A written piece the late Peter Van Kleef, the "Godfather of Uptown Oakland."
"When Peter Van Kleef was 12 years old, his sisters recalled, he hitched a ride on a moving train traveling through Oakland just to see where it would stop. When it didn’t, he opted to enjoy the California scenery rolling past him, rather than stress over what he could not control. Van Kleef’s sisters remember him as someone who found the positive potential in every situation he encountered.
“He visualized things and he didn’t take no for an answer; nothing ever stopped him. He was a visionary, an optimist,” said his older sister Gerda Cardenas-Mena.
Van Kleef, owner of the bar Café Van Kleef, passed away on September 8, leaving behind his legacy as the “godfather of Uptown Oakland.” At his memorial service on Saturday evening, family and friends gathered in front of his bar to share anecdotes about the man that they believe helped foster a new era of art and music in Oakland. The area in front of the bar between 16th and 17th Streets on Telegraph Avenue was closed to traffic all day for the celebration. Café Van Kleef regulars gazed at Van Kleef’s original paintings displayed around the stage as they sipped greyhounds, the signature drink at the famous watering hole, listened to live jazz and blues tunes, and recalled Van Kleef’s affinity for bad jokes and the music of Eddie Money. Even as the overcast weather threatened the possibility of rain, the music and the laughter did not cease until late that night."