Friday, August 14, 2009

A stroll down memory lane....

Today was a walk through my past, with my dear friend and sister Jill. In fact in the picture below, circa Senior Year in High School, we are performing "Sisters" in our Senior play. We go way back in a place called Los Altos.
We met at Jill's parent's home. I was proud to have found my way after all this time. But how in the world could I get lost? Back in the day, I could have driven to this home blindfolded. In this driveway we would sit in Jill's copper Mustang and prepare for our weird and wonderful adventures. To my great delight the house had not changed in the least bit. (Somehow this is comforting returning to a place of your past and seeing some things haven't changed at all.)

We got our gear together and headed out, walking up Los Altos Avenue toward my old house. On the way we passed Jill's elementary school. Santa Rita. Strangely enough this was the sight of my first teenaged kiss. When I was 13, the summer between my Elementary school life and Junior High, the kids discovered if you called POPCORN and stayed on the line it became a kind of party line. No one knew who anyone was and it was all quite exciting. There was a boy who asked me to come to Santa Rita School to meet him. I hadn't known him in the past. He was very handsome but a year older and I have to say at 13 a 14 year old looks like an old man! He stole a kiss from me, like this was something he had done many times before. I jumped up and ran off immediately. Totally humiliated when I went to Junior High, and saw him on the field. He and I acted like we didn't know each other. Yeah, Santa Rita.... I am sure has a ton of memories for Jill... for me, it was a clandestine meeting and a first kiss.

I lived on a street called Cypress Drive. It was THE perfect neighborhood. I know we tend to get nostalgic about our childhood homes, but believe me I have seem many homes as a Realtor, and our neighborhood was awesome. All the homes were on large lots. Ours was on 1/2 acre. There was a community pool, 4th of July picnics and fireworks. Kids who grew up together and parents who got together for their cocktail parties. As we walked through the old hood, there were monster homes in the place of some of the houses. But... the pool was still there, looking exactly the same. I could almost feel the memory of my feet burning on the asphalt as I walked down to the pool on a summer's day. Some of the mail boxes still had old familiar names on them. Makes you wonder are they really still there. Some of the people were old then!

Some of the houses looked like they didn't belong on Cypress drive. This Tuscan mansion doesn't look like Los Altos or Cypress drive to me...

Ah come on.... what are they thinking. MAC MANSION

Our old house has not changed one wick. The back yard, though, when I snuck a peak, looked as if the lower yard by the creek had fallen into disrepair. There was more than one time that some kid (or me) took a tumble down that driveway. Jill said "That driveway used to seem SO steep to her. It's pretty tame looking now.

Shoup Park - Garden House and Patriot Corner Picnic Area 400 University Avenue. Adobe Creek forms the backdrop for Shoup Park, which includes picnic tables, barbecue pits, turf areas, playground, parking and public restrooms. The 3.7-acre park is the home of the Underground Teen Center. Available rental facilities include the Garden House and the Patriot Corner Group Picnic area
To me it was a place where I took my younger brother and sister to play. When my sister was very young we would swing her on one of the swings there. Kenny would climb in the play structure. Adobe Creek by the way, was also in our backyard and I would walk down that creek exploring. Ah... so many adventures.


Jill and I have decided this would be a great place for our next Los Altos High School reunion. There is a big building with a dance floor and stage...plenty of room.

As we walked further along we came upon something I had never seen before - Redwood Grove.
Redwood Grove 482 University Avenue. A 5.9-acre nature preserve, the park includes picnic tables, a boardwalk, observation decks and a hillside trail that follows Adobe Creek among the majestic redwood trees.

It looks like someone owned a lot of land at one time, and perhaps the land was donated to the city on their passing. There was an old adobe hacienda style home on the property. Bunches of kids were enjoying some sort of summer school there. Jill ran across some raised beds with herbs growing.
We headed back toward town and Main Street. I remember the Pet Parade and our bassett Hazel. It was an annual Los Altos event where we joined other pet owners to dress up our dogs and bikes (Kenny's stingray) and walk down the middle of town. As we walked down the street today there were a kazillion dogs (mostly pure bred designer types - never just one - designer types come in pairs). I looked for the infamous Max's Tearoom (really a bar restaurant) but that seems to have disappeared.

Where to go next on this little stroll.

We headed across town to Rancho Shopping Center. This place for me has a lot of memories of my Mom. There was a little coffee shop there, I don't remember what the name used to be, but the name now is Brian's I think... Anyway we ate there sitting in the outdoor tables. I was disappointed to see the Los Altos Bakery didn't have the little chocolate and fruit cookies I remember... We grabbed a decedent ice cream instead from Lapperts and started off..
Back to the Future... Back to High School.

When we went to Los Altos High School, the name of our mascot was Knights. Now they are the Los Altos Eagles.... naw that's not right. As Knights we won all kinds of sports championships. The coaches of our day are the people they named the fields and pool after. Joan Baez and David Harris led our one day anti-war strike. They used the footage in an anit war movie they were doing. (I stayed in class because I don't like to get in trouble.) Oh well... the last time I was at Los Altos High was 13 years ago, and the school hadn't changed all that much. Since then they have given the school quite a face lift. They have a new library, new auditorium for drama productions, they tore out the old quad and put in a fancy flat plaza with four grass sections. Jill said when her husband Randy saw it, he immediately recognized it as section for each class. Guess that is their idea of a quad.

New sign too I'd say.

New Quad

The old pool with a new name. John Felix was a very cool guy who besides doing drivers training... also coached swimming and water polo.

This showcase was the sight of some early advertising Jill and I did. People have asked me how I can be so creative in my emails about properties etc.... Well, it started back here, collaborating with people like Jill. It was a real creative mixing pot. Some of our drama friend have done quite well. There is an Emmy nominated director, a famous radio personality, entrepeneurs and Realtors. To drum up interest in our Senior Play "Exit the Body" we took turns popping up out of a coffin we put inside this showcase window. We would hold signs that would say things like..."Your ticket will be your death certificate...Muhhaaahhhaaa!" We SOLD OUT!

Bye Bye LAHS.... Too many memories to write about now.
Maybe in some other blog...we have to keep walking.
We headed back to Jill's house to end our walk. Her father always had a huge garden in their back yard. Jill wanted to pick some tomatoes to take home. She said I could take anything I wanted! I wanted the space to have a garden like that!
I grabbed some peppers, an ear of corn and tomatoes to make some salsa when I got home.
It was a beautiful day temperatures in the mid 70s. We put in 12.25 miles and had a great time flashing back. Los Altos is a place I wish I could go back to in more ways than one. It's beautiful for sure, and the memories I have are treasured. In those happy memories are so many of my Mom who was the center of the Collis household. But as one of the older sisters, I also remember watching my brother grow and my younger sister coming along. I remember my older sister setting her "example" of how to be an exceptional person. I remember the great neighbors and their kids. My good friend Beale and her mother Jane (who became the first woman I knew to die, after 2 mastecomies, evenutally from cancer in the brain). When my sisters and brother wanted to do something special for me 13 years ago, while I was battling Cancer, it was to take me back to Los Altos to remember.
Los Altos and my friends and family from those days are part of the reason why I am who I am today.
They say you can never go back... But you can ... if you go for a nice walk with a great friend.

It was long, long ago.... but not all that far away.