New Neighborhood Voice

Final Newsletter - Section 1

November 5, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

New Alum Rock Village
Business Association logo


Do you Shop the Rock?
Please support our local businesses!


Chantilly lace on
Alum Rock Ave.





Portuguese girls
in East Foothills


JLHS Choir -
A new look


At Calvary

Unclaimed remains
now at rest


Light the

Alum Rock Ave.


Kim Mesa for


by Marco


Richard and Veronica


Party at Vista


Teresa Faz


David Cohen
Berryessa SB

Newsletter Headlines

bulletNNV – A Brief History of Time – A million thanks to the NNV community
bulletNNV Farewell – You’re invited from Tanya Freudenberger & Edie Pricolo
bulletARNNE (“Arnie”) Ready For You to Add Your Voice - It’s free! by Andrea Flores Shelton
bulletNext Steps for a New Neighborhood Newsletter - Meeting set for sharing ideas
bulletA Silent Voice by Victoria Emmons
bulletA Tribute to Bonnie Bamburg: The Epitome of the Committed Citizen by Bill Zavlaris
bulletMy Father Remembers 1941 - Portuguese immigrants shaped Foothills by Lara Gularte
bulletEast Foothills Turning - A poem by Lara Gularte
bullet“Operation: Sharper Image” by JLHS Music Teacher Tomoko Nakajima
bulletCalvary’s Carlos Rascon Rescues 78 - Abandoned remains find sanctuary – at last
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletVote for Kim Mesa, Gustavo Gonzales, Patricia Potter for ARUESD Board
bulletLighting of the Village - “Let there be light - in Alum Rock!”
bulletPlease Re-elect Trustee Kim Mesa to Alum Rock School District Board by Edie Pricolo
bulletClareview Avenue ARUESD Candidates’ Night by Edie Pricolo
bulletThe Real Estate Market in Perspective - Don’t panic! by Eileen Parks
bulletScrumptious One-of-a-Kind Fine Jewelry Designed Just for You
bulletKudos to Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition and Veronica and Richard Wildanger
bulletRauhs Celebrate Grape Harvest With Flair - East Valley Art Leaguers enhance vineyard
bulletTeresa Faz - New San Jose Redevelopment Agency, Business Manager for ARVBA
bulletDavid Cohen for Berryessa School Board from David Cohen
bulletLinda Vista and Ryan Elementary Schools Earn Awards
bulletNeighbor Illustrates Professionally and For Fun - Ritch Waldron welcomes assignments
bulletRobust YSI Wildlife Festival Dampened by Fall’s First Rainfall - Dorothy Johnson honored
bulletNew  Preservation Ordinance - County Cannot Impose “Landmark Status” On Your Home
bulletFarewell Party for Nora Conte - Retiring Alum Rock librarian by Tanya Freudenberger
bulletCalifornia’s First Lady Declares Mathson’s Arbor Society Model of Volunteerism
bulletRichard Brown’s Alum Rock Park - Vivaldi's Choice
bulletCounty Parks and Recreation Celebrates 50 Years from Supervisor Pete McHugh
bulletNeighborhood Health Pro Takes On Eastside Real Estate - Gaby Figueroa wants to help!
bulletAlum Rock Park Railroads to be Commemorated - Get on board by Bonnie Bamburg
bulletJoan Elenore Petersen Balcom, 3/29/25 – 10/22/06 by Karen (Balcom) Hokanson
bulletEast Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan – Part 2 - Results? Judy wants to know!
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletNovember Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletNative Streetscaping - Lake Cunningham’s Tully Road frontage facelift by Arvind Kumar
bulletCo-Existing With Wildlife: The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley by Jamie Evans
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletWill Starbucks move into the Rafiki’s Coffee Shop space?
bulletWhen will the ultra-colorful new retail building on White Road open?
bulletWho bought the old Alum Rock Stables and what do they intend to do with it?
bulletWhat’s going to go into the old PEO Home cum Marguerite Terrace site?
bulletDid the Porter Lane and Piazza Way neighborhood group make any headway?
bulletWho on earth painted the lettering of the big East Highlands sign black recently?
bulletWhatever happened to Saint John Vianney’s plan to build a new structure?
bulletWill the Farmers’ Market in the Lick parking lot become an annual event? Year-around?
bulletWhat was accomplished at the Comcast Cares Day at James Lick?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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NNV – A Brief History of Time – Spent With Nose to Grindstone

A million thanks to the NNV community

Hang wallpaper together? Not on your tintype!

