(NOTE: Because of SPAM, certain email addresses have been withheld in this on-line edition)

By Doug Moran, BPA President

By Halimah Van Tuyl

By Halimah Van Tuyl


By Sue Luttner Coonen


Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair

FAMILY YOGA RETREATS with Jackie Long (Barron Park Resident)


By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian

By Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair



By Linda Lui (Mama Carrot)

Advertising Donors

by Doug Moran, BPA President

Proposed Soccer Field at Gunn: A Specific Issue and a larger general problem
With the School District's severe budget problems, groups of sports boosters are engaging in fund-raising to improve athletic facilities. At Palo Alto HS, lights on the fields and the swimming pool are the results of such efforts, and a swimming pool at Gunn is being pursued. These sports boosters would also like to put a baseball field and a soccer field on the Gunn property in the flat area abutting Barron Park. The proposed soccer field would be in the "triangle" just south of Matadero Creek, and it would be a very tight fit.

One of the leaders of this group of sports boosters, Mr. Robert Cranmer-Brown, attended May Fete and showed a proposed layout. This layout surprised many who saw it and created much consternation because it did not take into account multiple local issues. Further concern was created by the booster's claim that the plan had tentative approval from the School Board.

Since Barron Park residents had not been informed of this plan, much less given the opportunity to comment on it, the BPA Board contacted various members of the School Board to find out what the status of this proposal was. John Barton, President of the School Board, told me that he had heard of the plan, but there had been no presentation to the School Board, much less any action on it. Furthermore, since there were several other projects ahead of it for funding, he expected it to be many years before it was considered.

The general political problem: I worry that this has become a classic example of a misunderstanding that will create an unnecessary controversy later. When projects such as this one have extended timelines, the decision-makers have an understandable tendency to defer making a critical assessment until closer to real deadlines. When the proponents are volunteers, the decision-makers offer them encouragement, as a way to keep them motivated. However, the proponents can easily misinterpret this as approval and support. Then, when a critical review is finally performed, the proponents react angrily when issues they thought were settled long ago are now open for consideration. Having invested so much time, effort and emotion in the project, they are often unable to step back and see what happened. Since it would be counter-productive to lash out at the decision-makers for having mislead them, the proponents focus on the opposition (and skeptics), often ascribing sinister motives to legitimate questions and objections.

And the opposition routinely misinterprets this misdirected emotion: They see it as an attempt to bully them into submission. This creates an environment in which they see their exclusion from the earlier considerations not as a mistake or oversight, but as a well-known bureaucratic tactic to unfairly cripple opposition. The opposition quickly comes to view the proponents and manipulative and untrustworthy. In such an environment, rational discussion of concerns and a search for creative solutions is all but impossible.

The Gunn Soccer Field (and the proposed new baseball field?): I am worried about the proposal for these fields becoming one of these problems because the booster said that the plan was over four years old. He was also dismissive of concerns that residents raised when asking questions at his table at May Fete. That the boosters are just now approaching the BPA to arrange a public meeting is both a negative and a positive: It is awfully late in the process to be seeking resident input, but it will also be a long time before any key decision points are reached, so there is still plenty of time to identify and address problems. The meeting for residents has not yet been scheduled. I asked the proponents for an electronic copy of the layout, but they don't have one — Their layout is a typical pen, paint and paper drawing. When the meeting is scheduled, an announcement will be made to the BPA-news email list, including background information on what have already been identified as issues.

A Neighborhood School and A Community of Innovative Teachers
By Halimah Van Tuyl

The teachers at Juana Briones Elementary School are known for the innovative programs they create, weaving together writing, performance, history, and the arts. At third grade, for example, teachers have developed an extensive nature study that ties in with the Ohlone Indian unit, where students build artifacts, create a table top village that brings the culture alive with dialogue and actions, and are immersed in the wilderness on an overnight to Hidden Villa.

A peek at the Briones kindergarteners finds them practicing in full costume on the set of the "Three Piggy Opera", where every child has a solo, and the five and six year olds appear poised whether singing, dancing, or memorizing and reciting lines with booming expressive voices. The school's youngest scholars also appeared in "Stone Soup", a production that is now a Briones tradition. After their upper grade buddies saw the show, the playground was alive with reminiscing and comments such as, "I remember when I was the sweet juicy onion, too!" Thursday morning before school, a large crowd of parents gathers outside the MP Room doors — having arranged their schedule to attend this weekly event. They chat, sip coffee, and talk to their children and friends, while anticipating the assembly. This tradition showcases each primary class, giving all students the opportunity to share their original poetry or a performance of literature they've read in class. First graders wrote their own fairy tales and perform them with poise of published authors at a Readers' Theater Nights. Second graders were the recipients of a grant from the Palo Alto Foundation for Education for an original program designed by Briones teachers. Students not only studied nine artists, producing art in the style of each one, they also created portfolios — lessons that are now being sought after by teachers from other elementary schools, too.

