Old Time San Jose Creameries

If you want to make an old time San Josean’s eyes glisten, just ask them about the wonderful creameries that existed during the 1920s, 30s and 40s.  Perhaps it was the competition of so many excellent soda fountains, but San Jose was blessed with the best.

The most elegant was O’Brien’s, started as a candy store by Maurice O’Brien in 1868.  Under the leadership of Maurice’s son Charlie, it grew from candy making to include a soda fountain, restaurant, and bakery, and was famed throughout the west.  The San Jose Rotary Club’s first meeting place was in the O’Brien’s fountain in 1914.  When it was moved to 223 S. First St. it became more expensive and more elaborate than any of the other soda fountains.  It was a great place for the girls from Notre Dame High School to meet the boys from Bellarmine and Santa Clara University.

For an unforgettable ice cream sundae, milkshake or banana split, the Garden City Creamery was the place to go.  Owner Axel Ravn hired San Jose State College athletes as his soda jerks, and they built unbelievably delicious sundaes, piled two- and three-scoops-of-ice-cream high, covered with syrup, topped with genuine whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.  It was a challenge to eat and it was all held together with three vertical vanilla wafers—all for the grand sum of 15 cents.  The Garden City, located at 76 E. Santa Clara St., advertised “we specialize in milk shakes,” and served them from brimming-full, stainless steel containers for 10 cents.  A specialty of the house was Axel’s fresh banana shake.

Just east on Santa Clara Street at Seventh was George M. Smith’s Crystal Creamery.  Most of the countermen were San Jose State or SJ High School students.  The Crystal was famous for its wholesale manufacture of ice cream and also ice milk.  Stan Bellow worked there before he entered the Marine Corps in 1942 and remembers that a machine-packed quart of ice milk cost 20 cents, machine-packed ice cream was 40 cents, and hand-packed, heaped-to-overflowing, bursting-at-the-seams ice cream was 60 cents. 

On First Street, a block from O’Brien’s, was the San Jose Creamery, owned and operated by T.M. Waddington.  Equally good fountain items were available, but one could also buy excellent chocolate candy, eggs, milk and butter.  Waddington usually hired college women from San Jose State to run the marble counter.  Ice cream tables and chairs of twisted wire and marble furnished the center of the large central serving area.

Other notable creameries were the Hester Dairy, owned by Martin Haas, at 295 San Carlos St., and the Holland Creamery run by Jack Allen, who went on to greater fame with his Paolo’s restaurants.  The Forward Dairy had its own soda fountain, as did the American Dairy.  Miss Brown ran the American Dairy retail operation and the dairy had its own cows east of the Oak Hill cemetery and delivered milk door-to-household-door.

In those days, if you had from 10 to 25 cents in your pocket, the San Jose creameries were a wonderful place to spend your money. Where can you get that kind of bargain these days?

31 Comments

  1. Let’s convert Ambassadore Lounge into an old time creamery.  It would only need about 5 million in RDA money to last a year!

  2. The above is a very distinctive exercise in nostalgia – distinctive because I have probably been as guilty as anyone from my generation (the last to see and use the creamery) in confusing the soda fountain that sold ice cream with the creamery.  Also, what a joy it is to read an entry by Mr San Jose himself.

    The Crystal Creamery was my favorite, and its location was well-chosen near directly across from the then well functioning Medical Dental building – easily the most beautiful skyscraper in San Jose still.  If one had just had one’s mouth cut and drilled, it was a relief to be able to get an inexpensive ice cream treat at the Crystal close by.

    Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen at the corner of Lincoln and Lester was also the location of a true creamery, Del Luna Creamery, managed by a very efficient but flinty gentleman named, Clair Del Luna.  He had yellowed newspaper clippings scotch taped prominently that photo-documented his Santa Clara County Fair awards in ice cream excellence.  Children let out of the nearby Broadway Elementary school until 1960 (circa) could stop and get a great ice cream treat therein.  I always felt relief when I could get out of there with a 10 cent ice cream cone and not have left a seriously antagonized Clair behind me.

