by Natasha von Kaenel
If you have taken a tour at The Crucible lately, you have met Peter Moore. One of our enthusiastic volunteers and a great tour guide, Peter helps Crucible visitors learn more about this area and its place in Oakland’s history, and helps them figure out which Crucible department is calling to them.
Peter was one of the founders of the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, and worked at the Pacific Film Archive for a number of years before he started cooking professionally. He is currently retired and spends his time volunteering at a number of local organizations, including The Crucible.
What first brought you to The Crucible?
Five years ago, I came in because I had been a cook professionally and I always loved cooking and knives. I had an idea for a knife I wanted to make, specifically one with a curved blade to scoop out squash. So I took Blacksmithing I, Blacksmithing II, Forge Welding, Power Hammer I, and Bladesmithing.
Do you have a dream project that you are working on?
No. I am more on the practical side. I’m still interested in making knives.
So what’s the next knife you want to make?
I made a couple of those squash knives and I made a really beautiful serrated bread knife. The next one I want to make is a nice thin knife for fileting and boning meat.
What is your favorite piece of history about The Crucible you tell people on the tour?
You see the Walt sign over there? That was from a jazz club in downtown Oakland at 12th and Franklin, where Hoagy Carmichael and Cab Calloway used to play. That is cool!
Yeah, that’s so interesting. What else do you talk about?
I try to talk about how 7th Street was originally one of the hearts of the African-American community before BART and the post office ripped it out. This was the entertainment area, filled with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. The only thing left is the sign where it says ‘Esters Orbit Room.’ But it’s all gone now. It was a vibrant big community until ‘urban renewal’ and BART.
What is your favorite part about giving these tours?
Conveying to people my enthusiasm and passion for this place in a way that tries to get them excited. I’m always talking about volunteering and the things you can do.
How do you feel like The Crucible has impacted the community?
I’ve seen kids here go from students to regular staff or regular faculty. Adrian in Blacksmithing, in particular. I was here when he was just starting out. Now he’s accomplished and much better than me. He is very good both at teaching and blacksmithing.