In 1954 Tommy Simpson, her husband Bob and their four sons bought one of Portola Valley’s most historic houses for $26,000. Their realtor had been reluctant to show them the house, but Tommy loved it from the instant she saw it. It is still in the family. Once it was the local residence of the Fitzhughs, owners of the Catoctin estate, now the Grove Drive and Stonegate area. The Simpsons used the Fitzhugh wine cellar as a bomb shelter. In the 1960s the Simpsons owned the hardware store at Alpine and Portola roads as well as the one in Ladera. Tommy continued to work at the Alpine/Portola store occasionally into the new century. An adventurous sort, in her later years she traveled the world.
Martin is one of ten children in the Ramies family. They arrived in Portola Valley by a circuitous route from Spain to Hawaii to Morgan Hill to Mountain View, ending up here in the 1920s. A poor family, they lived in various places: the Jelich barn, across the creek at the Manginis’, in a house by the windmill and on Nathhorst, where Martin was born. All the kids worked in the orchards for the big estate owners—Schillings, Jacklings, Phlegers, Fitzhughs. Morsheads. After serving in the Korean War, Martin went to work for the Lindstroms who had opened the Portola Valley Garage in 1948, buying it from them in monthly installments with no down payment in 1963. He worked there for 45 years.
Three generations of the Ramies Family at a family gathering.
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