Fifth graders, like all students in the school from Kindergarteners up, work in the school's fully equipped science lab, led by professional science teacher, Karen Kessler. The fifth graders study systems of the human body, enhanced by dissecting sheep hearts and cow's eyes. Fourth graders have taken advantage of the proximity to Gunn High School to explore the pond there for the biology/microscope unit that Ms. Kessler developed, and honed their observation skills by doing botanical drawings of the plants they saw in the field and making slides of specimens they collected.

American History jumps off the pages of the textbooks under the enthusiastic direction of fifth grade teachers who bring their own talents into the curriculum. Ms. Laurie Levy, who sings in local opera productions, and Ms. Beth Mills, a veteran English Country dancer, have created a musical review of Colonial America, bringing their two classes together to sing and dance in a recent performance. Mr. Bruce Antal's class has followed his lead in learning movie making, creating scenery, writing news copy, and acting in a Colonial American Newscast that they put on video.

It's not surprising that many of the graduates of Briones School go on to star in the drama productions or chorus at Gunn High School, attribute their poise in debate or dance to their early introduction to performance, or pursue science or medicine as many former graduates, now in college, have. Many have taken the time to visit teachers or write that this remarkable neighborhood school launched them on a lifelong passion with learning. We invite you to find out more about us by talking to the current and "graduated" parents and families of Juana Briones Elementary School.

Barron Park Association Announces a new feature for parents of young children! We are now collecting information to create a list of baby sitters who live within the Barron Park neighborhood. This list will be available to BPA members who request it.

Membership forms recently sent to all residents who are not yet members include the option of signing up to be listed or to receive the babysitter list. An email notice was also sent to all people already enrolled as members.

Notice that this feature is different from the baby sitting cooperative described elsewhere in this newsletter. We will simply maintain a list of people who are available for baby sitting, including the age of people under 21 years of age, along with either their phone number or email address. The only requirement to be on the list is that a family member be a member of BPA. Likewise, the list will be available by email only to current members.

If it's been too long since you've had a "date" with your spouse or an evening out with friends, you should join our neighborhood coop. When you sit for other families in the co-op, you "earn" hours, when other families sit for you, you "spend" hours. It's fun for the kids, a great way to meet neighbors, and the only place to find free, quality baby-sitting without imposing on your friends and family. Learn more by contacting Gretchen Reynolds (email address omitted in online version).

By Sue Luttner Coonen

New faces joined with old traditions for an upbeat and neighborly May Fête in Bol Park this year. Entire families came out for an afternoon of live music and dancing, including a community round dance and short pieces by Juana Briones and Barron Park School students in addition to the usual English folk dancers and Maypole weaving dance. A rising wind added drama to the raising of the pole, but the flowers stayed aloft and the dancers held fast to their ribbons, ultimately weaving a sheath under the skillful calling of Bob Fraley.

Credit for this year's fête goes first to our potent yet gracious co-chairs, Julie Lythcott-Haims and Jeannie Lythcott. The daughter-mother team stepped forward when they heard the tradition was threatened for lack of a chair, and they brought with them refreshing new energy. Julie and Jeannie not only found sponsors to help pay for the sound system but also recruited new volunteers with new ideas, like children's craft activities and origami pinwheels.

Even though Paul Edwards has moved out of the neighborhood, he came back to help out the transition team: Paul, Larry Breed, and Wei Wu set up and broke down the stage; Paul, Bob Fraley, and Lena Chane prepared and dressed the pole. Fête veteran Doug Graham, constrained by other responsibilities from taking on a leadership role this year, organized the history exhibits.

Gary Breitbard did a great job arranging the musicians: Thanks from the BPA to the Terman Jazz Band, Broceliade, the Mayfield Morris Dancers, Harmon's Peak, and Peter Tommerup. Mary Jane Leon arranged the agility dog teams and other fête must-have's, like Edith Smith with her donkey watercolors and T-shirts.

Special mention is due this year to Maryanne Welton, who exceeded even her own reputation for thoroughness by not only arranging the usual fête fare but also recruiting an ice cream cart, coffee, and the Driftwood Deli mobile unit.

Dan Lythcott-Haims designed the new May Fête logo and incorporated it into the publicity posters, program, and volunteer buttons. Don Anderson produced the posters and signs, which were posted around our neighborhood by our own Boy Scout Troop 52. As always, Gwen Luce deployed her sandwich signs to help alert residents the weekend of the fête.

