Two Dogs Named Buck

I’d like to tell you about two dogs named “Buck.” The first one is widely known because he was the lead character in the famous book, “The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London.

The book, as you remember, featured Buck’s experiences in the famous gold rush in Alaska and the Yukon. Perhaps you didn’t realize that the book was written right here in Santa Clara on the grounds of what is now the Carmelite monastery. Then, it was the ranch of Judge Bond on the western end of Franklin Street. It was on the porch of the Jamison Brown house where the book was written and London describes the location in the text:

“Buck lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley, Judge Miller’s place it was called. It stood back from the road, half hidden around the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of the wide, cool veranda that ran around its four sides.”

According to the book, “Buck was put aboard a freight train at College Park Station” (where Bellarmine is today).

London had gathered his background material for “The Call of the Wild” when he was in Alaska, particularly in the far-north frontier town of Nome. Nome was a real rough-and-ready gold rush town, and London was part of the rough-and-ready crowd. My neighbor, Neil Lockley, is the grandson of Fred Lockley. Fred and a partner were the men who started the first free mail delivery in Nome during the same gold rush. According to family legend, there was many a time that Fred Lockley pulled a drunken London out of a Nome bar and saved his life. Lockley and London remained friends during their lives.

The other Buck was another of my dog friends. He belonged to my son, Dave, who really loved dogs. How Dave acquired him I don’t remember, but Buck would come to work with him at the print shop, which really wasn’t a fitting place for a huge, 150-pound Grand Bernese Mountain dog. The Bernese Mountain dogs originally came to Switzerland with Hannibal and were later used by the Swiss for rescue.

Buck and I became great friends and I was detailed most days to take him to a friend’s enclosed yard where he could roam.  When I transported Buck from the print shop to his running area on Lenzen Avenue, he would try to sit on my lap and supervise my driving. If I changed routes, he would become immediately upset until I got back to what he recognized as the correct and shortest route.

Buck later developed cancer and, as I wrote before, the only place to bury your dog is in your heart. 


  1. I love hearing about the old days in san jose.  It was such a beautiful city with a great downtown, shops, movies, restaurants and more.  Also, the outskirts were where you could see them, Alma street, Winchester, hwy 101 to the north.  it was fun then and oh so slow and easy.

  2. My mother-in-law grew up in SJ.  She played a trumpet in a marching band in the last SJ Rose Parade.  During the depression her father lost their farm which is now the Post Office on Meridian Ave.  Another of their homes is a tool rental place on Cottle Road near former IBM and 101.  To provide for his family he took a job as an usher at the Jose when it was a vaudeville performing theater. 

    My Dad grew up on the border of SJ and SC on Park Ave.  When my parents were first married they would want to go out to the movies so they would look in the paper to see what was playing,  no TV with the “Simpson’s” and “South Park” then, and would see a movie being shown in far away Campbell.  (How many of you remember there was a theater there?)  They would have to think about it for a few minutes because getting out to Campbell meant driving through orchards and dirt roads.  It would have to be a great movie for them to be willing to drive waaayy out to Los Gatos.

    I won’t bore anyone with my experience playing in the mustard weed behind our home when I was a kid…

    We sure have experienced a lot of progress – haven’t we?

  3. Today the Mercuiry News chronicled a violation of the Brown Act by Chuck Reed who claimed all year that there was an exception to the Brown Act worth using at City Hall.

    Now he has lied, and it was Cortese who voted the way Chuck claimed he would always vote. 

    Chuck lied.

  4. Leonard, I always enjoy reading about the history of this valley and have had an interest in it since childhood. 

    Maybe you can shed some light on a current problem through some of your knowledge of the past.

    Lots of complaints from drivers lately about the standing water on 880 at The Alameda.  I’ve heard that the neighborhood to the immediate north was built on top of what used to be called “Cook’s Pond.”  The way the streets and sidewalks have settled in this area seems to bear this out.  Can you advise if this is correct?  I’m thinking the water problem on the freeway is related.

  5. I suggest you re-read the article in the merc. All members of the council agreed to a closed session on the adbice of the City Attorney – who was wrong as usual. The vote you mention was not whether to enter into close seession, it was regarding an issue discussed in closed session.

    Each of the council members were wrong in continuing a meeting once the item(s) needed closed session were covered. It should be noted that no where in the minutes of the closed session was there any discussion on whether the closed session was appropriate – This is the most troubling aspect of the whole thing. When are we going to get council members who will speak up when the council strays??

  6. Mark:

    I have to tell you that Leonard does NOT have a computor! He can’t read these messages. BUT I shall see him this afternoon at the Pioneer’s monthly board meeting and ask him about Cook’s pond. Oh yes, Cook of Cooks Oil lived there on the Alameda in the Spanish style house that is now TBI’s headquarters.


