New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 10 - Section 2

October 5, 2003

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos
 My Great Grandmother, Stella Brewer Gonzales Looking at the Alum Rock Park Meteorite Strolling by the Natatorium "Taking the Waters"
at the Mineral Springs
Fountain and Bath House
At the
Mineral Springs
Taking the Train
to Alum Rock Park
You could also drive your car to
Alum Rock Park - but, of course,
the speed limit was 10 mph
A Steller Performance NNV Founding
Ellen Rauh
Save Mart on McKee Road The Old Alum Rock "Youth Center" -
Let's go see how they're doing!
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Fandango Delightfully Takes Guests Back in Time and Off to Spain

One-time home of Don Edwards is site of Hillcresters' event

One of East San Jose's most glorious old foothill estates was the site of an evening lawn party extraordinario on Sunday, September 14th. Taking its theme from the outstanding Mediterranean architecture of A.J. and Charlene Laymon's Hillcrest home, Fandango treated scores of guests to the delightful ambience of a large, wonderfully preserved 1929 home - as well as outstanding Spanish culinary creations.

Beginning around four in the afternoon, guests were greeted in a well-appointed outdoor dining room in the garden between the house and the light-dappled swimming pool. The center of each table held a simple spray of deep pink bougainvillea. Serving tables offered tapas - savory calamari, marinated mushrooms, olives of every size and description, to name just a few. Bowls of ruby red sangria invited party-goers to imbibe in an authentic Spanish wine-and-fruit punch. Friendly servers poured red and white wines and specialty waters.

A fundraising event of the Hillcresters, an Eastside women's philanthropic group, Fandango featured several displays of silent auction items. The offerings ranged from small (a collector's piggy bank) to grand (exotic vacations in faraway places) with marvelous framed original artwork in between. A large, luscious, original watercolor of hydrangeas by Diane Dorsa merited much excitement and many bids.

Hillcresters' photo albums and bits of their lore were available for party guests to peruse. Currently celebrating its sixtieth anniversary, the association began in 1943 as an American Red Cross knitting group during WW II. There were rosters of the names of early members and philanthropic endeavors they have made over the years. Their efforts go toward many fine causes for Eastside youth including the support of the Youth Science Institute and scholarships for area high school graduates.

The Laymons' home resonates with East side history. It was home to San Jose's own U.S. Representative Don Edwards who served in Congress from 1963 to 1995. Delighting the guests who know Mr. Edwards or know of his exemplary career, Don Edwards himself circulated among them reminiscing about his life in our neighborhood. Also among the guests were Tom Twist, Don's sister Patty's son, as well as subsequent owners of the estate, George Langlois and the Leo Cheim family. Both the Langlois' and the Cheims raised large families there. Available for guests' enjoyment was a 1930's home movie of the Edwards/Twist family wedding which took place in the very garden where Fandango was being held.

Guests were encouraged to tour throughout this beautiful home and many found themselves on the rear second floor balcony where they could look down over the clusters of pleasantly chatting folks enjoying the mild weather and the extensive dahlia and rose gardens. Many of the female guests wore something a bit "Spanish" - no lace mantillas or roses in the teeth, but more than a few slinky red and black gowns and dangling earrings were to be seen!

A buffet dinner was served around seven o'clock. The guests queued up for fragrant barbequed meat and paella chockfull of delicious sausages and seafood, green salad and garlic bread. The much-anticipated entertainment of the evening, whirling and stamping flamenco dancers and Spanish guitars, held the diners rapt as they enjoyed the wonderful fare.

As dusk descended, tiny lights and sparkling candles came alive among the shrubbery. Departing guests strolled through an allee of torchieres along the driveway at the front of the house and reluctantly stepped from past to present, through the hedge-lined entryway back into the year 2003 and the Fairway Drive of today.

Click here to see some photos from this event.

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A Trip to the Summit of Mount Hamilton

August 1878 "Word Pictures" by John Bell

The first paragraph is a 152-word long sentence!

Contributed by Marcella Sherman

Amongst the many beautiful and romantic places in the vicinity of San Jose, perhaps there is no other point so interesting or likely to become so famous as Mount Hamilton; on this high eminence at an altitude of about 4500 feet above sea level, is to be placed one of the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world; the munificence of the late James Lick of San Francisco, whereby the people of this State are to be put in the possession of this magnificent and costly gift, will, after the completion of the Observatory and the mounting of the great telescope, render this place still more attractive, and draw thither the scientific and curious from every portion of the civilized globe, it must become a sort of "Mecca" where all classes and conditions of people will throng as willing pilgrims, to offer homage at the twofold shrine of nature and science.

After leaving the beautiful City of San Jose the first few miles leading easterly toward the Mount Diablo Coast Range (commonly known as the Mount Hamilton range) is over a smooth and nearly dustless tree-lined avenue, one of our finest public thoroughfares, terminating at the romantic and well known Alum Rock Springs, a place much resorted to by citizens and strangers; this avenue passes through a portion of Santa Clara Valley which has been so often described and praised that it requires no further panegyric to enhance its fertility or beauty; turning from thence southeasterly at the base of this range, the ascent begins along the mountain side, a good substantial roadway extending about 20 miles from the junction to the summit, has been built at a very heavy expense by the County of Santa Clara, and thrown open, as all our roads are, freely to the public, thus affording a safe and more speedy mode of transit to the contemplated site of the Observatory.

The views in ascending are grand, extensive, and varied, a magnificent sweep of country lies before the traveler, the valley dotted over with towns, villages, farms, orchards, live oaks, and patches of forest, forming a panorama of scenic beauty seldom surpassed; on the westerly side of the valley distant about fifteen miles, the dark wood-crowned Santa Clara Range towers up forming a fine background to the varied picture. Looking northerly at about the same distance, stretches away like a great sheet of burnished silver the calm waters of the Bay of San Francisco.

Passing on about ten miles further, Hall's Valley is reached a pleasant vale diversified with scattered clusters of trees, cultivated fields, cottages, and a few winding rivulets fringed by green sedgy banks, it is evidently a fertile, healthy locality, and in time must prove very productive, being well adapted to fruit and grain growing.