Carla Bliss, a long-time member of the BPA Beautification Committee, prepared the bouquet for the top of the Maypole, using flowers donated by neighborhood gardeners. Families both new and old — like the Ohs, with three sons aged 5 and under, and seniors Jon and Nancy Aderhold — came early and stayed late to help move tables, chairs, cases of soda, and the innumerable other items that make a fête. Thanks of course to our fête sponsors: Realtors John King and Gwen Luce, the Church of Scientology, K. Welton Construction, McKenna Family Dentistry, Jim David Automotive (Texaco station), Gary Breitbard Music, Palo Alto Cleaners, Straights CafĂ©, Hobbee's, and Starbuck's.

Finally, thanks to all who joined us, and to the many groups and individuals who shared their skills and interests:

It's never too early to start recruiting next year's team. If you'd like to help, send an email to Jeannie Lythcott, or Julie Lythcott-Haims.

The names below are the neighbors who made a commitment ahead of time to help with the fête in various ways. Thanks from the organizing committee to them and also to the people who just pitched in on fête day. We hope to see you again next year. Annie Green, Bern King, Beth Broderson, Bob Fraley, Bud Rubin, Carla Bliss, D. Pridmore-Brown, Dick Placone, Doug Westover, Elaine Miller, Gwen Luce, Herman Gyr, Hilary Glann, Inge Harding-Barlowe, Jack Sutton, Jean Lythcott, Jeff Dean, Jerome Coonen, Jim Jacobsen, John Hopkins, John King, Jon Aderhold, Julie Lythcott-Haims, Kate Hill, Karen Michael, Karen's friend, Ken Poulton & Boys Scout Troop 52, Larry Breed, Leif Erickson, Lena Chane, Lucas Coonen, Madelyn Taylor, Maryanne Welton, Mary Jane Leon, Melanie Oh, Mike Green, Mr. Oh and his oldest son, Myrna Westover, Nancy Aderhold, Paul Edwards, Peter Chane, Ralph Leon, Rosemary Jacobsen, Rich Elder, Soroor Ebnesajjad, Steve Bennet, Steve Luce, Steve's friend, Sue Luttner, Tara Saxena, Tara's cousin, Wei Wu, Will Beckett.

Donkey Handler Profile and Recollections: Doug Moran
Doug Moran has been a donkey handler since 1996 when he was recruited by Inge Harding-Barlow to help with Mickey. Josina Bol had died earlier that year and the care of Mickey had been taken up by a group of residents, led by Inge and by Edith and Leland Smith. Doug's role was initially to prop up Mickey while Inge cleaned and bandaged his hooves, which had become infected.

Even though Mickey was already an elderly donkey, he still had his mischievous streak, and would playfully push back at Doug. His greeting became to put his head against Doug's chest and push. He was powerful enough to all but lift Doug off his feet, sending him backwards several feet. Niner does a very restrained version of the head-push, only from behind and only with just enough force to get you moving (to get him food).

In early 1997, Perry arrived. He had no hesitation getting out of his trailer. He literally pranced up the bike path to the donkey pasture, looking from side-to-side, with an expression of "This is way cool" We soon discovered that Perry was a mass of insecurities. He had been separated too early from his mother. He had been a companion for horses, most recently at a stable in Woodside. As the stable acquired more horses, the horses had each other as companions and started ignoring Perry. He was not to be ignored, and chased the horse, nipping at them. This was intolerable, and Perry was donated to us.

When Doug was told that those horses were being trained to be Polo ponies, his remark was "They were beaten up by a juvenile miniature donkey? I think that team has poor prospects!"

Because the original donkey handlers had bonded with Mickey, the newer handlers, such as Doug, focused on Perry, and Perry quickly identified who were "his people" (his posse?).

During the 1997 May Fete, several of the donkey handlers were talking to City Council members about various issues related to the donkeys and the donkey pasture. After a bit, Perry reached his head through the gate and chomped down on Doug's forearm. Since Perry had already developed a reputation as a "nipper," Doug tried to avoid drawing attention to the situation, but eventually one of the other donkey handlers noticed and commented on it. What was surprising was that although the bite was strong enough to leave deep impressions of both teeth and gums, it didn't break the skin.

Doug speculates that Perry got nervous around such a crowd, or he got insecure not being the center of attention, or maybe a bit of both. Anyway, juvenile donkeys (and horses) tend to grab their mother's tail in such situations, and Doug's arm may have been the closest (or good-enough) approximation.