    A companion story on soda fountains would be welcome.

    • Deluna’s creamery was owned and operated by my father Pasquale (Pat DeLuna) and he did indeed make wonderful ice crfeam. Claire DeLuna would have been his sister and I do not recall her being there. My mother Martha helped him at times and he had Diane who was his head waitress and helper for all the years that he owned the place. If you see this, he is still alive and living in Denver Colorado with his wife and me of course, his daughter. He is 91 years old and we just discussed his ice cream tonight!

  3. Kudos to our “President Emeritus” for this wonderful blog!  My memory of the Crystal is my father purchasing bootleg beer out of the back end during the twenties!

    I always thought that the best milk shakes were at Bettencourt’s American Dairy. And, wasn’t there another creamery on Park Avenue? 

    Thanks again, Leonard!

    Jerry Rosenthal

  4. I’m logging from my new hometown, San Diego.  This place is extactly like the 1930s-1950s with all the creamery ice cream parlors, vintage old buildings and theaters.  They did an excellent job of preserving them and putting them to use.  They’ve combined the old with the new and made this town more vibrant than ever!  In downtown SD, spirit of the 20s and 30s has arrived in earnest while downtown SJ is completely destroyed and left for dead.  Downtown SJ never came back and never will.  San Diego, on the other hand, came roaring back with a vengence!  Downtown SD has hit overdrive with tons of constructions of all types of buildings, especially highrises of all types.  Heck, there are 26 highrises underway in downtown SD.  This place is bursting with too much activities, and it just a bit too much of a good thing.  Maybe, they should just slow down a bit.  It’s too much, but I rather have this extreme than other end of extreme- downtown SJ with very little activity.  I’m glad I’m away from the pit and in the good old days-albeit in downtown San Diego.  It’s like the big big version of Pasadena.  It’s makes Pasadena seem like a small quiet town comparing to the real great town as San Diego.  Smurf out.

  5. Single Gal was born decades too late. In those bygone days, she might’ve found more than one fellow downtown whom she’d care to see again. Ray Oldenburg has described that scene, all over America, in his Great Good Place, but this was before the development of an entertainment industry and before the insights and improvements (?) of redevelopment agencies and government-types, which have left people planted on their couches.

    Jim Arbuckle

  6. Leonard’s wonderful blog makes me wonder what today’s youth will remember from San Jose circa 2005.
    “Remember Jamba Juice?” “How about those Happy Meals at McDonalds?”

    Gee, do you think we’ve lost something along the way? 

    Crystal Creamery was the best!

  7. Nicely written piece. But while we ponder the disappearance of the creameries, we should also note that the high school and college students who were an integral part of the downtown of that era have all but vanished today (at least in the daytime). Since not a one of those schools has moved farther away, and all of them have more students than ever, would it be correct to chalk-up the absence of those students to the work of our leaders in government? My recollection is that it was three decades ago when that vibrant young presence went extinct, just about the time San Jose was being celebrated as the nation’s feminist capital and the downtown was entering its vacant lot era. Timing, as they say, is everything, and sadly for our downtown, at the very moment when we desperately needed bold, business-savvy leaders to right our ship, we elected a bunch of grinning schoolyard monitors. To much fanfare and celebration our elected officials embraced, understood, and tolerated, when what we needed from them was inspiration, vision, and powerful leadership. They were good at saying the right things and even better at feeling them, but they did almost nothing. And from them we have yet to recover.

  8. My father was general manager of the National Ice Cream Company on North !st St. so we ended up with remnants from these wonderful creameries.  The marble counter from the San Jose Creamery ended up as a walkway in our back yard and is still there!  I have one of the original “Hamilton Beach Milkshake Machines ” from O’Brien’s which I hope to clean up and donate to Histoy San Jose. There is a place for it there !

  9. This was more of an ice cream shop than a creamery, but does anyone remember Hillcrest Creamery across from Roosevelt Jr. High on E. Santa Clara? 

    The Hillcrest ice cream is still around, being sold as “Treat” in local grocery chains like PW and Lundardi’s.