Winding still upward for about five miles brings us to Smith's Creek a favorite resort of camping and fishing parties, the sparkling waters of this pretty little stream contain some small, but delicious mountain trout, here the tired traveler can rest beneath the grateful shade of majestic oaks and be refreshed for another start towards the summit. Upward and onward for about eight miles more, over the serpentine, precipitous road, abounding with fine views and bordered by rocky cliffs and overhanging trees, brought us to a most inviting spot about three miles this side of the summit, where we halted for the night, no water can be had beyond this place and that is supplied from a small way-side spring half a mile further down; we found here plenty of nutritious grasses for stock, and ample sheltered camping grounds contiguous to a fine grove of pine oak &c, in this pleasant retreat under a large wide spreading oak we beheld a gorgeous sunset lighting up the valley and mountain tops beyond, until like a great ball of fire the sun sank behind the dark and distant western hills, it was in this favored spot around our camp fire, amidst the stillness and solitude of nature we passed a calm summer night, the wide starlit vault of heaven never seemed to lean so nearly to us, whispering of countless worlds above, and was soon aglow with myriads of lamps, as star after star shining with celestial brilliance, appeared to wheel into place in silent order, to occupy their alloted sphere in the great planetary system; the moon too, shed her soft lustrous beams over the enchanted scene whilst now and then a meteor flashed across the firmament, enlivening and rendering the night view still more fascinating, it was almost impossible to find repose there with so much to fill the mind with awe and admiration in the strange and weirdlike surroundings. At the first glimpse of day we were off for the summit which we reached about 5 a. m., it proved to be a fine clear morning with high winds prevailing, as is generally the case at this exposed point, we were not kept long in suspense; the sun rising from beyond the distant Sierras in a comparatively cloudless sky and in a blaze of effulgent glory; such a scene in such a locality is not often forgotten, the long sharp outline of the lofty Sierra Nevadas, range after range of bold mountains piled up around us, Monterey Bay with the Pacific Ocean beyond, portions of the great San Joaquin valley, a long reach of country away towards the Golden Gate, Santa Clara valley and the Santa Cruz mountains, other valleys and mountains near and afar off, all lay before us in a wild and inexpressible grandeur! Perhaps from no other point in the state can such a sublime and extensive view be obtained, it is almost too vast for the mind to contain at a glance, and no mere word painting can do it justice, those who cannot see it for themselves must draw largely on the imagination to form even a faint conception of its extent and aggregation of wonders. The extreme purity and dryness of the atmosphere and the majestic surroundings, is an evidence of the wisdom and foresight of the generous donor in selecting Mount Hamilton as a point of observation and attraction, its accessibility to so many lines of communication and its proximity to San Francisco will be a very important feature in its ultimate advantages to the people of the Pacific Coast, and to the world at large.

I am indebted to the Editor of this Journal for contributing so much to the pleasure of our trip sky-ward, his experience of camping, mountain, and mining life, as a Pioneer in the earlier settlement of California, rendered his company peculiarly agreeable and instructive. To the numerous readers of the "Ballot" I would say, make this journey for yourselves see its beauties and its glories as we have seen them, and perhaps you will be led by a closer companionship with nature, to reverence and adore the Creator more fervently, and thus amidst the sublimity and infinitude of His wondrous works from hearts overflowing with gratitude to Him ascribe all the glory and the praise to whom it is only due.  John Bell. San Jose, 8th month 1878.

NNV Note: While it's not clear in what publication this story appeared (Marcella Sherman didn't know its source), we can tell that in 1878 when it appeared, the San Jose Mercury was already a thriving daily (it was founded in 1851 as the San Jose Weekly Visitor - the "Mercury" name came from the region's quicksilver mines). In 1884 the Mercury was merged with the Morning Times and the newspaper was called the Times-Mercury. The hyphenated name was burdensome and everyone called it just plain "Mercury" anyway so it officially took on that name after a year and stayed that way until 1913. That year, another merger took place and the San Jose Mercury Herald was born. "On June 20, 1950, on its ninety-ninth birthday anniversary, the name plate reverted to plain San Jose Mercury," according to Clyde Arbuckle's History of San Jose. In 1952 the Mercury, a morning newspaper, formally absorbed the San Jose Evening News and the name we use today, "The San Jose Mercury News" was established.

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Recollections of Old Alum Rock Park

As told to me by my great-grandmother and her sisters

By Ed Allegretti

My first remembrance of Alum Rock Park actually occurs in my great-grandmother's house, in San Jose, as a very small child. It was my pleasure to sometimes visit this very old lady, whom I was scared to kiss on the cheek when greeting her, with her daughter, my Grandmother Bernal. As is true with all small children, I enjoyed playing with objects of interest in the house. My favorite item in my great-grandmother's house was her piece of a "star."

This black rock, which was teasingly referred to as a "star," was actually part of the "meteorite" that once existed in Alum Rock Park. As some of my old post cards of the park show, this large rock was a prominent object and one of the favorite sites of old Alum Rock Park. Due to its large size, unusual porous surface, and its black color, locals all assumed it was a meteorite. Scientists, of course, examined this geological anomaly and determined that it was actually an outcropping of manganese and not part of a "star." During World War I, manganese became important and the old "meteor" was removed and melted for the war effort. Fortunately for me, my great-grandmother was able to obtain a piece of it, which I still have, before it was sacrificed for the "war to end all wars."

Aside from this simple artifact and the story my family told me about it being part of a star, I enjoyed other tales from my relatives about Alum Rock Park. It was my pleasure to know my great-grandmother and her sister. These ladies recalled the time when the park was once an elegant place for walking, bathing and sampling mineral waters. Certainly they enjoyed these activities and for many years would journey to the park in order to obtain bottles of sulfur water. The age of elegance in Alum Rock Park passed away in the youth of these ladies but gladly their elegance of dress, manners, and beliefs remained with them until their deaths at very old ages in the 1970's.

Of more interest to me than the elegant days of drinking sulfur and soda water, were the stories told by my Grandmother Bernal. It was regularly her pleasure and that of her three sisters, her only brother of course had his own manly pursuits, to ride the old cable car from their house near downtown San Jose to Alum Rock Park. It seems that this system went up Alum Rock Avenue, curved around the area of White Road and then proceeded up into the park along Penitencia Creek. Hearing the stories of these rides while envisioning my recollections of the old trolley bridges in the park certainly made this experience seem very adventuresome to me. Even more fun would have been jumping off the quickly moving trolley along the creek, before it reached the station, as my grandmother usually did!

These stories of cable car rides, of dances, of picnics, and of horse rides in the park were always enjoyed and told with much pleasure. Yet, not all of my grandmother's experiences were pleasant. One day her father took the children to the park in his carriage. About the time their picnic was ending it was decided to gather up some wood to take home in order to warm their fire during that evening. My grandmother and her sisters, not being very particular nor very knowledgeable, gathered those small branches that were dry and easiest to obtain. Certainly they enjoyed a wonderful fire that night but not without a severe price. Much to their regret, branches of poison oak were gathered during the day. While burning the poison oak the family was exposed to the fumes of this burning wood. Although this caused some minor skin rashes for the family, its results were much worse for my grandmother. Not only was her body literally covered with the poison oak rash, but she developed it in her nose and in her throat from breathing in the fumes. She recalled many days of suffering in the old county hospital where she could hardly breathe, hardly move, and couldn't open her eyes. With thanks to God she survived this very life threatening incident of her childhood.

NNV Note: Click here for some old Alum Rock Park photos and postcards. This is part one of Ed Allegretti's Recollections of Alum Rock Park - just in time for YSI's Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park on October 12.  Next month, Ed will tell you about Alum Rock Park when he was a boy.

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Curious Corvids or Those Darn Jays

By Dorothy "D.J." Johnson - Youth Science Institute

NNV Note: This story links to many other Web sites where you can see photos of the birds and, in some cases, listen to their songs. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition. Some of these photos may take a long time to download unless you have a broadband connection.

Camp Robber, mischievous, noisy; everyone has a favorite name or adjective for these curious, vocal songbirds. Although their vocalizations are not considered musical, Jays and their relatives are indeed members of the songbird family Corvidae or Corvids for short. This illustrious group of birds includes the Jays, Crows, Ravens and Magpies.