  7. SANMINA left and I hear did not cleanup the pollution from leaking tanks and failed secondary containments.
    Now there is a ball field and apartmens on top of this mess.
    I am sure that this is leaching into the waters of the former cook’s pond.
    Wonder if CALTRANS tests for that.

  8. A moving tribute.  I remember growing up in the wilds of San Jose and shooting rats on my farm and watching great dogs like Buck pull the sleds of grain and prunes. Acutally, I grew up in the best neighborhood in town, but Victor told me to do the poor kid routine.  It sounds better.

  9. Dan!

    I was brought into this world by the doctor your grandmother sold her place to in ‘53.  My family moved to a house a couple of blocks away from them in 1960.  We were friends with them and I still stay in touch with one of their kids.  By the time I used to hang around that windmill the well was deemed contaminated.  We used to throw rotten sour oranges at it from the tree in the back yard (we called them “dust bombs” due to all the mold that would fly off as they sailed towards their target).  A lot of the structure was covered by a thick mass of climbing rose bush which provided a picture postcard effect. 

    There was an empty lot behind that house for many years (come to think of it, the owner of that property might have been named Cook) and after a new home was built there, those owners used the excuse that the entire windmill was unsafe (yeah right) and might fall onto their house, so demanded that it be torn down.  Now there is a new garage and swimming pool where the windmill once stood, all put in by the people who bought the place in ‘73.  Those same people also ripped out the circles of boxwood hedge on each side of the front walkway as part of a massive defoliation.  Not sure what they were trying to accomplish by removing so much of the landscape.  The place looked pretty lost there for a good 20 years.

    I’m pretty sure it has changed hands again because a lot of work has been done to it recently and it’s looking great again.  I’m especially pleased to see the porch on the west side being used once again as it was meant to be.  No question that this house is being appreciated by its current owners.

    Thanks to all for the information on Cook’s Pond.

  10. I, too, feel sentimental about the good ol’ stories about the history of Santa Clara Valley.  It is a shame as the Carmelite Monastery where the Judge’s estate once stood, is about the only thing left to remember our agiruclutral heritage.  In Santa Clara, we are losing BAREC due to the need of Jamie Matthews, who uses valley heitage as his exclusive right, but takes money from developers to bulldoze the last place in the valley where farming was king.

    We need to list the monastery on the National List of Historic Places before it leaves us.  Heritage is something we all can work for, and only the few who want to use it as means to exclude others, act to take it away.

  11. Have collected San Jose postcards for nearly twenty years.  During this time have yet to find any showcasing Cook’s Pond nor the long forgotten marsh near King/Story.  Examples of even the Guadalupe River are not common but Alum Rock Park/creek are seen way more often than desired.

  12. Dave,

    Maybe Cook’s Pond wasn’t worth showcasing.  Same goes for King/Story.  But if there ever were any cards printed I can’t imagine Leonard not having some examples.  Have you tried the California room at MLK or is that a dumb question?

  13. #3 Dexter
    I remember well the property your granfather inlaw owned on Meridian.  The Dana or Danna family owned it when I was growing up.  In the 50’s and early 60’s kids would go bird and rabbit hunting in the cherry orchard. The old victorian farmhouse stood in the middle of the orchard with a tall palm tree next to it. We would ride our bikes in the old dried out portion of the Los Gatos Creek.  To all the kids in the area it was known as “the dip”.  Meridian Ave. ended at Dry Creek Road and we were considered out in the country.  Avila’s was the only market at Meridian and Hamilton,  I remember its old wood floors. The modern Giant Super and Chicken Delight were later added to the corner of Hamilton and Meridian .  Avila’s was demolished to widen Hamilton and was later replaced by Rory’s Market. In about 1960 Thrifty Drugs was built and the post office in about `64 To this day I still hear stories about an “old gentleman”  named Alex, who would drink 35cent Tokay wine and hang out by Thrity’s dumpsters telling kids tall tails.  In 1960 a boy could still live the life of Tom Sawyer in San Jose.

  14. Mark T and others concerned with underground water north of The Alameda.  I was raised in this area and my almost 90 year old mother still lives there.  Our house is near Park Avenue and Hilmar Streets.  The house was built in 1940.  For years People who live on Park Court, just south of Hilmar have had basement water problems.  This year for the first time, my mother’s basement is continually flooding as do all the basements in the area.  The water district has come up with some explanations but they won’t admit that they are now recharging the aquifers with too much water from all the reservoirs and percolation ponds.  These resevoirs and ponds were constructed to replenish the water used by agriculture and fruit trees.  The valley slopes dowhill to the bay at the north end where all the water collects.  Cook’s Pond was located east of The Alameda at the San Jose, Santa Clara border.
    When I was a kid, people used to go duck hunting in the marsh around Tropicana Village at King and Story.  There were no homes in the area in those days.
    The Santa Clara Valley has a history of plenty of water.  Just don’t tell the Water District that.
    My grandmother’s windmill well at Chapman and Mc Kendrie was only about 15’ – 20’ deep.  This well functioned just fine until 1953 when the house was sold.

