Residents Work to Develop Park [The creation of Monta Loma Park]
From the June 2, 1958, edition of the Mountain View Register Leader
The recent official dedication ceremonies held at the Monta Loma Park culminated two years of cooperative effort on the part of residents, and the recreation and school officials. The park, located adjacent to Monta Loma School, is complete in its first phase. Development of the remainder is underway with the installation of sprinklers for the undeveloped portion.
The park occupies five and a half acres of the 10-acre school site. Whisman District owns the land and leases the park to the city for recreational use for one dollar per year. All of the work completed thus far in developing the facilities has been done by city work crews and interested residents of the school area.
Residents Pitch In
Residents, anxious to have their own nearby park facilities, have pitched in and contributed immensely to its completion. Evenings and weekends of many have been devoted to the installation of the first phase sprinkler system and construction and erection of the chain link backstop which surrounds home plate.
Little League officials who were instrumental in the project include President Scotty MacGibbon, a member of the city recreation commission; Phil Hargrove, vice president; James Blaine, secretary; and Tony Herauf, treasurer.
Much of the original planning was done by Supt. Arthur Tindall, of the Whisman District. The number of residents of the entire area, however, both members and non-members of the Little League organization, who helped on the project could not be counted.
Opening of the ball diamond there now provides a playing field for Little and Minor League teams of the American League organization, which draws boys from the Whisman District.
Until the field was completed, all games had to be played at the city’s McKelvey Park facilities. This caused crowding of the two city leagues’ schedules.
Second phase of the park will include a tiny-tot lot, barbeque pits and picnic tables, horseshoe pits, and shuffleboard, in addition to landscaping.
Cost of the development to the city will be about $11,000 for both phases. Additional funds have been contributed by the school and local merchants.
Funds for the development have come from a recreation assessment tax levied against the developers in the area and monies from surplus sales taxes.
The article included two photos: Residents Jim Blaine, Scotty and Ricky McGibbon, and school district superintendent Arthur Tindall laying sprinkler pipe, and Little League players using the baseball diamond. A photocopy of the actual newspaper page is here.
Tired of Waiting, They Did It Themselves [The creation of Thaddeus Park]
Suggested by Jim Cochran and compiled by Marilyn Gildea from facts provided by Tom and Helen Hayes and their scrapbooks. Published in the March 2009 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
After West Middlefield Road was built in 1967, the City didn’t have money to landscape its borders. By 1971, the neighbors were tired of looking at dirt and weeds, so Tom Hayes (on Emmons) convinced the city staff that they could do most of the landscaping work. Emmons and Thaddeus neighbors Don Wallace, Dick Weir, Norm Varnado, Ron Keel, Doug Loo, and Wally MacDonald comprised the planning group. Over 100 men, women, and children donated $380 and pledges for 400 hours of labor. City staff provided the design, supervision, heavy dirt moving, materials, and plants. City workers dug the trenches but the neighbors installed the pipes and electrical wiring and controls to run the sprinkler system.
The first landscaping project was the triangle bordered by Thaddeus, Richard, and Middlefield. Enthusiasm grew and the neighbors next tackled the half-mile Middlefield median strip. Then they wanted a park. Under the direction of Tom Hayes and Action Committee members Ber Bunn, Len Lyon, Dick Weir, Norm Varnado, and Ron Keel, 250 volunteers worked for six weekends in 1972 to rebuild the fence, install the sprinkler system, plant trees and shrubs, and seed the lawn for Thaddeus Park. Earl Ward made a sign (since replaced) from salvaged wood.
“These wonderful projects helped neighbors get to know each other while providing a long-term asset,” says Jim Cochran. Tom Hayes noted that the city was concerned about the value of a “pocket park” but now they’re common. [And the City is looking for more sites.]
The First Inhabitants of Our Neighborhood
by Cheryl Smith
As I was researching material about the history of the Mayfield Mall/Hewlett Packard location, I began to realize that this site is a microcosm of the entire Bay Area. Herb Perry on Anna, a history major who also grew up in Palo Alto first alerted me to the Native American element.
