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Mexican Heritage Plaza
James Lick Junior
Bumb at the
San Jose Flea Market
|James Lick High - Despite perceptions, our local high school offers solid education|
|Mexican Heritage Plaza: A precious public place|
|Talking Trash (and Treasure) with Brian Bumb of the SJFM by Meaghan Clawsie|
Keith Bush, Assemblymember Manny Diaz, Bud LoMonaco Jr., Daina de Török
|"Mt. Hamilton Challenge" Cycling Event Draws Hundreds by Tim Schacher|
|Lick High School's Vanessa Flores Honored, Sponsored by Eastside Kiwanis Club|
|Old Houses in Our Neighborhoods by Ed Allegretti|
|May 17th - A major major day in the neighborhood!|
|Huge County Budget Challenges, Comments Requested by Supervisor Pete McHugh|
|"Illusions" at the Presentation High School Fashion Show by Stephanie Stapleton|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This past winter, in his Mercury News column, Joe Rodriguez wrote some disparaging things about James Lick High School, our neighborhood school. Soon after, Joanne Makishima, an academic counselor at the school, responded with an earnest letter to the editor defending the school and its hard-working staff. Joe Rodriguez then threw the school a bit of faint praise before he dropped the topic.
Jeanne Albert, a former JLHS parent, in response to Ms. Makishima's letter, also wrote a letter to the Merc. She described the school which Lick had been as recently as 15 or 20 years ago "when an enthusiastic and thoroughly professional staff produced six or seven National Merit Scholars every year, Stanford scholarship winners, service academy appointees and a bevy of undergraduates transported to Santa Clara University daily for advanced placement classes - all from a student body of first-generation Mexican-Americans, Vietnamese children who once couldn't speak a word of English and many other low-income ethnic groups." Ms. Albert counseled that academic failure should not be blamed on "poverty, limited English-speaking and ethnic diversity; James Lick had already conquered those obstacles with honors." Instead, she wrote, the ESUHSD board and administrators should "get back to the business of successfully educating kids - all kids."
NNV wondered, if today's student body is even remotely similar to what it was fifteen years ago, whether James Lick High School can once again be a school which our neighborhood can look to proudly. And, we wondered, how much of Lick's tarnished image is a product of distorted perception or entrenched negativity toward all things "Eastside."
To this end, NNV proposes to shine a light on Lick High School - exposing its strengths and identifying its weaknesses with an eye toward getting our community behind the school so the strengths are enhanced and the deficits diminished. Imagine the win/win consequences to the students and to the perceptions of the neighborhood - not to mention the relief to the pocketbooks of folks who now feel obliged to send their children to pricey private schools!
If the reader thinks NNV is due for a reality check, a few facts about today's JLHS might help dispel some misperceptions. Students who are intent on getting a good education can do so at James Lick. Lick offers Advanced Placement classes in most subject areas. The fact that the school's over-all test scores are low does not mean that motivated students can't succeed. The school works closely with Santa Clara University and sends graduates there every year. Being a Lick High School graduate is not an impediment to getting into other fine universities. Some of the school's staff members send their own children there and their children flourish. Lick is the smallest high school in the district at around 1200 students. Its band program has recently resumed and "The Observer" school newspaper is back in print. Students can "distinguish themselves" at Lick High School just as readily as at any other school.
NNV seeks balance on all topics. If you would or wouldn't send your kids there or if you do or don't think you or your children got a good education at Lick, please tell us why. You can send letters to the editor to JudyET@NNVESJ.org or phone (408) 272-7008 or fax (408) 272-4040. Please put "Letter to the Editor" in the Subject line and include your name and phone number in case we have questions.
Next month: NNV will report on improvements at the school and its surroundings - and investigate whether it can be worthy of being the true hub of our community as the school would like to be. Interviews with parents, teachers, staff, tutors and students are underway.
Click here to see the first Letter to the Editor on this topic. It was received from parents of Lick graduates as a result of NNV's preliminary investigation. Click here to see the James Lick High School Web site - it has lots of good information! Click here for the East Side Union High School District Web site.
I (your chagrined editor) am embarrassed to admit that the very first time that I set foot in the Mexican Heritage Plaza was not until this past March when NNV attended the Cesar Chavez Commemorative breakfast. We went to the Plaza that morning to hear the tributes to Cesar Chavez so we could write about the event in last month's edition of the newsletter. Beyond the touching and provocative program, we were overwhelmed by the beautiful and elegant, art-studded gardens. Since that day, I have been examining my motives for not having gone there sooner.
