There’s a couple people I’m looking for from the dim reaches of the past… in my usual Jumbled Gemini style I’m gonna approach this matter from left field:
Moving from the ’50’s to the ’60’s was a cultural change equivalent to Dorothy’s “We’re not in Kansas anymore…” ‘Flower Children’ is an apt designation! Everything was blooming. My first wasband, first son and I had just driven across country from Swarthmore and Haverford, two small Quaker-influenced liberal arts colleges outside of Philadelphia, to Stanford University where he was seeking a PhD. in pschology. We drove onto campus in utter disbelief, laughing incredulously: grey granite and ivy had been supplanted by adobe and palm trees!! Was this a resort, or what???
Betimes #2 Son was born, we had found the BEST PLACE to live– Los Trancos Woods, an unincorporated area off Alpine Road near Woodside. Stanford’s linear accelerator would shortly be built on the way out there, and some Chinese folks– was it Ah Sun? had a huge crysanthemum nursery. It had been a summer community ’til the 1940’s, when folks began staying year-round, and by the ’50’s had gotten a water system together. The population was radically varied– about 100-150 families from wallpaper hangers to artists to college professors.
There was a babysitting pool! A different member was secretary each month. If you needed a sitter, you called her and she told you who owed the most hours– they’d either come to your house, or you could drop the kids off at theirs.
There was a cooperative nursery school! in the Gates’s basement next door. The teacher was hired, and you were Mother On once a month to help out. Joan Gates even knew to put peppermint extract in the playdough to keep it fresher, ‘way back then…
We were at 66 Old Spanish Trail, and our landlord was a 7-footer named Ro Nagle, a weatherman. The extreme test of his abilities came a few years later when he and my next wasband pulled the roof off the house and redid it as rainclouds threatened ominously… This was such a distracting process that I forgot bread baking in the oven– they were accompanied all afternoon by the lovely wafting odors of this process, even though the product was on beyond melba toast…
The Woods was scattered over a north-facing hillside, accessible by narrow roads and many switchbacks. The houses went from fashionable A-frames to traditional cabins and everything in between. Halfway up the Trail was a small pond, ringed with emerald green grassy banks. Scotch broom was beginning to take over, not a bad idea on the foggy days of early spring, because its yellow blooms were an adequate substitute for sunshine. And later on hot summer nights, the little pods burst open with subdued pops, and in early morning was the businesslike chatter of quails gathering the seed.
You could see the whole south Bay area from my deck.
ANYways… the All Points bulletin I am putting out is for (at least) a couple women from that era:
The Wolf Family lived down on the circle. Mort, Nina and their children Eva and Stefan, redheaded Jewish kids with that mysterious olive overtone so unlike redheads from the British Isles. They were a little older than my first two. Mort was abruptly killed later in a freaky accident, the car he was working on falling off its jacks and rolling over him. Nina went on to become a sort of metaphysical clown, on the order of court jester/king’s advisor. I’d heard she went up to Canada to teach, on one of those offcoast islands… 16 years ago I still had a fone # for her, and called, to find it’d been given to someone else. That woman volunteered to ask after her around the island, but in one of those obstinate moments for which I eternally kick myself, I demurred… Oh Nina, where ARE you??
The other one is my babysitter, Missy Moses. I hear her mother Jean is in Oakland CA, and I know her dad Lincoln was a professor at Stanford. Sociology? Philosophy?? She was a middle child, a quite capable 14-year old babysitter for my first two, a ‘hard sit’, that pair of little wallbouncers… and though we were 10 years apart, she was easy to talk with. I’d started my garment business by then– ‘SCURVY LOUTS, Clothiers to the Barbarian Hordes’ had not surfaced yet, I was thinking more in line of ‘Peasant Stock’– and I’d make her clothes in exchange for sitting. Missy, I still have scraps from that French blue blouse with the little birds on it!!
If you know these two, or others from those days, please send them home to me… clik the CONTACT button at www.FiberFanatics.com. There’s also Stan and Ruth Bean, Betty Bauer the dayschool teacher; our neighbors up the hill, Bev and Norman Oaks. I already know where to find the Guys, in whose meadow the second one and I were married during a glorious huge hippie wedding, and the Gateses with a brood that I fell one short of matching (if you don’t count Corky the Beagle), and the entire Hobson Clan from a magical forested house beyond where Alpine Rd. turned to dirt, who probably don’t want to have a thing to do with me as I suffered severe growing pains under their wing… Peggy Dickinson, a potter next door whose kiln openings I attended with delight– she was always disgusted with how her glazes turned out, but I LOVE potter’s rejects!; the Bowmans, whose young cowboy son Arne was my Stephen’s best sidekick; but also the entire population of Pacific High School, who used my place as a halfway house on their way out of school, what about John Virgil Fischer and Merry Thacher, and that one Michael Dustin Hoffman who just HAD to ride his big Yamaha motorcycle in my front door; and a Gurdjieff group, now scattered around Sonoma County north of San Francisco. And Stanley, Willie and Letta Tayler. Willie was a middle-schooler at the Peninsula School (where any sentient parent would want to send their children!!!) with aspirations to be a woodsman– I brought him, at great personal expense, a roadkill skunk from Big Sur to skin for his collection, which he did with the slavish admiration of his classmates; unfortunately the tannery wouldn’t take it as the scent glands had leaked severely at its demise.
And Autumn Simmons, who made the BEST BUTTONS in a little kiln on her kitchen counter. They were a major inspiration for my garments– still have one of ’em in my button box!!
I’m so enamoured of the past, and so interested in these reconnexions. How could I help it?? Those years are framed in golden sparkling light, and I was so blessed by tolerant folk who held the shores firm while big waves washed over my life. Old friends could make the best new friends– if they can locate me through my welter of changing names!!
Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!