Navy Jet crash
Panther jet like
|Thank you! NNV welcomes back Founding Sponsors - And new sponsors|
|New Businesses For Alum Rock Village – Yes, they ARE coming!|
|Honorary Village Mayor “Mario the Barber” and His Sidekick Ben Torres|
|$106,000 “Settled” On James Lick High School - The Williams Settlement – what is it?|
|Alum Rock Air Disaster - Parts, engines and body parts rained down by David Frizzell|
|Meet RMC’s New Chief Nursing Officer Darina Kavanagh by Victoria Emmons|
|Clayton Road – A History by Patricia Loomis|
|25-Year Delayed Wedding Celebration Rocks Alum Rock! Big, big party at The Drying Shed|
|Felix and Hazel’s Excellent Eastside Adventure - Two classy Brits love Alum Rock|
|One Eastside Boy’s Life - Survives gangs, enters Bellarmine and SCU by Enrique Flores|
|So, What Did You Do Over the Holidays? Gleaming Alum Rock Village YSI Thrift beckons|
|You Dig It?|
|A Date With Judy (and Barbara) - NNV gets taken for a ride|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)|
A million thanks to our generous NNV readers who made a donation to help us keep New Neighborhood Voice afloat for another year. Nearly all of our dear, generous “Founding Sponsors” and 2005 sponsors agreed enthusiastically to sponsor the newsletter again. And, very exciting to us, more new sponsors came forward to join the original supporters.
Please check out our list of sponsors below - and look for our occasional pieces about them and their businesses - and make a point of doing business with them. They all are committed to making our neighborhood a better place to live and they go out of their way to be good citizens of our community.
Thank you all so much!
Judy and Allan Thompson
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
Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering
Contractor, (408) 244-4791
Regional Medical Center of San
The final pieces of the Alum Rock Village puzzle may finally be falling into place. While many of the shops in the vicinity of Alum Rock and White Roads have had their faces lifted with colorful paint jobs, Willow Glen style awnings and gooseneck lamps, some notable holdouts have remained. NNV has come to the realization that people who want to start new businesses in old neighborhoods, such as this one, face innumerable hurdles incomprehensible to the average get-stuff-done-now types which most of us are.
La Bodega Deli and Produce
We have to admire the patience of Rogelio Ruiz and his cousin Carlos Murillo who have been striving to overcome the myriad challenges and difficulties in getting their La Bodega Market off the ground at the corner of Alum Rock and Manning. The pink building which used to house a dry cleaning establishment and a small Asian produce store, has been on-line to become our neighborhood’s new deli-produce store for a couple of years now. It seems that just when Rogelio and Carlos think they’ve gotten the green light to proceed, a new hurdle appears.
We spoke with Rogelio last week and, as usual, he was upbeat and confident that all the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted and that construction can begin soon. “Maybe within 30 to 45 days,” he predicts. He said that he had a “very productive meeting” with Councilmember Nora Campos and Richard Keat of the City’s Redevelopment Agency in mid-January and they had come to a meeting of minds regarding a Façade Improvement Grant to rejuvenate the outside of the building. Rogelio is now “costing out” the interior improvements, he says.
Most aggravating has been the challenge of playing the waiting game with the state regarding the contamination left behind by the dry cleaners. Unbeknownst to us there have been a series of monitoring wells on the property - even out in front of the shop in the soil around the base of the trees! The state now says that no further action is necessary. The polluting chemicals have been rendered harmless. This is especially important in a business which is slated for food use, according to Rogelio.
The Alum Rock Feed & Fuel Corner
Contamination of the soil has also been a component of the challenges faced by Real Estate agent Steve Song who has been handling the sale of the businesses on the corner of Alum Rock and Stewart Avenue across the street from the QuikStop. The corner’s most colorful occupant has always been the defunct old-timey Alum Rock Feed & Fuel, but the parcel includes Brasil Auto and the now-closed Foothill Printers as well. Steve says that the environmental “issues” have just about been worked out with the oil company responsible for leaving behind the contamination.