I'm afraid that I thought I would feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in this most quintessentially Mexican place.
I am very sorry that I waited so long - and I wonder if there are not a lot of other people among our readership who have never paid a visit because they need a bit of reassurance that they will feel welcome if they venture through those gates.
Those magnificent gates! They alone are worth a visit. Each gate complex is an exquisite wrought-iron composition with differing, charming, pre-Columbian motifs. Importantly, as you can see by the photos accompanying this story, all the gates are open and beckon the visitor to enter.
Each gate is surrounded by marvelous glazed tiles of differing themes and hues. Underfoot are colorful mosaics - beautiful complex kaleidoscopic patterns - each unique to the gate it enriches. In niches along the south wall are tapestries made up of scores of photographic tiles - each representing San Jose's Mexican-Americans, their families and icons symbolic of their heritage.
There are fountains and pools - and magnificent roses and cactuses. Near the paprika red east wall is a larger-than-life, six-man wrought-iron mariachi band, but the visitor must imagine the music in this serene garden. A long shady palm allee invites a slow stroll.
There is a large plaza defined by buildings on two sides which house a five hundred seat theater and La Galeria, one of several spaces for visual arts exhibitions. The glass-walled "Pavilion" forms the backdrop of the plaza and is evocative, inside and out, of a Mesoamerican pyramid.
The gates of the Mexican Heritage Plaza are open every day from 9 AM to 9 PM. It is a public park and visitors are welcome to come to sit or stroll and enjoy the beautiful ambiance. There is plenty of free parking (enter from either Alum Rock Avenue or King Road). You are welcome to come in!
Besides being a peaceful mecca at Alum Rock Avenue and King Road, the plaza offers space for meetings and receptions (up to 1,000 guests!), classes, educational programs, theater performances, art and music exhibitions, and student and family festivals. You needn't be bilingual, but you may find that a little Spanish vocabulary passively rubs off on you as you allow yourself to be charmed by the culture. You can visit their Web site or drop in at the rental office to pick up event flyers and brochures while you're getting acquainted with this wonderful community resource.
Click here to see the photos of the Mexican Heritage Plaza.
For Brian Bumb, owner and general manager of the San Jose Flea Market, directing day-to-day operations at the largest open-air emporium in the world can't be an easy task. The busy 43-year old market, which sits on more than 120 acres, is one of the most-visited attractions in California, drawing more than 4 million people each year.
In addition to the crowds who flock to the market, there are also more than 500 employees and 6,000 weekly sellers who must be supervised. Because all of these visitors, employees and vendors need to be kept safe, happy and comfortable at all times, the flea market provides them with amenities such as entertainment, security, and a plentiful variety of food and drink options (there are more than 30 restaurants and 60 roving food and beverage carts on the premises).
There are also many behind-the-scenes details to attend to at the flea market. The market, which resembles a small city, boasts more than 1,000 small properties on its grounds, all of which are designed to be entirely self-sufficient in the case of a San Jose power, water or sewer system failure.
While some of these numbers may make Brian's responsibilities sound overwhelming, one would never guess that his job was anything short of pure enjoyment when talking to him. Whether it's his love of the flea market and a genuine fondness for the work, or whether it's because Brian practically grew up at the market, somehow he seems to take it all in stride.
So how does Brian make such a demanding job appear so effortless? And how is it that he finds the time to successfully cultivate additional business interests on the side? To explain the answers to these and other questions, Brian took some time out of his busy schedule recently to sit down with NNV and discuss his life. He also gave NNV a unique tour of the inner workings of the flea market and discussed the other business he runs, Environmental Management Services (EMS) LLC.
To begin to understand where Brian's industrious work ethic comes from, some background information on his ancestors and their spirited history here in East San Jose may be helpful.
As Brian tells it, the first of his relatives to come to California (or the U.S., for that matter), was his grandfather Frank Bumb, who arrived here from Germany by way of Pittsburgh shortly after WWI. After meeting and marrying his first wife, Frank and his family (3 boys and 2 girls) settled down in downtown San Jose, first on 8th Street, and later on 16th Street. After 16 years of marriage, however, his wife passed away, leaving Frank a single father.
During this period of his life, Frank made his living working for Mother's Cookies. According to Brian, this made him "the hit of the neighborhood" when each evening he brought bags of the day's discarded cookies home and shared them with the throngs of neighborhood children who gathered around his truck. During those difficult economic times, Frank felt fortunate just to be working, and tried his best to save some money each month to build a nest egg for himself and his family.