Not having horses to chase around the corral, Perry started getting overweight and several of the handlers started taking him out jogging. Once again, the mischievousness of donkeys came into play. The donkey handlers could not run fast enough for Perry, so he quickly learned how to align his neck to negate the ability of the handler from using the leash to control him. He would then accelerate, stripping the leash from the handler's hands. Adding insult to injury (the rope burns), Perry would run the established route around the Strawberry Hill triangle. He would strip the leash and run to the first corner, then wait for the handler to catch up. As soon as he picked up the leash, Perry would strip it out of his hands again, running to the second corner, where he would repeat the trick, winding up back at the pasture gate.

As Mickey's health declined, Perry became his protector (even though he was still but a juvenile). One winter day, Doug was putting out their food at twilight during a break between storms and he didn't see the donkeys. So he went to the back pasture (now fenced off) to see if they were sheltering under the big oak. As he approached, Perry charged out from under the tree, taking a defensive/offensive stance, until he recognized it was Doug.

Niner's arrival in the summer of 1998 was very different from Perry's. Niner was very skeptical of his new surroundings, and absolutely did not trust the bike bridge over Matadero Creek. When he got to the bridge, he put his head down, with his nose almost touching the ground, and refused to proceed. Having Perry cross back and forth neither reassured him, nor shamed him. Even with three or four donkey handlers pushing and pulling, getting Niner across the bridge was difficult, exhausting and slow. After many trips, it became a bit easier: Niner would get to the bridge, stop, put his head down, and then gingerly step slowly across the bridge.

Mickey died a few weeks after Niner arrived, and a struggle for leadership of the "herd" erupted. Apparently, Niner felt that based on his much greater age and size, he should be dominant. On the other hand, Perry had seniority rights and Niner was a newcomer. Although the nipping between the two worried the donkey handlers, we were also quite surprised that Perry, despite his disadvantages, seemed to hold his own in those contests for dominance.

Because Niner was more difficult to manage on walks, Doug — being stronger than most of the other handlers — got shifted to handling Niner. Perry clearly felt betrayed, and more than six years later hasn't fully forgiven Doug.

Doug currently feeds the donkeys on Sunday evenings. He is better known to most of you as the current BPA President, and as the long-time BPA e-mail manager and the co-webmaster. He has lived in Barron Park since 1986 and been on the BPA Board since 1994.

He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science, starting this career in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, but slowly shifted into Computer Security. He worked as a researcher at SRI from 1983 to 1999, then was an early employee at two start-ups.

by Patrick Muffler, BPA Emergency Chair

PANDA (Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity) is a program designed to assist the Palo Alto Fire and Police Departments in the event of a major disaster. PANDA is our City's name for a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), as such teams are usually designated throughout California.

At any given time, only about a quarter of the City of Palo Alto Fire and Police personnel are on duty. During a major emergency, these personnel inevitably will focus on the major facilities (e.g., Stanford Hospital). Many off-duty Fire and Police personnel live several hours' drive from Palo Alto, some in the Central Valley or even the Sierra Foothills. A major earthquake, particularly on the Hayward fault, may well make freeways and bridges impassable for many days, preventing these off-duty personnel from reaching Palo Alto. Consequently, in a major disaster, individuals and families in residential neighborhoods will have to be on their own, at least for 72 hours. In a catastrophic earthquake affecting the entire Bay Area, these 72 hours may lengthen into a week or more. PANDA is a focused effort of the City of Palo Alto to deal with such a situation. PANDA consists of Palo Alto citizen volunteers who have undergone a training program in emergency disaster assistance and are prepared to supplement the activities of City personnel during an emergency. This training includes:

    Damage assessment
    Utility control
    Recognition of hazardous materials
    Disaster Medical Operations
    Search & Rescue
    Fire Suppression
    Incident Command Post
    Terrorism Awareness
    Disaster Psychology
    Operating the PANDA trailer
    Field Exercise
PANDAs can draw on dedicated caches of emergency equipment in trailers at each of the six city fire stations. Each trailer is also equipped with an amateur (HAM) radio for emergency communications with the Palo Alto Emergency Operations Center and with other PANDA trailers, as well as FRS radios for intra-neighborhood communication. All of Barron Park is in Fire District 5, located at Arastradero Road and Clemo Avenue, adjacent to Juana Briones Park. District 5 covers not only Barron Park, but also the Ventura, Monroe Park, Charleston Meadows, Greenacres I, Greenacres II, and Greater Miranda neighborhoods. In emergencies, PANDAs from these neighborhoods are trained to organize an Incident Command Structure at the Station 5 PANDA trailer and to serve as leaders in helping our neighborhoods respond to the disaster.