You may have noticed that Steve’s sign has been removed from the façade of the print shop. He says that he’s “almost ready to close” a deal that would bring a two-story 20,000 square feet retail center to the property “with retail on the ground floor and offices above.” It’s hard to envision such a large project and its necessary parking spaces fitting on that corner, but perhaps we just don’t have the proper vision. Or patience.
During our late January conversation, Steve didn’t stick his neck out and predict what sorts of businesses would occupy the center, but in the past he has hinted at good restaurant chains and he is aware that the community would like to have more restaurants in the Village. It would be most desirable if the block could become a restaurant “mecca” with a significant number of thriving food establishments.
Anthony Caruso’s Project on White Road
Another long missing puzzle piece, the old “Baptist Barbeque” place on the eye-sore lot on White Road across the street from the Lick High School parking lot, is quickly taking shape before our eyes. As of this writing, large girders frame the lot and a very tall concrete block firewall (23 feet high!) has been constructed along the south edge of the property eliminating views of the sky from chiropractor, Dr. Torano’s, next door waiting room.
Anthony Caruso, the developer, tells us that the drive-way into the complex will be along the north end of the lot where the porta-potty is now. The one-story center, at something less than 8,000 square feet, will house six or seven small businesses. So far, a Subway Sandwich franchise is slated to open there and Juice Zone and New York Pizza are “probable.” Anthony says that a credit union may be interested in a space and that the number of shops depends on whether any of the tenants decide they need more than one space. When will they be up and running? “For sure by mid-to-late summer!” says Anthony.
These are exciting times in Alum Rock Village. Their Business Association is building strength and planning some village-wide events which hopefully will create community good will (and more business for the little shops, of course.) It’s important for us to support our mini Willow Glen – the more it thrives, the more our part of East San Jose thrives.
Click here for photos.
Mario Badillo maintains what is probably the last all-male bastion in our neighborhood. Mario’s Barber Shop in Alum Rock Village is a place for men and boys. “This is a man’s kingdom!” huffs portly Mario. So, ladies, don’t even think you can run in there and ask Mario or Ben for a quicky pixie cut!
Four generations of Alum Rock area dads and sons have come to Mario’s small, old-fashioned shop since he took it over from his friend (and now fellow barber) Ben Torres thirty-three years ago. “We’re like one big family here,” Mario says with his genial smile.
There’s been a game of “Musical Barbershop” played around the Alum Rock area since Ben Torres got out of the Navy in 1952 and started his first shop, “Benjo’s” at Alum Rock and Capitol. He moved that shop to Capitol and McKee (on the corner where El Baron Rojo is today) eventually relocating to two different shops on Alum Rock Avenue in the Village. Thirty-three years ago, he sold the current shop to Mario and went afield for a while to work in a unisex shop on Forest Avenue behind Valley Fair. Finally, he opened a new shop called The Varsity which was located in the little strip of storefronts on White Road which was torn down to build the new Cruz/Alum Rock Library. When The Varsity was demolished, Ben came back to Mario’s to lease a space three days a week. He’s been practicing his craft for fifty-three years!
Mario is the “official un-official” Mayor of Alum Rock Village. He’s a James Lick alum (went there from 1956 to 1959) and attended at the same time as major mover-and-shaker, developer Barry Swenson. Mario says that the Badillo family lived on King Road which, at the time, was basically just a country road. His most superlative gift has always been his gift for gab. As a matter of fact, his family thought he talked so pretty - and so much - that he ought to be a lawyer. They were quite disappointed when Mario dropped out of San Jose College and went to barber school instead. The legal profession’s loss was the Village’s gain.
Mario says that to be a good barber, “You gotta have the heart for it!” His kids tell him they could never join him in the profession because they didn’t inherit his limitless talent for B.S.! Mario’s customers come back to him from far flung places. One travels all the way from Wyoming for occasional trims. Others are regulars who live in Sacramento and Lodi. “It’s like your doctor – you don’t want to change barbers,” he explains. NNV asked Mario if he ever cut the hair of anyone famous. Would you believe he performed his tonsorial duties on Alfred Hitchcock one time in Los Gatos? “He talked real slurpy,” Mario says.