    • I remember it well. I would dash over from school , grab a shake and head for an area under the bridge to eat lunch. Stan Lemke and I hung out together and I rode Patsy Garafaio home on my bike.

    • I remember it well, I would rush over for quick milk shake and head for the creek under the bridge for lunch with Stan lemke and Patsy Garfalio

  10. I surely do remember the Hillcrest creamery across from Roosevelt Jr. High School.  Many a lunch time was spent having a delicious milk shake, as I needed the calories at that time. 

    Wonderful memories of the San Jose Creamery and especially O’Briens.  I volunteer at the History/San Jose Museum and often will be seen in O’Briens, but it is not the same.  Sorry to have the creameries all gone or at least the ones from the good old days in San Jose.  Things and time change our lives.

  11. The Crystal Creamery was great, but I always thought that the very best was the Willoway Creamery at Willow and Lincoln in Willow Glen. It was owned for most of its existence by the Inman family and had not just great ice cream treats but fabulous hamburgers. It’s now a pizza restaurant.

  12. A few memories cropped up while reading these threads.  My dad worked for Crystal Creamery in his younger days (many many moons ago).

    Also, to Dave Hickey, I recall a creamery at Lincoln and Lester (I used to live on Garfield Ave.).  But why am I recalling it as Condon’s Creamery?  Is my memory that bad!!!!

    I always remember my first date with my boyfriend (we were 11 years old!) and he took me to what I recall as Condon’s Creamery.  Am I losing my memory here?  Help!!!

    Bonnie Osterman

    • Bonnie, Condon’s Creamery was right around the corner from you, when you, Doug and your folks lived on Garfield Ave.  Go out your front door, turn right, walk down to Lincoln Ave, turn left, and it was the last building in the first blocki.  Right across Lester from Gil Erickson’s dad’s funeral parlor.

  13. Leonard McKays excellent capsule history of local creameries begets more of this genre. Joann Landers post (#5) caught my eye however, as local history books are quiet about the area’s role in the evolution of the Beat Generation. The house still exists at 1047 East Santa Clara Street where Neal and Carolyn Cassady lived and briefly boarded Kerouac (it is not listed on the local historic resources inventory). It was also the site where the infamous event occurred that caused Carolyn to kick Ginsberg out of the house on his visit to the West Coast to visit Neal – which eventually led to the writing of Howl.
    A brief summary of Cassady in San Jose can be found at:
    http://www.nReverse.com

  14. I was too young to frequent a lot of these places on my own before they bit the dust.

    I do remember there was a Carnation creamery on the Alameda at Newhall.  It later became Berkeley Farms and is now home to the Cozy restaurant.  The original building is still there under all the face-lifting that took place over the years.

    Our milk was delivered from the Santa Clara Creamery on Franklin.  Not San Jose, but they delivered to a lot of San Jose households.

    As for soda fountains, Leonard if you write about those, I remember when my family first moved to the Rosegarden in 1960 the Park Avenue Pharmacy had a great one.  We had only lived in that area about a year when they tore out the fountain and the free-standing Park Avenue Fountain went in next door.  This was a great little commercial zone and the students from Hoover and Lincoln used to frequent the Park Avenue Fountain like kids all over the country did in the 50’s and 60’s.  Rumor had it that the pharmacy took their fountain out because with all those kids coming through there was a shoplifting problem.  The last surviving pharmacy fountain that I recall was at 4th & Jackson, it was a ghost of its former self,  and that pharmacy finally closed recently.  I think it’s a restaurant now.

  15. So great to hear about all of those things that I remember!

    Wouldn’t it be fun to have some kind of an old-timers’ club and get together to reminisce?

    Cot Cutter/Prune Picker

  16. Thanks for the memory.  Does anyone remember the creamery on San Carlos, where the CPA is now?  There was a lot of comings and goings out the back door.  Just thought they were busy, wonder about it now.