One doesn't need to look hard to find Jays in Alum Rock Park. If you don't see them immediately you will most certainly hear them. Our most common Jay is the Steller's Jay the "big blue bird" with the black crest that frequents the canyon floor along Penitencia creek. Steller's Jays are year around residents found in the more densely wooded portions of the park. They can be seen hunting for insects, acorns and seeds on the lawns near the creek. If you have enjoyed a picnic or a barbeque in these areas you will have met this noisy, curious denizen of the forest. Ultimate opportunists, they will leave nothing untouched or unexplored in their quest for food and entertainment. They are quick to announce their discoveries to other Jays in the area with a sharp shek shek shek or shaaaar.

Our other park Jay, the one commonly found in the surrounding neighborhoods is the Western Scrub Jay. This attractive Jay with a blue head, wings and tail and a light gray belly frequents the drier portions of the park on the south facing hillsides. The North Rim Trail is a good place to view them at all times of the year. The Scrub Jay diet is similar to the Steller's Jay and includes insects, seeds, nuts and fruit. Scrub Jays have been known to wedge hard-to-crack seeds in the fork of a branch to pry them open. Their call sounds like shreeeenk shreeeeenk.

Corvids are omnivorous - like humans they will eat anything. In addition to their primary diet they are opportunistic foragers and will seek out eggs, small animals and birds and will also eat human food if available. Jays will rob Acorn Woodpecker granaries of their acorns. The park Steller's Jays have learned to identify lunch bags and if they can gain access will gladly help themselves to the delicacies within.

All Corvids will cache uneaten food. Most will bury leftovers or store it in trees. These birds can remember the locations of thousands of different caches and will often dig up and rebury items to remember their location. This talent for burying seeds makes Corvids important as seed dispersers for pines, oak and other species of trees.

I developed my fondness for Jays and other Corvids as a wildlife rehabber many years ago. Being in close proximity to these lively interesting creatures revealed a softer, more mellow side to their personality that is not so obvious to the observer in the wild. We all know that Jays are well known for their rather harsh, loud territorial and predator alarm calls. They also have a softer more relaxed vocalization I have come to know as a whisper song. This is a close contact call used to communicate with mates and family members and is rarely heard by people. Raising orphaned Scrub Jays gave me the opportunity to hear young Jays communicate with one another in these soft, almost delicate, vocalizations.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Corvid propensity for "mobbing." Essentially, mobbing behavior is the avian equivalent of the car alarm. It is meant to warn family members and other birds and animals of impending danger. Jays and other birds will surround the object of mistrust, screaming and dive-bombing to announce the location of the intruder. The usual recipients of this verbal abuse are owls. More than once Jays have led us to a snoozing Great Horned Owl or even a Cooper's Hawk hunting by the creek. The behavior is intensified during nesting season, as YSI staff have learned when flying our educational Barred Owl on the lawn in front of our building. Not even the human handler is immune from the screaming and buffeting attacks of the protective Steller's Jays.

The American Crow is not usually found in Alum Rock Park but it is one of the common large birds down in the "flats" of San Jose, where it has learned that humans will provide all the requirements for successful living. Very opportunistic in their behavior, crows will eat just about anything they can find which is why they have adapted so well to human habitation. They make good use of palms and other large trees for their nesting sites. Crows may occasionally breed cooperatively, with yearling birds assisting in defense of territory and feeding of young. In farming communities, crows have been known to congregate in communal roosts of up to10, 000 birds after completing their nesting season.

The size of a hawk, the Common Raven is the largest North American songbird. The deep croak call of the Raven will distinguish it from the familiar caw caw of its smaller cousin, the crow. The Raven's tail is wedge shaped in flight, the crow fan shaped. Ravens can be found in diverse habitats, from the desert to the Boreal forest. In the San Jose area they are more common in the surrounding hills and baylands. They prefer coniferous trees and cliffs for their nest sites and have been known to nest on the power towers that are so common in our area. The Raven is highly adaptable and lives as a scavenger and predator. A pair of Ravens that nested in the park years ago were seen plucking baby Orioles from their nest and eating them.

There are many people who feel that Corvids, especially the Raven possess some degree of intelligence. We had a Raven at YSI many years ago named "Missy Coo" who would often amuse herself by "messing with the public" in ways I found most interesting. She could mimic the ring of a telephone and say Hello. She enjoyed talking to the public, especially if there was just one person in the exhibit room. She would wait until their back was turned and say hello. When the person turned around to see who was there, Missy Coo would become silent. Seeing that there was no other human in the room, the visitor would become involved with another display and Missy Coo would chime in with a second hello. The poor visitor would turn around puzzled, looking for a human, eventually to realize with a smile that it was "just" the Raven.

Bernd Heinrich, in his book "The Raven in Winter" did a wonderful experiment to determine whether Ravens could solve problems. His experiment consisted of tying a piece of meat to a rope with the other end tied to a perch. He then released a Raven into the pen to see what would happen. The Raven very quickly figured out that by pulling the rope up with his beak and placing it under his foot he could reach the meat. We decided to try this experiment on the Steller's and Scrub Jays in the park during a volunteer party some years ago. We used a piece of hotdog tied to a string, the other end tied to a branch with no other obstacles around it. The flurry of activity was instantaneous of course. Some Jays tried the "hover and grab," others the "perch and reach." They were simply falling over themselves trying to reach that hotdog. Finally after 10 minutes and a standing ovation from us, one persistent Scrub Jay figured it out. It simply reached down and pulled up coil after coil of string and stood on it until the hotdog was within reach of its beak. The triumphant Jay quickly took off with its prize closely pursued by the rest of the flock.

It is no surprise that this family of clever, adaptable birds has representatives all over the bay area and the United States. Whether you are a city dweller, a lover of mountains, the beach or the desert, there will be a Corvid there for you to observe and enjoy.

Click here to see the Steller's Jays in Alum Rock Park

NNV Note: George Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746) was born in Windsheim, Germany.  In 1741, he first saw the jay now named for him on Kayak Island near present-day Valdez, Alaska.  Click here to read more about Steller and his life as a naturalist.  

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------ Advertisement -------

For Sale: Yamaha Digital Rhythm Programmer. Chord DSS-1 digital sampling synthesizer.
Korg, complete including a Sony Mixer. Drum machine and keyboard also play through a stereo.
All only $200.00. Ask to see it at Y.S.I Thrift and Gift, 3151 Alum Rock Ave. Tues-Sat 10:00-4:00


To run your ad in New Neighborhood Voice, E-mail or call (408) 272-7008

NNV Briefs

bullet"Black Spots," Garbage and Litter at Alum Rock and White by Tanya Freudenberger
bulletYSI 18th Annual Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park
bulletLibrary or Coffee House? Art for New Alum Rock Branch Library Presented
bulletBecome a "Friend" of the New Alum Rock Branch Library by John A. Ramos
bulletA Boo-tiful (and Fun) Halloween Event for You and Your Kids
bulletEast Hills Community Association Elections Cancelled

"Black Spots," Garbage and Litter at Alum Rock and White

I simply can't take it any more!!!!!