While Frank put in long hours at Mother's Cookies, the task of raising his children fell largely upon his oldest son, Frank Jr., who, when he wasn't attending Bellarmine College Prep, did his best to look after his siblings. Little did Frank Jr. know, but watching over his brothers and sisters also meant later finding one of them a spouse. When Frank Jr. was in college at San Jose State, he met a young woman from Santa Maria, Elva Allen, who later became his wife. Ms. Allen ended up introducing her sister Lorraine to Frank Jr.'s younger brother George (Brian's father), and that couple went on to marry as well. George and Lorraine eventually produced 8 children, 4 boys (of which Brian is the youngest), and 4 girls.
Around this time, Frank Sr. and his three sons, Frank Jr., George and John, began to pool their extra earnings and dabble in the local real estate market. The first investment they made was purchasing a piece of property in an area close to where McKee Road now meets Alum Rock Avenue. The area was relatively quiet except for a few ranches and farms nearby, and a road that got busier on weekends when people would go up the hill to Alum Rock Park.
As to why the Bumb men chose that particular location, Brian isn't exactly sure, but he remembers his father George telling him stories about how, as a child, his parents would take him and his siblings up to Alum Rock Park by way of the trolley. Later, when George was a teenager, he would often take his bike on the long ride up to the park from downtown, an especially fond memory that may have made him partial to the area.
A few years after acquiring the land near McKee Road, Frank Sr. and his sons decided to sell that property and purchase another, bigger piece of land (4 acres) on the northwest corner of Penitencia Creek Road and Piedmont Road. There, the brothers each built a home for themselves and another for the 2 oldest brothers' common mother-in-law. (In the 1970's, that property was eventually condemned by the city to make way for the park that is currently there).
In addition to buying property with each other, eventually all of Frank Sr.'s sons began to purchase their own acreage on places in the East Foothills where they hoped to settle with their families. Frank Jr., the oldest sibling, led the way by buying some land on the southwest corner of Miguelito and Alum Rock Avenue. Frank's brother George shared his fondness for the neighborhood, and in 1959 purchased a home even further up the hill. In fact, according to Brian, his father George used to say, "Why would you want to live on the other side of the valley (in places like Los Gatos and Saratoga) when here you have better views and a better climate, AND at a quarter of the price?" Eventually John (the youngest brother) also joined his brothers nearby on Greenside (close to the San Jose Golf & Country Club).
Besides the property transactions he was involved in, Brian's father George earned his living working in the garbage and landfill industry, an area that began to increasingly interest him in the late 1950's when he thought there might be a way to capitalize on some of the hidden treasures that he noticed people throwing away. In 1959, after traveling to southern California and observing some of the public swap meets held on the grounds of abandoned movie theater lots, George decided to jump in and start up a swap meet of his own on an abandoned cattle feed lot on Berryessa Road. In March of 1960, with roughly 20 sellers and 100 customers, George officially opened his doors for business and was on his way. Little did he know at the time that one day his meager operation would turn into a bustling bazaar with more than 6,000 weekly sellers on over 120 acres!
Brian Bumb was two years old when his father founded the flea market, and he still vividly recalls spending parts of his childhood there, passing the time splashing in the creek that runs alongside the length of it (Penitencia Creek) and playing baseball with his friends on a makeshift diamond in the parking lot. Over the years, Brian began to help his father out more and more with different aspects of the market, unknowingly preparing himself for the day when he would run it.
In 1985, after 25 years of managing the flea market, George Bumb suffered a heart attack. Realizing that it would be best if he slowed down, he gradually gave his sons increasing responsibilities at the market until he officially retired in 1995, at which point Brian became the general manager. As to why Brian took the helm instead of one of his older brothers, Brian explains that at the time, his brothers were all involved in other businesses that competed with their time at the market, so it made the most sense for him to run it.
All modesty aside, it's clear that Brian was a perfect choice to run the flea market. Business at the market is booming, customer attendance continues to flourish (Brian says that hard economic times are good for flea markets), and there's a huge waiting list of sellers chomping at the bit to rent booths there and be able to sell their wares.
In 2000, Brian felt comfortable enough with his role at the flea market to safely start up another business he had been considering. That's when he founded E.M.S. (Environmental Management Systems) LLC, a dumpster, roll-off and recycling company. According to Brian, E.M.S recycles 100% of the solid waste that it collects, something that the Flea Market has also been doing for years.
If running a garbage-related company sounds like a strange business for Brian to get into, he claims that it's actually a very logical next step, especially since managing waste is an issue that he has become "intimately familiar" with through his work at the Flea Market, which generates approximately 30-40 tons of garbage each week. "By necessity, I learned over the years how to handle and transport vast quantities of solid waste," he explains.