Over the last four years of producing New Neighborhood Voice, we have met a group of astonishingly generous people who wanted very much to have a viable means of communication in the neighborhood. They bent over backward to be sure that we had stories and photos and the funds necessary to publish.

In the beginning, a small core of neighbors shared their ideas and resources. Neighbor Sonia Troncoso had ideas about Web sites and topics to pursue. Neighbor Dan Gentile took photos including our banner. Neighbors Meaghan Clawsie and Edward Allegretti welcomed writing assignments. Shortly, writers Dorothy (D.J.) Johnson, Bracey Tiede and Arvind Kumar jumped on board. Carol Schultz donated her archives of local history.

Neighbors Ellen and Gary Rauh, Barbara and Larry Caskey, Brian Bumb, Eileen Parks, Keith Bush, Marvin Bamburg, Mark DeTar and Jason Papier stepped forward as Founding Sponsors………..

It dawned on me as I wrote the words above, that I wouldn’t be able to mention by name everyone who has supported NNV. It would take multiple paragraphs to list them all. We’ve had articles or poetry written (and photos taken) by about *150* people! If you want to see the list, it’s right there on the NNV Web site – just click on “About NNV.” You can also click on our archives and see every story and photo we’ve ever published.

Our list of sponsors has included *18* businesses! It, too, can be perused on our Web site.

We have published interviews with innumerable truly notable neighbors and newsmakers who live among us. We’ve had biographical stories about two judges, many outstanding artists, designers and poets, wonderful teachers, professors and school administrators, business magnates, firefighters, governmental luminaries, one winery founder, one television news star, three pastors, two race car drivers, several neighborhood “characters” and many selfless volunteers – all who live or work right here in our neighborhood. Getting to know these movers and shakers who influence our lives so fundamentally has been pure pleasure. We hope that our readers meeting them via the newsletter have been enriched as much as we have.

We’ve published photos numbering in the thousands. Really! Most on-line editions of NNV have perhaps forty photos. I have stretched my fine arts background to include being the major photographer for NNV. The miracle of digital photography has been a boon. The miracle of word processing programs has allowed me to write a gazillion NNV stories, essays and FAQ’s putting to use my penchant for manipulating the English language into what I hope were persuasive, humorous or poignant pieces for our readers.

Our Web site seems to have taken on a life of its own. Allan, my husband of almost 45 years, is NNV’s one-man IT department. He’s a conscientious engineer so you know that he wants everything done right and on-time.

Being the editor of New Neighborhood Voice has given me a bit of a power trip. It’s been great to have strangers suddenly know me by name. It’s been absolutely wonderful to make new friends whose paths I would never have crossed otherwise.

However, it’s also been a bit like keeping six saucers spinning in the air and it has required beefing up my nagging-people-in-a-polite-way skills. Asking others to do things was never my long suit. And, working on a detail-oriented endeavor like NNV with one’s spouse is pretty much like trying to hang wallpaper together. Not to be tried by the faint of heart!

It’s been a fun ride – even with my nose to the grindstone. So, while I still have some of my proboscis left, we must pass the mantle to others who can dream up their own new creation. Already, ARNNE (Alum Rock Neighborhood Network E-list) is underway. Please see information on “Arnie” below. Someone, somewhere is cogitating on the next newspaper for our area.

Thank you to all our faithful readers. Without you, NNV would be meaningless. We hope the community doesn’t have to wait long before a “Newer Fresher Neighborhood Voice” (NFNV?) comes along!

