Palo Alto Centennial
Publication Date: Wednesday, April 13, 1994

Doris Yep

Background: Born, raised, married, worked and lives in Palo Alto. She is 76.

Memories: "In 1949, my mother, Rose Jew, who was a famous liaison to the Chinese community, myself and my husband opened the first Chinese takeout at the corner of Waverly and Hamilton, (where Wells Fargo Bank is today). It was the first one and many followed. We had delivery. Fried prawns in batter and sweet-and-sour spare ribs were our specialties. It was called "The Bamboo" and we lasted 16 years, when our lease ran out.

"I remember the butcher shops, they always gave children a treat, (usually) a hot dog. They were just regular hard-working, personal butchers. They didn't just sell you a package of meat. They'd cut it and trim it any way you'd want. And the employees at the department stores and Palo Alto Hardware, they'd come up and serve you. You didn't have to go look at things at all.

"I attended Addison School and Channing School. Then I went to Palo Alto High School. We had to wear pleated skirts, on Thursday, I think, and a middy (blouse) because we had to go to the auditorium.

"My brother Paul (one of four) was a senior when I was a freshman. He was quite popular because he was a good athlete. They called him 'Whoopee Jew' because he was good at basketball. He got a scholarship to St. Mary's. But when he finished high school in 1932 he wanted to become an entertainer. He danced all over the world. He was known as the Chinese Fred Astaire. He danced for President Roosevelt and the King and Queen of England. He lives in San Francisco now."

Maria Holt

Background: A professional photographer, she moved to Palo Alto from New York City in 1941 to work in the studio of her friend, Hans Roth. She was joined two years later by her husband, Henry, who was serving in the U.S. Army. They had emigrated from Vienna, Austria, in 1937, where Henry played with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. The couple established West Bay Opera in Palo Alto 38 years ago.

Memories: "When I came to Palo Alto it was a cozy, tiny little town with no restaurants or coffee shops downtown. There was a single cafeteria, Bennington's Cafeteria, and Wilson's restaurant at the corner of High and University. The only other restaurant was the Peninsula Creamery at Hamilton and Emerson. There was practically no traffic and no people in the street after 7 o'clock.

"We walked through pastures to get to work in downtown. There was no Stanford Shopping Center and no Children's Hospital. Penney's was downtown, and Palo Alto Hardware. It was very rural really.

"I lived in Hans Roth's studio upstairs of the bike shop (Palo Alto Bicycles) on University Avenue, but it wasn't there then. I lived there about a year and a half, then we bought a house in Palo Alto." She lives in the same house today.

Olga Stapleton

Background: Olga Stapleton and her husband, Harold, came to Palo Alto from Duluth, Minn., in 1945 and opened the bubble-gum-pink Stapleton's Florist shop on Waverley Street. "There were big, beautiful department stores and a cafeteria," she recalled. "Those were the days when when the police would come around and check that your doors were locked at night."

Now Stapleton's is one of the oldest businesses downtown, having outlasted the big, beautiful department stores and cafeteria she remembers. Since her husband died in 1992, Stapleton has run the business herself, usually wearing her trademark leather clogs and tam-o'-shanter.

Memories: "One thing that always stands out were the high school luaus, back in the '60s. We always made the leis. We used to stay up all night, stringing leis, because they had to be strung by hand. We would use six dozen carnations for each lei, and sometimes we would make 150 leis. That's around 10,000 carnations. They used to have so many luaus. They don't have luaus anymore."