years as a reference librarian for the Oakland Public Library. As a young man, Hausler intended to study Old World civilizations, but early on switched to chronicling the East Bay, “where it’s in English and the sources are available and you can make a contribution to local history,” he said. As the founder of the Emeryville Historical Society (EHS), the octogenarian now spends his time researching the obscure corners of local history, including the East Bay’s Black restaurant scene of the mid-19th century, the mid-20th century swell and decline of San Pablo Avenue bars, the burlesque venues of the Oakland-Emeryville border, the biographies of Black jockeys, and the various acts of violence forever occurring just outside the Emeryville racetrack. “There were a lot of ways to die,” he said. Thanks to his research, the curious can read all of them.