Ralph Pearce

Ralph Pearce's picture
Reading Interests: 
Biographies, Mysteries, Science Fiction, Philosophy, History
What I'm Reading Now: 
Specimen Days & Collect by Walt Whitman

Blogs by this Author

Image: A c.1918 portrait of Russell Hinaga, San Jose Asahi pitcher from 1918-42. Courtesy of the Hinaga Family.
Back in 1990, I read a book called The Rise of Japanese Baseball Power by Robert Obojski. I became fascinated by the long history of Japan's love of the game (from the 1880s), the ongoing interaction between the United States and Japan through the game, the colorful players, and the experiences of American players who had journeyed to Japan to play on Japanese teams. I soon began searching for more books on the topic, and eventually published a bimonthly newsletter, The Japanese Baseball Enthusiast in May of 1993 (it ran a little over a year). The newsletter focused on Japanese...Read more...
Image: Close up of Paramount Imports signage. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
I was driving down Meridian Avenue the other day, and noticed a large development near Saddle Rack Street. Suddenly an alarm went off in my head and I thought, “Did they just tear down Paramount Imports ?” I circled back around and to my relief the old import store was still standing. I made a note to visit the store soon, as this city is just changing faster than I can keep up with it. Image: Paragon Imports on Meridian Avenue , just south of San Carlos Street. Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce My subsequent visit to the store was like...Read more...
Image: Close-up of the cover of a colorful Japanese children's book about the adventures of Momotaro. Photo by Ralph Pearce
Back in 1990, I took a Japanese kite-making class as part of the San Jose Japantown Centennial. The image on my kite was the Japanese folk hero Momotaro , often referred to as Peach Boy in the United States. The modern version of the story begins with an old, childless couple finding a giant peach floating in the river. Opening the peach to eat it, they discover a child inside. The couple name the child Momotaro (momo meaning peach, and Taro for the eldest son), and raise the boy as their own. After reaching adulthood, Momotaro sets off to fight...Read more...
Image: menu for the Oriental Cafe restaurant that was located on E. San Fernando Street. Photo by Ralph M. Pearce
Old menus are so cool! Have you ever found an old menu stashed away in a drawer or a glove compartment? I’ve been collecting local menus for some years now, and I really enjoy the graphics, the selections, and of course the prices. It's even better if it's a restaurant that you have some connection to.The oldest menu I have is from the Ken Ying Low Chinese restaurant. It was located in Japantown at 625 N. 6th Street , now the home of Jtown Pizza Co . The menu dates prior to WWII, and lists entrees such as chop suey...Read more...
Image: 1927 Chevy 1 ton truck receiving roadside repair. Photo by Ralph Pearce
Our current low rider exhibit got me to thinking about the many old trucks I've owned. About 1977, I was riding down Koch Lane in a high school friend's 1955 Chevy pick-up , when it occurred to me that an old truck was just the vehicle for me. Sitting up high looking out over an old style hood, and the ability to move furniture or water heaters or make a run to the dump... I could do anything with an old pick-up. The 1980s were my bachelor years, and during that period I fixed-up a great many old trucks. I...Read more...
Image: Park and Hester Market at 1451 Park Avenue.
We seldom mention them or even really notice them much, but I've always liked those old buildings with angled entrances on the very corner of the building. They're usually corner grocery stores or former corner grocery stores, and I suppose the intention was for ease of access. I didn't realize how many there were around San Jose until I started looking for them to photograph. Maybe you'll recognize some of the examples below: Image: Here's a beautiful old corner entrance store on Thirteenth and Jackson Streets , and another on Eleventh and Empire Streets . Photos ©Ralph M. Pearce Image:...Read more...
Image: The Keystone Company's Model T truck logo.
The Keystone Company traces its origins back to 1867, though it's a trail filled with acquisitions, divisions, name and ownership changes. The company began as a wholesale grocery firm founded by Conrad Renzel in 1885. Conrad's son Ernest Renzel Sr. took over operations in 1898, incorporating as Keystone Company in 1905. In 1915, Keystone absorbed a coffee and spice company that had been founded as Barrett, Caswell, & Hunt in 1867 (later known as Eagle Coffee & Spice Mills). By 1956, the company had three divisions; coffee, groceries, and food service equipment. In 1989, Keystone Company's divisions separated. Keystone Grocery...Read more...
Close-up of Mckinley's statue in St. James Park. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce 
I have never seen a president in person, though I have heard stories about President McKinley's speech in St. James Park , President Teddy Roosevelt planting a redwood tree in Campbell , and I have a cousin who saw John F. Kennedy speak outside the Civic Auditorium a few days before his election. About the closest I've come to seeing a president was when a motorcade of limousines and motorcycle cops drove past me in the 1980s. I learned the next day that it was Vice President Mondale . On this 50th anniversary of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's campaign speech...Read more...
Image:  This 1927 Associated Gasoline station stood on the corner of Market and Julian Streets . After being slated for demolition in 1978, History San Jose arranged for its relocation to History Park. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce.
Image: This 1927 Associated Gasoline station stood on the corner of Market and Julian Street s . After being slated for demolition in 1978, History San Jose arranged for its relocation to History Park . Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce. Service stations have evolved quite a bit over time. I can remember when gas would always be pumped by a uniformed attendant . They’d usually wash your windows while you waited, check under the hood (oil and water) if you wanted, and make a little small talk if they knew you. Often times they’d give you promotional items like dishware with...Read more...
Image: detail of Myron's Bookstore entrance early 1980s. Image courtesy of Myron Wahlstrand.
Image: Myron and Sue Wahlstrand in the early 1980s. Myron's love of collecting poetry lured him into the used book business. Coincidentally, Myron's sister was married to the brother of Recycled Bookstore owner Joan Hayes. For a while I worked at both bookstores concurrently. Photo courtesy of Myron Wahlstrand. One fine day in December of 1978, I found myself walking along Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen. Earlier in the year I had hitchhiked across the United States. In September I began taking classes at San Jose City College , and was also on the lookout for part-time work. Crossing Curtner...Read more...