If you were to walk by this site about 3,000 years ago, you would have found a thriving Ohlone Indian village. They were known as a peaceful tribe who subsisted on the then plentiful wildlife and acorns, which they stored in community granaries lined in herbal leaves and suspended in trees for preservation. They collected salt by driving willow sticks into pools and when the pools dried up, they would knock the salt off into their baskets. They also loved music. Whistles made from leg bones of waterfowl have been found that produce a variety of sounds.
When the Spanish missionaries arrived, they named these people the Costanoans or Coastal people and absorbed them into the missions. However, the Ohlone lifestyle has been well researched since the tribe left behind shell mounds, which were a combination of kitchen refuse and burial grounds. One of these became known as the “Castro Mound” and covered parts of Mardell Way, Nita, Dell, Aldean and Betlo streets. It was measured at 400 feet long by 300 feet wide and 10 feet high at the center. Stanford University was given exclusive digging rights and as early as 1894 the Stanford Literary journal, Sequoia, published accounts of Saturday morning digging parties. Archeologists found a circular house floor almost 20 feet in diameter. Among the many things found in this mound were cooking utensils, arrowheads, snares, spear points, and ornaments of stone and shell. The largest utensils found were the stone mortars which were used for the grinding of acorns and grain. The different stones unearthed were used for awls, sinkers, grinders, and weapons of defense. The charm stones which the medicine men employed to ward off sickness and to effect cures had also been found.
The evidence of some “mighty historic clam bakes” as mentioned in the Mountain View Register Leader in 1946, had left the soil high in phosphates and a valuable fertilizer. Despite protests, the mound was scheduled to be leveled. Researchers dug in relays by the light of lamps to obtain as many remaining artifacts as possible. It was later marketed as Indian Mound Top Soil. In 1989, Stanford University surrendered the collection of 550 Ohlone Indian remains to descendants.
For those that are interested in more detail, the Mountain View History Center at the Mountain View library has a great deal of information.
A Neighborhood Looks Back
by Cheryl Smith
Lynn Saldua, a member of one of the original families in Monta Loma, remembers it was the miniature train in the model Mackay home that sold her on the new house. Understandably, she was a small child at the time. You can still see the train in the brochure for the new homes, which were selected as a 1955-56 National Merit Award Winner in the Best Homes for Families with Children category by Parents’ magazine’s 7th Annual Builder’s Competition. Her father liked the proximity to the larger trains, both his transportation and his employer. With no brick wall separating the subdivision from Central Expressway, a neighbor would leave the gate open so they could walk from Adele to the railway station, which was then located where the Mi Pueblo grocery store is now.
The brochure also lists the 1956 price for the deluxe model with the enclosed patio as $18,800. Peter Adamson, a neighbor on Palmer for 41 years who paid $23,000 in 1963, laughs now. “Of course, I was making pretty good money at the time. About $3.50 an hour.” His wife, Irene, who was expecting a child when they moved in, remembers the simpler times. “We were allowed to move in two weeks before escrow closed so we could have Christmas in our new house.”
All the families remember the orchards and vegetables that surrounded the subdivision. “Middlefield was named that because it ran through the middle of a bunch of fields,” remembers Paul Terwilliger, who spent part of his youth on Adele and has now returned. “San Antonio and Middlefield was a four-way stop and many of the roads were still dirt.” He also recalls digging and finding American Indian artifacts like arrowheads where the Sears parking lot is now located.
The Adamsons cite one reason for staying as the incredible diversity of people in the neighborhood. “It’s a regular league of nations here, pointing at homes with Russian, Italian, Chinese, Nepalese, Indian and Finnish occupants. Immigrants themselves from Scotland and frequent travelers, they are right at home.