By Tanya Freudenberger

I simply can't take it any more!!!!! What will it take to force the City to regularly maintain the streets and sidewalks in the business area around Alum Rock and White? The area is disgustingly filthy. There is garbage, litter, dirt and some unidentifiable black marks all over the sidewalks and streets. With the upgraded street parking, new parking lot on Lick's property, remodeled facades, and our neighborhood's wonderful mix of GOOD, DECENT small businesses, shouldn't clean streets and sidewalks be the norm in this business district - showing the respect this City should have for the small business owners and residents who remain loyal to the East Side? How many other small neighborhoods could possibly boast of such an array of really good, small businesses in such a concentrated area -- bakery, resale store, sheriff station, coffee shop, restaurants, convenience store, shoe repair, hair and nail, tattoos, pet fish store, liquor, sports, Planned Parenthood site and chiropractor, - just to name a few of them! And just a block away, a chain hardware store, sports store, and other good restaurants and small businesses.

I asked someone at the bakery if they knew what the black marks are, and no one there knows what causes them. They also said they can't remember the last time they saw a City street cleaner. Of course, being close to the high school does impact on the amount of garbage tossed onto the street, but that's still no excuse. The City can easily engage the high school and business association in a clean up/recycle campaign that would make a huge difference. Is there anyone out there who agrees with me? Does the Alum Rock Business Association still exist, and, if so, is this on their priority list of action items? I suggest (if it hasn't already been done by the business association) that "we" solicit a response to this problem from the business owners, neighbors and high school students/staff, and ask them what they would like to see. Being a member of PACT (People Acting in Community Together) and our LOC (Local Organizing Committee) at St. John Vianney, I know we would like to hear from the people impacted by this garbage. Please give your opinions to this great e-newspaper (NNV) or e-mail me if you see this as a problem that needs to be addressed. If there appears to be more people concerned than just myself, we can all (yes, YOU, too) bring it up at our next LOC meeting on Wednesday, October 8, 6:30, at St. John Vianney.  Tanya Freudenberger (email:

NNV Note: Can't find a parking spot near Rafikis or White Rock Café or Peters Bakery? Just a reminder that the new parking lot at Lick High School is open for public use every day after school (from 3:30 to 11:00 PM) and all day on weekends. The short walk across the street might just burn a few of the calories you're about to consume!

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Youth Science Institute 18th Annual Wildlife Festival

See the animals, pet a snake and have a wild time!

Sunday, October 12, 2003, Alum Rock Park

Join us for a wild time at the Youth Science Institute's 18th ANNUAL WILDLIFE FESTIVAL on October 12, 2003 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Wildlife Festival is a family oriented event held in Alum Rock Park in San Jose. Bring the whole family. Enjoy exciting exhibits, live animal presentations and educational programs throughout the day. Take a guided nature walk, relax to the tales of a Native American Storyteller, and enjoy the natural beauty of Alum Rock Park. Children can make nature crafts and participate in hands-on science activities.

Wildlife Festival is appropriate for all ages and admission to the event is free. There is a $6.00 ARP parking fee with significant discounts for seniors (60 or older), veterans and disabled. For more information please call the Youth Science Institute at 408-258-4322.

Click here to see a wild photo from last year. Click here for the YSI Web site. Click here for the Alum Rock Park parking fee schedule.

Volunteers Needed For Wildlife Festival 2003 

We are looking for volunteers to help with the Wildlife Festival on Sunday, October 12th at Alum Rock Park. Volunteer opportunities include setting up and taking down the festival, preparing and serving food, assisting with children's corner activities, assisting presenters and more. Please call (408) 258-4322 if you are interested.

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Library or Coffee House?

Art for new Alum Rock Branch Library presented - most viewers really enthusiastic!

A small group of interested Eastsiders met with representatives of the San Jose Public Art Program on Monday, September 22nd at the James Lick High School library to review the designs chosen for the artwork at the new Alum Rock Branch library which will be built beginning next year at the southwest corner of Alum Rock Avenue and White Road.

The chosen work, by design team (and marriage partners) Jim Hirshfield and Sonia Ishii, will be four different-themed terrazzo circles cut into the carpeting with complimenting circular skylights above. These "implied columns" will be at four different strategic locations in the library. Full-size samples from two of the terrazzo floor designs and a representative section of one of the skylights were available for the group to touch and manipulate.

The two beautifully intricate terrazzo sections - part of the four which each represent a distinct Eastside theme - were met with great enthusiasm by everyone present although John Ramos, a San Jose library commissioner, felt that more straightforward, less subtle artwork might be more appropriate for the neighborhood.

Pat Haeger, a local stained glass artist, felt very strongly (actually she was "horrified," she said, and wanted NNV to quote her!) that the plastic materials which will be used for the skylights will make for a cheap, "fake stained glass" effect and that, if they wanted something that looked like stained glass, they should have chosen the much richer, authentic glass material. It seems that the materials for the skylights were specified by the architects and Hirshfield and Ishii are comfortable working with them.

After looking at the floor plans, several people asked about the "Internet Café" in the library and whether there would be a real café as well. The library development folks assured the group that there will indeed be refreshments available for sale in the library. Snacks in libraries and book stores seem to be de rigueur nowadays and all the new libraries will have them available.

Library-goers will even be able to walk about with their drinks in hand - a fact which brought alarmed remonstrations from several of the guests at the meeting. Like the plastic skylights, a real café seems to be an immutable part of the plans, however. Everyone at the meeting who was familiar with Rafiki's Coffee Hut (diagonally across the street from the new library site) unanimously expressed their hope that, if the library had to have refreshments, Rafiki's owners, Luke and Liesl Violante should have first option on the concession.

On September 23rd, NNV attended Jim Hirshfield's presentation to the San Jose Public Art Commissioners at the Office of Cultural Affairs and took a few photos. In future editions of NNV we will share more information about the unique, colorful, spirited, subtle-but-not-too-subtle designs which will grace our wonderful new library when it opens in September of 2005.

For more information, see the new San Jose Libraries Web site or the page for the new Alum Rock Branch library and click on Project Detail.

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Become a "Friend" of the New Alum Rock Branch Library

Planning Meeting: Saturday, October 18, 8:30 AM to Noon

By John A. Ramos, Commissioner, San Jose City Public Library

In the November 2000 election, San Jose residents voted strongly for Measure O which provided for building a new central library and six community branch libraries. Plans developed to build more new library branches, including new braches at Alum Rock, Berryessa, Evergreen and Tully Road, and to remodel and expand fourteen other branches.

On August 16, 2003, over 20,000 people attended the grand opening of the new central facility, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at Fourth and San Fernando Streets, downtown San Jose. The eight story, 470,000 square foot structure is an impressive sight. The process of building one of the finest library systems in the country had begun in a big way. The theme "Miracle on 4th Street," certainly fit the occasion. Even before the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library had opened its doors, West Valley Branch Library was in full operation and the building of Vineland was well under way. Groundbreaking for Berryessa and Tully Road branches took place in the late summer and construction is underway for both.