  17. REMEMBERING ROCCI AND THE PRONTO PUP CREAMERY

    The Pronto Pup creamery(1383 Lincoln ave.) was in walking distance of Willow Glen High Shcool and Edwin Markham Jr. High School, as well as Willow Glen Elementary and Lincoln Glen Elementary, so it was only natural that students put on their walking shoes, after school, and headed for the Pronto Pup to meet the gang. As far as Willow Glen teens were concerned Rocci’s Pronto Pup was where the action was and where we all wanted to be.
        I Remember how all the kids used to read the comics and Hollywood gossip magazines until the pages were dog-eared and then when they were finished reading they returned them back to the rack. One day, Rocci got frustrated over this loss of magazine revenue. He decided to make a big sign and placed it over the bookrack. The sign read: THIS IS NOT A LIBRARY… ALL MAGAZINES, BOOKS AND COMICS TAKEN TO COUNTER WILL BE CHARGED TO CUSTOMER”. From that day on, Rocci’s magazine sales increased dramatically.
        If you came to the Pup for dinner, Rocci would make sure you didn’t leave his counter hungry.  With just a two-burner stove in the back room he managed to serve -up an entire three-course T-bone steak dinner with all the trimmings- all for only a $1.50. Everything from pancakes to burgers or chili beans to spaghetti could be found on Rocci’s varied menu. This was definitely not your average soda shop!
        If a customer came to the “Pup” looking for a good magazine or a Pulp fiction novel, they found it. The walls of the creamery were lined with wooden book shelves all filled with paperback books, comics and newspapers. The Pup’s magazine racks held the largest selections of books and magazines in the Willow Glen area and most of San Jose..
        If it was ice cream you were looking for, you wouldn’t be disappointed, a large selection of Carnation and Meadow Gold hand packed ice cream was always on hand, and his soda fountain had a complete selection of syrups and flavors for every type of ice cream sundae or shake. A large glass enclosed candy case greeted customers as they entered the creamery’s front door. Before going to the Garden Theater most kids took advantage of the Pup’s 5-cent candy prices. Behind the long, horseshoe counter, Rocci made good use of his wall space to display an assortment of sunglasses, razor blades, pipes,  pipe cleaners and nail clippers. On sale, in the shops refrigerator, was a selection of Par-T-Pack and Lit’l Squirt colas, orange juice, fresh milk, eggs and cottage cheese. There was also a Kleenex machine that dispensed purse size Kleenex for the ladies.  And a pay telephone, where a nickel would buy you a phone call.
        The old Pronto Pup was like the neighborhood “quick stop” market of its day. From fresh eggs and milk to merchandise of all sizes and shapes. Sunglasses, nail clippers, razor blades,paper back novels, cigarettes, cigars, cigarette holders,candy bars,  boxed candy, newspapers, key chains, hair combs and emery boards.
        When school let out for the summer, the Pronto Pup’s atmosphere began to change, it hummed with a certain energy created by noisy teens and the relentless sounds of Rock & Roll blaring from the corner juke box. Regulars such as “Spoonie” “Herk” “Pebbles” “Red” and “Jonsey” were among the high school kids who kept the place jumpin’ with music, jokes, laughter.   
        Mostly, I remember my Dad, Rocci, flipping a half dozen burgers on a sizzling hot grill while he joked and kidded around with the “Pup’” regulars. I remember the laughter and private jokes we all shared with one another while we girls scanned the latest issues of Photoplay Magazine and Teen-Beat and swooned over teen heartthrobs,“Ricky” and “Elvis”. I remember how we weighed ourselves on the big penny scale in the corner and got our fortune told in the process.
      Many years later, whenever I meet one of these customers from the 1950s, they often tell me that the time they spent with Rocci at the “Pup” was an education in itself and one of the happiest times of their lives. They learned a lot about life just talking, listening and observing from their seats around the soda shop counter.
    I don’t know if that old fortune telling machine at the Pronto Pup creamery ever gave any of us an accurate reading on our future, but one thing I can say with certainty, Rocci, and that old soda shop gave us all some wonderful and unforgettable memories to look back on.
    cookie curci

