VIDEO: Palo Alto Vignettes

Former and current Palo Altans recall Greenmeadow neighborhood's early days, foothills communes, electrical substations and tennis at Stanford

Alice Crenshaw and her family became the first to move into the Palo Alto's Greenmeadow neighborhood, built by Joseph Eichler, in 1954.

Now 93, Crenshaw reminisced about the neighborhood's early years at a storytelling event last Sunday sponsored by the Palo Alto Historical Association.

Her tale -- and three others' -- are now posted on the Palo Alto Weekly's YouTube channel.

Along with Crenshaw and her daughter Dorothy Cady, Palo Alto resident Winter Dellenbach talked about her 23 years living in a commune in the foothills that was founded by pacifists Joan Baez and David Harris.

Former city engineer Sam Zuccaro recalled the history of the Alma Street electrical substation , which helped power Palo Alto as the city's population grew over the decades. And Jill Harris shared the story of her mother, who played competitive tennis at Stanford University when there wasn't a women's team in the sport.

The "Palo Alto Vignettes" event at the Lucie Stern Community Center was the group's eighth annual storytelling presentation.

"These stories are very important as is all of the history ... because it really provides a context for our lives. The past really does set the stage for the future," said Karen Holman, who originated the idea of the Palo Alto Vignettes for the historical association. "Having these stories at our access really enriches our lives."

Collecting oral histories has gained popularity in recent years. The Palo Alto History Museum, which is planned to open in downtown Palo Alto, is working on collecting oral histories from current and former Palo Alto residents, according to Holman.

In addition, the Palo Alto Weekly launched its Palo Alto Story Project in August. This collection of brief and sometimes humorous tales can also be viewed on Palo Alto Online.

Jocelyn Dong

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