The Castro Indian Mound
by Theron G. Cady
Excerpt from Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula: A series of articles first published in ‘Peninsula Life Magazine’. Published by C-T Publishers, San Carlos, California, 1948
On San Antonio Road, south of Palo Alto, and midway between Middlefield Road and Alma Street, is one of the largest existing Indian mounds on the Peninsula. Known to many archeologists as the Castro Indian mound because of its proximity to the Castro railroad station, this mound, about ten feet high and 300 feet in diameter, is all that remains of a once thriving village of California’s aborigines.
Tracing back through the exciting and colorful pages of California’s early history, sparse mention is made of the early redmen who inhabited the land of sunshine before the coming of the “chinshinabros.” Little is known of the Castro mound and how it happened to be there but the welding together of information gleaned from early records provides us with a fairly definite picture of its activities.
Robert D. McFarland, who noticed the mound in 1893, called it to the attention of Stanford University professors who investigated the mound for evidence of early Indian life. Even before that time the mound was known as Indian Hill and Secondino Robles, an old Spaniard, related many interesting stories of the band of 2,000 Indians who camped on the plateau near the mound in the days of his father.
The Juan Bautista de Anza party of thirteen, pushing its way northward through the unchartered wilds of California in March 1776, may have passed the Castro mound but failed to mention it. They did, however, record the fact that a small Indian village of about twenty huts was found on the banks of San Francisquito Creek in the vicinity of the “Palo Alto” tree. The natives of this village were found to be friendly and offered the De Anza party food and assistance. Just what connection this small village had with the larger one isn’t known, but it is naturally supposed that they were either a scouting party or a small band living by themselves because of some tribal difficulty.
The Indians who lived on the Peninsula long before the coming of the Franciscan Fathers, belonged to a group known as the Costanoans. They were given this name by the Spanish missionaries because they were found living on the coast and along the shores of San Francisco Bay. Of this group the Ohlones and Alchones practically made up the entire population of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. They were rather small of stature, but compactly built and possessed of great strength and endurance. The men were generally beardless, but all had long, black coarse hair. They were very dark skinned and from the skulls found in various sections of the Peninsula they were comparatively low in the rank of intelligence.
The Department of Anthropology of the University of California groups the language of these Indians as Costanoan and the dialect spoken by them was known as the San Francisco dialect. In 1776 when Mission Dolores was established, Father Junipero Serra reported that the shores of the San Francisco Bay were thickly populated by the Ahwashtees, Ohlones, Altahomos, Romanons, Tuolomos, and other tribes. The mission books of the Mission Dolores contained names of some 152 rancheritas upon which different Indian settlements were located.
Because of the climactic conditions on the Peninsula the Indians living along the shores of the Bay gave little thought as to what they should wear or how they should provide themselves with a livelihood. They usually ran about naked, men and women alike, except at certain periods of the year when the women would clothe themselves in a short skirt made of tule grass as protection against the numerous flies and insects which were so common during the summer months. They were known, however, to have possessed houses, for historians have made repeated references to the Indian house where the Spanish soldiers became so infested with fleas that they dashed from the dwelling shouting “las pulgas, las pulgas” (the fleas). Father Palou in his description of the journey into San Mateo County also mentions the large Indian houses found in the vicinity of Pigeon Point.
The Indians on the Peninsula leaned heavily upon Mother Nature for their subsistence. They depended largely upon the oak trees and the acorns which they gathered in large quantities. These were ground, dried and made into flour from which small Indian cakes were baked. Buckeyes were also used extensively for food but had to be carefully processed before being consumed. They had to be ground as finely as possible in mortars and bleached by frequent washings to remove the small amount of poison and the bitter taste before the resulting paste was palatable. From the waters of the Bay the Indians obtained oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp and other varieties of edible fish which greatly augmented their diet. They were also adept at capturing birds and snaring the wild animals that roamed the foothills.
For material to construct houses and boats, the Indians also relied on Mother Nature. Instead of going to the nearby hills for fir trees, which were plentiful, they chose to employ tule grass in their boat construction. The tule grass was bound and twisted together and made into a fairly serviceable water raft, pointed on each end. These small vessels were only used along the short for had they been used in rough water the venture would have terminated in disaster.