Mario and Ben can remember the days when a haircut cost less than a buck. Ben charged fellow sailors 50 cents per haircut – even though he didn’t have a lick of training until after he got out of the Navy. He can remember when he took home $99 per week “and it was pretty good money.” Nowadays, at $18 per cut ($16 for seniors and kids), he says that he can earn that amount in half a day! Both men say that barbering has provided them with a very good livelihood.
Besides price inflation, what other significant changes have occurred in barber-pole-land over the years? Well, when the Beatles came on the scene, says Mario, men and boys suddenly adopted longer hairstyles. The trend to longer and longer hair actually drove many barbers out of business. Then, according to Ben, when HIV and AIDS arose, barbers stopped doing shaves as part of their service – too much possibility of blood being shed. Sanitation and equipment sterilization tightened up drastically at that time and have continued to be rigorous.
Have they been plagued by the shoulder problems which afflict so many barbers after years of working with their hands held up nearly to shoulder height? The tense, exacting work of barbering often takes a toll on the shoulders. As a matter of fact, Lick High School’s current librarian, Kathy Evans and the previous librarian, her brother Chris, both left barbering careers after their shoulders gave out! Not so for Mario and Ben. Ben says that he’s got a rotator cuff problem, but that he got it playing racquetball. Mario says that he has an occasional tiny bout of bursitis, but he’s never had to have it treated.
Mario and his wife live in Evergreen not far from Capitol Expressway. Ben lives in Bass Lake near Yosemite! Ben’s daughter still lives in the house where Ben grew up on Manning Avenue just across the street and around the corner from the shop. Widower Ben stays with her a few nights a week before he heads home to his girlfriend and his hobbies of bicycle riding and fishing. Mario’s hobby, on the other hand, is “watching sports,” he confides.
What do they think of the new Alum Rock Village banners? “It’s about time!” roared Mario. The project had been in the talking stage for years and, finally, they’re up. Per Mario: “Our customers notice ‘em and they like ‘em!”
So, what message would Mario and Ben like to send the readers of NNV? Mario rolled a list off his glib tongue: “Do more shopping around here. Slow down! Be more neighborly. Support the Village!” Said Ben, with his big enthusiastic grin, “Come visit me!” (And have your hair cut by the man who cut the locks of football hero Jim Plunkett!)
Click here for photos of Mario and Ben.
About four years ago, the father of a San Francisco seventh-grader became aware that his son’s school had provided no textbooks for students to bring home to do homework. The child, Eli Williams, attended a school which was so poor and so poorly equipped that there weren’t enough books for teachers to even assign homework. The school also suffered clogged and overflowing plumbing, mice-infestations, unheated classrooms (in San Francisco!) and drinking fountains which dispensed foul water. Eli’s dad realized that the students at the school were being unfairly deprived of the opportunity to receive a good education.
When Mr. Williams discussed the situation with Eli’s English teacher, he was told of an ACLU lawsuit which was going to be filed over the poor conditions in about one third of California schools – particularly those serving poor, non-white and immigrant youngsters. Long story short, in May of 2000, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit against the State of California accusing it of depriving poor children of the “free and equal” education which the state constitution guarantees. Young Eli Williams was named the lead plaintiff.
Despite “Education Governor” Gray Davis’ years-long $20 million fight against the suit, it was settled for one billion dollars soon after Arnold Schwarzenegger took office. The state agreed to spend $188 million right away for books and repairs at the state’s lowest performing schools.
In the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD), four schools qualify for this low performing designation. The four are Andrew Hill, James Lick, Overfelt and Yerba Buena. The Settlement insists that every child have a textbook for each subject. Since last spring, Lick has received about $106,000, mostly toward new books. “At $75 for the typical text, the money can get enormous fast in a district of 22,000 students,” according to Principal Bill Rice. The Settlement also stipulates that the schools be clean and well-maintained and that teachers be qualified. Mr. Rice says Lick, even though 56 years old, is in quite good shape compared with some run-down schools in Oakland or the Los Angeles area.
