Lorraine and Noble Hancock were out looking for property in 1956 and were lost somewhere on Arastradero when someone suggested that they look into a new subdivision in the area. It seemed pretty far out, and they thought they didn’t like subdivisions, but they loved the Westridge property the found. They bought their 2 ½ acres on Mapache in 1957 for $16,000 when the only house was on the corner at Westridge.
The road stopped at the far edge of their property. When the rest of the streets went in shortly thereafter, prices doubled. It was neighborhood of stay-at-home moms, big families, and fourteen kids of the same ages who played together in traffic-free streets and walked or rode their bikes to school. 4H was a big activity for most of them. It was also where Tennessee Ernie Ford bought three adjoining lots and became an ordinary neighbor.
Frances Hillier came from Utah to California to work for Pan American Airways on Treasure Island. It was here that she met her husband, Art, a Pan Am pilot. They married in 1946. After some years in Florida and Palo Alto, where their neighborhood had some twenty children, they bought a lot in Westridge in 1951 when there were fewer than twenty families in the subdivision.
Everyone knew everyone else. In those days, 2 ½ acre lots in Portola Valley cost less than properties in Palo Alto. Their friends said…”Way out there? Who will your children play with?” With his pilot’s schedule, Art hired and supervised the workers building their house, finishing in about five months. One of Frances’ memories of those early days is of a red-tailed hawk’s nest in one of their trees. It was perhaps three feet across. She remembers watching the nestlings, “little puffs of white with coal black eyes.” She also remembers the neighborhood’s golden retrievers, roaming around, tails wagging, without a leash law in effect.
When Eve Christensen and her future husband met just after World War II, it was love at first sight. It was a decade later in 1955 that they bought 2 ½ acres in Westridge for $8100. Two years later, they put an additional $31,000 into their house, the fifth on their street, which she says was a lot of money at the time, even though houses
being built then were modest, Eichler-types.
Dozens of kids from Portola Valley and Ladera loved to play in the Christensen field, part of which had been an early road to the Ormondale Ranch and the original beginning route of Westridge Drive. When their two children were older, Eve went to work in the fledgling Silicon
Valley, once for a hardware startup and then as employee #2 for a software company, which was eventually sold. “It was fun,” she says. “I was like the mother to the young kids. I left at age 72, and I don’t even have a computer now.”
The Jean and Bill Lane have been enormous benefactors to Portola Valley for decades.
Bill Lane camped in Portola Valley as a boy; Jean, however, came to California after college, met Bill, and first visited our town when she was looking for horse property . When the Realtor showed her the site where she still lives, she knew immediately that it was the right place.
Their Westridge property eventually extended to ten acres, over which they placed a conservation easement, to maintain open space into the future. This agreement means that the two lots they purchased in addition to their original site cannot have houses built on them.
Bill was a key figure in the incorporation of Portola Valley, and Jean was a founding member of the Westridge Garden Club which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
Bill loved colorful clothing and enjoyed being Santa during the holidays at the Ladera Country Shopper. He was an active participant in local government and always wore a flag pin on his label.
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
Documenting life and times in the Town of Portola Valley, California