The Indian mounds on the Peninsula are the only indications left of these people. These mounds are simply the evidence of the camping or dwelling places of these Indians, and the mound’s formation usually would indicate approximately the length of time of their residence in that particular spot. It has been discovered by digging in these mounds that the different layers revealed the habits and food of the natives living around them. The bottom layer, which was usually at ground level, was often covered with small shells. The next, or second layer, contained a generous covering of clam or mussel shell and the third, a layer of oyster shells. Upon these a layer of small or periwinkle shells would usually be found. This method of construction would continue until the top of the mound was finally reached. The mound was never planned. It was made by simply throwing the refuse from the village into a heap, and as the heap grew, the mound would become clearly defined.
Indian mounds were not only used for a place to dump refuse, but deceased Indians were also buried there. The disposing of a dead Indian often varied for some would be found laid out full length and others in a sitting position with their knees bound tightly against their chests. Bodies bound in this fashion were always placed in small holes to conserve space. Cremation was also practiced to some extent on the Peninsula for evidence of such disposal has been found in the Castro mound. When cremation was employed the body was bound closely and placed upon a huge pile of firewood. The mourners, with their faces smeared with pitch, set up a fearful howling and weeping, accompanied by the wildest gesticulation. When the body had been entirely consumed by the flames the ashes were carefully collected and mixed with pitch. This sticky preparation was then daubed on the faces of the mourners who had the weird belief that the virtues and stamina of the departed would strengthen their own bodies.
Among the many things found in these mounds are cooking utensils, arrowheads, snares, spearpoints, and ornaments of stone and shell. The largest utensils found are the stone mortars which were used for the grinding of acorns and grain. They often varied in size and capacity from a mere cupful to that of several gallons. The different stones unearthed were used for awls, sinkers, grinders, and weapons of defense. The charm stones which the medicine men employed to ward off sickness and to effect cures have also been found.
On the old Ano Nuevo Ranch, just south of Pigeon Point, many remnants of arrow and spearheads and large quantities of obsidian have been found. Since this black, glassy, volcanic variety of rock is not native to this section the question has often been raised as to how it happened to get there. The only answer is that the weaponmakers brought it to the coast during the summer season and then made their weapons which were to be used in later seasons of the year. In a mound just east of San Mateo County’s Memorial Park an Indian doll was unearthed many years ago. Very few of the toys with which the primitive children amused themselves have ever been found.
The largest mounds on the Peninsula were found in the vicinity of South San Francisco. Other mounds were found in Burlingame and San Mateo. Main Street, one of the principal business streets of Redwood City was formerly called Mound Street. It was so named because at one time it traversed one of these mounds.
Today, the redman who lived and died on the Peninsula, is only a memory. His place has been taken by the white man who, throughout the years, has erased all evidence of his ever having been here except for the few remaining mounds.
The Lost Town of Mayfield
by Cheryl Smith
Mayfield Avenue, leading from Central Expressway into our neighborhood, is one of the few remaining legacies of the town of Mayfield, which was situated between Mountain View and Palo Alto. It all started in 1853 when Elisha Crosby acquired a piece of land fronting on the cart track that would become El Camino Real. Soon the track became the final stretch of the Butterfield Stage Route, the first transcontinental public transportation system. Many of the travelers taking the day-long trip from San Francisco to San Jose found themselves hungry and thirsty when they reached Mayfield.
“Uncle Jim” Otterson’s cabin near the present corner of California Avenue and El Camino became the place to stop to eat and drink and sometimes sleep. The lumbermen working in the hills also enjoyed having a place to socialize, and the Gold Rush brought new people to the area.
The village that sprang up around “Uncle Jim’s Cabin” was a bustling place, and soon the mailman was bringing mail. When the mail carrier asked Otterson what the place was called, he looked at the fields of mustard and wildflowers and said, “Call it Mayfield.” Legend has it Otterson would toss the mail onto a table in the saloon and let people claim their own letters.