Another stipulation of the Settlement is that there must be a system for students and teachers to lodge complaints about substandard conditions. Once a complaint has been made, it must be rectified within thirty days. Rice pointed out the improvements which have been made to the art classroom which needed the services of an exterminator and repairs to the loose baseboards and floor. There’s still a section of the ceiling which needs attention, but Ms. Garcia, one of the art teachers, says that the repair workers are expected “right back” to finish the work.
A group called Californians for Justice (CFJ) whose mission is to “build
power in communities of color across California” has come to the Lick campus
(and others in the district) to help students organize and learn to fight civil
injustice. CFJ is empowering young people to make the most of tools such as
those which the Williams Settlement provides. Bill Rice is enthusiastic about
Lick kids experiencing such a first-hand Civics lesson and learning to stand up
for their rights. He says good things are happening with the synergy between the
Williams Settlement and CFJ.
NNV Note: There’s much more substance to the Williams Settlement. Click here for Decent Schools for California and here for the CFJ web site.
Monday, December 27, 1954 started as the first quiet work day after Christmas. School children in the Alum Rock Area of Santa Clara Valley were out for the holiday break and were sleeping in or watching black and white TV’s. Breakfast Club on KGO was followed by Arthur Godfrey on KPIX. On radio, KGO was playing Minutes in Melody while KPIX was playing Wendy Warren and Aunt Jenny. The clear sky had not a cloud in sight and there was a slight chilly breeze blowing from the north. It was 9:20 AM.
All of a sudden, BOOM! Houses shook. Something terrible had happened. Sonic booms were common in the 1950’s in the Valley. Two or three would occur every month caused by military jets in the area. This day was different.
At 30,000 feet above the East San Jose foothills, there was an explosion and an orange-red fireball followed by a white mushroom cloud. More than an explosion, this was a horrific Navy fighter jet collision. The Mercury News called it a portrait of disaster. Parts, engines, fuel mist, and body parts rained down on an area stretching from Sierra Road to Cunningham Avenue.
On this day, two Navy Grumman F9F Panther jet fighters had taken off from Alameda Naval Air Station at about 9:00 AM. Piloting the newly overhauled aircraft were two of the Navy’s last enlisted aviator pilots. They were Chief Air Controlman Willard Rease of Los Angeles, based at NAS Alameda, and Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Robert Messer of Hayward. They were aviation pilots known as Navy AP’s.
It was believed that this flight was to be a routine test of the aircraft as they leveled off at altitude directly north of Alum Rock Park. Soon they began circling maneuvers. Normally pilots would check rigging and other flight controls. One Panther jet proceeded clockwise in a tight turn while the other proceeded counter clockwise. Many residents on the ground that morning witnessed the high altitude vapors trails converging and saw the impact.
Witnesses from San Francisco to Modesto to Gilroy to Aptos viewed the collision. Over the next several minutes, debris fell in a six square mile pattern dictated by the winds. Heavy parts such as the engines landed near Sierra Road while a 30mm cannon landed on a Milpitas ranch. A large right wing section from one of the jets landed in a field where Noble School is located today. The Hillcrest area had body parts and fuselage sections land in residents’ yards and on their roofs. South of Alum Rock Avenue along Reed Avenue and Marten Avenue, parts fell such as fuel tanks and the pilots’ parachutes. A speed brake fell into the San Jose Water Company reservoir west of Fleming Avenue. Small green primer and blue aluminum pieces were everywhere.
After the loud BOOM, which was heard from inside Alum Rock area homes, residents ran outside to observe the commotion. The surrounding neighborhoods had a faint smell of kerosene. Throughout the day, kids from all the neighborhoods collected small aluminum pieces which blanketed the area. Navy emergency personnel from Moffett Field and off duty county firemen soon arrived to clean up the debris and remove remains.
San Jose resident Jay Wright of the Hillcrest neighborhood remembers that day fairly well. At the time he was a Naval aviator assigned to VC-3 at Moffett Field. He flew the McDonnell F2H Banshee which was a first generation jet fighter similar to the F9F Panther. Jay recalls that he was at Moffett Field when the midair occurred. The news came over the radio fairly quickly as the squadron always monitored the frequency Navy jets used. He recalls seeing the smoke still in the air. Midairs are quite violent.