In recent months, PANDAs in District 5 have taken the initiative to organize themselves from the ground up, under the leadership of Ruth Satterthwaite, a resident of Greenacres II. We have held several meetings of active personnel, in great part just to get to know each other and to provide a basis for constructive interaction during an emergency. We have held several drills to test how well we can communicate using our FRS/GMRS radios, we have set up a meeting with the Captain at Fire Station 5, and we have developed maps of District 5 that show each address and whether residents of that address are PANDAs, HAM radio operators, trained medical personnel, etc.

The map of Barron Park shown in the accompanying figure gives us great pause. I had expected the PANDAs in Barron Park to be evenly distributed geographically. Was I wrong! The map shows clearly that PANDAs are concentrated in two small areas: (1) the area along Los Robles Avenue near El Camino Real, and (2) southernmost Barron Park, near Laguna Avenue. I was amazed to see that in a broad swath of Barron Park extending from Arastradero all the way to Chemalus there are absolutely no PANDAs (see area within the dashed line on the figure). So what? What's the big deal? Certainly, on a normal day, no one would care. But in the event of a major disaster, this is a huge area without any trained workers to serve as leaders and coordinators. Certainly many people will pitch in and help their neighbors. But their well-meaning efforts would be far more effective if they had the basic training in disaster response provided by the PANDA program.

Hence the pitch of this article. If you live within the dashed line of the accompanying figure, please consider taking advantage of the free PANDA training offered by the Office of Emergency Services of the City of Palo Alto. Several of these courses will be offered in the fall of 2005:

    Panda Basic 05-05
    Tuesday 20 Sept., Wednesday 21 Sept., and Thursday 22 Sept.: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
    Panda Basic 05-06
    Wednesdays Oct. 12, 19, & 26, Nov. 2, & 16: 9:00 am to 12:00 noon
    Saturday Nov. 5: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (field exercise)
    Panda Basic 05-07
    Wednesdays Oct. 12, 19, & 26, Nov. 2, & 16: 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
    Saturday Nov. 5: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (field exercise)

Please consider taking one of these classes and thus acquiring the training necessary to be an effective supplement to the Palo Alto Fire and Police Departments in the event that a major disaster should strike our neighborhood. To enroll, call Barbara Cimino at the Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services at 617-3197 (Monday-Friday, 8 am to 5 pm). Or call me at 493-6439 and I shall be glad to help you.

Family Yoga Retreats with Jackie Long (Barron Park Resident)

Most parents these days want quality time with their children. However, with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be challenging to be present enough to simply be with yourself — let alone with your children! Unlike traditional yoga retreats where parents tend to leave the kids behind, at a Family Yoga Retreat you will be focusing on deepening the bonds between family members. You will be putting your family first (where it should be!) as you consciously explore your relationships with those you love most.

Jackie Long, a Marriage and Family Therapist and yoga instructor, leads yoga retreats specifically designed for families who are interested in cultivating well-being and togetherness. Jackie has spent several weeks living in Buddhist monasteries in Thailand, practicing meditation. She knows first hand the deep benefits of taking time away from the daily grind in order to retreat inward and establish a compassionate presence. It is Jackie's vision to make this inward retreat accessible to families and people of all ages.

Helen Garabedian, Founder of Itsy Bitsy Yoga International, will be joining Jackie at the Family Yoga Retreat in Hawaii from July 30-August 6, 2005. Helen brings to this unique creation her expertise in infant yoga and development.

Marsha Wenig, Founder of Yoga Kids International, will be joining Jackie at the Family Yoga Weekend near Tahoe National Forest from September 2- September 5 (Labor Day). Marsha brings with her a sincere passion to inspire children to use their bodies, minds, and spirits in their journey of cognitive, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual exploration.

To find out more about these family retreats, please visit (Jackie teaches yoga classes for adults at Avalon Yoga Studio in Palo Alto, and she also teaches a yoga class for adults at Barron Park School through the Palo Alto Adult School. Visit her website for more details.)

Henry M. Gunn Yearbook Program
For the upcoming 2005-2006 school year, the Henry M. Gunn Yearbook Staff is planning many exciting changes, including an all-color book, updated equipment and computers, and a new journalistic style that will capture all of the sports, clubs, academics, and extracurricular activities that Gunn has to offer.

With all of these new improvements, we are seeking the support and help from the community. Every year, the staff runs into numerous costs and obstacles that are unanticipated. To help fund our program, you can pre-order a 2005-2006 yearbook. As a resident or member of the community, you can learn about the traditions and structure of Gunn through its student-published book. This yearbook not only pertains to the current students, but also depicts the diversity and culture of Gunn that continues to make us unique with every new year.