Improved transportation enabled the farmers to prosper, and the wealth from their grapes, celery, flowers, and hay supported other businesses. The Mayfield School District and the town were incorporated in 1855.
When Senator Leland Stanford decided in 1886 to transform his horse farm into a university, he met with Mayfield leaders to address the needs he thought his school would require. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was active in the area, and one of Stanford’s suggestions was that the town of Mayfield should be “dry.”
The saloon owners and town leaders disagreed. Soon, Senator Stanford began to encourage the growth of a new town north of Mayfield. He also even locked the gate from Escondido Road into Mayfield and kept it locked until 1913.
The rivalry went both ways. In 1891, the same year that the university opened, Mayfield annexed a section of land in the middle of Palo Alto called College Terrace (still identifiable by its streets named after universities).
In 1903 Mayfield decided to go dry and closed its 23 saloons. The town enjoyed several prosperous years, boasting in a 1906 article of an average of 500 carloads of hay shipped annually. The Mayfield Bank and Trust Company owned a large building in the heart of the business district, and its deposits were doubling every year. Churches were well attended. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company had communication services there. The city owned its own $35,000 sewer plant.
But Palo Alto was had a larger tax base, and by the 1920s the difference was obvious. Mayfield’s streets needed major repairs when annexation to Palo Alto was first discussed. The first vote failed, but the second one succeeded. Mayfield was officially consolidated into Palo Alto in July 1925.
The Mayfield News published a spirited obituary: “We have watched Mayfield grow from a small hamlet, when Palo Alto was nothing more than a hayfield, to her present size and it is with a feeling of sorrow that we contemplate the fact that there are those who would sell or give the city away.”
Our Neighborhood’s First Inhabitants
by Cheryl Smith. Published in the Summer 2004 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
If you visited the Mayfield/Hewlett-Packard site 3,000 years ago, you would have found a thriving Ohlone Indian village. The inhabitants were known as a peaceful people who subsisted on the then-plentiful wildlife and acorns, which were stored in community granaries lined with herbal leaves and suspended in trees for preservation. They also consumed large quantities of oysters, clams, salmon, and other seafood from the bay, which extended much further inland than it does today. Salt was collected by driving willow sticks into salt-water pools; when the pools dried up, the crystals were knocked off the sticks into baskets.
The Spanish missionaries named these people the Costanoans (coastal people) and absorbed them into the missions. Though the original Ohlone lifestyle disappeared, it has been well researched because the tribe left behind large shell mounds. One, known as the Castro Mound, merged a kitchen refuse heap and burial grounds. Researchers measured it at 400 by 300 feet and 10 feet high at the center, and estimated that the mound also covered parts of Nita, Dell, Betlo, Aldean, and Mardell. Stanford University was given exclusive digging rights, and as early as 1894, its literary journal, Sequoia, published accounts of Saturday-morning digging parties. Archeologists found a circular house floor almost 20 feet in diameter, plus barbed fish spears, arrowheads, pestles, pendants, pipes and whistles, many of which were carbon dated from 1,100 to 800 BC. Whistles made from leg bones of waterfowl produce a variety of sounds, which indicate that the Ohlone had music.
The shells, left from “some mighty historic clam bakes” (as imagined by a Mountain View Register Leader writer in 1946), made the soil high in phosphates, a valuable fertilizer. Despite protests, the mound was scheduled to be leveled. Digging in relays by the light of lamps, researchers recovered as many remaining artifacts as possible. The soil was later marketed as Indian Mound Top Soil. In 1989, Stanford surrendered its collection of 550 human remains to Ohlone descendants for reburial.
By Cheryl Smith. Published in the October 2004 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
As the Mayfield/Hewlett-Packard site prepares to morph once again, it is interesting to look back at its history. This parcel is no exception to the rapid change to which we, as residents of Silicon Valley, are accustomed. The site was a truck farm called Italian Vegetable Gardens when Monta Loma’s homes were built in the 1950s, and early residents recall going there for their produce. Farmers also brought in corn, tomatoes, strawberries, eggs, and even rabbits to sell from the backs of their trucks.