  15. I know this is mostly a political blog but can’t we lighten up a little?

    Please ask Mayor Tom to open a thread about Chuck and polluted soil.  There sure is a lot to say but can’t we discuss Buck and some of the good ol’ days too?

  16. #16
    Thrity’s……..should read   Thrifty’s
    tall tail………should read   tall tales

    Like Tom Sawyer, I should have cut school less and practiced typing and spelling more.

  17. I love SJ – the following is how my 91 year old mother-in-law responded to our postings:

    Thanks for the interesting blog on Meridian Road.  “I Love San Jose” came along after we moved from there.  When we lived there, there was no grocery store on the corner of Meridian and Hamilton.  It was just a two lane country road, not even paved in front of our property.  There was a streetcar track on Meridian, turning right at Hamilton and going all the way to Los Gatos parallel LG-SJ Road.  I walked to the corner and took the streetcar to St. Joseph’s School in SJ somewhere in the vicinity of Almaden Ave. and San Carlos Street.  I only went there a short time before getting on the school bus and going to Hamilton School, a two-room school house on SJ=LG Road,  where I met Betty Keesling (and the rest is history)  I think my mother was worried about my going on the streetcar and walking home from the corner.  One of the neighbors. H.A.Butts, (no wonder I remember their names) had a Filipino house boy who escorted me part way home and we became friendly and he gave me a book on Beethoven, me in first grade/  Think that worried Mother so I was transferred to Hamilton.  Besides, I seemed scared of the trolley ride and St. Joseph’s was intimidating to a small shy country girl.

    Gettting back to the streetcar, It was bigger than streetcars, called interurban,  sometimes called Big Red/  Fare was 5 or 10 cents. It had a conductor and a motorman, and went very fast on the straigtaways.  One time coming back from Santa Cruz, it broad sided a car in a driveway, along SJ-LG Road, killing a whole family.  The victims were strewn out for several blocks, before it could stop I can still picture the tragic scene. 

    Later, when cars and buses became more abundant, the street cars were cancelled, the steel tracks taken up and sent to Japan as scrap metal.  Japan returned it later, to Pearl Harbor.

    I do recall the grocery stores, Avila’s and Rory’s when we lived on Santa Maria Ave.  A lot of changes, Silicon Valley used to be called The Valley of Hearts Delight and every spring people would flock to the hills of Los Gatos and Saratoga and look across to Mt. Hamilton.  It was just a carpet of white with all the prune and apricot trees in full bloom   And no smog.

    H.A Butts owned the ranch on the corner of Hamilton and Meridian, extending a long way along Hamilton..  Dad worked it on time shares and I picked prunes there in the summers.  Then Butts had it subdivided.  I think it was probably one of the first subdivisions in Santa Clara County.  Years later, Leo and Margie bought one of the houses here shortly after they were married.

  18. I remember alex at thriftys he claimed he was an umpire for major league baseball and we would give him spare change just to hear his storys,and my dads first cousins were dan and leonard danna ,we would go to visit them at that old house out in the orchard and I remember my brother and I would run around the house and throw persimons at each other ,and i also remember dry creek rd was just a gravel rd from where booksin is now to meridian, there also used to be another kirk house across from the pink church on dry creek and peregrino that burned to the ground about 1962 we would always get scared when we went by that old house because we thought it was haunted , the day after that house burned we walked around the rubble and found old bottles and hundreds of square nails that i still have today,its to bad that all those orchards are gone and only memories to repace them…..

  19. #18 Dexter
    Thank your mother-in law for the history lesson.  It is nice to know the whole story.
    I hope her stories and those of others will be passed on to new generations.

  20. You know what guys? I love the history that Leonard, Dan Sturges, Mark T and Dexter have given us on this blog. I have lived so many different places, but it’s always so interesting to hear local histroy. You guys have a great town and I wish I could have seen it “back when”.

    Thanks for giving a gal a nice histroy lesson about her new home. You really are nice when we aren’t talking politics!!

  21. The Jamison-Brown House was moved after the city of Santa Clara bought the land adjacent to where the Carmelite Monastary is today.
    The Jamison-Brown House is now located in Santa Clara behind the Triton Museum and was recently restored. It is an architectural gem!