The Mercury News speculated that the pilots may have been practicing radar guidance, although this is not likely. F9F’s were day fighters and relied on visual contact. As Jay noted, the pilots were most likely scheduled for routine test flights but they may have been hassling. Hassling is a type of unapproved aerial dog fighting aviators would engage in. Test flights were normally done solo, not in pairs of aircraft. There was no reason for that midair to happen, he said. Experienced pilots with radio communications and working altimeters would not be involved in a midair. You were always looking.
For Alum Rock history, this event was big news in San Jose during the winter of 1954. The day after the collision, the Mercury News ran several pages on the incident with pictures. Many observers had snapped shots of the accident and debris. The Mercury listed detailed addresses which outlined the numerous areas where wreckage had fallen. Residents who still remember certainly witnessed a day in which Alum Rock had a horrific air tragedy.
Click here for photos from this horrific
NNV Note: David Frizzell lives on Gordon Avenue and is a 40 year native of East San Jose. He went to Bellarmine and worked at United Airlines in maintenance for 17 years. He likes reading about Naval Aviation and became interested in the incident when he heard his father talk about picking up the jet parts as a teenager that day on Clareview off Alum Rock.
In November 2005, Irish-born Darina Kavanagh, MS, RN, CPHQ, was named Chief Nursing Officer at Regional Medical Center of San Jose. We wanted to get to know this local nursing leader whose long and distinguished nursing career began in Dublin, Ireland.
Ms. Kavanagh began her career as a staff nurse at St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin. In 1986, she seized the opportunity to work in the liver transplant unit at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, for a year before returning to England where she spent seven years at Princess Grace Hospital in London. In 1995, Ms. Kavanagh returned to the United States where she joined San Jose Medical Center and served in various nursing leadership roles, including Associate Chief Nurse Officer. In late 2004, she joined Regional Medical Center of San Jose as Associate Chief Nursing Officer before being promoted to Chief Nursing Officer a year later. A Sunnyvale resident, Ms. Kavanagh is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
Victoria Emmons: How long have you been a registered nurse?
Darina Kavanagh: 20 years
VE: Where did you attend nursing school?
DK: St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
VE: It takes a lot of education to become a nurse. Do you hold any special
professional certifications beyond your RN?
DK: Masters Degree in Nursing Administration (San Jose State University), Certified to teach and assess in clinical practice, Certified in research methods, Certified in altered body image care – mastectomy/stomas, CPHQ (Certified in hospital quality).
VE: You were Assistant Chief Nurse Officer at San Jose Medical Center when
it closed on December 9, 2004. What was it like having to close a hospital and
merge services into another?
DK: It was very difficult to be part of a hospital closure where so many people were committed to the services provided there. Staff was extremely dedicated to their roles at SJMC. Several staff had actually been born there. It was a difficult time for physicians, staff and administration.
VE: When you left SJMC, you were hired at Regional Medical Center of San
Jose as Associate Chief Nursing Officer. When were you appointed Chief Nursing
DK: November, 2005
VE: What are your areas of responsibility in your new role?
DK: Nursing Leadership. To improve the provision of excellent patient care, patient safety, development of new clinical programs.
VE: In what specialty areas do nurses at Regional work?
DK: There are many nursing specialty areas: Emergency Department, Trauma, Telemetry, Intensive Care Unit, Operating Room, Cardiac Cath Lab, Interventional Radiology, Labor and Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care, Nursery, Post Partum, Case Management, and Quality Management.
VE: We hear a lot about a nursing shortage; is it tough to find nurses
DK: In this area, the demand for nurses is growing as the population of San Jose grows. Nurses have a lot of choices about what area they want to work in.
VE: What would you tell a young person interested in nursing today about
the kind of work he or she would do?
