In May of 1963, my family moved from our house on Singletary Avenue (off The Alameda) to a house near Coe and Ramona (off Lincoln Avenue). On moving day, my mother took me into my new bedroom and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Now look what’s inside your closet, a window!” As a three-year-old, it wouldn’t have seemed very interesting if my mother hadn’t explained that it was a relatively special feature. As I stood there looking into the closet, the light from the window revealed that there was something in the far back corner. It was a small blue airplane, a toy apparently overlooked by the previous occupant.
Image: The light from the window revealed something in the back corner of the closet...
We lived in the house for two and a half years, before moving again to the Canoas area (near Almaden and Curtner Avenue) in 1965. Over the next forty-five years, I occasionally drove past the old Ramona Avenue house, often reflecting on our time there; my first day of school at Broadway Elementary (renamed River Glen School), my baby brother crashing down the steep cellar steps in his walker (and not getting hurt!), warm summer evenings that smelled like tomato soup (from a nearby cannery)… Then one day a few years ago, I saw the Italian lady who’d bought the house from us out in her yard. She was getting on in age, and I decided to stop and say hello.
Image: In 1965, my baby brother crashed down these cellar steps in his walker without injury.
She remembered my family, and invited me in to see the house. I reminisced with her about our days there, and shared my story about the closet window. She smiled and said that they were preparing to renovate the back of the house (where the window was), and that she’d save the window for me when they removed it. And she did.
Image: A recent visit to Ramona Avenue with the closet window and the blue airplane. Photo by Michael Pearce
Further reading in the California Room:
- Historical Guide to the Homes of Willow Glen by the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
- Touring Historic Willow Glen: Ten Walking Tours by the History Committee of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association
- The Willow Glen Neighborhood: Then and Now by April Hope Halberstadt
- Life in Willow Glen c.1950 [videorecording]
- Clipping File Canneries