When the farm was sold to build the Mayfield Mall, the residents of Mardell Manor (the precursor to the Monta Loma neighborhood) called upon the city council to forbid the development. Although the council eventually approved it, it did require several adaptations, including traffic lights.
The mall was named after the township of Mayfield, which was located between Palo Alto and Mountain View but annexed by Palo Alto in 1925. By the time the mall was constructed the only residents being displaced were the four-legged kind. Joseph Hanselman on Anna recalls being “inundated with mice” due to the construction.
Shopping malls were a new concept in 1966, and the $15-million-dollar project opened with great fanfare. A balloonist attempted to achieve a world-record ascension. A brochure touted “more than an acre of tastefully designed acrylic carpet to cushion your feet and control the noise.” Newspaper articles chronicled the glamorous events that took place inside the mall, including the Mall Ball, art and science exhibits (including one that displayed electric cars in 1969), and chamber-music performances. There was even talk of a monorail between the Mayfield and the San Antonio malls. It was proudly advertised in a 1972 Chamber of Commerce guide as “Northern California’s first fully enclosed, air-conditioned, carpeted shopping mall [with] many stores and parking for several thousand cars.” J.C. Penney, Joseph Magnin, and Wells Fargo Bank were among the tenants.
Anne Glynn, who lives on Dell, remembers buying a car battery at Penney’s automotive department. The guarantee was good as long as she owned the car. “It cost about five dollars and I’ve replaced it five or six times.”
Eliana Frank, on Lida, visited the mall often as a teenager. One trip was for a birthday gift for her mother: the trendy new fashion of ear piercing. She laughs now, “At first she thought piercing her ears was a barbaric idea!”
After about 10 years of operation, the mall owners realized that more and more business was going to the larger and newer Stanford and Valley Fair malls, and the decision was made to sell the property. The All About Pets store, which many Monta Lomans remember as their favorite place to buy hamsters or snakes, or simply to admire the puppies, was the last store occupied. Due to a lease disagreement, the pet store employees were still reporting to work even after the heat had been turned off and the sounds of demolition were all around them. January 30, 1985, was their last day. Hewlett-Packard would spend the next two years readying the 27-acre site.
By Cheryl Smith. Published in the October 2004 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
Hewlett-Packard bought the Mayfield site in 1984 for $38 million and spent another $40 million to renovate it to seismic standards and add windows and landscaping. Herb Perry remembers the concern the neighborhood had at that transition also. “At first we were worried they were going to do manufacturing there and possibly pollute the ground water.” When it was made clear that HP planned a customer service and training facility, the neighborhood was much relieved. The Monta Loma Association worked closely with the company and the city to ensure that the neighborhood was not adversely impacted. Although petitions to oppose the rezoning were organized, the final plan was supported. HP agreed to concessions such as having a road through the campus, and increasing the landscaping percentage from 7% to 20%.
In 1987, Celia Seavey was one of first HP employees to move in, to a second-floor office facing Nita. She remembers the first time they saw their new surroundings and realized that the renovation had retained much of the existing mall architecture. “It was weird at first, because it had these long, empty corridors.”
Part of the former J.C. Penney became HP’s state-of-the-art lunchroom. Celia remembers that it featured a salad bar and custom-made sandwiches, which were “very gourmet and elite at the time.” She often brought lunch to her mother who lived in the house that Celia now occupies on Thompson Square. She also recalls when the trees were newly planted and “there wasn’t any shade if you didn’t get there early.” The trees soon became a memorable feature of the location and remain her favorite aspect. “Trees are the flavor of a neighborhood.” The trees also contributed to a first-place Water Conservation Award from the City of Mountain View.
The site continued to be a pleasant workplace for about 1,000 HP employees for nearly 14 years. But in March 2003, the last workers moved out as HP consolidated with Compaq and reduced duplication of work forces.
Today the site is once again being analyzed for its best use for the neighborhood and community at large, and Monta Loma’s history will soon write another chapter.