Click here for my favorite Alum Rock Avenue photo that I took. And look for Richard Brown's favorite photos of Alum Rock Park below.


Judy (click here for my final photo)

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Oh, Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow - Or Let Us Say …

Oh, let's party to drown our sorrow

NNV Farewell – You’re invited

From Tanya Freudenberger & Edie Pricolo

On Sunday, November 12 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library Community Room, we are going to show Allan and Judy Thompson just what we think of them!!

In partnership with the Library, a few friends of Judy & Allan and Schuster Es. Thompson invite you to share a joyful farewell potluck and roast to two of the most delightful people on the hill. You are invited to bring yourself, your family, your friends - and of course your food - to the party. It's pretty much a happy family event except the part when Allan puts on the lampshade and dances on the bar (oops, sorry wrong party).

As you have heard (or you could be in denial about this), the Thompsons are putting the New Neighborhood Voice to bed … permanently with this edition. For some time now, they have been overwhelmed by the effort required to cover the increasing need for this community to be heard. We certainly understand their need to hand the baton over to others. Over the years, this community has been the benefactor of their generosity of time, energy, connections and pure resourcefulness. There's not enough money in the world to repay them, so why don't we pay them with love on November 12!

During the "official" ceremony at 3:30 p.m., you are encouraged to share your witty comments about Judy and Allan and NNV -- all of which we know will be offered in the spirit of the appreciation and affection that we have for them. Our community family has relied on their reporting for its one and only source of decent, positive local news for the past four years -- and we will surely miss the special Thompson touch with the retirement of the New Neighborhood Voice.

SUPER IMPORTANT: Please send an e-mail message if you can come. We need to make sure we have enough cold drinks, food and seating for everyone.

Tanya Freudenberger & Edie Pricolo or phone Edie at (408) 258-6753

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ARNNE (“Arnie”) Ready For You to Add Your Voice

Join the Yahoo Group for Alum Rock news. It’s free!

By Andrea Flores Shelton

ARNNE, the Alum Rock Neighborhood Network E-list is now up and running with 50 members. The purpose of ARNNE is to inform your neighbors of issues and events you think are important, ask questions, and just generally keep the lines of communication open.

After this final edition of New Neighborhood Voice, where will you hear about all the wonderful things going on in Alum Rock? ARNNE! It is only as interesting as the information posted on it and that means we need you to keep ARNNE in mind. It is up to us to inform each other now. 

Signing up is easy, just send an e-mail to JOIN NOW!

After you've signed up, to send a message to the group, just send an e-mail to


bulletAnnouncements - Garage Sales, Lost Cat or Dog, Car Wash, Public Meetings, School Fundraisers, New Business Opening, etc.
bulletDiscussion - Alum Rock Village, traffic, development, you name it.

Bracey Tiede from Clayton Road has agreed to help me ‘moderate’ ARNNE. She has much experience with Yahoo Groups and will be an extra set of helpful eyes to be sure that ARNNE is up and running smoothly. THANK YOU BRACEY!

NNV Note: Julie and Len Ramirez have also created The Neighborhood View which enlarges their blogspot at to include news and information for the surrounding East Foothills area. Read more in their Letter to the Editor.

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Next Steps for a New Neighborhood Newsletter

Meeting set for sharing ideas

Besides being the focus of ARUESD board candidate forums and earning a living for his family, trustee candidate Gustavo Gonzales found time to set up a meeting to invite input from the community on post New Neighborhood Voice communication.

The meeting will be held at the Cruz-Alum Rock Library on Monday, November 20th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Gustavo says “this is everyone’s opportunity to get involved and make a difference.” He hopes folks will want to roll up their sleeves and help figure out what the community can do to continue the work NNV has done in the community.

Please come and bring a snack to share, he suggests. And RSVP to Gustavo at or phone him at (408) 926-7273 so he knows how large a room to reserve. We hope he needs a big one!