DK: I would advise that it is an excellent career choice. The essence of nursing is to provide care for patients and that can be done in many different arenas, for example, inpatient acute care, outpatient, oncology care … the list is endless. Nursing as a career is rewarding, motivating, satisfying. You can make a big difference in people’s lives.
VE: What skills should someone have to become a nurse?
DK: You need a blend of arts and sciences in nursing. An interest in biosciences, excellent communication skills, ability to process information quickly and to think critically about patients’ needs, to have compassion, understanding, cultural acceptance, and a commitment to lifelong learning.
VE: What changes have you seen in nursing over the years?
DK: The increase in technology has made a huge impact on nursing care delivery. We now have fabulous equipment even for basic care delivery such as intravenous pumps, automatic medication dispensing, electronic medication administration, as well as electronic documentation.
VE: What do you see for the future of the nursing profession?
DK: Globalization, increased technology, accountability and professionalism.
VE: Anything else you’d like to share about nursing opportunities at
DK: Yes, it is a wonderful place to work. We provide a high level of clinical services such as trauma, interventional cardiology and open heart surgery, and minimally-invasive surgery, in addition to Medical/Surgical, all in a friendly community setting. We have a new graduate program for nurses starting February 27th that we are very excited about. This program provides the new graduate nurse with an opportunity to bring his or her knowledge from school to the actual work situation in hospitals. We have many exciting opportunities in Emergency, Critical Care, Med/Surg and Telemetry.
For more information about nursing opportunities or programs and services at Regional Medical Center of San Jose, call Regional HealthSource at 1 (888) RMC-8881 (English/Spanish) or 1 (888) RMC-8811 (Vietnamese).
Click here for a photo.
NNV Note: Neighbor Patricia Loomis wrote many superb articles for a series called “Signposts” about the stories behind the names of San Jose’s streets. The first increment of the series ran in the San Jose News between 1971 and 1977 and was compiled and republished by the San Jose Historical Museum Association in a hardbound book of the same name in 1982. NNV is reprinting some of the Signpost pieces which were written about our venerable Eastside streets and roads. These stories are used with permission. Special thanks to Patricia Loomis for letting us use her stories - and to Carol Schultz for lending us the Signposts books. Keep in mind that Patricia Loomis’ “today” was about 30 years (or more!) ago.
Winding up into the hills, in and out of gullies and canyons to emerge on Mt. Hamilton road below the old Grandview stage stop, narrow Clayton road today is bordered by mini farms.
The lots are big enough for a few horses, and provide country living for folks who work in the city. A sign on a gate here and there notes "a 4-H club member lives here."
Time was when the hillsides belonged to only a half-dozen ranchers. They raised cattle, hay and grain, and planted orchards.
Along came the real estate boom of the late 1880s and land investors moved in.
Property owners, which by then included real estate man James A. Clayton, needed a road into the area to help sell the land, and in 1889 they petitioned the county to build the road that now bears Clayton "Signposts".
Clayton and John Charles Jackson, capitalist, acquired most of the land below Mt. Hamilton road — about 900 acres — and they wrote a letter to the county supervisors (signed by other land owners) offering a right of way for a 40-foot-wide road from Dixon's road to Mt. Hamilton road.
The petitioners also agreed to fence the road on both sides, pay the cost of surveying it, and put up $500 toward its construction.
Probably because Clayton owned the biggest piece of land and his name was first on the petition, the road was called "Clayton." He was founder of the real estate company in 1867 which by 1889 was well on its way to becoming the leading firm of its kind in California.
Among ranchers who signed the petition were Frederick Theuerkauf, German immigrant who arrived in 1852 and bought 254 acres in the hills, Thomas Hill Jamison, Kentuckian who bought his farm in 1885, and Canadian-born Isaac Dixon, whose private wagon trail up from Story road became a part of Clayton.
Dixon had come overland from Texas via the Santa Fe trail in 1849, and 10 years later bought 409 acres up in back of the hill now occupied by the Carmelite monastery.
The Dixons first owned land in Santa Clara and Isaac was married there in 1854. Before buying "Brightside," as he called his ranch, he lived for a short time in Marin County. He was an early member of the Republican party and proud of voting the straight ticket. One of the county histories notes that in the election of 1857, Dixon's was the only Republican vote cast in San Rafael.
