I spent the last week in the San Francisco Bay Area enjoying memories with Becki who will be there another week. While driving south on El Camino Real (equivalent to the Boston Post Road out there) she asked, if cost was not an issue, would I want to live in the Bay Area. Although I like the Quiet Corner I said that I am not tied to Woodstock. We have settled all of the reasons for moving here in the first place - mainly the preservation and liquidation of my parents estate and father’s corporation. The issue preventing a move back to where we came from is cost, of course. I could not have imagined that I would find a job here that would last for 18 years - a job that’s still works for me. We have also been sustained by UConn men’s and women’s basketball, something they don’t have at Stanford. I also am reminded of the blimp that would hover over Stanford football stadium at UCLA games with a big sign stating ‘Important in your own minds only’.
I moved to Palo Alto CA in December 1981 to take a job at the Pauling Institute down the street from Stanford University. Stanford has the most picturesque campus I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had moved to a very special place that became like heaven as time went by. I had only been back to the Bay Area once around Christmas in 2003 after leaving in late December 1995 but we found ourselves up in Napa for most of that week.
There are only three ways to sustain a life on the pennisula: (1) either be rich, (2) be grandfather’ed in by living in properties handed down in the family, or (3) join the faculty at Stanford which doesn’t last for ever. Some locals find a way to survive like two of Becki’s talented brothers who developed serious skill as mechanical ‘engineers’ self-taught without degrees. Jim maintains a fleet of planes and cars for one of the richest men in the world. Tom builds special cars for the wealthy while maintaining the machinery for a well-known major engineering firm. It’s impressive what they do. Both have lived in the family home in Burlingame for a significant time but Tom has since moved to Pacifica just south of SF over looking the Pacific. Becki’s sister, Barbara who held the high school discus record for three decades, and third brother, David, have done well also. David and Gloria’s daughter, Hannah, is an impressive gymnast with possibly of an Olympic future. Chris, their son, is no less impressive.
Becki and I got together in September 1986 and were living together in the yellow house below by January 1987. I had made a risky move from a secure position in government at the National Institutes of Health to a high-risk senior position at the Pauling Institute spun off from Stanford. Linus Pauling basically supported the Institute staff with his fame which led to large donations. I wasn’t going to rely on that and managed to get NIH grants to stabilize my own funding like professors at Stanford.
The yellow house was our home for five years and then we moved next door (to the left) for four years where there was a brown house which was basically a replica of the yellow house. Mariah was born when we lived in the yellow house. After we left the brown house to drive to Woodstock, the new owners knocked it down and built the mini-masion that is there now and then sold it for $1.2 million. Between the two houses we had a grapefruit tree, an apple tree, and a loquat tree each loaded with fruit, and also a giant palm and large eucalyptus trees which were knocked down when the mini-mansion was built. This environment has a wonderful aroma. During our first winter in the yellow house we hardly ever closed the back doors to the gardens. Becki’s family home in Burlingame has orange and lemon trees. In this part of the world spring comes in January with the yellow flowering of the Acacia trees where the yellow pwtals fall instead of snow. November and December look like fall in areas where residents have planted eastern trees. On rare winters you will see some snow caps on the hills to the west and east.
My commute was to walk or bike to the Pauling Institute. There was no reason to leave town for anything except to visit the family in Burlingame. Later when I took a position as Director of Research at Adeza Biomedical I would ocassionally bike the 11 miles down to Sunnyvale.
The special thing we do out there is walking the Golden Gate Bridge; and then there is seeing my Rowayton CT (home town) friend Diane who has posted here at the Cafe. Diane found her way to Mariposa CA, south west of Yosemite many years ago. She sustained a life in CA that I could not.
So here is Becki’s family grandfather’ed in and enjoying life to the hilt. They have no idea what it is like on the outside but I am envious.