On September 22, the final community meeting to decide on the artwork for the Alum Rock Branch Library took place and groundbreaking will begin in early 2004 (moved back 4 months from its original schedule). Now that plans are moving along to make the 26,000 square foot Alum Rock Branch Library a reality, soon to be followed by the Hillview Branch Library, it's time that the Eastside San Jose community begins to organize "Friends of the Library" groups at Alum Rock and Hillview branches.

According to some patrons of the old 5,000 square foot Alum Rock County Branch library, the "Friends" group there has practically disbanded. Bad move. This is the time to begin to strengthen the group so that it will be ready to step in and help establish the type of support for the Alum Rock San Jose City Branch Library that will be five times the size of the old County Branch.

The new Alum Rock Library will be one of the most beautiful structures in East San Jose. It will contain a state of the art design and is sure to add to the location which has been in the process of a facelift at the other three corners at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road. But it will need programs with substance to support all children, youths and adults in much need of the services it will provide. It will contain a technology center, an Internet cafe, a teen center, a children's storytelling area, and an adult section, as well as various lounging and quiet areas. This will require a great deal of community support to bring good, sound programs to all segments of the population. Nobody can do that better than a strong, well organized "Friends" group.

How should the community begin this process? Well, to start with, if you were ever or are now a member of the Alum Rock County Branch Friends of the Library group, contact the Alum Rock Library and let them know you are interested in becoming a "Friend" of the new library. The existing Friends group should make every effort to revitalize itself and be ready to step into the new branch. Those who live near Hillview Branch should call there and make efforts to revitalize that group.

On Saturday, October 18, from 8:30 AM to Noon there will be a city-wide Friends conference at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library (Lecture Room, 2nd Floor) to present information on how to revitalize Friends groups. Basic information will be available to help Friends groups regroup and begin a development process. For more information on how to get started on the revitalization process call me, John A. Ramos, San Jose Public Library Commission at (408) 923-5128 or (408) 294-1237 and leave a message. My E-mail is:

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A Boo-tiful (and Fun) Halloween Event for You and Your Kids

Canned goods for the The Lord's Pantry will get you into Foothill Presbyterian's big party

If you're looking for a family-oriented Halloween event for yourself and your kiddies through sixth grade age, Foothill Presbyterian Church has just the ticket. Their "Family Festival" on the big evening itself, Friday, October 31st from 5:00 to 7:00 PM will be a perfectly safe and fun alternative for Halloween.

Door-to-door treating, games, a cake walk, free hot dogs for those in costume, an enchanted house(!) a hay ride, and crafts will all be a part of the evening. Even a magician will be there and a clown who will delight the children (and you, too, if you're still a kid at heart) with creatively tied balloons. Free finger-printing of children will also be available - an important safety measure for your family's peace of mind.

Kids must be accompanied by an adult, so bring your whole family and lots of friends. Bring a treat bag along for each of the kids. The event is free, but it will be appreciated if you bring canned goods which will be donated to The Lord's Pantry to help feed those in need.

Foothill Presbyterian Church is located at 5301 McKee Road just east of Toyon. The fun will take place in their courtyard and Fellowship Hall. Marilyn Kromrey and Jocelyn Barker are coordinating the evening's fun. For further information, phone (408) 258-8133.

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East Hills Community Association Elections Cancelled

At a meeting last week to plan for the scheduled October 4th election of officers of the East Hills Community Association, it was decided that they "needed to generate a lot more energy and interest than has been expressed to date in order to hold a fair election."  Click here to read the letter from Tanya Freudenberger explaining this decision and their plans.

We try to update our Community Bulletin Board quickly when changes occur for the events we have posted.  Please check it for the latest information throughout the month.

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The New Alum Rock Youth Center

It will be a cool - and safe - place for teens to hang out

The wonderful new Alum Rock Youth Center which has been going up at the eastern edge of the Pala Middle School campus is nearly ready to begin its life as a cool - and safe - place for teenagers to hang out. The members of the St. John Vianney Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of PACT (People Acting in Community Together) recognized the need for an after school facility more than twelve years ago and have been working tirelessly ever since initiating and shepherding the project from dream to reality.

Dolores Montenegro, San Jose Redevelopment Agency Project Manager, took two groups on a tour of the site in early August. The tour groups included City Councilmember Nora Campos, who has embraced the project since she was elected, ARYC's Coordinator Ed Solis, James Lick High School Principal Bernardo Olmos and members of PACT and NNV. NNV snapped a few photos to give readers a sense of the scope of the project. Although the windows were still boarded up, sheets of plastic hung from the ceilings, and the bare concrete floors were floured with a thick coating of dust, the "bones" of the complex were evident and very impressive.

The footprint of the building is similar to earlier youth centers built around the city, but ARYC's planning reflects refinement and fine-tuning not present in the prototypes. Most impressive to NNV is the siting of the building - it is oriented to take advantage of natural lighting and ventilation. ARYC should have very modest power bills for a 17,300 square foot facility.

Every room has huge windows - many with views of the east hills in the distance. Some rooms have clerestory windows up-top and there's a large, beautiful round sky-light capturing daylight in the main entry hall.

The floor plan was cleverly conceived to offer maximum security with minimum personnel. The sightlines down the corridors were designed so that whoever is supervising the kids can see easily into all the spaces. The rooms are spacious and will be well-appointed for their various purposes. There are rooms for chatting and rooms for studying and rooms for just hanging. There is a room for games and a room for computers. There is even a community meeting room which we adults may use.

There is a light and airy full-size gymnasium with pull-down bleachers for seating. Its roof is designed with inset north-facing glazing which captures light - but not heat. The gym abuts a stage for young people's productions.

Sometime in November, the Alum Rock Youth Center will be officially opened to the public with a ceremony. We'll all be invited to this Grand Opening event and encouraged to go in and see for ourselves what can be achieved when "people act in community together."

Stay tuned for the date and time. NNV will put the information on our Community Bulletin Board as soon as it is available and we'll plan to take some photos of the finished project for the December edition of the newsletter - just in case there are some readers who can't make it to the big occasion.

Click here to see NNV photos of the Alum Rock Youth Center under construction. Click here (PDF file) to see more photos of the ARYC including the artist's conception of how the finished project will look.

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Preservation vs. Property Rights in Santa Clara County

Draft ordinance could affect YOUR property!

Public Meeting on November 20, 7:00 PM

By Edward Allegretti, Member, Historical Heritage Commission of Santa Clara County

We in Santa Clara County are fortunate to have an official body, called the Historical Heritage Commission, created by the Board of Supervisors in order to protect, preserve, and promote the appreciation, recognition and preservation of historic resources in Santa Clara County. Primarily an advisory group to the County Board of Supervisors, amongst its duties are to:

· Conduct studies and surveys of cultural resources

· Maintain the cultural resources inventory

· Designate landmarks, heritage properties, and heritage trees

· Review applications for certificates of appropriateness and some building permits

· Work with other agencies and groups to promote local history

Members of the commission work closely with various County departments in order to accomplish their objectives. Recently members of the County staff have drafted a new ordinance, called the Historic Preservation Ordinance, for Santa Clara County which concerns the treatment of historic properties and trees in our county.

I will discuss some of its contents because it could affect your property or other properties in our unincorporated area of Santa Clara County.

Duty to Keep in Good Repair

Page 6 of the ordinance states, "The owner, person or persons having legal custody and control of a designated cultural resources should keep it free from any structural defects and in good repair all of the exterior portions, and all interior portions thereof, whose maintenance is necessary to prevent deterioration and decay of such designated resource as determined by the building official." No doubt most folks in our county are interested in the proper maintenance and preservation of a cultural resource. However, if a property that you own is designated a resource, you will be required to maintain it according to standards determined by a county building official. If you don't maintain it according to these standards, and at your own time and expense, penalties can be imposed.

Enforcement and Penalties

Page 8 of the proposed ordinance gives the following penalties: a violation of the ordinance will find the person guilty of a misdemeanor, a violation may result in a sum equal to the replacement value of the landmark up to $200,000, a failure to obtain a certificate of appropriateness (approval for any changes made to the property) may result in a stop notice of any work being performed, a violation could cause the property owner to pay any and all expenses and attorney fees, an owner found in violation of the ordinance will not be permitted to make any further changes for a period of five years, and any person who violates the provision concerning heritage trees shall incur a civil penalty of $10,000 to $200,000 plus a criminal penalty of $10,000 to $200,000.

Designation of Landmarks, Heritage Properties and Heritage Trees

So, what is a cultural property? Page 10 of the proposed ordinance states, "…the Board of Supervisors may designate those buildings, structures, landscapes, objects, sites, trees or districts,….. as 'landmarks,' 'heritage properties,' and 'heritage trees' which meet the criteria outlined for each designation classification…" Although there is a process for receiving one of the three mentioned designations, ultimately the power of such a designation rests with the County Board of Supervisors and the property owner has no legal right to stop it.

The criteria for Landmarks, Heritage Property and Heritage Trees are:

Landmark: A least 50 years old. If less than 50 years, in must be important or distinctive. It must retain its historical integrity. It should be associated with an event of historical importance, or with the life of a person or persons of importance historically, or it must be distinctive in terms of construction or other artistic value, or it must be important to the pre-history of our area or nation.

Heritage Property: Is not a landmark property, is 30 years or older, retains its historical integrity, and meets one of the following three: worthy of preservation because it benefits the local community, represents a building which is now rare in the community, or possesses a distinctive location or characteristic in the community.

Heritage Tree: The tree must be associated with an important event or person in history, or represent a valuable or distinctive specimen, or be a rare or unusual species.

Certificates of Appropriateness

If a property receives one of the above designations, approval from the county, with fees and much paperwork, must be obtained for any alterations. Some of the alterations that would require this approval if done to your property are as follows:

For a Landmark: Exterior alterations, additions, new construction, demolition, relocation.

For a Heritage Property: Additions exceeding 200 square feet, roof changes, door or window modifications, porch changes, substantial change in exterior materials, construction of a detached building, demolition.

For a Heritage Tree: Any work or action, including pruning.

Tree Preservation and Removal

In addition to officially designated Heritage Trees, any trees in the hillside and other designated areas of our county meeting the following criteria will also be protected: any tree having a main trunk stem measuring 37.7 inches or greater in circumference at 4.5 feet above ground level, a tree which exceeds 20 feet in height. Any other trees so designated by the County would also be included.

Failure to obtain approval and a permit to prune, remove or cut such a tree (there are stated exceptions) could result in civil penalties of $5,000 per tree and a charge of misdemeanor.


Of course, there are remedies to fight having a tree or property given official designation. There are also exceptions to alterations a person may wish to make on a tree or property. However, such exceptions require official County approval which usually involves a permit, much paperwork, fees and possibly special reports (from licensed tree experts, historical experts, property appraisers, etc.).

Review of Undesignated Resources with Potential Historic Significance

For a property to receive a cultural designation (landmark, heritage property or heritage tree) somebody, such as the owner or a neighbor or any interested person, must start the paperwork process with the county. However, under this ordinance anyone applying for a building or development permit would be required to have the planning department review the property to identify potential historic resources. The permit applicant will be required, if requested by the planning office, to provide forms and supporting documents to assist them in their review. If the planning office feels that the resource potentially meets landmark status, the applicant will be required at their expense to retain a qualified historical resources consultant. If it is decided the property is a landmark, the owner will be required to complete any environmental documentation required by the California Environmental Quality Act, pay the associated fees and make application for the previously mentioned Certificate of Appropriateness (an exception to not being allowed to alter the landmark). Of course, you won't be able to continue with any work on your property until this is all resolved.

Please know that this is just a summary of the ordinance. There is much that has not been discussed in this article and thus I encourage you to read the draft ordinance. However, I've tried to briefly mention the major points that could affect your rights as a property owner and that could affect you personally as a property owner. If this ordinance passes it could directly limit your property rights, it could result in much expense and paperwork for any desired changes to your property, and could result in fines and misdemeanor charges against you personally.

On November 20, 2003, the Historical Heritage Commission will hold a public meeting on this proposed ordinance at 7:00 PM in the Board of Supervisors' chambers in the County offices at 70 West Hedding Street. The purpose of this meeting is to allow members of the public to express their opinions and concerns. I greatly encourage you to attend this meeting and to seriously consider this proposed ordinance. 

Comments or questions can be e-mailed to me at I'll forward comments to the commission clerk or you can send them directly to her, Dana Peak, at

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Lifestyle Properties - And Ellen Rauh's Lifestyle

The friendly blonde on your scratch pad

You know that blonde who smiles back at you from all those handy little lined scratch pads which you've found tossed in your driveway over the years? If you're anything like the folks at NNV, you've memorized the pleasant features as you've jotted down phone messages on one of her tablets - and maybe even doodled on a blue-ink hairdo or, on more creative days, a pair of stylish specs! That's Ellen Rauh in the photo; you can thank her in person for providing you with shopping list paper - if her idea of a BIG neighborhood party comes to fruition some day.

Ellen Rauh's Lifestyle Properties signs crop up frequently in our neighborhood. Her name has practically become a household word since she started her real estate business here in 1987. In person, Ellen is just as personable and friendly as she appears. What you can't tell from that photo is that she speaks with just a hint of a southern drawl - remnants of her childhood growing up in Baldwin County, Alabama before she moved with her family to Wildwood, New Jersey for her high school years.

Ellen began her Real Estate career in Yorba Linda (Orange County) as a sales person in 1979 and attended nearby Fullerton College while living in the Southland. She and her husband, Gary, moved to Chula Vista Court in 1986. Ellen is the "broker/owner" of Lifestyle Properties and Gary has taken on the responsibilities of marketing, web site maintenance "and anything computer-related," according to Ellen. He is also a licensed broker - since 1995.