E.M.S. has also proved to be a successful venture for Brian, and fortunately he has found a way to divide his time between the demands of overseeing a new company while continuing to manage all of the day to day operations at the flea market.
While it's clear that Brian has inherited his family's entrepreneurial spirit and diligent work ethic, he still makes time to indulge the many other interests and hobbies that enrich his life outside of the office. For one thing, there's his large family. Brian and his wife Theresa have 5 children, the oldest of whom is in college, and the youngest who is in grammar school. Brian also enjoys golfing as much as possible at the San Jose Golf & Country Club, piloting his four-seater airplane, and biking and running the trails of Alum Rock Park, the park he often played in as a child. "I feel very lucky to have grown up so close to the park, and to still live beside it. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it's a wonderful resource," he says.
Like his father before him, Brian thinks there is much to love about living in the East Foothills, and can't imagine a day when he would ever want to leave. Clearly, much of his extended family feels the same way, because Brian estimates that there must be 50 or so of Frank's direct descendents currently residing in the area.
Speaking of the East Foothills, does Brian have any special memories of growing up in these parts?
"One of the funny little things I remember is being on Alta Vista Way with my sister, and learning how to ride a bike for the first time. After some practice, I had finally come to the point where I could keep my balance for about 3 seconds, so my sister said 'OK, you're ready,' and took me out to the steepest part of the street, pointed me down the hill, and gave me a big push. At some point towards the end of the street, I must've figured out how to use the brakes, because I locked up the back tire and burned through it right down to the rim, just before being launched into the Levitts' locust trees at the bottom of the hill," Brian recounts. "Just about the time I came to my senses and sized up the few scratches I had gotten, my sister came running up, peered through the trees, and pleaded with me, 'Please don't tell mom'."
So, did he ever tell her?
"Nope, she never knew," he chuckles.
And with that, it's time for Brian to go. After all, it's the middle of the afternoon, and he has a very busy schedule to get back to.
Click here to see Meaghan's photo of Brian at the San Jose Flea Market
Keith Bush, Highland Drive's own sculptor-in-residence, has had the honor of having two of his sculptures selected by the City of Santa Clara's 2003 Indoor Sculpture Exhibition. Passersby who frequent the intersection of Highland at Brundage may have noticed that Keith's colorful "Circles with Arcs" which is usually displayed near his driveway has disappeared. Only the circular black base is left behind, looking for all the world as though thieves had carted off this large, very heavy piece of metal sculpture. Not to worry! Circles with Arcs was chosen as one of "several especially striking works" to grace the Santa Clara Convention Center.
Keith's sculpture, "Plaza Wall # 4" is exhibited at Santa Clara City Hall with sixty other representatives of "serious sculptural throught." Santa Clara's second biennial sculpture exhibition opened April 1st and will run until September 30th. For more information, call (408) 615-2219. See a few of Keith's works on our Web site or visit his Web site (use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this page).
State Assemblymember Manny Diaz was honored last month with the 2003 Public Policy Excellence Award presented by the California Association of Nonprofits. CAN is a statewide membership organization of over 1,700 diverse nonprofits, dedicated to protecting, strengthening, and promoting nonprofit organizations in the state.
Manny's hard work on behalf of Assembly Bill 1891 which provides $25 million in funds for affordable housing was cited as well as his commitment to affordable health care and quality education for all California children and their families.
For more information, see Assemblymember Diaz' Web site.
Bud LoMonaco Jr. has been honored by being named one of the seven members of the Measure G Oversight Bond Measure Committee. The committee will oversee the spending of $80 million over a ten year period to improve the school sites of all the high schools in the East Side Union High School District. The funds will be spread equally among the schools and Bud says that the committee's mission will be to have the projects "bid competitively to get the most bang for the buck." Right on!
East Highlands resident Daina Maria de Török marked her 36th Bay Area theatrical production as the Countess de Rossillion in West Valley College's recent production of William Shakespeare's "All's Well that Ends Well." Daina has also performed as an actor and singer with San Jose's Lyric Theater, Sunnyvale Community Players, and Santa Clara Players. Featured roles include Glinda in Wizard of Oz, Mrs. Medlock in Secret Garden, and Sylvianne Bogdonivich in The Merry Widow. She trained at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and is a graduate of UCLA.
Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925, www.lifestyleprop.com
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408)-923-6666, www.keithbush.org
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
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CopyrightŠ 2003 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: JudyET@NNVESJ.org Fax: (408) 272-4040
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CopyrightŠ 2003 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved.