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

By Doug Moran, BPA President

By Maryanne Welton, BPA Vice President


By Patrick Muffler, Chair, Emergency Preparation

By John King, Streets Chairman

By Mary Jane Leon, Chair


By Karen Michael, Business Liaison



By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian



By Suzanne McKenna and Halimah Van Tuyl

By Linda Lui


By Sue Luttner

Advertising Donors

by Doug Moran, BPA President,

Emergency Preparedness Politics
Current emergency preparedness (e-prep) activities are very narrowly focused. In conjunction with leaders from several other neighborhoods, I have been trying to kick-start several activities that are currently being ignored but that would have significant benefits at relatively little cost. The hope was that historic resistance to these activities could be overcome by the impetus provided by the combination of this being the 100-year anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake plus the increased recognition of the threat of pandemic influenza. However, this has proven even more difficult than anticipated.

The basic failings
Government plans for emergencies regard "the government" as a small set of people—the political leaders and the professional staff—rather than as a set of community tasks and responsibilities.

The plans of governments and quasi-government organizations (such as the Red Cross) come across as having been developed by people use to controlling situations rather than adapting to them. Anticipating where you will need to improvise, and preparing for it, is critical (although that may seem to be an oxymoron).

The above problems can be ascribed to a "bureaucratic" mindset. At the other end of the spectrum are the "enthusiasts." These are people, typically volunteers, who in their desire to do too much wind up blocking progress.

Contribution of residents
In the e-prep meetings, you see the contributions of people from different backgrounds. People who manage environments where there is no central control (for example, computer networks) express skepticism about whether plans are ready for the unpredictability and chaos of a disaster. People involved in consumer product development and testing bring experience and a mindset about what is effective with the general public.

Being a "victim" in a disaster is a very different experience from being a rescue worker. As someone who has been through a Katrina-level major disaster (the 1982 Hurricane Agnes flood), I can see that the plans would greatly benefit from involvement by more people with such experiences.

Planning to fail: For "normal" emergencies, governments have arrangements with each other for mutual aid. However, in full-scale disasters such as a major earthquake, all the nearby communities are also overwhelmed and can provide no assistance—aid has to come from far away. A pandemic is a national, if not world-wide, disaster, so there is little chance of outside assistance.

Government plans focus on making the best use of pre-trained personnel, and ignore the potential to quickly scale up capabilities with volunteers. For example, with traffic lights out, you need "traffic cops" at intersections to manage the traffic that otherwise would slow emergency and relief vehicles. Although training is relatively quick and easy, managing the number of people needed requires preparation.

Ignored resources: My experience from previous disasters is that people wait for supplies such as fuel and food to be trucked in despite there being plentiful supplies already there. Gasoline remains in storage tanks at gas stations because there is no mechanical or legal preparation to pump it. Similarly, food spoils unused in grocery stores. When I tried to talk to the City's previous Emergency Coordinator about this, his reply was that the City had adequate supplies for Police, Fire, and Utilities. He couldn't see how anything beyond this should be part of his responsibilities.

Unrealistic requirements: When organizations encounter unusual situations, they too often try to force them into a familiar approach. My most recent example comes from the American Red Cross, and is an outline for educating people during the early stages of a flu epidemic. Containing flu is a challenge because people are contagious for days before they show any symptoms. The ARC recognized that their normal approach of public meetings risked spreading the flu, but rather than choose an alternate approach (such as TV and computer downloads), it provided an unreliable suggestion on how to exclude contagious people.

Unreasonable demands on time: My biggest frustration with the professionals and most of the enthusiasts is that they are unwilling to produce advice in a form usable to the typical citizen. I believe that they greatly over-estimate the time that people are willing to expend on preparation for a disaster.

Breakdown of society: Disaster officials tell us not to expect any help from government (including police and fire) for 3 to 14 days, and that every family is responsible for taking care of itself. There is little, if any, role for community groups. Nor is there encouragement for people to work together during the crisis.

When officials talk about their worries about a "breakdown of society", I have pointed out to them that their plans and statements implicitly encourage such a breakdown. I have heard many people say that they will not share with their neighbors. Some even say they are prepared to shoot people to protect their supplies.

However, the experience in disasters is that most people reflexively help each other, including total strangers. Working together is much more effective if you aren't making it up on the fly.

Panic in the streets? Mass panic during a disaster occurs only in the movies and other works of fiction—studies have found that people are much better behaved than was expected. However, concerns about public reaction can distort what government tells the public. In 1918, the government, supported by the news media, decided to understate the effects of the flu pandemic and overstate progress. They did this to avoid demoralizing the public (there was a war), but wound up exacerbating the public's fear because the plainly visible reality showed the reporting to be false.

The above paints a grim picture. But remember, my focus has been on areas where I already knew there were problems. Part of my intent here is to raise awareness of what could reasonably be done to create pressure on officials to broaden their activities.

Also notice that some of the above examples are "90-percent solutions"—most of the work is already done. However, in a disaster, you don't have the time nor the resources to work out the final details, so such solutions are not "good enough." Although it is said that the final 10-percent is the hardest, this may only apply to those who did the first 90-percent—people with different mindsets and skills may make short work of it. Thus, for the right people, taking such work through the final steps could provide substantial improvement in disaster readiness.

The PAN e-prep group has two focuses. One is developing a portfolio of standard practices. This involves locating and adapting existing materials for practical use. The second is implementing a network of "block captains" as a way to get information to residents, both before and during a disaster. Developments will be announced on the BPA email lists.

By Maryanne Welton, BPA Vice President,

This year's May Fete in Bol Park was a wonderful community celebration that exemplifies all the characteristics that make Barron Park such a great neighborhood to live in. The creekside setting, music wafting on the breeze, food made and sold by local vendors, art projects for the youngsters, historical displays, local authors, two maypoles topped with flowers from neighborhood gardens, the donkeys and sheep—where else could all of this come together than Barron Park?

People make the party. Thanks to all of you who came and enjoyed the day with your family, friends and neighbors. Special thanks to everyone who carried a chair, posted a sign, cut a ribbon, sent out emails, or did any of the myriad of tasks it took to put together the neighborhood's 28th annual May Fete. Kudos to co-chairs Jeannie Lythcott and Julie Lythcott-Haims who coordinated it all with warmth and grace. Only in Barron Park . . .


A1 Liquors
Al Peterson Roofing
Barron Park Shell
Classic Pet Grooming
Direct Maytag
Driftwood Deli
Ernie's Wine Liquors
Family Fashion Cuts
Front of the Pack
Gwen Luce, Realtor
Hal of London Barber
Hunan Garden
James Witt Construction
Jim Davis Auto
K. Welton Construction
King Realty
Mayflower Motel
Mike's 1 hour Cleaners
Palo Alto Auto Repair
Palo Alto Tailoring
Stanford Carpet
Stanford Pet Clinic
Taqueria El Grullense
Thai City

Personal and Household Preparation for a Possible Bird Flu Pandemic
By Patrick Muffler, Chair, Emergency Preparation, Barron Park Association,

An epidemic is disease that quickly and severely affects a large number of people and then subsides. A pandemic is a widespread epidemic that may affect entire continents or even the world. A most relevant modern example of a pandemic is the 1918 influenza pandemic ("the Spanish flu") that killed 20-40 million people worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States1. Similar, but much less devastating influenza pandemics occurred in 1957 and 1968.

Organizations such as the World Health Organization2 are sounding the alarm that the world may now be facing an influenza pandemic similar to 1918. In 2004, large parts of Asia experienced unprecedented outbreaks in poultry of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, caused by the H5N1 virus. In cases of close proximity between poultry and humans, the virus was passed from the birds to humans, with a very high fatality rate in humans. The concern is that this H5N1 virus could mutate to a strain easily passed from human to human and then would be spread quickly around the world by air travelers, causing an influenza pandemic similar to 1918. A vaccine could not be developed until after the mutant strain appeared.

What is the likelihood of this frightening scenario? Participants in the Pandefense 1.0 National Avian Flu Conference in November 20053 estimated the probability that the H5N1 virus would mutate within three years into a strain that could spread efficiently by human-to-human contact. Nineteen medical participants estimated a 15% probability, and seventeen non-medical participants estimated a 60% probability. Either estimate is a cause for great concern.

The participants in the Pandefense 1.0 National Avian Flu Conference also estimated the probability of the U.S. having adequate stockpiles of vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent a pandemic within the next three years. The estimate by the non-medical experts was 15-30%, whereas the estimate by the medical experts was only 1%.

An influenza pandemic similar to 1918 is thus probable within the next few years. If this happens, our public-health resources in the United States will be overwhelmed. With present resources, there will be desperate shortages of medicine, hospital beds, physician and nursing care, mortician services, etc. Accordingly, individual households will be pretty much on their own to cope with their health needs. Public services—at any level—will not be there to help you.

Furthermore, the sociology of response to an influenza pandemic is 180 opposed to the sociology of response to a major earthquake. For an earthquake, the mantra at all levels is "mutual aid." As individuals, we take care of our families and then help our neighbors. As neighborhoods and cities, we expect aid and assistance from other counties and states not affected by the earthquake. But with an influenza pandemic, mutual aid is just not going to happen; every neighborhood, city, county and state will be affected. Instead of increasing personal contacts with the community in response to an earthquake, the appropriate approach to an influenza pandemic will be to restrict one's public interaction to a minimum. Indeed, there well may be mandatory school closures, restriction of public transit, and other quarantine measures to slow the spread of the disease.

As individuals, our first responsibility will be to protect ourselves and our families from infection, and, if infected, prevent the flu from spreading to others. We can be prepared to do this by some very simple measures, as recommended by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department4 in the a pamphlet distributed to Palo Alto residents with their utility bills. Much of this advice is similar to preparations we all should be taking for an earthquake (food, water, etc.), but there are some important flu-specific measures:

The most important of these measure is extreme sanitation. Paramount is an adequate supply of face masks and plastic gloves to protect the household, especially if there are sick family members. Every sick person should wear a mask whenever caregivers are near, since the flu virus is spread most readily by droplets expelled into the air by sneezing or coughing. Healthy people should wear masks also, both to protect themselves from airborne droplets and to remind themselves not to touch their mouth, nose, or eyes with their hands. Disinfectants (e.g., chlorine bleach) are essential for any surfaces that may become contaminated.

Other important flu-specific measures include (1) a two-week supply of prescription medicines, (2) two-weeks worth of ibuprofen or acetaminophen for each person in the house for fever and pain, (3) two weeks supply of cough medicine, and (4) rehydration solution (Pedialyte for kids and Gatorade or a solution of 4 cups water, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt for adults and teens). Note that in a flu pandemic, distribution and availability of pharmaceutical and therapeutic supplies are likely to be severely compromised.

The bottom line is that an H5N1 flu pandemic is certainly possible in the next few years. If this happens, public-health resources will be overwhelmed, and individual households will have to protect themselves against exposure and provide virtually all care for the sick. The necessary household preparation for an H5N1 flu epidemic is simple and inexpensive. All of us should plan to care for our households and should stockpile the essential supplies.

1 There are numerous books on this pandemic, including "Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic" by Gina Kolata (1999), "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History" by John M. Barry (2004), and "America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918" by Alfred W. Crosby (2003). 1918 was truly an awful year.
2 See (dead site circa 2008)
4 See the Pandemic and Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) link at

By John King, Streets Chairman,

In Mid-July the city of Palo Alto is scheduled to begin work on the rebuild and installation of valley gutters along Military Way. The project is expected to last into September. The project is expected to continue for Magnolia and LaSelva in the summer of 2007. For more information on this project you can contact Murdo Nicolson of the Public Works department at 650-617-3154.

By Mary Jane Leon, Chair,

Lunches Continue
Back in Bol Park for the summer lunches. Had a great one in June, and the next one will be August 8. Put it on your calendar now, so you save the date. If you would like to join us for lunch, and are not already on our e-mail or phone list to be notified, call one of the lunch coordinators: Rosemary Jacobsen, 493-9152; Bob Frost, 493-8272; or Julie Spengler, 493-9151.

Good News for Computer Users or Potential Users
Free Classes: First and foremost, free computer classes are happening right across El Camino in the Ventura Community Center. There are brush-up classes for those of you who already use computers, and classes for people who are brand new to the whole concept. These classes are sponsored by the Palo Alto Family YMCA. Phone Pari Natarajan at (408) 205-3243, or send him e-mail at pnatarajan at ymcamidpen dot org.

In-Home Computer Help: Almost as good, the Palo Alto Senior Center, Avenidas, has just added a computer trouble-shooting service to their Handyman Service. For a small fee, a PC or Mac expert will come to your home to help you with installation, navigation, customization, e-mailing and webbing (no, that's not a word, but what the heck!), printing, protection, etc. Call the Handyman Service direct at 289-5426. What is the small fee? It's $35 an hour, plus $7.50 travel. To someone like me, who can still remember when I budgeted $1.00 a day for lunch, that sounds like a lot of money. But in today's economy, that is a very reasonable amount. And not having to pack up the computer and take it somewhere is worth a whole lot to me. I want anyone who is working on my computer to do it here, where I can watch and learn.

Jazz at the Elks Lodge
More information just in about Jazz at the Elks Club. The concerts are the last Sunday of each month, from 1 to 5 p.m. The music is mostly "Big Band," but during breaks, "jammers" have access to the stage, so you are likely to hear some different styles, too. The fee is $15 for the afternoon. For more information, phone the Elks club at 493-4249, or Ann Burgess at (408) 348-9324. She is the President of the South Bay Jazz Society, which is responsible for the jazz concerts.

We are going to check out the June concert. See you there.

Stroke Treatment
A powerful drug called TPA can limit damage from strokes caused by a blood clot stuck inside the head. It is the sole drug approved for strokes, but only about 3% of stroke patients receive it. Why? Because most stroke victims do not seek help until it's too late for the drug to do any good—three hours after symptoms start.

So how do you know if you or someone else is having a stroke? The warning signs are often missed because there is usually no pain. Watch out for these occurrences:

Call 911 if you experience any of these. Emergency personnel are trained to recognize these symptoms and get you the help you need fast enough for it to help you.

Stanford Research Park
Residents along Chimalus are having problems with greatly increased noise from buildings in the Research Park as well as a toxic release that was only belatedly reported. These neighbors, with assistance from BPA Board members, have been pushing the City to address and remedy these problems. We are aware that residents adjacent to other sections of the Research Park also have had problems. However, keeping a narrow focus on the most immediate and salient problems seems to be the best strategy for getting concrete results that can serve as a foundation to address those additional problems

Arastradero Driveway
The BPA has members who live outside of Barron Park. One of these members discovered via the BPA Newsletter that the upcoming changes to Arastradero would make it extremely difficult for him to get out of his driveway. He had difficulty getting the attention of City officials until he contacted the BPA. Patrick Muffler, who served on the citizens' advisory group for the project, took a look at the situation and confirmed that there was a problem. His comments received quick attention from the City and there is a tentative solution.

BPA-News reunites cat with domestic partner
Over the years, the BPA-News email list has reunited multiple people with their pets. The most recent was May 9, when an elderly cat wandered half way across the neighborhood before deciding it wanted to be found. Since this was outside the original search area, the email was key to reuniting the cat with its person.

Searching for a lost pet can be a major emotional strain and a major commitment of time. In this case, the cat went missing right as the person was facing a major career deadline, so the quick return was a major relief.

Thanks to everyone who reads those messages. And if a neighbor's pet goes missing, remind them to contact me to send out a message. — Doug Moran, BPA email list manager — email.

By Karen Michael, Community Business Liaison,

Darrell Eng considers himself lucky to have been laid off from his programming job at Oracle. Eng had been bicycle racing for years, started participating in triathlons (swim-bike-run) in 2001, and decided to start a business based on his love of those sports. Using his programming skills, he opened Front of the Pack in 2003 as an internet business run out of his garage. And in April of this year, he opened his doors at 3944 El Camino in Barron Park. (Front of the Pack occupies the old Gemboro building, which had been vacant for at least five years. It took him three months to clean up the building and parking lot, which had become an unsightly homeless enclave.)

Eng describes Front of the Pack as a triathlon and bicycle store with full bike sales, service, and repairs. "It's all about customer service," says Eng, 29, who placed in the top 400 of 1800 participants in the Ironman Hawaii last year. "Most triathletes shop on the internet because many biking and running stores don't have the knowledge to recommend products. I listen to my customers and can help them figure out what they need. Business has been good so far. And," he adds proudly, "we're starting to become the neighborhood bike shop." He has plans to start a free weekly "shop ride" for bicyclists, with riders meeting and finishing at the store.

Eng graduated from Palo Alto High in '94, got his degree in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and worked on the east coast for a while, but he came back to Palo Alto for the weather (and the ill-fated job at Oracle). Eng explains that he chose the Barron Park location for several reasons. First, there is easy access to good biking on Foothill and in the Los Altos Hills. The drive-by traffic on El Camino is a second reason, and the rent is cheaper than in downtown Palo Alto. As to his priorities, Eng is clear. "I'm striving to balance the sports I enjoy and run a successful business at the same time, which isn't always easy. But if I stop enjoying bicycling because of the business, I'll quit the business."


BPA-News : News and announcements of problems, issues, meetings . . . No discussion.
BPA : Discussion of issues related to Barron Park. Some announcements and news.
BPA-Misc : Other items of potential interest to Barron Park residents, such as people organizing groups (child care, exercise) and some buy-sell announcements. Anyone can subscribe to any of this lists. bpa-news is moderated, but anyone can submit items directly to the other lists. For more info, go to and follow the link for "BPA Email Lists"


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 "ACTERRA—Palo Alto Donkey Fund," "ACTERRA" must be included.

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.

By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian,

Our Own Fire Department
Once upon a time, Barron Park had its' own fire department. For 26 years, from 1949 through 1975, a cadre of volunteer firemen was recruited from and maintained by the neighborhood, organized as a fire protection district under Santa Clara County supervision. The district was governed by a commission, initially appointed by the County Board of Supervisors and later elected by the people of our neighborhood.

The district provided for the formation and organization of a volunteer fire department, which it supervised. This was an all-male group—there were no female fire-fighters in those days. The firemen soon developed an esprit de corps and camaraderie shown by the fact that their wives always turned out to provide snacks and sandwiches whenever there was a fire. Stories about each fire circulated through the neighborhood and helped build the feeling of community that later became the hallmark of Barron Park.

In addition to overseeing the fire department, the district provided a focus for community action. Much neighborhood political energy was expended in fighting over various district-related issues. The district was viewed by many Barron Park residents as a surrogate local government: a sort of local and personal stand-in for the distant and faceless county government. It also became one of the main rallying points in the ongoing annexation battles with the City of Palo Alto.

The Fire Protection Dilemma in 1946
The district came into being to solve a crisis in fire protection of the Barron Park area, which arose immediately following World War II. Fire insurance rates were very high in the neighborhood because of the poor service provided by the State Forestry Division from its fire stations in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Forestry division announced they would no longer provide service to unincorporated county areas in the flatlands like Barron Park. The county suggested forming a local fire protection district but insurance industry fire underwriters advised that it would be too small to be economical. Another option was foreclosed when Palo Alto refused to consider contracting with Barron Park to provide fire protection service. Faced with this dilemma, one group of residents organized by Cornelis Bol pushed a proposal to establish a separate fire district. In an election held January 21, 1947, the proposal was turned down by a vote of 148 to 145.

The Neighborhood Considers Annexation
This fire protection crisis stimulated the first attempt by Barron Park residents to annex to Palo Alto. A group headed by real estate developer Kendall Bowers (for whom Kendall Avenue was named) circulated a petition. However, when the issue was brought to the City Council for a vote on April 15, 1947 it was turned down. This was largely at the instigation of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which was then politically powerful. Palo Alto was a "dry" town and the WCTU did not want to see Barron Park's liquor stores and roadhouses in the city.

David Packard Lends His Support
At this point, the pro-annexation forces were joined by Barron Park resident David Packard, Co-founder of Hewlett Packard. David, Lucille and their children lived at 724 Matadero Avenue from 1939 or 1940 until about 1950 when they moved to Los Altos Hills. David was a Palo Alto Unified School District Trustee and rallied the school board behind the annexation movement. It was already supported by the city staff, which brought another measure to the City Council on December 8, 1947. However, the annexation was again axed by the WCTU by a letter to the Mayor two days later. Although the City Council voted in favor of another election, it was without enthusiasm and the neighborhood felt snubbed. When it finally came to an election in Barron Park on November 17, 1948, the annexation went down to defeat, 338 votes to 261.

We Establish Our Own Fire Department in 1949
After the annexation ballot defeat, Barron Park residents, again under the leadership of Kendall Bowers, concentrated on establishing a fire department. On January 11, 1949, the voters went back to the polls and approved the formation of a Barron Park Fire Protection District by nearly a four-to-one majority; 225 ayes, 60 nays. Chester F. (Chet) Slinger was elected a commissioner and subsequently as President. The district was funded by allocation from the property taxes collected from the area it covered.

The new district inquired about contract protection from Palo Alto, but the city council, following recommendations of the public safety committee and the Board of Safety, turned them down again on May 9, 1949. Costs and legal issues were cited. The message had been consistent since the time of the Barron Mansion fire in 1936, when the City had refused to help fight the fire even though all the other surrounding cities and fire districts pitched in.

Formation of the Volunteer Fire Department
The district went ahead and formed a volunteer fire department in 1949, effectively removing the issue from future annexation controversies for more than twenty years, until a change in resident opinion occurred in the early 1970s.

The department was organized and in operation by the autumn of 1949. The Fire Chief was Chet Slinger, who resigned as Commissioner and President to take the Chief's part-time paid job. Slinger owned a Boat works on El Camino Real between Barron Avenue and Military Way, which over the years of the fire department became the unofficial "political headquarters" for Barron Park.

By October, a "firehouse" had been leased —this was located in the aluminum-clad shed still to be found behind the Lanai Flower stand at 4050 El Camino Real (in 1949, this property was numbered 4042). A 1949 Van Pelt 600 gallon-per-minute pumper truck had been acquired and was shown off at an "open house" conducted at Barron Park School on October 23, 1949. This truck was designated "unit #91" by the County. At one o'clock a.m. on November 21, the department had its first call when a fire broke out at 891 Jude Avenue (now San Jude Avenue). The fire was caused by flooding of a floor furnace, was quickly put out with "no damage to property."

It was about this time that the department included the management of a controlled burn as part of its training. Mike Slinger, who was about nine years old at the time, remembers the day well. They set the fires on vacant lots where La Jennifer Court was laid out in 1950. Mike was eager to get up close and see the action, so when a firemen tried to stop him at the training area perimeter, he got through by telling the man "It's alright, the Chief is my dad." When he came up to the fire, his dad, Chet Slinger, saw him and asked "How did you get in here?." When Mike told him, Chet didn't say another word but just turned the fire hose on him and, Mike says, "washed me right back to the road."

By January, 1950, when the Board of Fire Underwriters of the Pacific published a Municipal Fire Protection Report on Barron Park, the company totaled 17 men, all volunteers except for the Chief. At some point, the district acquired its second major piece of equipment, a 1951 GMC 40-gallon-per-minute High-Pressure Pumper, designated "unit #90" by the County. Drills were being held twice weekly since everyone was new on the job. Training included practice on the resuscitator and inhalator—there were no paramedics or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in those days, so the volunteer firemen were the first-line emergency medical response team. According to Joe Weiler, most of the calls in later years were medical emergencies.

How the Alarm and Response System Worked
To report a fire, you dialed DA 3-2400. According to the oral history given by Joe Weiler to Ann Knopf in 1977, the phone rang in three houses, as well as at the fire station. The chief had one phone and there were two others. By arrangement, the three families made certain that there was always at least one fireman to respond. The three homes were connected to the fire station with a buzzer that set off the alarm—a siren. It cycled up and down eight times with a wailing that could be heard throughout the district. Every fireman who heard it would drop what they were doing and drive or run to the firehouse. The first two got the address and took the truck to the fire, sometimes stopping to pick up other firemen they encountered on the route there.

Fighting the Fire
Usually the "high pressure 90" truck was taken to the fire first, as it was capable by itself of putting out most fires. Joe said its water capacity was 250-280 gallons (the bigger truck carried 600). The "90" could throw a straight stream strong enough to dig holes in asphalt pavement. It could throw a stream of water five feet wide for a distance of 100-150 feet.

Water Difficulties
One of the difficulties facing the new district was the inadequate water supply. Rapid growth in the neighborhood in 1947 through 1949 had stretched the capacity of the two private water companies serving the bulk of Barron Park. The Fire Underwriters had noted that, and their assessment resulted in higher insurance rates. One company sold out to Palo Alto in 1950, but the other, the Bol Water Company, held out until 1954. From that time on, the district was entirely dependent upon Palo Alto to supply water. The mains were inadequate, the connections with the city were too small, and hydrants were not always located where the district wanted them. Friction between the city and the district was not helped by the failure of two more annexation initiatives, in 1951 and 1954. The 1954 failure led directly to the successful annexation of the Ventura Avenue area on December 29, 1954, and the consequence was removal of the area from the Barron Park Fire Protection District. The lost area included the tax-lucrative commercial strip on the other side of El Camino. This was the beginning of the piecemeal nibbling away of the neighborhood that eventually made the shrunken fire district uneconomic by eroding its tax base.

Reform Movement Takes Over in District
During this time a reform movement was building within the district. The Commissioners were still being appointed by the County Board of Supervisors, even though the original intent had been to make the office elective within the first four months. On August 17, 1954, 527 Barron Park residents petitioned the Board of Supervisors for an elective board of fire commissioners. The election date was twice established and then set aside by subsequent vote of the supervisors, but finally an election was arranged for July 12, 1955. At the election, three incumbents, including Chairman Nick Sharko were ousted. Most of the reform slate, headed by incumbent Dan Baker, were also anti-annexation. Baker was elected Chairman.

Baker was a very interesting man. He lived on La Selva Drive where the State Historical Monument to Sarah Wallis was later placed. When I knew him in the 1980s he was President of the Palo Alto Historical Association. It was his stash of clippings and memorabilia from the Barron Park Fire Protection District files that made the writing of this history possible. He had been a news photographer and his photographs of the Wallis-Barron mansion burning are the only ones known to survive from that famous fire.

The Fire Commissioners Join the Annexation Battle in 1955
Finally everything came to a head in 1955, with a major pro-annexation movement countered by a slightly stronger backlash anti-annexation movement. Both sides actually gained majorities in successive petition drives. However, the "antis" spoke last and loudest. The Barron Park Fire Protection District got into the fight when Commissioners Hughes Brewster, Duane Lyle and Raymond Schumann (a majority of the commission) announced support for annexation on November 17, 1954. This created a rift in the commission, with Commissioner Dan Baker joining the opponents. Barron Park civic leaders Jack Silvey and William Faulkerson called for the pro-annexation commissioners to resign, Silvey saying that it seemed paradoxical to him that some commissioners are trying to put the district out of business. The 1955 annexation movement ultimately failed, but the fight nearly tore Barron Park apart. Friends fell out and neighbors vowed never to speak to each other again. The animosities that were stirred up continued to reverberate down into the 1970s.

However, the immediate late 1950s and early 1960s turned out be a relatively peaceful period on the Fire Protection District Commission, as the "reform" (and anti-annexation) commissioners dominated neighborhood politics and dealt more effectively with the city on hydrant and water supply issues. The Commission cut the fire department salary budget and reduced the tax rate in 1956. The Chief's position, which had been paid, became volunteer. Anthony Musachia was the first and only volunteer chief.

Flood Duty
One interesting "additional duty" the volunteer firemen picked up was to respond, during heavy rainstorms, to calls from creek watchers living near the Barron Creek culvert at the intersection of Laguna and Los Robles Avenues. During high creek flows, trash would build up on the trash rack, partially blocking the flow and threatening over-banking and flooding the area between there and El Camino Real. This situation arose repeatedly, usually in the middle of the night. The firemen would come with a long-handled rake and remove the trash. According to one story I was told, on one occasion they arrived with several six-packs of beer, expecting a long stretch of duty. Several hours later, a policeman in a patrol car came by and found them sitting in the street with their backs to the culvert railing, surrounded by empty beer cans and obviously in no shape to respond to any emergencies.

The Fire Protection Issue Flares up Again
It is ironic that the annexation story ended exactly where it began 29 years earlier—with Barron Park facing a serious crisis in fire protection. This was the premier topic at the final public meeting held by the Barron Park Association before the 1975 annexation election. Dan Baker, the Fire Protection District Commission Chair, was present to answer questions. The attachment to the meeting notice explained the essence of the problem. The major fire fighting equipment was the 1949 Van Pelt 600-gallon-per-minute (gpm) pumper and the 1951 GMC 40-gpm high pressure engine. Both were in need of replacement and could no longer be maintained because spare parts were not readily available for the obsolete equipment. The hose also needed to be replaced. In order to replace this equipment, the local tax rate would have to be raised from $0.137/100 to more than the maximum 0.239 allowed by law. Citizens would have to authorize a higher rate through a tax override election. As the BPA said, "It would be impossible for a community of this size to support a fire department that would give service like(what would be) available upon annexation."

Upon annexation, Barron Park would be upgraded from a fire rating of six to the Palo Alto rating of three, resulting in a $30/year savings in premiums for a $60,000 house (which was probably about the average Barron Park home value in 1975). Some annexation opponents were dismayed that they had not known of the volunteer fire department's serious equipment problems and financial limitations. Speaking personally, I was a fairly new homeowner in Barron Park at the time and was quite concerned about the fire protection level rather than the insurance cost—better fire protection was the single most compelling reason, to me, to be in favor of annexation.

Annexation Ends the Fire Protection District
On November 4, 1975 the 28-year-long "Cold War on the Peninsula" ended with a two-to-one vote by Barron Park homeowners to annex to the City of Palo Alto. An immediate result was the assumption of fire protection service by the city, effective November 5. Annexation became officially effective December 8 and the Barron Park Fire Protection District and Volunteer Fire Department passed into history.

The property was taken over by the city and the trucks were sold. One of them (the 1951 GMC Pumper) was purchased by a former BP volunteer fireman and taken to Grass Valley for years. Recently, it has been returned to Barron Park in the ownership of Al Larson, Paradise Way. It was exhibited at the Barron Park May Fete in 2004.

The Bol Fire
Joe Weiler told, in his oral history, of the big fire at the Bol residence on Roble Ridge: "I was on the Bol's fire, the day they had it. We couldn't get water." . . . (There were only 2-inch mains on Roble Ridge.) . . . "We finally backed that big pumper up to the swimming pool. I remember Pete Yusackia who was one of our firemen and myself . . . we couldn't get close enough. We dropped our bundle off. And then we had to move it because we had to get off the hydrant. You have a bundle of 150 feet or so (of hose) and you drop it from the big tanker, near the fire. Then you drive the truck and that unloads the rest of the line, 100, 200 feet or whatever is necessary to . . . (reach) . . . to the hydrant itself. So we did that. Then we pumped for a few minutes and we sucked those lines dry. Sucking mud. When you do that you can collapse the line itself. So we had to shut down."

"With this fire raging in the Bol's home" . . . (actually his studio by the creek) . . . " and all his acetylene things going up from the basement we had a hot one. We had to turn the truck around and unhook and get the hose back to where . . . (the swimming pool was) . . . about 200-300 feet and Pete and I were trying to hump this hose on our shoulders, up far enough to where we could drop it in the pool. It was quite a chore. Anyhow we did get it up there and we stuck it in the pool and we were sucking from the pool and we finally got our fire out. So that was Bol's fire." Mike Slinger explained to me that they would have used 10-foot hard rubber siphon sections to avoid hose collapse in the pool itself.

The Cameo Club Fire
According to Joe Weiler, the worst fire that the Barron Park Volunteer Fire Department ever had to fight was in the Cameo Club on El Camino Real. It was called in at around four o'clock in the morning and the temperature was down around 26 to 28 degrees. Joe said when they got hooked up to the hydrant and started putting water on the fire, ". . . the water froze and came down on the driveways and froze and we couldn't stand up and we'd never fought a fire like this before. Someone should have taken photos because it was pretty comical."

It was a very hot fire, and difficult to put out because of the way the Cameo Club was constructed. Joe said that the Cameo Club (then) was called Congers and featured a 16-ounce beer they call the fishbowl that they sold for a quarter. He related that the place had been revamped several times. One of the problems with that fire was that a wall would have two or three layers. "When they would refurbish it, they wouldn't just paint the wall and put (a) little paper on it, they wanted another look. So one wall would be here, then a little air space and another wall and another wall. The ceiling is the same way. It was a terrible thing to put out because it was burning inside. You'd get a fire out and it was burning BEHIND this wall. It was freezing and it was cold and it was a mess."

The Day the Bols' Barn Burned
My one and only personal experience with the Barron Park Volunteer Fire Department came not too long after we moved into our house on Ilima Way. It was on Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1974, the day the Bols' old barn burned down. The barn, which had been used by homeless men (or "bums", as we still referred to them then) for years, had somehow caught fire on that wintry Sunday afternoon.

It had been intended that the barn would be used to support a 4-H club "demonstration garden" as part of the new Bol Park to be developed in the back end of the Bol Family "donkey pasture" that Spring. The barn was located across the creek from, and about 80 feet directly behind my house. It was very un-scenic; really just an old shed with a "tin" roof, quite dilapidated.

Verna, my wife, and I had gone to Mt. Hamilton for the day, and as we were returning home at dusk, we turned off Los Robles onto Laguna and into a cloud of smoke. The smoke was thicker as we turned onto Ilima way and my heart was in my shoes as it got thicker when we approached our house at the end of the block. One of our neighbors was on our roof wetting down the shakes with a garden hose, and behind the house was a bright orange glow and billowing black smoke, shot through with red sparks. Our neighbors on both sides were wetting their roofs. Embers were everywhere, as the barn roof had just fallen in. After recovering from the first panic, my first thought was how glad I was that the barn burned. My second thought was to wonder if it had burned thoroughly enough to discourage anyone from proposing to rebuild it. The third thought was that I was very glad to have been away when it happened so that no one would suspect me of setting the fire!