  18. Ms. Cursi – you have given a beautiful description of the “Pup” and the culture of the creamery in San Jose.  O’Brien’s and the old San Jose Creamery, the Crystle on E.Santa Clara St., and, I believe, there was a nice drug store fountain at Naglee and Park Ave.  –  Great days and great memories: thanks!  TMcE

  19. When i was a kid ,
    i think back i rember the rides to my grandmaws when my dad would say how about a milkshake? for my mom along with my 4 brouthers this was the greatest time of joy a kid could have.a chocolate malt, split between one of my brouthers. yes those were the days and even though mom and dad are gone when i see a kid with a cone or a milkshake sitting on a set of steps or under a shady tree it all comes back the memories, wish you all have the same kind weather they be chocolate or strawbery.

  20. I simply cannot resist adding my memories of Pronto Pup from my Willow Glen childhood, given Ms Cursi’s warm report. 

    I was unwontedly addicted, as an adolescent, to the great sex ‘n suburbia novels of the very early sixties, propagated in large part by Grace Metalious and her two immortal, Peyton Place novels.  Rocci’s selection of the genre was among the best on Lincoln Avenue, but there were other drug and general stores back then (Krohn’s was absolutely magnificent!) that also provided much to entice a young, if profoundly unwholesome, reader.  I still vividly recall that I bought my first Playboy magazine at the Pup, and I can still feel the searing glare of Rocci’s gaze as he sold it to me with the most distressed and regretful reluctance.  “Your parents know you read that magazine?” he inquired, his flashing eyes still locked upon me.  I just ran out, brownbagged magazine in hand without responding, and I reflect now very fondly upon his very dramatically expressed concern for my welfare.

    Rocci did not purvey the marvelous cheese cake magazines of the era that one had to bicycle down to the Humidor next to the Fox Theater or Carroll and Bishop on Santa Clara St to obtain or at least, while one could, dog ear.  Playboy was it at the Pup, but loomed as such a prize for all my saved up lunch money, if I could just get it past Rocci.

    I was, however, too entranced by the Pup not to return many, many times thereafter through its closure in the early 1970s to enjoy the justifiably celebrated food, fellowship, and 1950s Willow Glen ambiance along with the literature.  I don’t think that Rocci ever forgot the Playboy transaction, though he was always cordial. 

    I know that I never will forget it.

  21. Remembering soda shop’s Dime store novels, (“Pulp fiction”) and its lasting impression on our youth.

    Fifty years ago, you couldn’t walk into a local soda shop, grocery store, 5&10;, or cigar shop without bumping into a wire rack filled with dime novels, otherwise referred to by their more popular appellation, “Pulp fiction”.
    These paperback novels featured daring detectives, seductive women,  dastardly villains and torrid romance—all part of the 1940s and ‘50s pulp fiction allure.
    I remember well those bawdy-covered books, magazines and comics that decorated the walls and filled the wire racks of our local creameries. It was our habit, back then, among my teenage pals, to take a book from these shelves and read its most exciting passages while we sipped our sodas. When we finished, we returned the book to the rack. One day, the storeowner (my Dad, Rocci Curci) posted a large sign over the bookrack. It read: THIS IS NOT A LIBRARY—ANY BOOKS TAKEN TO THE COUNTER WILL BE CHARGED TO THE CUSTOMER. From that point on, our reading endeavors steadily declined.
    It was in the pages of tawdry paperback novels that many teenagers learned about romance and the facts of life. Young girls kept their secret copies of Kathleen Windsor’s erotic bestseller”Forever Amber” hidden under their pillows; boys concealed their covert copies of Dr. Kinsey’s morals-shaking” Sexual Behavior In the Human Male” stashed under their mattresses. Meanwhile, mom and dad were learning how to rear their young by reading the revolutionary new child-guidance manual, Common Sense Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock. (Decades later, the author would recant his theory.) Also hot reading on the paperback reader’s list was D.H. Lawrence’s story of illicit romance, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, and Vladimir Nabokov’s scandalously sexy “Lolita”.
    While most of America was reading spicy, novels many others were enthralled by the nonfiction bestseller The Search for Bridey Murphy. This book, by Morey Bernstein, set off a national obsession with reincarnation in the mid 1950s. The book later fell from grace when the story was debunked.
    But of all the mind-stirring, life-changing novels of the decade, Grace Metalious’s “Peyton Place” had the greatest impact on a blossoming generation. Its popularity launched a movie and a TV series in the late ‘50s, but more than that, the paperback version would become the hottest and most clandestinely read book in teenage America.

