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.
Nancy Lund, Portola Valley Town Historian, Educator and Author, and I embarked on a project several years ago to learn more about the roots of the Town of Portola Valley, California.
Nancy brought her knowledge of the Town’s history and interview skills and I, my technical and creative talents. Together we forged an alliance and captured video histories of many of Portola Valley’s earliest residents.
Our initial work was to find out about the people who helped incorporate the Town of Portola Valley, California in 1964. We wanted to learn what the forces were that helped to create the Town and the challenges our early residents faced.
Here we hope to share with you some of what we have learned. You can reach Nancy Lund at email@example.com