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A Silent Voice

By Victoria Emmons, VP Public Affairs & Marketing, Regional Medical Center of San Jose

When East San Jose foothills residents Judy and Allan Thompson took up the mantle to restore a local community newspaper to the neighborhood four years ago, everyone was the wiser for it. A struggling community newspaper like so many throughout the country, East - the Neighborhood Voice had ceased operations leaving East San Jose without a voice… without a way to share its community activities, opinions and local news. The Thompsons saved the day and launched a mostly online version under the heading New Neighborhood Voice.

The new Voice offered a place to find out who might be stealing your mail and what to plant in your garden that deer refuse to eat. It told sad stories of old owls passing away, how to prepare for disasters and what happened to the pigeons on the wires at the Alum Rock Library. There were updates from elected officials, commentary on issues being addressed by City and County leaders, and questions about why things were or were not happening in East San Jose. The more cultured among us could also find poetry. The Thompsons even offered readers an eyewitness account of a hot police pursuit that ended in their own front yard.

A multitude of guest writers submitted articles of interest to New Neighborhood Voice readers and I was one of those fortunate enough to work with the Thompsons. Over the past year and a half since I joined Regional Medical Center of San Jose, I became more and more acquainted with Judy and Allan as I read their publication each month. Both of them have been clearly dedicated to providing local news, entertainment, factual analysis and opinion, cultural news and humorous anecdotes. In short, they are outstanding publishers, interested in their community and trying to help the rest of us become equally so.

I will miss the New Neighborhood Voice and all that it provided. I’ll still keep in touch with Judy since she serves as a member of Regional’s Community Advisory Board. And her advice and opinions will be much appreciated in that capacity. But the East San Jose Foothills community has definitely experienced a loss this month with the last issue of its local online Voice. Thank you, Judy and Allan, for serving the community so well.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors


Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925,
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail 


Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400


E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company


Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail 


Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, 


MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects; 


Mark DeTar, INTERO Real Estate Services, (408) 482-1727
Call or click today or e-mail  

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 and 2006 Sponsors


The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755


Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"


Regional Medical Center of San Jose, 
225 North Jackson Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116-1691, 1-888-RMC-8881, Dedicated To Your Well Being.


Gustavo Gonzalez ABR, Real Estate, Finance & Investments, (408) 646-1236
VALLEY VIEW PROPERTIES, 342 Valley View Avenue, Web Site, E-mail


ANTIPASTOS by DeRose, Gourmet Meat, Fish, Deli, Dine In or Out, (408) 251-5647
3454 McKee Road (at the corner of Kirk and McKee).  Long-time neighborhood favorite!


Lisa Blaylock, Coldwell Banker, 408-377-LISA (5472),,
Coldwell Banker’s TOP 100 Agents! Serving my clients since 1986. I grew up and live in the East Foothills!


Home Care Network, Inc., Home Care Professionals,
Low Cost In-Home Care. Call Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA at (408) 254-4650 or e-mail


ALUM ROCK VILLAGE Business Association, "Shop the Rock"
Conveniently located at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road in San Jose


Utopia Home Services, Quality On-Time Home Repair Services
Call Dave Leone at (408) 506-2297 or e-mail for quotes

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A Tribute to Bonnie Bamburg: The Epitome of the Committed Citizen

She adds so much to the East Foothills and to the City of San Jose

By Bill Zavlaris

I have lived most of my 56 years in the East Foothills of San Jose. I was fortunate to have grown up on Greenside Drive next to the San Jose Country Club, attended Foothill Community Presbyterian Church, Linda Vista School, Sheppard Junior High and James Lick High School; so I am very familiar with our neighborhood and the prominent people who have helped shape the area over the last few decades. Thus it is with significant perspective that I would like to acknowledge an individual who lives in the foothills who best exemplifies what it is to be a committed, indefatigable concerned citizen helping to make our neighborhood, the city and the region as a whole a much better place to live for all. The individual whom I so admire is Bonnie Bamburg.