If you wish to purchase a yearbook or have any questions regarding our program, please send an email to the address listed below. By purchasing the book before December 2005, you will receive a discounted price.

Help Support the Barron Park Donkeys!

Support for Perry and Niner comes completely from the generosity of their neighbors and the community. The donkeys receive no tax dollars, no government funds, no funds from the City of Palo Alto, no grants from any animal welfare or humane organization. They are a part of the neighborhood simply because people who live here care about them and care about continuing this unique opportunity. In return, Perry and Niner provide warmth and joy to those who walk by their pasture; a rural equine experience for suburban children and adults who visit them on Sundays in Bol Park; an opportunity for humane education for children in Barron Park Schools; and a general reaffirmation for all of us of our connection to the natural world.

General farrier and veterinary expenses for the donkeys total about $1,000 a year. Food costs about $600 a year. Funds for the donkeys are managed by Acterra (formerly the Peninsula Conservation Center Foundation), which acts as fiscal agent for the Donkey Project, providing insurance and handling donations and financial affairs. Fees for these administrative services totaled about $200 this past year. All of these expenses are funded solely through donations.

All those who care about Perry and Niner seek to guarantee their proper on-going care and shelter, as well as to ensure that assets will be available for health concerns as the donkeys age. The handlers hope that those generous neighbors who have contributed in the past will consider increasing their support this year. Contributions for the donkey's care may be sent to: The Palo Alto Donkey Project, ACTERRA (Action for a Sustainable Earth), 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4303. The check must be made out to

For further information about making a contribution on behalf of the donkeys, or if you would like information about how to become one of the volunteer donkey handlers, please call Bob Frost, 493-8272 or email at Bob Frost.

Barron Park 80 Years Old in September!
by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian

The plat map for the original "Barron Park", a subdivision of 62 building lots along El Camino Real, La Selva Drive and Barron Avenue, was filed with the County Recorder eighty years ago this summer, on September 10, 1925. The first sign of the change that was coming to the old Barron Estate was the appearance of surveying crews laying out streets in the dusty grass under the row of towering eucalyptus trees along the State Highway. They were marking lot corners for what was to become the first residential subdivision south of Mayfield in present-day Palo Alto. The mid-Twenties were an era of jazz, prohibition, bootleg liquor and the beginnings of America's long love affair with the automobile: a time of rapid social change, especially in suddenly growing suburbs like Palo Alto. Palo Alto had been a quiet college town surrounded by countryside, but with an easy rail commute to San Francisco and inexpensive automobiles available to get around in, the area's country charms and warm summer weather began to appeal to more and more San Franciscans. Palo Alto was a very progressive, growing community that had just annexed Mayfield, its older but smaller neighbor to the south on July 6. It owned its three major utilities, water, gas and electricity, which made it highly unusual.

Before the annexation in 1925, the Mayfield postal address (but not the incorporated town) covered the entire area along El Camino from the Stanford lands (now the Research Park) to Adobe Creek (the current boundary of Los Altos). This included the entire "Barron Estate", which had been subdivided into small berry-patch farms after its sale in 1919 to a group of strawberry growers and land investors from Watsonville; R.F. Driscoll, B. L. Driscoll and J.E. Reiter. Driscoll and Reiter hadn't wanted the old Barron Mansion and its approximately 50 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, and they had re-sold that portion of the estate in 1923 to Colonel Sebastian C. Jones.

Colonel Jones had then established the California Military Academy, a school for boys on the property, with two school buildings, a large swimming pool, and playing fields. The house itself was reserved for his family's use. To finance the improvements, Col. Jones planned to subdivide the part of the property farthest from the house and school grounds.

He named the subdivision Barron Park in honor of Edward Barron, a San Francisco financier who had retired to this property, then known as "Mayfield Farm", in 1878. The "park" was in recognition of the beautiful landscaping originally planted between 1857 and 1877 by Sarah Wallis, a prominent suffragist who sold to Barron.

Barron also poured thousands of dollars into landscaping, and by the 1920s the mansion was surrounded by mature palms, magnolias, eucalyptus, firs, pines and other ornamental tree species. Some of these trees can still be seen along Magnolia Drive, Military Way and La Selva Drive.

Colonel Jones laid out 23 narrow but deep commercial lots, spanning his entire frontage along El Camino Real from the northwest corner of Barron Avenue to the property now occupied by the Texaco Station. Behind the commercial lots, Col. Jones laid out a twenty-foot wide alley designated "The Lane" (now Cypress Lane). La Selva Drive was originally designated "Woodland Drive": its name was Hispanicized to La Selva in the 1930s when it became fashionable to celebrate California's Spanish roots. It was laid out on a portion of one of the lovely curving driveways put in by Barron. Much of the exotic vegetation that still remains today was already mature in 1925.

Development began immediately, with two houses going up in 1925 and six in 1926, making a little cluster a hundred feet or so off of the highway into the woodland. Some of the new houses were very small and simple, having been built in cottage style as summer homes for well-to-do San Franciscans escaping the chill winds and fogs. After the initial burst of construction activity, very few houses went up until the next decade, when two to three per year were completed from 1930 through 1938. Four more homes were built in the 1950s. Then in the 1960s and 70s several more were built on lot splits, the last one being completed in 1980. In the past twenty-five years some of the original homes have been demolished and replaced with much larger modern residences.

Life in Barron Park in the late 1920s must have been fairly pleasant. It was a Palo Alto address even though the City Limits extended south only as far as Wilton Avenue (on the north side of El Camino). Barron Parkers were allowed to swim in the Military Academy pool in the summer when the cadets weren't there, and it was a great gathering place for the broader neighborhood. The elementary-age children (grades 1-8) attended Mayfield School on the south side of El Camino between California Avenue and Page Mill Road, while the older ones went to Palo Alto High School. An electric railway ran down El Camino to where McDonald's is now, then ran side-by-side with a Southern Pacific branch line through the west end of Barron Park where the bike path now runs, and went on to Los Altos, Saratoga and Santa Cruz. Shopping was available nearby in Mayfield, which is now the California Avenue commercial district, and new roadside businesses were opening every year along the El Camino strip, providing conveniences even closer to home.

It is worth noting that Colonel Jones' subdivision is still having a major impact on this area. It is partly due to the small size of the commercial lots he laid out that it has proven so difficult to attract desirable neighborhood-oriented businesses on our strip. The vacant lots and rundown old buildings are a result of the original small sizes, no place to park, and fragmented ownership. Currently many of the properties are held by absentee owners, many of whom inherited these hard-to-sell lots and now live out-of-state.

In all fairness to Colonel Jones, however, there was an outside factor that made the lots even smaller than he intended. In a 1977 oral history, Chatham Jones, a well-known local History Professor at DeAnza College and a grandson of Col. Jones, told a story that illustrates an interesting aspect of his grandfather's personality. Forbes grew up in the "Barron Mansion" while Jones was running the Military Academy here. As he recalled, the State of California had decided to condemn and seize a strip of the Colonel's frontage to widen the "State Highway" (El Camino) from two lanes to four in order to accommodate increased automobile traffic. One day not too long after the subdivision was laid out, a crew of men arrived and began felling the row of beautiful old eucalyptus trees that shaded the highway and screened Barron Park from the traffic.

The Colonel was incensed at the high-handedness of this action, came out to the road with a large pistol and ordered the crew off his land. It took intervention by the Sheriff to end the confrontation and allow the widening project to go forward. Thus, the Colonel's lots lost about thirty feet off their front and ended up being both narrow and shallow. Later on in the 1950s, this problem was exacerbated when El Camino was widened again to six lanes and another twenty feet or so was taken. Now, we live with urban blight as a result of the fragmented ownership of non-economically-sized commercial lots on our El Camino strip.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief story of how our neighborhood got its start and its name. When September 10 rolls around, take a moment to think back eighty years to an earlier, perhaps somewhat simpler time when Barron Park was young.

NOTE: In the interests of journalistic honesty, the reader is advised that part of this story has been broadly plagiarized from my own article previously published in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Barron Park Newsletter, which appeared in February, 1986. The current article has, however, been re-written and significantly expanded for this publication.

Senior Update, Summer 2005
by Mary Jane Leon

The I-Pot
Have you heard about Japan's answer to the increasing number of older people living alone? It is called the I-pot (no, that is not ipod). Not only does it boil water for instant miso soup or green tea, but it also records the time whenever water is dispensed from the pot. It then sends a wireless message to a server. People who sign up for the service can see recent records of a given person's I-pot usage on a Web site, or they can receive a record of usage times by email. What a neat way to keep the family informed that Mom or Pop is still alive and kicking. What's next? Maybe in the States it could be the I-fridge.

Fall Once, Fall Again!
If you have fallen recently, studies show that the chances are high that you will fall again. Here is a new service designed just for you. Local hospitals, physicians, and fire departments have gotten together to establish a program called Farewell to Falls. Phone Ellen Corman, at 724-9369, and set up an appointment. A therapist will come to your home and consult with you about possible factors that contribute to falls, and recommend a program to increase your strength and improve your balance and mobility. And its all free. Can't beat that, can you?

Group Lunch Time
We went back to Cibo in April, and had a grand turnout. We are getting more than 35 people at most of our lunches lately! Now we are ready to head back to Bol Park and have Driftwood Deli cater. Remember, lunches are the second Tuesday of every other month. We had one June 14, and will have another in the park August 9. If you are not on our list and would like to come, just let us know.

Volunteers Available
We continue to have a group of volunteers who offer services to Barron Park neighbors. If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like a little help, get in touch with us. You can reach Mary Jane Leon at 493-5248 or email; Julie Spengler at 493-9151 [email withheld]

Will Beckett is Leaving the Neighborhood
Will Beckett, BPA President from 1993 until 2002, resigned from the Barron Park Association Board in May and will be leaving the neighborhood with his family in the Autumn of 2005. Will and Jill have sold their house on Baker Avenue and are currently renting a house next door. They will be moving to 323 Los Altos Drive in Aptos, about one half mile from the ocean in Santa Cruz County. Will has purchased an unfinished house that has stood vacant for 28 years - he will be finishing it himself. He plans to continue his current business, Beckett PC Solutions, which provides computer support for the home. A new client base in the Santa Cruz area will be developed by business networking and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Will says Barron Park is a great place to raise a family, but he and Jill are ready for a change and wanted to live near the beach. Their younger daughter, Elaine, is now in college at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (following the lead of her older sister Heather), and the Becketts now feel they can relocate without disrupting the family. Naturally, Will has mixed feelings about leaving Barron Park as it will make it more difficult to keep up with friends and neighbors, and they will miss many favorite places in the Palo Alto area.

Although he retired from running the BPA three years ago, Will has continued to participate in Palo Alto community life, especially through his membership on the Board of Directors of West Bay Opera, which is approaching its 50th birthday. The last several years have been a critical time for the Opera, as the local economic downturn has greatly affected funding. Will reports that ticket revenue only covers 50% of the costs of a show, with the remainder coming from donations and grants. He is currently looking for volunteer grant writers.

Three years ago, in the Spring 2002 issue, we published a two-page spread detailing Will's major contributions in his 30-year stint on the BPA Board and nine years as President. His experience began at the time of annexation to Palo Alto and spanned the Presidencies of Dick Placone, Ken Arutunian, Sam Sparck, Doug Graham, John Joynt, Dave Chalton, Will Beckett and Doug Moran. That article is in the on-line Barron Park Newsletter archive ( In his valedictory as President, Will left us a challenge: to find some way to rejuvenate the El Camino Strip. Ideas, anyone?

End of Summer Party
Sub head: Annual Welcome to Barron Park Newcomers by Neighbors who would like to welcome them!

Save August 28th for our second annual end of summer/beginning of fall Sunday afternoon gathering in Bol Park to welcome newcomers! Last year, the BPA served lots of ice cream. We had a great turnout, and everyone enjoyed meeting "new" and "old" neighbors.

Please contact BPA Welcoming Committee Chair, Gwen Luce, if you would like to be welcomed or help welcoming: my email or 650-424-1960. Look for more information on the Bol Park Kiosk and on your BPA-news email list. To be on this list, please see

Marching Vegetables Take Over the City!
By Linda Lui (Mama Carrot)

On Saturday, May 7th, Barron Park Preschool's entry into Palo Alto's 83rd annual May Fete parade featured carrots, avocado, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, yellow corn, a giant asparagus and other nutritious vegetables. This was all in keeping with the parade's theme of "Leading the Way to Healthy Living."

Marching down University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto was quite an experience for this crop. After waiting patiently for over an hour in slot #56 just off Emerson, the little veggies, 2-5 years of age, finally got their moment of glory as they wormed their way down the parade route, amid cheers from curbside revelers. After several blocks, the parade made a right turn at Webster towards its destination at Addison Elementary School.

My baby carrot was a trooper and plowed her way valiantly as I rooted by her side. As the sun beat down and the aroma of wilted broccoli and warm tomatoes permeated the air, it was quite easy to contemplate a nice vegetable smoothie for lunch!

Advertising Donors

Driftwood Deli & Market

— Sandwiches — Fresh bread —
— Dairy — Groceries — Magazines —
— Liquor — Catering — Indoor and outdoor seating —

3450 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306 (near Creekside Inn)
(650) 493-4162

James Witt, General Contractor

We have been buying and selling homes in Barron Park
for over 24 years.

(650) 494-2041

email: James Witt

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