2005 Archeological Dig at Mayfield
by Cheryl Smith. Published in the October 2005 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
If you saw some people digging holes in the HP/Mayfield site this summer and wondered what was happening, here is the answer.
One of the requirements of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is to evaluate Archeological Impacts. Since the Mayfield site was long considered to be part of the Castro Mound, an ancient burial ground and trash heap of the native Ohlone Indians, experts must verify if there are archeologically significant items or skeletal remains that might be disturbed.
The archeological consulting firm of Holman and Associates were hired to do this investigation. Last year they back-hoed in several locations and chose one location near Mayfield avenue behind the Mayfield apartment complex for the most extensive research. In June, the consultants dug a hole about 6′ deep and 3′ wide on the edge of a parking island and carefully hand-sifted through all the dirt.
Although they did find a few things of archeological interest such as a bit of obsidian and shell pieces, there was not enough to warrant further digging. The consultants determined that the soil has been moved around during previous constructions. Thus, the older material was found on top of newer soil.
Indeed, the Castro Mound has been through many alterations over the years. First, it was heavily excavated in the early part of the century by Stanford University. Then the rich dirt was sold as garden soil in the 1930s and ’40s. Finally, locating the true parameters of the mound has also proven to be difficult as roads and boundaries have shifted over the years. As Miley Holman, the archeologist in charge of the digging speculates, “Maybe the mound is really in the yards of the surrounding subdivision.”
However, state law requires that archeologists monitor any digging. Senior City Planner for the City of Mountain View Lynnie Melena concurs, “Under California State law, earth-moving and removal of existing buildings must be monitored. If any skeletal remains are found, construction stops and there is a separate procedure that goes into place.” Although no one truly expects to find a skeleton, finding an arrowhead in your backyard might be a possibility.
Monta Loma’s Airport in 1948
Compiled by Marilyn Gildea. Published in the October 2010 edition of the Monta Loma newsletter.
“It is so cool to see what the neighborhood looked like before the houses were built,” remarked Dhananjay Ragade after a recent exchange on our neighborhood email list (mln).
Harry Gordon had emailed, “At Costco I found a book of aerial photos, Over Time: Palo Alto, 1947–1980, by Ben Hatfield. As a former private pilot, I’ve always been interested in the airport that was located where Monta Loma is now, so I leafed through the book and was rewarded on page 74 with a 1948 aerial photo of “Progressive Airport” at Middlefield and San Antonio. The photo shows two buildings, about seven planes in the tie-down area, an apparently bare-dirt taxiway, and no paved runway, just an open grassy field with a north-south wear pattern. The area surrounding the airport is open country. [This photo is among the Airport photos on the Historical Photos page.]
“I bought the book. Aside from airports and Monta Loma, it is well worth the $17 Costco price for the many photos of Palo Alto during the 1947–1980 growth years.” [Ed. note: The author, Ben Hatfield, is the son of Adrian Hatfield, who founded Hatfield Aerial Survey and “worked with developers such as Joseph Eichler to help build Palo Alto.”]
Ben Baumgartner added, “I am probably the only person living in the area, or alive today, who has flown out of that airport. During the war (1941–45) the airport was closed, but around 1944, when I was 13, some friends and I rode our bikes out there. We went into the hangers and sat in some of the planes and played with the controls.
“Sometime after the war, possibly in 1947, my brother had a friend who worked at the airport and had learned to fly. He bought a surplus Stearman biplane trainer and took me up in it. I still remember that flight. I stuck my head out into the 90-mile-per-hour airstream to look at the ground falling away and the cars on Middlefield Road. The runway went almost to Middlefield. Some planes were still low as they flew over the road, and startled the drivers passing under them. The block of Alvin north of Victory was one-half of the runway, with the end at Elka.”
The Peninsula Curling Rink
The rink opened in 1959 and closed in 1963. Photos of the building facade and an article showing its location at 257 Curling Avenue (now Mayfield Avenue) are courtesy of the Mountain View Historical Association.