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Byline: John Geluardi
Nov. 27--Without a good map and keen sense of direction, finding the secluded hamlet of Parchester Village can be a little tricky.
The 55-year-old working-class community of 420 modest homes is largely cut off from the surrounding area. It's hemmed in by railroad tracks on two sides and buffered by the 2,300-acres of Point Pinole Regional Shoreline Park to the north, a golf course to the east and the Breuner property, a broad plain of gold-brown grasslands that runs from Parchester's western edge down to the San Pablo Bay.
Because of its location, there is no through traffic in Parchester, and the quiet streets and slow pace of life seem out of sync with the increasing bustle and congestion of West Contra Costa County.
"It's a very quiet community," said second-generation resident Whitney Dotson. "Children can still walk and play in the middle of the street and it's understood they have the right of way."
The historically black community holds an important place in Richmond's postwar history, and though it has gone through some demographic changes in recent years, it has managed to retain its villagelike atmosphere and reputation for formidable political activism.