    The decade of the 1940s opened with the appearance of the first inexpensive paperback reprint of a hardcover bestseller; swift-moving thrillers that touched and thrilled readers’ imaginations. Fading romance novels and detective stories graced the shelves at our corner market, the 5&10; store and soda shop—all new locations for these “dime novels” that cost a quarter.

    Dashiel Hammet’s lively detective novels were among the most-read of the decade’s paperbacks. His fast-paced, realistic detective classics spawned a series of pulp-fiction detectives. Hammet’s popular novels gave birth to two of Hollywood’s most enduring private eyes: Sam Spade and Nick Charles. His characters epitomized the hard-boiled detective, who, despite a dark and sinister lifestyle, still adhered to a personal code of ethics. The story’s characters, ambiance and motivation were more important to readers than the solving of the crime.
    Hammet’s crime sleuths, better known as “gumshoes” and “private dicks,” and Mickey Spillane’s private eye, Mike Hammer, became the archetypes for the era’s pulp-fiction detectives.
    Pulp fiction, so named for the low quality of paper the books were printed on, was riding a crest of popularity in the late ‘40s. One of my personal favorites from the decade was a pulp magazine called Weird Tales. This scary bit of fiction featured a young writer by the name of Ray Bradbury, who later became one of America’s foremost science fiction writers. Like many magazines of this genre, it caused me many a sleepless night. Typical of these stories was one called “The Final Hour,” which appeared in the January 1947 issue. The story is about a terminally ill author who offers his soul to Satan in exchange for seven more years of life so he can finish a monumental book. At the end of the seven years, Satan comes to collect his due. But he goes away thwarted when he discovers that the man’s soul is already gone—the author literally poured his heart and soul into his book!
    Dime store novels took center stage in our post-war America, while television, the slayer of the written word, sat patiently waiting in the wings to make its grand debut.

  22. WILLOW GLEN AMBIANCE- UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL          

         
        One of the best ways to enjoy Willow Glen’s eclectic community is to put your walking shoes on and take a stroll around our Willow Glen neighborhoods. You’ll discover a community that must be seen on foot, up close and personal, to best be appreciated and understood.
        The side streets along Lincoln Avenue offer a proximate view of local homes and gardens; each one fashioned in its own artful and individual way. Whether free spirited or classically inspired, each lush garden is as individualistic as its caretaker and as unique as the cottages and sprawling homes they enhance. As with all works of art, no two gardens are alike.   
        Passionate neighborhood gardeners create front yard landscapes to match each home’s unique architecture. Modern colonials, Spanish adobe, Cape Cod, wood-framed bungalows, old Victorians and the enchanting peeked roof, rounded windows of the Queen Anne can all be found, standing side by side, in our Willow Glen neighborhoods.
        Prominent in Willow Glen is the two story Spanish adobe. These homes, shelled in red tiles with romantic second floor balconies, represent Willow Glen’s rich heritage. They rekindle a time when the Spanish ranchos permeated the area in the 1800s. The appearance of these houses adds a sense of old-world tranquillity to their neighborhoods.  Swaying above these haciendas are tall tropical palms, stretching high above street lamps, towering like ancient bastions guarding over our community.               
        Walking along the older streets I see small yards crowded with tall cypress and spreading pepper trees, or huge maple and elm trees that offer shade to the strolling passerby. Chattering orioles and brown squirrel’s feast on golden sunflowers, their sturdy, graceful pedals, like Willow Glen’s enduring charm, blossom throughout the neighborhoods. With the exception of a few huge front yard willows, their smaller cousins the Birch trees have replaced the grand trees that once grew prolifically in our area during the 1800s. 
    The Birch trees, with their dense and wispy leaves,  serve to defuse Lincoln Avenue’s traffic noises and hosts a variety of bird and squirrel life.

