Letters | July 22, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - July 22, 2011


PA's first library


The article in an earlier issue about Palo Alto's first public library neglects to mention the citizen force behind the movement to obtain funding and construct a library. The mayor, John F Parkinson, was mentioned, but not his wife, who was president of the Women's Club, and a major promoter of the library founding.

Julia Gilbert, one-time president and long time chair of the Club's Reading Room and Library Committee, worked for years to set a firm basis for interest in originating a public library.

The club held fundraisers for a public library and when the library finally came into being in 1904, the club donated the Reading Room's book collection. The first library board refused to permit a woman to be a member. Women were not voters and could not serve on the City Council, but pressure was brought in favor of Julia Gilbert, who had chaired the club library committee for years, and finally she was admitted to the board.

The history committee of the Women's Club has transcribed the handwritten minutes of these early years, preserving for the record some of the accomplishments of women that tend to be forgotten at a time when discrimination was rampant.

As we transcribed the minutes, we found that the women were all known by their husbands' names into the 1980s, so, for example, Mrs. John Parkinson was the club president.

Jeanne Farr McDonnell

Portola Avenue

Palo Alto

Bring BART to Peninsula


Dangerous, at-grade Caltrain ("Killtrain") killed again, most recently at the "safety-upgraded" Palo Alto Churchill Avenue crossing and in Sunnyvale on Tuesday. That makes 151 Caltrain deaths in 15 years.

Caltrain's regular killings of our neighbors, kids, friends and others among us who need help are inevitable and predictable — until this outdated, deadly, congesting, and noisy Caltrain is replaced by the Bay Area's regional rail transit system, BART. BART is modern, effective, quieter, electrified, safer, road-separated with no cross-traffic congestion-causing gates, bells and pollution.

The BART gap from Millbrae down the Peninsula to its coming Santa Clara terminus in 2018 simply "plugs in" to its existing trackage to San Francisco stations and many East Bay communities with new jobs — except for Caltrain's redundant administration, operating and maintenance costs. Daily freight trains require only one track.

BART is a better enabler of (AB32, SB375) Smart Growth/Sustainable Communities Strategies by reducing cross-traffic greenhouse-gas pollution from congestion. BART allows an adjacent, parallel, interconnecting 51-mile pedestrian/cyclist trail set between San Jose and San Francisco.

If politicians start planning now, BART can serve the entire Bay Area by 2022 — its 50-year anniversary.

Tragically, more Caltrain track deaths will occur to 2022, with all the sadness each loss causes families, friends, and others — while (Democratic) politicians dither. Congresswomen Speier and Eshoo give more attention to the eight who died in the San Bruno pipeline tragedy. Assemblymen Hill and Ye are more concerned about 18 murderers who committed suicide on Death Row, than the innocents who died — and will die — on Caltrain tracks.

Omar Chatty

Vineyard Drive

San Jose

Bye-bye, Borders


The closing of the bookstore Borders is a huge loss to the community and will be sorely felt by all book enthusiasts. The cluttered, yet orderly interior made getting lost within the literature a simple, cozy feat that contributed to the quintessential nature of this bookstore. The delight of sitting within the sun-bathed courtyard, while either holding a book and enjoying the simple pleasure of turning pages, or working on a laptop while being able to relax in the quaint atmosphere, will no longer be at our doorstep. The legacy of such a place can only be replaced by one of equal grandeur, be it either the old theater that once held roots there or another bookstore.

There are no comparable local bookstores that offer the same experiences and the joy of holding real books should never be lost. We should ensure that this landmark is preserved.

Celine Pichette

Seale Avenue

Palo Alto

Car camping


Please make the compassionate decision and allow people to sleep in their cars! These are desperate times.

Barbara Goodwin

W. Middlefield Road

Mountain View

Lawful vs. moral?


In a recent issue an article in the Palo Alto Weekly reported the reaction of an official of a nearby city concerning the murder of a 3-month-old baby on June 6, 2011, who was killed presumably by a gang member. He stated as follows:

"The murder of a 3-month-old is completely beyond humanity. There has to be a response to it so that every shot killer, every leader — regardless of whether he or she is in prison — has to know when something like that happens, the world comes down on them."

Let's change the facts a bit. The mother of that baby elects on Feb. 28, 2011, to have a late-term abortion. She is criticized by some who learn of it. She replies to her critics by saying, "Well, it's legal isn't it? I am only exercising what is well known — A woman's choice to abort."

The point I am making is the distinction many do not make, that is between what is legal or illegal and between moral or immoral.

My comment is that too often what is "lawful" trumps over what is "moral." Too bad for a culture that decides to play God.

Raymond V. Dunn

Bryant Street

Palo Alto


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