The Jacarandas of Los Altos Manor

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By Deana Rodriguez

In the mid-1940’s, Lloyd S. Whaley purchased the Los Altos area for development (an area, “bordered by Stearns, Bellflower, Atherton and Clark,” as mentioned on Facebook’s Los Altos Neighbors group page).

Whaley’s daughter loved Jacaranda trees. Today, ask anyone who lives in Los Altos what a Jacaranda tree is, and they’ll turn around and point to a curbside. Jacarandas line the streets of Los Altos. Residents often have a love-hate relationship with these misplaced trees. They’re beautiful-messy with fern-like branches and a multitude of dropping purple flowers – sometimes twice a year!

Most of the Jacarandas are as old as the “Los Altos Manor” tract. In a 1949 Press-Telegram ad, the homes were called “enchanting – enduring – endearing,” and those attributes have indeed endured in this wonderful neighborhood. 1948 was a year for Whaley’s building frenzy of “cozy cottages” that sold for around $6,000 to 9,000 (“complete with garage … a few blocks north of Naval Hospital”) with a monthly payment of $52!  Can you imagine?!?

Over sixty years later, this is still a place where neighbors really enjoy walking through their own beloved neighborhood; where neighbors regularly have block parties with a strong sense of unity; where young and old know each other and care for each other.  I love the fact that Los Altos is within walking distance of fantastic and renowned local schools; the University; all sorts of restaurants and shops; grocery stores, book stores, department stores, wonderful parks – Yet it’s all manageable, and still feels endearing.

Maybe it’s the way the streets all curve, and turn-in on themselves that makes this area so unique.  There’s always something new around the next corner.

Maybe it’s the energy of the people who live here – the toddlers giggling; the parents pushing strollers and walking dogs; the families socializing or gardening in their front yards on a warm afternoon. They take pride in personalizing and sharing their homes. There’s always someone inviting somebody over for coffee or a glass of wine.

Maybe it’s the signature purple flowers floating gently into a purple circle on the black asphalt that still makes this area feel so enchanting. There’s always going to be a Jacaranda tree dropping flowers on a parked car in Los Altos, whether you love them or not!

Comments

12 Responses to “The Jacarandas of Los Altos Manor”
  1. Deana Rodriguez says:

    Am assuming that the star rating system for voting should be working soon?

  2. Laurie says:

    Growing up in Los Altos, one of my favorite childhood memories is rolling over Jacaranda blossoms on my roller skates, because they popped like bubble wrap! 5 stars from me, when the voting starts working!

  3. Facebook User says:

    This Essay deserves 5 stars! Congrats Deana on a great essay!

  4. Nancyann Hume says:

    Great Job Deanna! Love the essay.

  5. Charles Gordon Sr. says:

    Deanna,
    Very well done, your essay flows with tribute to what our neighborhoods have been and can be.
    Your multi layered article captures time.

  6. Charles Gordon Sr. says:

    Deanna,
    Very well done, your essay is a tibute to what our neighborhoods have been and can be.

  7. R. Whisman says:

    Love the “picture” that this essay brings to mind, the past and the present families brought together by the old and beautiful trees.

  8. 5 stars and two thumbs up! Excellent essay!

  9. jill says:

    Deana, the memories become more vivid! Although I grew up in the Heights (Alamitos) living in Los Altos now and watching my kids grow up and rolling through the Jacaranda blossoms, is priceless! The stars all belong to you!

  10. Deana Gordon Rodriguez says:

    Thanks, everyone! Limiting the essay to 300-500 words meant leaving out a LOT, but it was treat to write, and a treat to read all of your wonderful comments! -Deana

  11. Glenn says:

    That was awesome – nice piece of writing!

  12. Loved this! We lived there when we first got married–in, fact, got married in our Greenbrier back yard. I love the jacarandas–we have them up in BK too. Love-Hate is right! As much as I loved them on all the other streets (there weren’t many or any on our block on Greenbrier) I remember taking a terrible fall on my rollerblades from the sap that makes the asphalt very slick. Great job!