Ad Jessup is the person who has lived the longest in the Westridge subdivision, having been the sixth family to buy land ($6250,) build a house, and move in. In those early days, the 1950s, usually the men went to work and the women stayed home, tending the children and the family affairs. (Ad is holding a photo of herself as a young woman.) She was so active in the nine long years working toward incorporation that she was one of the three people named in a lawsuit by one of the big landowners opposed to incorporation, John Francis Neylan. She remembers more open fields than today, meadowlarks, roadrunners, milk and bread delivery to the door, school bus stops, and lots of rattlesnakes
Ed Jelich’s family came to Portola Valley from Croatia in 1893. Several Croatian families followed them. Walter Jelich, Sr. was bartender at “Zots” and the Pioneer in Woodside. In 1911 he bought land at the corner of Alpine and Portola roads for orchards. Ed’s brother George, a Woodside Fire District fire fighter, had a house on the site of Roberts Market. For decades, his brother Walter Junior was a town institution, holding forth at his orchard and fruit stand on Portola Road. Ed, the youngest of his generation, left town in 1947 for Walnut Creek and became a regional chief in the Highway Patrol. His memory of early days here is phenomenal.
Joe Dixon and his family camped on the land around Wayside Road in the 1930s. In 1946, he and his wife Pearl bought a plot of land near where his family had camped, and in the early 1950s they built a house in the midst of small summer homes and large ranches. After serving as a radio operator in the South Pacific in World War II, he spent his life building power switchboards for Columbia Electric and making music: a little piano, the guitar, bass, and, as you see here, the banjo. Even at the end of his life he was playing in the Happy Time Banjo Band at the Sopranos in Redwood City.
“I’ve never thought of moving away; I’ve been so spoiled living in paradise,” he has said. “I sit on my deck and look out. You can breathe.”
The June 1946 wedding of Laura Ramies and Jack Mangini at Our lady of the Wayside brought together two pioneer families. Jack’s grandfather first came to the Portola Valley area in 1866 when the land was full of strawberry ranches. Laura’s family came in the early 1900s to pick prunes and apricots. They remember Chinese strawberry pickers, a car coming along Portola Road ever half hour or so, and a life of going to school and going to work. The Manginis had a Picnic Park in the stone building grounds that now houses Windmill Pre-School. Thousands would show up on weekends to have a good time. The Ramies family has had the Portola Valley Garage since 1963.
Documenting life and times in the Town of Portola Valley, California