Seven children were born to Isaac and Catherine (Messing) Dixon. They grew up on the hill ranch and attended the old Mt. Pleasant School farther up the hill.
Raymond Dixon, a grandson born on the ranch, recalls Perley F. Gosbey, later a judge in the Superior Court here for 28 years, lived with the Dixon family while teaching at the one-room school in 1881-2. "He took a lot of teasing from the four Dixon girls," he recalled.
There is still a stand of blue gums across Clayton road from the entrance to the monastery, but the old Dixon house is gone, and the family no longer owns any of the original homestead. There are still several generations of the family around, and reunions are occasions for remembering the old place, and the neighbors — McKiernans, Williams, and others — who lived on the big ranches along Clayton Road.
Tanya and Rick Freudenberger celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. So what, hey? It’s not exactly a big whoop that a couple has endured two and a half decades together, but how they celebrated the occasion is remarkable as all get out!
Get this: Tanya and Rick invited all their friends to a big buffet-and-open-bar blow-out at the Drying Shed on the Saturday night before Thanksgiving. More than 160 folks showed up – many dressed to the nines in 1960’s garb (think tie-dye, peace symbols, fringe, beads, bellbottoms and stirrup pants) to commemorate Rick and Tanya’s favorite era. Not that Tanya and Rick knew each other during that decade – in the 60’s they were both married to someone else, raising their respective children – unaware of each other.
A little more history: When Rick and Tanya married in 1980, they were so broke that they couldn’t even afford to celebrate by taking their children out to dinner “without borrowing money from Rick’s parents,” according to Tanya. There was no wedding celebration and certainly no reception. Their 25th Anniversary Drying Shed bash was to make up for the party they never had.
So who attended the event? Rick and Tanya’s extended families, of course. And their Piazza Way neighbors, naturally. And their friends from the lay Buddhist organization to which they belong. But, what was most amazing was that about a third of the 160 guests who came to help celebrate were a testament to Tanya’s voluptuous outreach to our community. She initiates and burnishes friendships everywhere she goes. Her loving embrace is complete, genuine and tireless. Her list of “best friends” goes on and on.
There was a large number of Alum Rock community volunteers, leaders and staffs of the various organizations which serve the children of Alum Rock and their families. There were some of Tanya’s fellow trustees of the Alum Rock Elementary District board, there were ARUESD staffers, there were many old friends from PACT and other volunteer groups and there was a passel of Alum Rock Educational Foundation members and officers. There were Alum Rock Jazz Band leaders and members as well as Alum Rock Youth Center representatives. “Our goal was to have lots and lots of fun knowing that our family and friends would share the evening with other people who contribute to the well being of our community,” Tanya explained later.
And, did they party!!! The terrific “Garage Band” (which Rick and Tanya had danced to in the streets downtown at the Tapestry & Talent Fair last year) played rock and roll oldies for dancers of all ages and stripes. Did they dance!!! The staid old Drying Shed vibrated and reverberated to the point that strangers were poking their heads into the open door to get a gander at all the shaking going on.
The buffet table was replenished frequently with a wide assortment of finger foods and cold cuts. The aromatic fragrance of Swedish meatballs flavored the air. The bartender poured generously. The various Friends-of-Freudenbergers melded and mingled. It was a blast!
But there’s more. Rick and Tanya did not want guests to bring gifts, but they said they wouldn’t mind at all if some felt like making donations to one of their three favorite causes – the Alum Rock Jazz Band, the Alum Rock Educational Foundation or the Alum Rock Youth Center. And, many people did. These three non-profits are about $1,700 richer thanks to the Freudenberger Friends’ largesse. This was a classic “win-win” – Rick and Tanya and all their friends had a wonderful party celebrating a phenomenal marriage and three deserving Alum Rock community organizations got a windfall. This was a terrific community-building event! Many thanks to Rick and Tanya. They are givers.
Click here for photos from the blast.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 2/5/06.