I have known Bonnie for over 30 years since I was fresh out of the Masters Program in Urban Planning at San Jose State and focusing on the then totally new field of Historic Preservation Planning. I was hired by the San Jose Historical Museum, now known as History San Jose, to complete an historical survey of buildings within the City. It was during this period in the late 1970’s when I first met Bonnie. Bonnie’s interest was more in the history of people and places while mine was with the historical architecture. We hit it off from the very beginning. During this period, Bonnie served two terms on the City’s Historic Landmarks Commission, acting as its president for three years. Also at this time she had been exposed to local politics as an early supporter of Janet Gray Hayes’ mayoral candidacy. One must remember that Janet was the first woman mayor of a major city in the U.S. and this was the beginning of women really asserting themselves in the political arena. Bonnie’s other influence was her husband, Marvin, who as a prominent local architect had exposed her to the built environment. Bonnie had augmented the “traditional” mom role of raising two great children, Marty and Heidi, with additional pursuits as a nursery school teacher. The love of learning and endless curiosity is a hallmark of Bonnie’s pursuits throughout her life. I later learned that she had also attended San Jose State and met Marv, a more mature Navy man from Chicago, who married her and whisked her off to Japan where he was stationed. She was adventurous from the very beginning!

I remember that when I first got to know Bonnie and Marv, I was so impressed by all of the interests they had and, more importantly, how they spent so much volunteer time supporting various cultural and community groups in the area. Their calendars always seemed full. I didn’t know how they could do it. Besides being on the Advisory Board of the Santa Clara County Water District, Bonnie was on the Board of Community Housing Developers, San Jose’s oldest private non-profit affordable housing developer, whose goal in the early years was focused on battered women’s shelters and housing for people with special needs. As noted above, Bonnie also continues to work tirelessly with History San Jose and particularly with the historical museum in Kelley Park. She was the first president of the San Jose Historical Museum Association and recently completed two terms on the Board of Directors of History San Jose. I really got to know Bonnie at State Preservation Conferences and I enjoyed her company from the start. She is just a fun person to be around.

By the early 1980’s Bonnie had started her consultant business in preservation, “Urban Programmers,” which typically included areas far beyond its original scope. She worked in cities throughout California and in other states on redevelopment plans for individual buildings and entire communities. She was committed but always practical noting that, to succeed, preservation must be economically viable and within the framework of a good business plan. She was creative and idealistic but also practical. I worked with Bonnie on a number of projects and she got me involved on another board that she belonged to, Preservation Action Council of San Jose (now PAC San Jose), which was the private volunteer group that promoted preservation in our city. I was always amazed how well Bonnie could network and how many people she knew and that knew her. If she didn’t know someone in an important position in the Valley, she knew someone who could introduce her to that person. Networking is a skill and gift and Bonnie exhibits it naturally.

In the late 1980’s Bonnie used her knowledge of local government and the development process to be hired by Tuntex, a Taiwanese firm that had purchased all of the bay front and railroad yards in Brisbane and the southern edge of San Francisco near Candlestick Point for major development. True to her spirit, she got so involved in this job that she ended up becoming chair of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce for several years.

In the late 1990’s Bonnie called me asking if I would like to work for Community Housing Developers planning affordable housing. She had decided to resign her position as a board member and become the Director of New Development. She hired me as a Project Manager.

