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

Doris Richmond

Background: Born in Nashville, Tenn., in 1919. Moved with her husband, Cole, a graphic artist, to San Francisco in 1949, but never unpacked, preferring the more rural setting of Palo Alto. After raising four children, Richmond embarked on a 25-year career as a research librarian for the Palo Alto library system, retiring at age 70 in 1991. The couple has a longtime association with the Palo Alto NAACP chapter and the University African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. They have lived on California Avenue since 1949.

Memories: "Everything was very impressive. The people were friendly, so much like home. There were at least 25 elementary schools and you never locked your doors. Now it has grown from Foothills Park to the tidelands.

"Mostly I remember the plank sidewalks on California Avenue. Most of the stores were owned by families and everybody knew everybody else. Of course a lot of the streets didn't go through like they do now. There were two trains that ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles (on the CalTrain tracks) and they stopped in Palo Alto to pick up passengers. Everybody would take their kids down to meet the daylight train."

Fred Eyerly

Background: Originally from Oregon, Eyerly, 71, settled in Palo Alto in 1949. He ran Eyerly's hardware store for many years. Served on the City Council from 1975 to 1983 and as mayor in 1981.

Memories: "I spent probably six or eight months in Palo Alto in 1947 looking for retail opportunities. In fact, I stopped by Sen. Cranston's father's office, he was in real estate here in Palo Alto. He didn't have anything to talk to me about.

"But I dropped back a few months later and he told me about this bakery on University Avenue. The landlord wanted to get rid of that greasy environment. I borrowed money from my father to get started. That lasted five years, but the rents skyrocketed. Obviously, we couldn't handle it. A space opened up at Stanford (Shopping Center). We bought out the remnants of a hardware business. We had the space that is now occupied by the Palo Alto Coffee Roasting Co.

"At the end of 10 years, Stanford's philosophy changed. They wanted higher-end retail. Besides, my two sons didn't seem oriented toward the hardware business. I remember when Alf Brandin told me I would have an access road that would connect Sand Hill Road to University Avenue. That it would come right to my back door. Every time I see him I remind him of that."

George Liddicoat

Background: Grew up in Palo Alto, the son of a grocer; graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1943. Served in U.S. Marine Corps then worked for Chevron as sales representative overseas. Returned to Palo Alto in 1972 to work in the family grocery business. Closed the grocery store in 1976. The University Avenue location is now run as a group of restaurant stalls.

Memories: "I used to work Saturdays cleaning up in my dad's butcher shop, and got $3. It wasn't bad. Mostly it went into gas for my car. But you could get five gallons for a dollar if you were careful. Then if people needed a ride somewhere I'd charge them a nickel or a dime.

"I had a '27 Chevy that I got from a friend of my aunt's for $35. It was in beautiful shape. It was a neat old car and we went all over. It was during the war. I drove it to school, and one time on the way to school I got broadsided at the corner of Lincoln and Middlefield. It's the only time I've ever been hit. It kind of smashed into the running board and doors. So we took off the rest of the doors and the top, put plywood where the doors were, painted it camouflage color and made a jeep out of it.

"One day we were at Rio Del Mar beach with a bunch of kids on the back, and we'd put red flags on the back of the car for no reason at all. The Coast Guard came along and thought we were signaling the Japanese or something.

"We used to drive the car right down the beach. One time I got too far out in the water, the car started sinking down, waves were coming up and the motor died. I thought I'd lost it, but a bunch of kids came and pulled it out. I finally did lose the car when I was up in Northern California working on a forestry project. One of the other kids' dad had died and he asked to borrow the car. He wrecked it--nearly got himself killed--and then he paid me my $35 back."