        The Willow Glen community prides itself as an area of economic blending where modern and traditional often abruptly collide, but manage artfully to coexist with one another.       
          Each change of season brings a new feeling to the Willow Glen community and to my daily walks as well. In the spring dormant gardens blossom. In some front yards I’ll see the lively green foliage of an exuberant tomato plant growing among borders of purple delphiniums, or a zealous zucchini vine winding itself tenaciously around a hollyhock stalk.
          In early summer, my walks take me past smoky backyard barbecues that arouse anticipation for those long, hot, summer nights ahead.   
        Independence Day celebrations spark street parties as patriotism and “Old Glory” wave on high.  By mid-August I see young parents sitting on porch stoops watching their kids frolicking in small plastic wading pools, or darting through lawn sprinklers that cool the sidewalks and offer a temporary oasis to the barefoot stroller.           
          Fall ushers in the cooler weather and my daily walks take on a brisker pace. Brittle Autumn leaves crunch and scatter underfoot; front porch steps are dotted with October’s bright orange pumpkins; come Halloween, down town Lincoln Avenue is filled with young moms and their happy moppets dressed in colorful costumes .     
    By November, Willow Glen streets brim with out-of-town visitors. As families gather around their Thanksgiving Day dinning table drapes and curtains are parted wide, as if welcoming sidewalk strollers to share in their household’s holiday cheer. 
        By Christmas Eve, tiny points of light on tree-lined streets guide the strollers pathway . Warm fireplaces set households all aglow and fill the cold night air with the aroma of burning oak logs.  The fragrance of oven baked cloves and spicy cinnamon escape from open kitchen windows and tease the stroller’s appetite. Creative front yard Christmas displays delight and spur the walker on to the next glittering attraction.
          In December, Willow Glen’s annual community Christmas tree lighting event culminates the year.  The occasion celebrates the holiday and our community’s long standing traditions. Downtown parking is at a premium, so like most residents I leave my car at home and walk the short mile into town.
        Main Street Lincoln Avenue and its shops are decked out in all their finery.  The shops glow with colored lights, streets bustle with traffic and sidewalks crowd with holiday shoppers. Family, friends and familiar faces gather together to celebrate the occasion. The fragrant aroma of roasted coffee beans wafts in from the nearby coffee houses filling my senses with mouthwatering flavors. The Willow Glen holiday season has begun.         
        As in most areas of Willow Glen, my own neighborhood is lay back and friendly. There’s a comfortable familiarity and sameness of daily routine. Strollers walking along my street will see household cats stretched out on sun warmed windowsills or couples sitting comfortably on a nearby front porch stoop, sipping coffee, and watching acrobatic gray squirrels perform high wire acts on cable lines and telephone wires. Skate board and scooter virtuoso’s buzz past our houses, while devoted joggers gallop silently down our sidewalks.
        The sound of the Station 6 fire engine echoes down Lincoln Avenue and, like the weekly drone of leaf blowers and power mowers, it momentarily disrupts an otherwise peaceful afternoon.
        Ambiance? Mystique? Neighborhood heritage? Whatever you wish to call it, our community of Willow Glen has been blessed with it all.

  23. I love blog, because any person can blog in their own feelings and to share things with. But i suppose the blog could only be improved if you posted more often.

  24. Was DeLuna’s what was Condon’s before?  Corner of Lester and Lincoln?  My recollections hark back to my attendance at Broadway Elementary, a very short walk from the Creamery.  This would have been late 1940s to early 1950s; I graduated 6th grade in ‘52.  Condon’s also sold toys in plastic bags, hanging on a rack.  More of these were stolen than purchased, I regret to say.  (What is the Statute of Limitations on shoplifting a sling shot?)