But this isn't the story. . . the story is about the Volunteer Fire Department. I will tell it as I remember having it related to me by my neighbors. The basic facts were confirmed in an interview on June 1, 2006 with Mike Slinger, Chet Slinger's son. The Fire Department was called promptly on that holiday in 1974, but they had every trouble they could have had. When the truck first came, no one had remembered to bring the key to unlock the gate to the donkey pasture. So, back to the firehouse, get the key. Back to the pasture, unlock the gate. The truck drove into the pasture and promptly bogged down in the mud (it had been a wet winter and an especially wet February). While the pumper truck was stuck in the mud, they hooked up the hose to a hydrant on Laguna but they didn't have enough hose with them to reach the barn and there was no way to go back to the firehouse to get more. By this time, the barn was burning merrily but there was absolutely nothing anyone could do except stand back and enjoy it.

After the barn roof collapsed, there was no longer any danger to the houses on Ilima Way. We all hopped over the creek and stood around admiring the fire. Finally a tow truck arrived, but it got stuck in the mud also. Eventually the department got a hose on the embers and cooled them down. A second tow truck rescued the first one and together they got the fire truck extricated. All in all, it wasn't the fire company's finest hour. Personally, I was glad about the mud. I would have been sorely disappointed if they had gotten there in time to save the building.

I hope you have enjoyed this story about volunteer fire protection in Barron Park—the fire department played a major role in shaping the sense of community that is still preserved in Barron Park today. Those of us who lived here before annexation should occasionally stop for a moment and remember these men who sacrificed a lot of their free time and risked their own safety to fight fires and answer medical emergency calls from their neighbors. All honor to their memory!


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email, along with a caption or short paragraph. We'll publish them in the next newsletter, or, if we are overwhelmed, will put them up on our Web site.

By Suzanne McKenna and Halimah Van Tuyl

Students are busy in every classroom at Juana Briones School, with pencils, pens, computers doing the work of real writers—choosing topics, drafting, revising, reading their writing aloud, and polishing stories. Writers' Workshop is a familiar part of each week where students from Kindergarten through fifth grade work at the writers' craft.

The culmination of this hard work is a tradition called, Young Authors' Day, where all students share their "published" stories with each other and the community. Older students may type their own fiction, nonfiction, or poetry on the computer, while parents and teachers pitch in to type for the younger children. All of these one-of-a- kind books are hand illustrated, many are hand-sewn.

Young Authors' Day is also an opportunity for students to meet a professional author, who shares how a real book is published. This year Tim Meyers came to Briones, and students were excited to hear how he finds topics for the next book, how he develops characters, how illustrations are produced, and just what the writer's life is like. Each grade level spends time in the library hearing the guest author share, followed by a lively question period.

The author joins the teachers for lunch where there's a quieter conversation between the staff and the author about nurturing writers. Such moments of inspiration infuse classroom instruction for weeks following the event. Briones is fortunate to have parent volunteers who work with teacher Tiffany Gore, who started this tradition three years ago. Others who have lent their expertise are librarian Laura Losier and art teacher Wendy Parry. Each year also, a storyteller is part of the day's celebration, so children's imaginations can be ignited by the spoken word and the expressions and gestures of oral traditions. This year, master storyteller Awele came to share her craft.

"Young Authors' Day has become a favorite tradition for students. The first year we had this event, I was amazed that my Kindergartner was able to write a book, too. His book is one of our treasures that we bring out often to reread, " shares a Briones parent. At Juana Briones School, the writing process is alive, and all children experience the satisfaction that comes from working hard to express thoughts in writing and revise to make it their best.

For more information, contact Principal Gary Dalton at 856-0877.

By Linda Lui

Summer is here again and I am feeling the financial pinch of having a second child to send to camp and to keep sufficiently engaged now that school is out. But aside from the expense, it is great fun to plan out the nine weeks of the summer break. When I was a kid forty years ago, our main activity was marathon T.V. watching. Today and especially in Palo Alto, kids have so many opportunities to explore their abilities and interests.

Our family has done Jefunira Camp for three years in a row when they were at Walter Hays and Barron Park School. Good clean fun. Last summer we gave Camp Galileo a shot. It seemed quite similar to Jefunira, at least from my perspective. They both had a well-trained high energy staff and a highly structured day. The YMCA's camp offerings were alright to my six year old Matthew, but my ten year old Alex, felt there was too much of just hanging out in the park. He liked the field trips though. Some kids need more structure than others.

PAUSD summer school has been a great opportunity for our family to check out other campuses in the district and the long, hot school bus ride was a big part of the experience. Every other year seems about right for us, at least for now while they're in elementary school. This year Alex is enrolled for the 2-week "Writing Arts" program offered by the district, right here in Barron Park. His current fourth grade teacher, Ms. Lucinda Surber at Barron Park School, had high praise for the program and Alex enjoys writing, so I'm looking forward to seeing how he likes it.

Additionally and for the first time, Alex and Matthew will attend a 4-week session of the Decathlon Sports Camp in Los Altos. An attractive feature of their program is being able to select a part-time schedule; a three, four or five day week. They also offer flexible, drop-in extended care and a catered snack/lunch option. But at $4.50 a day for a lunch (times 2), I guess I'll still be spreading the peanut butter.

Throw in a week of Kung Fu camp offered by their martial arts school and a three-day family trip to Carmel to play in the sand and I'm calling it a wrap. If you have any great summer camp/event/idea, please e-mail me. I'd love to hear it.


Karen Michael, BPA Business Liaison, email.

Karen is a native of southern California and UCLA graduate who came to Palo Alto by way of Hawaii, where she was living when she met her ex-husband, a Palo Alto native. When she first visited Palo Alto from Hawaii, she took one look and decided that it was where she wanted to live. Karen and her ex bought their first house on Ilima Way 20 years ago; she is still there and has no plans to leave. Her daughter Sarah, 24, was raised in Barron Park and attended Juana Briones, JLS, Gunn, CU Boulder, and graduated in May from the USF School of Law.

