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

Photo of the San Jose Public Library on San Carlos Street about 1970.
I remember sitting with my mother in the kitchen of our little house in Willow Glen, watching the kitchen cart roll from one side of the room to the other. We were both rather amazed, though we were having an earthquake at the time. This was about 1964, and only the first of many earthquakes I can recall from my fifty some odd years here in San Jose. Another time I was sitting on the front porch with a cat in my lap, when our carport shook so violently that the cat sunk all of its claws into my leg...Read more...
Almaden Road
Map: An 1887 California Room map showing Almaden Road between Malone and Curtner. King Library California Room “A road pounded out by the bare feet of Indians before the white man came still stretches south from San Jose into the rolling brush covered hills, the bare earth paved with asphalt.” So wrote local historian Patricia Loomis in her introduction to a piece on Almaden Road , “…one of the oldest of the area roads whose route remains basically the same after more than two centuries.” While much of Almaden Road was replaced by the much wider Almaden Expressway in about...Read more...
Louis Pellier, the 'Prune King'
Louis Pellier, "The Prune King" Photo courtesy of History San Jose One August day in 2011, a fellow named Tim Peddy came into the California Room to look at some aerial photos. I noticed that one of the aerials showed the San Juan Bautista Hills near my neighborhood. The San Juan Bautista Hills are an outcropping of hills on the southeast corner of Willow Glen that include “ The Church on the Hill ,” County Communications , Communications Hill (with the cell phone tower), and Oak Hill Cemetery . I pointed out to Tim that the small hill between the...Read more...
El Rancho sign and pine trees photo
Of the various San Jose landmarks of the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most impressive to me was the huge mural that stood on the corner of Almaden Avenue and Alma Avenue. How many times I looked out at it through the window of our 1964 Nova station wagon I’ll never know, but I was always in awe of it. And yet, it never would have occurred to me that I might one day wish I’d taken a picture of it. It would always be there, right? The mural was created by local muralist Don Clever, who painted it...Read more...
Fudetaro and Seijiro Horio in 1908
In 1895, two brothers immigrated to the United States from Japan and wound up working for the Von Dorsten family on Foxworthy Road in the Willow Glen area of San Jose (now known as Foxworthy Avenue ). After saving for many years, Seijiro and Fudetaro Horio began buying nearby properties until they had a swath of land that ran from Foxworthy Road to Koch Lane on the east side of Cherry Avenue. This was prior to the restrictive California Alien Land Law of 1913 which prohibited "aliens ineligible for citizenship" from owning agricultural land or possessing long-term leases. This law...Read more...
corner of Sixth and Jackson Streets
Built about the same time as Heinlenville Chinatown, the one-story brick building on the northwest corner of Sixth and Jackson Streets was first home to Chinese tenants. By 1901, the first Japanese businesses in the area that would become known as Japantown appeared in the building. In the early 1930s, the building would house some of the earliest Filipino businesses in the community. Facing Sixth Street, the (then) blank brick wall on the Jackson Street side of the building was used as a community bulletin board. At some point after WWII, a door and windows were added to the Jackson...Read more...
Mt. Umunhum
Living in the Santa Clara Valley in the 1960s and 1970s, a familiar sight was the radar tower with its spinning radar on top of Mount Umunhum . Not only was it a familiar and comforting sight, but it provided a point of reference. I remember that I could see the tower from my parents’ room, and I would occasionally just stand there watching the huge mounted radar screen spinning around and around. One time on the way home from Santa Cruz we passed very close to the station and I was amazed at its size and the huge red...Read more...
Clyde Arbuckle with man in cemetary
I remember standing outside of La Villa Delicatessen on Lincoln Avenue about 1977 or so, when out walks a mustachioed fellow in a kind of khaki uniform with a broad-brimmed, circular hat like a park ranger would wear. I watched him as he began to survey the scene with a kind of contemplative seriousness. I wondered who on earth this guy was. In 1978, I began working at a used bookstore on the corner of Lincoln and Franquette Avenues, near Curtner. One day this same fellow walks in, still wearing that distinctive outfit. The owner of the bookstore, Myron Wahlstrand,...Read more...
Troy Laundry Company
Photo courtesy of Edith C. Smith Collection/Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University As a teenager in the 1970s, I remember going with my dad one time to pick up his cleaning. That sounds pretty boring, but when we pulled up to the cleaners, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was an incredible old building that looked as though it had stood untouched for fifty years, and that was in fact pretty much the situation. The signage, the windows, the doors, the paint; everything appeared to have been untouched since the day the building was...Read more...
Historic El Camino Real sign
Photo: El Camino Real marker along The Alameda in San Jose Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I was curious about the green bell poles that you occasionally see alongside our roadways. I got to thinking about them recently, and decided to research them a little. It turns out that they mark roadways that are generally considered to be a part of the original El Camino Real, or "Royal Road" ( California Historical Landmark #784 ). The El Camino Real began as a footpath to connect a series of twenty-one Spanish missions (from San Diego to Solano), two pueblos...Read more...