During the six years that I worked for Bonnie, I got to know her better than ever before. I saw her in action as she used her networking skills to get projects off the ground and to keep them alive when they seemed “dead in the water.” She was instrumental in the success of a 12-unit affordable studio apartment project in Los Gatos called “Los Gatos Creek Village,” the 93-unit mixed-use apartment complex called “Tierra Encantada” on Alum Rock at McCreery and in the 77-unit development in East Palo Alto known as “Courtyard at Bay Road” that opened last April. With Tierra Encantada, Bonnie single handedly overcame the site’s most daunting obstacle. On the 2.5 acre site was “Mark’s Hot Dogs,” a San Jose city landmark fast food restaurant that was literally falling apart. Bonnie negotiated the moving of the historic “Orange” building and original sign dating from the late 1940’s, helped the owner find a lot nearby on Capitol Avenue just south of Alum Rock which kept an historic use in the neighborhood and pushed the owner, Demos Pantiledes, to hire the architects which made the new Mark’s Hot Dogs the beautiful addition to the eastside that it is today and hailed by regional architectural critics such as Alan Hess. At the Grand Opening, Mr. Pantelides fully acknowledged that it was Bonnie who made it all happen.

Equally significant to me at the time was how enjoyable Bonnie made the workplace. She always knew how to raise morale when needed, get people to work together as a team and made CHD a very fun place to work. She was also great at organizing events and a perfect Master of Ceremonies for such events. Although she retired from CHD almost two years ago, I still miss the spark that she brought to the office each day.

There’s one other thing I want to say about Bonnie. As long as I have known her there is no one who is more thoughtful and supportive of others. She is forever supporting other people’s events and causes and continually goes out of her way to acknowledge the efforts of others in the community.

Bonnie is still consulting, doing much too much volunteer work and working out of the beautiful home that she and Marv designed in the foothills. Typically they took a modest 1940’s flat top house set on a dramatic promontory with a jaw dropping view and turned it into a gorgeous residence that is one of the gems of the East Foothills. It is from this special place that Bonnie continues to do her work that so improves our area. She has most recently joined Marv as a strong Rotarian in a role perfectly suited to two who give so much back in service to the community. But most of all I am happy that she and Marv now have time to do some traveling around the U.S. and to Europe. And in typical form, she returns from her travels with lots of new ideas to improve our city. In addition to all of her civic and community interests, Bonnie is also a wonderful grandmother to Marty and wife Jan’s daughter, Cecile, here in San Jose and to Heidi and husband Brian’s son and daughter, BJ and Maddy, in Seattle. Both she and Marv strongly encourage the cultural and educational pursuits of this next generation - something that is extremely important for the good health of our society in the future.

I feel so fortunate to know both Bonnie and Marv and I can’t think of a more deserving individual than Bonnie to be able to salute as one of the unsung heroes of not only the East Foothills but also the City of San Jose. This is a citizen who is the first to recognize what others have done to make our community better but who has never taken a bow for herself. The recognition is long overdue. So, on behalf of all of those who have known how valuable you are to our community, thank you Bonnie!

Click here for a photo of Bonnie at Tierra Encantada.

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My Father Remembers 1941

Portuguese immigrants shaped East Foothills farms and orchards

By Lara Gularte

My father, Henry Gularte, remembers that when his mother died, high clouds covered the day gray. The summer was just breaking and the fruit on the trees were beginning to ripen. It was June 20, 1941 and he was 21 years old. His mother, Margaret, had been staying at his grandmother’s house on 26th Street, the area in East San Jose known as “Little Portugal.” My father often visited his mother early in the morning before he started his workday. Before my grandmother, Margaret, became seriously ill, she lived in her own home at the Mello Ranch on Clayton Road, where my grandfather, Tony, tried to cure her with old country remedies. When my grandmother’s health appeared to fail she was taken to San Jose hospital where she was diagnosed with a non-operable tumor. She stayed at my great great grandmother’s house due to its close proximity to the hospital.

My grandmother, Margaret Pedro Gularte, was born in San Jose, a first generation Portuguese American. She lived her whole life in the Portuguese pocket community of East San Jose until she died at age 45. Prior to her illness, she had been the strength of the family. She made the family’s clothes by hand, grew vegetables, and churned the butter. She canned fruits, made soups of kale or cabbage and whatever she had, a shriveled onion, a bent bean. My father remembers the apple trees on the Mello Ranch. Apple harvest was a special time for my grandmother, and there were plenty of apples for pies, pancakes and sauce, with enough left over for relatives and neighbors. My father says that sometimes his mother liked to sit for a half an hour in the evening looking out the window at the orchard. She would shut her eyes and fall asleep. This was the only time my father saw his mother resting.

