The Eddie and Lee Etsher Young Family

Story of The Eddie and Lee Etsher Young Family
Artist: TheAurthur Wright
Writer: Gwendolyn Reed 
Original completed 2007
Restored in 2018
pauls+shoes_edited_edited.jpg

Eddie and Lee Esther (Henderson) Young migrated to California from Louisiana, eagerly.

Louisiana had racism, few jobs, poor education, Jim Crow laws, lynching, and many other

social ills to leave behind. Lee Esther’s sister, Ella Beaty (a South Berkeley resident) asked them

to come to California where her husband had a job waiting. Arriving in California in 1942, Eddie Young

Sr. began working as a rigger at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo to help with World War II.

When the war ended Mr. and Mrs. Young purchased a home in Berkeley on Haskell Street for their

growing family, consisting of Eddie Jr., Kenneth, Vera, James, Richard, Lois, Charles, Russell, and Cathy.

The children had jobs to help the family and all graduated from Berkeley High.

The family attended Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 3301 King Street, Berkeley, where Vera

played the piano for church services. (Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at this church in the ‘60s. Placards of

his image by artist Karen Johnson Wyatt can be seen along Martin Luther King Jr. Way and at each corner

of the intersection at Dwight Way.)

James always had a yearning to have his own business, according to Vera, his big sister. He always

had jobs in the neighborhood. While attending high school he obtained jobs for himself and his brother

Eddie, working for Paul Kalem, an immigrant from Greece who owned Paul’s Shoe Repair in downtown

Berkeley at 2281 Shattuck Ave. Little by little they learned the trade and how to keep financial records.

 

After graduating from Berkeley High School, Eddie, Kenneth and James joined the military during

the Korean War. Upon being discharged and while working for Paul Kalem, James and Eddie were asked

to buy the shoe repair shop. With the help of their parents and the money saved from their military al-

lotment checks they bought the business directly from Paul, including the equipment, the inventory, the

supplies and the goodwill. They bought the real estate years later.

 

All the siblings worked in the shop at one time or another, until they were able to venture out on

their own. Richard left to care for their elderly mother and now Charles is assisting.

THE DREAM the Elder Youngs had for their family has been attained; jobs, education and having

one’s own business were accomplished. The parents’ motto was: make every stumbling block a stepping

stone.

 

About the painting:

Charles Young appears on the left, Eddie Young Jr. in the center, and James Young on the right, as a

young man in military uniform. At the door is Wm. Byron Rumford III, grandson of Byron Rumford. He

stops by regularly and has known the Youngs since growing up together on Haskell Street.