The Early Years

Growing Up in Oakland

Aline, Bernie and Cecilia on a pony ride in 1917.

The three Mayer children spent most of their childhood in that same west Oakland neighborhood. They attended Catholic school at Saint Joseph's Institute. By his sisters' accounts, they hardly ever saw him around the house. He would wake up and rush off to school or to play ball. It was hard to keep him home long enough to grab a quick meal!

Although Bernie was rather small in stature until he apporached 16 years of age, he was quite the athlete and performed well in almost every sport he played. In fact, he earned the nickname "Bunny" from his peers due to his small size and rapid feet.

Life in the Early 1900's

While Bernie and his sisters were growing up, they could spend a dime to go to the movie houses and watch silent movies known as "Flickers." They laughed at comedies starring Charlie Chaplin or the Keystone Kops and were entertained by the adventures of "Tarzan of the Apes" and the first of the movie queens such as Mary Pickford, Sarah Bernhardt, Theda Bara, and Lilian and Dorothy Gish on the big screen.

Bernie's luck was running high during a matinee raffle one afternoon. He held the winning ticket for a diamond ring! Of course, the authorities wouldn't give the prize to such a little boy, so someone from home had to come pick up the ring for him.