My grandfather, Antonio Gularte, had emigrated from the Azore Islands to the United States in the early 1900’s and saved enough money to buy a 10 acre ranch in the East Foothills of San Jose. My grandparents lost their land during the depression and the family became sharecroppers at the Mello ranch located on Clayton Road. During the depression years, the Gularte family didn’t starve. They had fruits and vegetables that grew easy in the fertile soil, meat from the butchering of farm animals, and the wild game that was abundant. They planted, pruned, and harvested fruit trees. After the Gularte family finished working their own crops they hired themselves out to other ranches for additional work. My father remembers working 10 to 12 hour days. He says that in those days there was no irrigation and fruit ranchers depended on rain. From Spring to Fall, there were rows of trees and moving hands. There were apricots, and prunes plucked loose from limbs with the sound of fruit striking the bottoms of buckets. Apricot cutting in an open shed, with aunts and uncles, and cousins, all cutting and pitting the ripe globes. Trays filled with cots were spread out in the drying yard after coming out of the sulfur house. The ground in July seemed to turn golden-orange.

As a boy, my father could recall his world filled with only Portuguese relatives and neighbors all living in the east foothills. These people were fruit ranchers like his Uncle Mercel, Aunt Emma, and his cousin Maria who had an apricot ranch on Mt. Hamilton Road. On Crothers Road, there was Frank and Mary Rose, the Ramos family, the Santana family, Gularte-Garcia families, the Resendes family, the Aruda family, the Vargas family and more. My father remembers that before Crothers Road became a designated county road, it had been known as “Whiskey Lane.” The Nunes family, with 17 children, lived on Mt. Hamilton Road. On Clayton Road were more Pedros, the Lemos and Duarte families, and the Prada family among others.

My father didn’t learn to speak English until he started school at age six. He remembers hiking three miles along dirt roads through apricot and prune orchards to attend Huyck School, a one room school house located on a horseshoe turn on Mount Hamilton Road. My father’s Uncle Mercel, supplied the school with its water directly from his well. My father went to school with his sisters, cousins, and other Portuguese first generation and immigrant children. The school teacher, Ms. Voss, taught children from ages 6 through 12 all in one room. Among my father’s boyhood friends were Johnny Ramos and Joe Aruda. My father’s education ended when he finished the 8th grade. This was common, as children were needed to work on the family ranch. It was enough schooling to learn your numbers and be able to sign your name so you wouldn’t get cheated. Hard work was valued more than education.

For 21 years, my father’s whole world was limited to the isolated Portuguese community that dominated the East San Jose area of the Santa Clara Valley. Here, he worked at fruit ranches, canneries and warehouses. His spiritual and social life, along with other Portuguese immigrants, was connected to the Five Wounds Catholic Church. On Sundays my father liked to roam the hills with his dog, Sage, to hunt pheasant and rabbit. Looking out onto the Santa Clara Valley he could see orchards and wide-open spaces stretching from Morgan Hill to San Francisco Bay.

My father remembers climbing the wooden steps to his grandmother Augustina’s home to visit his mother on the day she died. My great grandmother did not speak, but motioned my father to come into the house. Augustina Pedro had emigrated from the island of Faial in the Azores to the San Jose East Foothills in the late 1800’s. Widowed at a young age, she managed to raise her seven children on a ranch on Clayton Road before moving to 26th Street. On that June day, Augustina led my father to his mother’s room. My father offered his mother a glass of orange juice and sat with her for about thirty minutes. He then got in his old flat bed truck to drive to his new job haying a field near White Road. He would be driving a five wire hay baler. He promised his mother that he would return for dinner and bring his teenage sisters, Maria and Rosalina, his kid brother, Tony Jr. He remembers how a certain light shivered from his mother’s lips when she had smiled at him to tell him good-bye.