NNV asked which years brought the highs and lows in real estate sales around here. Ellen replied that 1999 was her personal best with thirty-eight sales, but the year she started her business locally, 1987, was the worst with only ten or twelve sales to her credit. Ellen specializes in selling foothill homes from North Valley/Berryessa to the Evergreen area. However, she has sold homes as far south as Carmel, in other parts of Santa Clara County and even in Fremont. She says that selling real estate in the East hills is easier now than it was earlier because "people from other areas are now appreciating what we have here!" According to Ellen, the current downswing is the result of over-inflated prices returning to realistic figures and, of course, that longstanding bugaboo, the downturn in the Silicon Valley economy. Ellen reminds us that "we were fortunate not to lose as much (real estate value) as some other areas" - of course our neighborhood had never reached the outrageous levels that some others had! In any case, she predicts that "we will begin to see prices rise again in 2005."

When asked for any funny stories she could relate about her experiences selling homes, Ellen cited two examples where she used the lock box key on apparently unoccupied houses only to find what seemed to be deceased owners. One, it turned out was merely a hard-of-hearing man who had napped through her entrance. (Imagine their mutual surprise when he awoke!) The other, an October surprise, was a pair of legs sticking out of a bedroom doorway. At first Ellen thought she might be the butt of a Halloween joke - then when she realized that the legs were attached to someone, she thought she might have stumbled upon a corpse until the "body" awoke and boozily explained that she had "the flu."

NNV was curious as to what changes Ellen would expect in the neighborhood if new people moving in were aware that their children could get a good education at Lick High School. Ellen thanked NNV for the Lick article(s) and felt they were informative, but she pragmatically answered, "Higher tests scores (at Lick) would make our prices increase." NNV figures that test scores are not likely to improve unless - or until - people in our neighborhood focus on the strengths of the school rather than its low test scores and send their strong students there. A real conundrum!

Ellen's passions are "traveling the world to scuba dive and to see how people live" as well as gardening in her yard and vineyard. She and Gary have a wonderful vineyard which has become a labor of love for themselves and their neighbors.

Ellen and Gary have embraced our neighborhood wholeheartedly. They support and champion area campaigns and are always willing to give a helping hand to worthy causes. Lifestyle Properties is one of New Neighborhood Voice's generous "Founding Sponsors."

Ellen thinks a neighborhood yearly "BBQ-potluck" would be fun and help people reconnect with each other. NNV seconds the thought!

Click here for photos of Ellen and Gary.

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You Dig It?

Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with East side gardening and related topics here.

October Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Cottony Cushion Scale: This scale attacks woody plants, especially citrus, Pittosporum, Nandina and salvias. The scale literally sucks the life out of the host plant and can reduce the yield of citrus trees. The scale itself is a mobile, colored insect, but the much larger, attached, fluted white egg sac is much more visible. There are three generations per year and three instar forms covered with a whitish cottony secretion that disappears when they molt. There are two insect predators that can provide good control of this pest: the vedalia beetle and a red and black lady beetle. As with many scale insects, ants will protect them in exchange for the honeydew secretions. Control the ants with Tanglefoot or baits. A stiff water spray can be effective for a small infestation. For more information, see the U.C. Pest Note at

Powdery Mildew: This fungus produces a white powdery appearance on leaves and sometimes other green plant parts. It can be found on roses, dahlias, chrysanthemums, peas, chard and squash. Some rose varieties are so susceptible that you should think about 'root pruning' (dig it up). Powdery mildews are favored by warm days and cool nights and moderate temperatures (68° to 86°F). Unlike other fungal spores, most powdery mildew spores are killed in water. An effective non-toxic spray can be made with baking soda. To each gallon of water, add 3-4 teaspoons of salad oil and 3-4 teaspoons of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda and mix well. Use a fine spray and apply to affected plants. This can also help prevent black spot on roses and some foliar vegetable diseases. For more information see the U.C. Pest Note on Powdery Mildew at  

Lawns: Growing a beautiful, healthy lawn is not difficult if you choose a good turf species for your location and follow proper mowing, fertilizing and irrigation procedures. A vigorously growing turf resists pest damage and weed invasion. Improper irrigation and/or poor choice of turf species are at the root of most lawn problems. You can manage your lawn with very little application of pesticides if you follow the guidelines given at This site can help you identify what turf type you have and the best method for caring for it.

Arborists: Did you know that certified arborists can be located on Just enter your zip code and a list will be displayed.

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Attract and Protect Wildlife in Your Garden

By Marci Hayden, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley

Here are some guidelines to guarantee your garden will attract and protect wildlife.
The rules are pretty simple: provide life's basic essentials and you'll be rewarded with opportunities to share your domestic tranquility with some of nature's creatures.


Grow fruit and berry producing plants and trees, or just place store-bought or hand-made feeders around your yard. Even peanuts (either the shelled or unshelled kind) and sliced fruit on a secure plastic tray can serve as a major attraction; just make sure to keep it clean, and remove any uneaten fruit regularly. Your garden must offer meals if you want anyone to live there! Some good plants to grow: crab apples, hollies, junipers, magnolias, pines, roses.


Provide housing by including a variety of sizes and shapes of bushes and trees. Low-growing and medium-sized hedges will give birds and critters the convenience of comfortable places to stay or dash into when any kind of danger approaches. All types of wildlife love to hide and most usually they are hiding from you!


Perhaps the most important thing in our gardens during the dry months is fresh water. Dehydration quickens health problems for every living thing. Try keeping a few sources of clean, shallow water around the yard. You could have at least one birdbath elevated a couple feet off the ground, located somewhere easily accessible (so you'll fill it and clean it often). Then place another shallower dish or two in open areas for butterflies to sit and sip or even for nocturnal raccoons to dip their food.


If your garden has different levels of bushes, hedges and trees, abundant nest-building material probably already exists. Stacking logs, rocks, or even broken concrete provides safe haven for small scurrying critters who would rather not have you ever lay eyes on them (including spiders, lizards, salamanders, and small rodents). Unfortunately for these little critters, mounded rocks can look untidy in an urban landscape, so hide these stacked materials behind a wall or fence if you can. Any place towards the back of your property where these piles can be left undisturbed is ideal. Habitat diversity is what you're striving for, so this includes insects and ground crawlers.

Domestic Animals

Keep all pets contained indoors, or at least confined to certain parts of your yard. Leave some part of the garden safe for wildlife to flourish unimpeded by domestic animals' instinctive predatory behavior.


Growing bushes for shelter (see above) is just one of the multitude of reasons why shrubs are so important for wildlife in a garden. Flowering shrubs or hedges help to create a hospitable wildlife environment because most will attract beneficial insects, and the plants with berries or hips provide perfect food for birds, as well as visual interest for us to enjoy. Planting bushes in groups, in areas that receive little human traffic, is one of the surest ways to attract and protect wildlife.

Do Not Use Pesticides or Herbicides

Every time petrochemicals are applied to deter growth or repel bugs, something living gets killed. Whenever death and destruction occur in the garden at the hand of humankind, it's not part of nature's plan and can only be accounted for in unnatural ways. Another way of saying this is, "for every action, there is a reaction": the ground water, the runoff, the seeds, and even the snails, along with all the birds, etc. that eat and drink outdoors will also get poisoned unavoidably from substance abuse. Instead, garden according to nature's plan, using only mechanical means of eliminating weeds or chasing off the aphids we want to rid from our gardens.