Karen spent 25 years in IT as a tech writer, project manager, and manager. When she was "downsized" from her IT executive position at Gap Inc. last year, she decided that it was time to take a break. The first thing she did was begin daily hour-long early morning walks through the neighborhood. Then she project managed a 9-month yard and pool remodel. And recently, she decided to give some of her time to the community she loves. So she joined the BPA Board, became Neighborhood Business Liaison chair, visited a number of the Barron Park businesses to request sponsorship for the May Fete, and held a raffle at the Fete to give away the in-kind donations that were received. And look for her Barron Park business profiles in this and upcoming newsletters.

Karen was a founding member and President of the Board of the American Diabetes Association Mid-Peninsula Chapter and chaired the Silicon Valley ADA Leadership Council and the 2004 Silicon Valley Father of the Year event benefiting the ADA. In her spare time she was an avid tennis player and enjoyed skiing until a back injury and surgery benched her three yearsago. She is an advanced SCUBA diver and loves to travel, particularly to Hawaii, where she has a condo. Her favorite role, however, is that of proud mom.

Although Karen has enjoyed her time off from work, she has recently decided that it is time to go back to work "because I need to stay busy—and so I can afford to start the next phase of my yard remodel," she says.

Linda Elder, BPA Membership Chair, email.

My name is Linda Elder. I'm the new membership chair of the Barron Park Association. I've lived in Barron Park with my husband and 2 cats for over 12 years. In my home life, we both have an interest in cooking, gardens, and houses. We recently built our home on Laguna Avenue. (What started out as a remodel ended up as a new house, but that's another story.) We are lucky to live close enough to work to walk. We also take frequent walks around the neighborhood and like to observe the diverse home and garden styles in the neighborhood and all the things that make Barron Park, well, Barron Park. Like many who live here, we have an appreciation of the special sense of place and community of our neighborhood.

In my work life, I'm a clinical data specialist. That means I collect and organize clinical data to get information for medical research. So I heard my calling, when I found out that the BPA needed a membership chair. As a new board member, it's been fun to learn more about community matters and impressive to see the Board in action. It's clear that what goes on behind the scenes helps to make Barron Park a special place and I'm delighted to be a part of that.

By Sue Luttner,

This year's BPA May Fête offered not only sunshine in a wet year but also the debut of a children's Maypole at the fête. Fourth-grade girl scouts from Troop 632 at Fairmeadow, trained for the day by director Joyce Uggla, demonstrated beautiful and surprising weaves while dancing to live music by Harmon's Peak.

Following a trail blazed by veteran co-chairs Jean Lythcott and Julie Lythcott-Haims, fête volunteers Mary Jane Leon and Karen Michael brought more neighborhood merchants into the fete this year, visiting businesses in person and recruiting sponsors to pay for the musicians, sound system, jugglers, and balloon animals.

The 28th fête also had a new literary bent, with story time by Mother Goose herself and the chance to meet local authors, including Barron Park's own curious cook Harold McGee and children's writers Caryn Yacowitz, Sheralee Hill Iglehart, and Cynthia Chin-Lee.

Canopies on the lawn allowed guests to sit closer to the stage in shady comfort while the concert continued and the Deer Creek Morris and Mad Molly troupes performed traditional English folkdances. Bob Fraley called the round dance and the Maypole weave, and Alan Keith led the Maypole parade with his Musette Bechone, bagpipes from France. Fête music coordinator Gary Breitbard played accordion, joining Peter Tommerup on dulcimer and Alan Keith on button accordion for the community weave dance.

In a parting gift to the neighborhood, founding fêter Paul Edwards spearheaded a renovation of the stage this spring, accomplished with Larry Breed, Rich Elder, and Dylan Miller. They claim to have had the upgraded stage disassembled and tucked back in its shed by 6:30 on fête day.

Co-chairs Jean and Julie brought even more innovations to this year's fête—they tracked down the girl scouts, for example, and connected them with the dance teacher—but now they're ready to step into less central roles. (Did you know that Jeannie in her youth was a prize-winning Maypole dancer?) If you're interested in helping with the 2007 fête, especially if you might be willing to chair or co-chair, please send an email to mayfete at lythcott-haims dot com. So many people came through for the fete it's impossible to list them all, but a few words of special thanks:

Dan Lythcott-Haims shared his talent and much more of his time than anybody expected, because Mary Jane and Karen were so good at recruiting sponsors. This year's program went to six pages, with much artwork to juggle.

Boy Scout Troop 52 turned out early to tote tables and chairs—they were especially useful with the canopies—and then they came back again for clean-up. Maryanne Welton was also there of course, able to focus on the bigger picture since she'd cleverly delegated food service to the Driftwood Market and Old Pro field units. Thanks also to the Palo Alto police & fire departments, Barron Park School, Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities (PANDA), Palo Alto Historical Association & Doug Graham, BP historian, Barron Park Garden Network, Inge Harding-Barlow & the other donkey handlers, Don Anderson & Marc Marchiel, Edith Smith & entourage, Susan Ogren & Morgan Bricca, Nancy Hamilton & Tara Saxena, Youth Community Service volunteers from Gunn High School, Carla Bliss, Soroor Ebnesajjad & Hans Boehm, Karen Saxena & Ken Poulton, and many others.

Please patronize the sponsors listed on page 2 of this newsletter, and thank them for donating to the fête.

Advertising Donors

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(650) 493-4162

James Witt, General Contractor

We help sellers purchase their next home before completing the sale of their home to make for a smooth transition.

(650) 494-2041

email: James Witt

The Ace of Sandwiches

Sandwiches, Hot Soup, Catering.

3864 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone: 650-855-9993 — Fax: 650-855-9397


Does a great job printing our quarterly newsletter!

150 Grant Ave.


Hair Cut $9.00 & up
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3535 El Camino Real.

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