At 2:00 PM that afternoon he was baling hay, when he spotted a California Red Tail gliding above him and then suddenly his Uncle Mercel seemed to appear out of nowhere. After receiving the news from his uncle that his mother had died, he left his job, never going back to work there again, never to collect his pay.

At the edge of his mother’s bed, he stared at her pale still body, his hope brought down to grief. He could hear his father’s voice thin and shaky. The window was half open to the afternoon and sunlight was thick with dust. A priest stood in the room mumbling the rosary. His grandmother, Augustina stood frozen with her cheeks flushed, her shawl on the floor in a heap. That day my father took a long walk in the hills hollering till he got hoarse.

A few months later, October 10, 1941, two Portuguese farm boys, my father and his friend, Ernie Furtado, traveled to Camp Roberts for basic training in the United States Army. Both my father and his friend had never been away from their homes in Santa Clara Valley prior to their enlistment. When war was declared December 7, 1941 my father was stationed on the coast of Oregon where he served as a radar operator. He then became a technical sergeant and crew chief. Sent to Iceland, at the top of the world, he was stationed at an army base near the town of Kevlovick. When spring came in 1945 he watched the god of sunlight go to war with the enemy forces of winter to re-take the skies. In a world of shifting shadows, he found the northern lights to soothe his soul as he buried his grief for his mother’s death in the frozen ground there.

After the war, my father returned home, and found the rural landscape of Santa Clara Valley bruised with new homes that came in clusters. With more buildings and homes, and less orchards and empty fields, the valley appeared smaller. His father, sisters, and little brother were scattered all over. My grandfather remarried a widow woman he met at church and lived near downtown San Jose by Five Wounds Church. Out of respect for his father’s new wife, my father never mentioned my grandmother. His sister, Rosalina, now Rose Gunter, a navy wife, lived in the Philippines with her sailor husband. Maria also married a navy man and moved to Chicago where she was known as Mary Lou Wilson. Tony Jr., lived with his mother’s sister, Aunt Minnie. He went to a technical school in San Jose, later becoming a soldier in the Korean War.

When my father visited my grandmother’s marker at Calvary Cemetery, it rained unexpectedly and the smell of wilting flowers never left him after that day. He went back to the Mello Ranch on Clayton Road where his family once lived and sharecropped. He saw the weathered walls of the house, the stable, the corral, and the watering pond reflecting moving clouds. He found the apple trees still there and blooming. He believes he saw his mother, her shadow darkening the ground as she reached into the trees for armfuls of blossoms.

My father wonders if it was his mother’s death, the war, or both, that profoundly uprooted his family and way of life. He is 87 years old now and says the year 1941 was a painful coming of age for himself and the country.

Click here for Lara's photos.

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East Foothills Turning

A poem by Lara Gularte

Wintering blackbirds sweep over the yellow fields,
wings open to this leaf sunk day of November
earth retreats,
the air turns darker.

By the black strip of highway,
cows’ big heads hang over barbed wire,
a horse whinnies in the corral,
gallops towards the barn.

Above the parched ridge
Raven appears,
the Prophet of Winter with black beaked oaths
makes oak trees shudder.

Night pulls me inside,
I dream and shiver.
Rain charges Penitencia Creek,
water skittering like white tailed deer.

I’ve come to like things weathered --
all that is whipped by the wind.
I want the sound of rain on my roof
to reverberate forever.

A different version of this poem was first published in ART/LIFE magazine, Fall 2005.

NNV Note: Lara Gularte’s poetry has been published widely including work which was translated into Portuguese by the University of the Azores. She’s a Lick High School graduate and a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Program at San Jose State. She now lives in Magalia where she works as a Tutor/TA of English for Butte County Community College at the Center for Academic Success and doing private tutoring on the side. She says she is working with others to set up programs for the youth who live isolated in the mountains.

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Click here for Section 2 of the November 2006 Newsletter

(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)

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