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Unraveling history’s mysteries, building community memory

Original post made by Jay Thorwaldson, editor emeritus, on Jun 21, 2006

Earlier this month I talked about things I didn't know.

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Comments (10)

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Posted by Ed Bierman
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2006 at 7:15 am

Wouldn't something like a Palo Alto History Wiki be a good application here if you are inviting others to write and share memories. You could be onto something here Jay -- communities building collective memories on the Internet. Hopefully, historical societies would fill in the history that goes further back than those who are still with us.

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Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2006 at 5:05 pm

Go to the older sections of San Jose or Sacramento, or the real new construction along the Russian River, and you see houses built with the first floor above the expected flood level. The last flooding in San Jose, these were the houses that were not ruined, except where rooms had ben added on the ground level. On the Russian River, they had several floods within months. Many houses flooded the first time were ruined again before rehab had been complete, so the law was changed.

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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2006 at 10:47 pm

I have often thought that a timeline chronology of the "big issues" of Palo Alto would be interesting. For example, remember the "Eruv"? The black mamba? The parrots evicted from the church eves?

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Posted by Josh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2007 at 12:34 am

This is already being done. Check out
It looks like far from a complete history, but quite a few articles!

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Posted by Paula
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2007 at 5:03 pm

When it comes to history in East Palo Alto, I remember the simple times, the good life as a child growing up in East Palo Alto in the 50's and early 60' great book to read on a child in this era would be adding the edition of Beech Street...The Summer of '59... A summary of this book has been posted in the book section and if you check it will see it is gathering the most interest. The book also has pictures from this era. I believe history comes in more than community also comes from one's personal story and recollections of long ago...whether it be told through the eyes as a child...or an adult...

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Posted by Timothy
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 12, 2007 at 4:02 pm


Where can I find that chapter about the History of Palo Alto politics that would give some wisdom about avoiding the historical traps you mentioned?

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Posted by Jack Garner
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Jay: Good to see you are still on the job and coverring the Palo Alto Beat.

Jack Garner, PAPD Captain
Circa 1967-79

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 27, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Wow, this blog has come out of the archives, Jay.

Still, I think you started something. We have at least one thread here going on over a year with PA memories. There have been others. I hope someone is documenting them.

And, yes, I remember the escape of the black mamba. I had a kindergartner at the time in Palo Verde. First they prevented the kids from going out at lunch and recess and then they roped off one particular area for some time. I don't know what the outcome was, but even she remembers it (she is in college now).

The eruv was also an old story that came back to life.

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Posted by Bob Harrington
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 27, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Maybe a new Wikipedia form could be created, a Wikipedia community timeline. Wikipedia has a ton of good stuff about Palo Alto, but not yet organized on a timeline.

I've been around not quite 50 years, but a couple of my neighbors and a few friends have a great deal of Palo Alto history I am going to encourage them to prepare to share.

Great idea, Jay, and thanks to HP for lighting yet another path for a worthwhile project.

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Posted by Nick Burr
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 26, 2009 at 10:40 am

Mr. Thornwaldson, this sounds great. As someone who grew up in Palo Alto I think it would be a wonderful tool. I would suggest that it would be important to create a program and system which would be accessible to all ages of Palo Altans -- while many older residents might have insights and puzzle-pieces to our collective history which could never be uncovered through archives and records, younger Palo Altans could bring some depth to the current issues facing the town's youth. I myself grew up here in the 1980s and '90s, and certainly my view and knowledge of the city derives from that era. I hope that this proposed online forum/archive becomes a reality as it would be an irreplacable asset to bring cohesion and strength to our community through an understanding of who we are and where we have been to get here.

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