Hello Friends and Family,

Los Gatos, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

When I first moved to California in the late-1970s, I bought a home in the town of Los Gatos. It was (and still is) a picturesque small town that grew up on its own and not just a suburb of nearby San Jose. It is filled with appealing shops, homes, and places of interest. It had a very small-town vibe — for instance, everyone went to the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game between Los Gatos and Saratoga — whether you had kids in the school or not.

But towns evolve and, no longer living there, I cannot say whether or not that small-town vibe survived or not. This building used to be home to Corner Drug — an old-time traditional pharmacy. The building remains but Corner Drug has been replaced with a newer business.

Across the street (to the right of this photo) stood a bank at one point. By the time I moved here, it had closed and a used bookstore occupied the spot. It was a fun place to browse for reading bargains.

Nearby is a landmark bar that goes by the name Carry Nation's, whose namesake was the famous (or is it infamous) temperance advocate best known for using a hatchet to demolish barrooms. Notice the hatchet images on the awning and the stained glass in the front door. Another historical note, the bar was originally opened in the 1970s by Gary Dahl, “inventor” of the Pet Rock, and that’s a pedigree of which any watering hole could be proud.

Just down the street is the Los Gatos Theatre which has been a fixture in the town since 1915. It was originally called the Strand Theatre but was renamed after a fire in 1929 and subsequent remodeling in the Art Deco Style. I remember as a great place to see older classic films plus foreign films, not just the current hits. In those days, they had their own take on the snack bar — yes, they had popcorn, candy, etc. but they also offered apple cider and bundt cake alongside the usual carbonated soft drinks and M&Ms.

A few doors down from the theatre is a business that definitely was not here when I lived in Los Gatos — an Apple Store. It was not yet open for the day — you can see a worker bee cleaning the signature large glass pane windows in the front. I did cross the street to look inside and it is similar to most Apple Stores albeit a bit smaller than the one I visit most often back home.

This was a bit unusual and definitely eye-catching — a store selling model soldiers, war horses, and accessories for creating displays of famous battles. I liked the fluffs of cotton used to suggest the firing of the guns at the enemy plus the wounded soldiers lying in the grass. I am certain this store was not here when I lived in Los Gatos — I'm sure I would have remembered it.

Here we see the Toll House Hotel. It stands not far from where the original tollgate stood which was built in 1858 at the Los Gatos end of the Santa Cruz Turnpike. Tolls were collected from teamsters using the road: Single team - fifty cents, two-horse team - seventy cents, four-horse team - ninety cents, six-horse team - $1.00. Teamsters did not relish paying the toll, and conflict between them and the toll road operators resulted. The toll gate was dragged and dumped into the creek more than once. After several remodelings, the toll house still stands at Wood Road and North Santa Cruz Avenue and is incorporated into the grounds of the hotel.

Any small town must have a hardware store and here is the one in Los Gatos. I used it frequently and cannot even remember where the next closest hardware store was located.

The Town Plaza is located at the corner of W. Main Street and Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Los Gatos.  This quaint park features an interactive water fountain, planters, benches, lawn area, and walkways. Oh, and don't forget the redwood trees — they are not yet as tall as those at Big Basin but they are bigger than most trees in town. Also, the town does a great job of decorating the Plaza for holidays and events are scheduled to bring residents together as many small towns do.

One of my all-time favorite fast-food restaurants is the Happy Hound. I was so pleased that it was still in business after so many years and I had to stop in. I mentioned that to the young woman at the counter and she told me that the owner had decided to close the restaurant a few years earlier but popular demand caused him to re-open. I'm so glad he changed his mind. I had to have my favorite menu item — the Happy Hound, a steamed hot dog with relish, onions, tomatoes, and mustard. Prior to dining here, I had never eaten a hot dog with tomatoes on it but one bite and I was sold. It is still as good as I remember.

And here is my first home in California. It has changed a bit but I could still recognize it. As I was taking the photo, that car drove up and into the driveway. So I strolled over to the driver getting out of the car and introduced myself, mentioning that I had owned the home back in the late 1970s. He was very friendly and after chatting for a few minutes he invited me to come in and see the interior which had been lightly remodeled. The one thing that has definitely changed is the price of the home. I bought it for $94K, it is now worth almost $2M. I don't regret most decisions I've made in my life. This one might require some reflection.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com