Sidewalk maker: Anthony Anaclerio

Anthony Edwin Anaclerio (1904-1981) was born in or near Palermo, Italy, and christened Antonio. He immigrated in 1905 with his mother “Rosy” and two siblings, preceded the year before by his father “Frank,” and the family showed up in the 1920 census living in Berkeley with two more children born in America. At that time “Tony” and his older brother Charles worked at California Foundries with their father, and his mother was a clerk-typist at a syrup factory.

He rose in the world to become a contractor working in the fresh air, and sidewalks stamped with his name are found all over Berkeley, dating from the 1950s and 1960s (thanks to Hannah Berman’s long-inactive Sidewalk Secrets blog for that documentation). And Lincoln Cushing has recorded another example in Albany.

I have not found an Anaclerio mark in Oakland — the photo here is from Los Angeles Avenue in Berkeley — so ordinarily I wouldn’t record it in Oakland Underfoot. But his work inspired David Woeller and Peter Tracy to write “Mr. Anaclerio’s Sidewalk,” a song about a sidewalk maker and the pavement that’s his posterity:

There’s a sidewalk in North Berkeley that moves up ‘n’ down just like a roller coaster ride,
Roots of the camphor tree are pushing it up from the underside
The people in the neighborhood have learned where to step high and low
On the sidewalk built in 1954 by Mister Anaclerio

While I can supply a few bare facts about guys like Anthony Anaclerio in a blog like this, it takes a poet’s song to evoke their living lives. And my few notes here aren’t really that important, any more than Anaclerio’s name, chosen for its rhyme. The point is that he’s an emblem of hundreds of sidewalk makers who helped build our East Bay by hand, square by square.

I can see him bending to his labor in the early morning East Bay fog
One hand on the floating trowel and one eye watchin’ the prowling dog
He knows nothin’ lasts forever and especially the monuments of man
And the pride in his eye is the completion of the labors of his hand

That was their craft and their trade. I bow to them wherever I walk. And I keep in mind that their work may outlive mine.

One Response to “Sidewalk maker: Anthony Anaclerio”

  1. Andrew Says:

    This post marks the end of regular weekly posts from me. I’ll take a break for the rest of December, then starting in January I’ll post every now and then when inspiration strikes. See more in my latest comment to the About page.

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