Pull unwanted weeds as soon as they surface by hand or hoe, or use a weed whacker for taller weeds. Remember, if weeds don't receive water, they'll eventually die back to the ground. When weeds get brown and crisp, all you do is gather them up or rake aside-of course the problem is, by then they've had a chance to spread seeds, so take note to catch them earlier in the future. Mulch on top, add compost to all the garden beds, and you won't have as many weeds next season.

For uninvited insects, a strong spray of water from a garden hose will usually deter or completely eliminate the invaders. Once you keep unwanted bugs off desired plants, the beneficial insects already present in the garden have a chance to devour their enemies before any population gets to be a problem. Remember: infestation is only accelerated by applying toxic pesticides! Don't be fooled by the advertisements; whenever sprays are used to kill greenery, the death is indiscriminate and you'll also lose the time and money it took to acquire and grow all the "good" plants.

Bottom line: Wildlife just won't live peacefully in a garden if pesticides or herbicides are present. The smell and taste of chemicals bans them from the site and can hasten their demise as well.

Go Organic

A number of good resources can assist with organic propagation. We are very fortunate to have nearby Common Ground Organic Garden Supply and Education Center, a not-for-profit garden supply and education center in Palo Alto (; located at 559 College Avenue; phone: (650) 493-6072).

NNV Note: Click here for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley Web site.  Click here for their latest "baby pictures."

Has your persnickety cat turned up her nose at the canned food you bought her? Got some unopened cans left which you'd like to donate? WCSV can use any type of canned cat food. As for dry food, they can use only Purina Cat Chow or Science Diet Feline Maintenance. They can also use paper towels and unscented tissues. Call WCSV at (408) 929-9453.

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Our Local Supermarkets

Save Mart, Albertsons and Pak'n Save

By Connie Allegretti

After reading the first article about our dirty supermarkets here in our area, I hoped to have good news to report. As we all know the Save Mart located on McKee in the Country Club shopping center is our nicest market in the area.

I recently made a call to Albertsons and Pak'n Save at Capitol and McKee to talk to the store managers and here is what I have to report:

When I spoke to Vuong Tran the manager of Albertsons, I asked him if there were any plans to remodel this store. He told me they have plans to remodel, but he could not tell me when this would happen. I asked if it would happen in 2004 and he said he did not know. I'm sure someday it will eventually be remodeled. I have shopped in other Albertsons stores in San Jose that are kept very clean and have been remodeled. I don't understand why Albertsons won't invest in this particular store.

I spoke with Darren Ortiz at the Pak'n Save. He told me there are no plans to remodel. Pak'n Save rents the space from a man who lives in Hawaii and he didn't think the owner was very interested in updating the shopping center. He asked me if I was familiar with Pak'n Save. Although I have never shopped at this particular store, I used to shop at the Pak'n Save on Almaden Expressway. This Pak'n Save has been converted to a Safeway since then. Mr. Ortiz told me Pak'n Save at Capitol and McKee is more like a Safeway, because their items are stocked on the shelves rather than in the boxes on the shelves.

Unfortunately, our local markets don't have any intentions of cleaning up and updating their stores. As for me, I think I'll stick with Save Mart. The store is always clean and I can always find what I am looking for. The service is always helpful and friendly too.

Click here to see "my" Save Mart

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletWhat progress is being made getting Mark's Hot Dogs up and running?
bulletWhat response did NNV receive about Mercury News vacation "stops"?
bulletSo, NNV didn't receive horror stories regarding crummy U.S. Postal "Service" either, huh?
bulletIs there any way NNV readers can meet NNV writers - or the editorial staff?
bulletHow's come the East Highlands "Triangle" sign is still that homely shade of orange?

Q. What progress is being made getting Mark's Hot Dogs up and running? It's been too long since the famous hot dog stand moved from lower Alum Rock to Capitol off Alum Rock without serving those delicious hot dogs.

A. The work on "The Big Orange" is happening - but slowly. NNV photographer Elizabeth Driedger snapped a few pics recently which show that there must have been more than a few drops of O.J. shed due to wounds suffered during the move and resettlement. Be brave. Keep your condiments handy and your buns dry. Mark's WILL rise again.

Q. So……..what kind of response did NNV receive when you asked people in the neighborhood to share their "absolutely lousy" Mercury News vacation "stop" experiences?

A. Well, you would have thought we were living in a parallel universe here on Highland Drive! It seems NO ONE but NNV had a horror story to tell about their newspapers not ceasing to be delivered while they were on vacation. Apparently it's only us who find papers yellowing in the driveway when we return from a trip. This is even after jumping through the hoops of the newspaper's "automated customer service" or telling a living breathing customer service person when we wanted our final paper delivered - and when we wanted the service resumed.

And, I guess it's just us who would never ever receive all the back newspapers which the Merc was "saving" for us. Was is really only us who, for example, would ask to have the paper stopped for two weeks (and those papers saved for us) only to find that the paper was delivered during the first three days and the last four days of those two weeks - and that the papers in the middle were nowhere to be found and therefore undeliverable? It's hard to believe that our house is a little island where such problems occur predictably - and everyone else has hunky-dory service, isn't it?

Well, it is possible that things are looking up. During the week of 9-15 we went away for several days after going through the motions of making the same preparations that inevitably had failed before - hey, what else could we do? Would you believe that the first morning after we returned, the newspaper delivery guy dumped all three Mercury News' and all three Wall St. Journals, (which he also delivers) rubber-banded together on our driveway? It was as though we had died and gone to heaven!

Now we're wondering if NNV's "power of the press" which reader Alan Henninger credited with the removal of the County's Miguelito Bridge porta-potty is also at work here. Wouldn't it be nice if all we had to do was gripe noisily in NNV and someone in charge would listen? We must report, also, that our U.S. mail delivery stopped and started as we requested on 9-13, too. Wow, could we be on a roll?

Q. So, NNV didn't receive horror stories regarding crummy U.S. Postal "Service" either, huh?

A. Au contraire! You can read a couple of humdingers on our Letters to the Editor page.

Q. Is there any way NNV readers can meet NNV writers - or the editorial staff?

A. So glad you asked! NNV will have a table at YSI's Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park on Sunday, October 12th. Your humble editor and several regular writers including Ed Allegretti, our prolific writer of local history, and Meaghan Clawsie, a professional writer who has also written many articles for NNV, will be there to chat and schmooze with festival visitors. ALL of our readers, writers, photographers and other contributors are welcome to come and get acquainted. For information on this free event, right in our own backyard, see the NNV Bulletin Board or the "Brief" in this edition.

Q. How's come the East Highlands "Triangle" sign is still that homely shade of orange? Weren't there plans to paint it?

A. The painting "party" was postponed and is on again for the morning of Saturday, October 4th. The Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition volunteers may be out in force right this moment - possibly just as you're reading these words. Don't hesitate to drop by the site and give them a round of applause. They do wonderful work keeping our neighborhood spruced up - with little or no recognition. The new color scheme had not been announced as of this writing.

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You can send comments or letters to the editor (Click Here to see the Letters)

E-mail us at or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions.  Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements.  Want to write articles or essays?  Please let us know!

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--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2003 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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