Historic Forest Knolls Pictures from Earl & Connie Martin, Midtown Terrace Original Residents

Edited to Add (July 2012):  I was sorry to hear that Earl Martin passed away last month, soon after this interview. I am honored that I had a chance to meet him.

Following the warm response to the 1961 picture of Forest Knolls I posted in Forest Knolls, Then and Now, I called Earl Martin to ask if I could post some more of his pictures here, rather than just linking them. He did better than just give permission: He kindly invited me over for a chat to the Midtown Terrace home he and his wife Connie have shared since 1957.  Earl is 91, and Connie is 95, a gracious and engaging couple who were fascinating to talk to. They’re among the original residents who bought in while the homes were still being built.

Earl and Connie Martin in 1956 outside their partially built home

“We come from manual labor,” Earl said. He was a carpenter when he bought the house, and Connie was an occupational therapist working at a  hospital. For mortgage purposes, though, Connie’s income wasn’t considered part of the household income. “Because I had a Union job,” Earl told me, “We could buy this house, and Connie could stay home with the children.” (Those daughters, of course, are all grown up: One is a doctor of optometry, the other a nurse specializing in neo-natal ICU care.)

Connie didn’t stay home very long. First she started teaching at a Sunday School, then preschool two mornings a week, then eventually she became a preschool teacher “until I got too old.”

Earl was an armorer in the USAAF during WWII, stationed  in the UK with the “Bluenosed Bastards of Bodney.”  (Click HERE for a 3-minute video featuring this airforce group.) Later, he was a carpenter until the 1970s, when a company take-over pushed him into retirement. After that, he worked with machinery, both research and development, and sales and repair. “He’s naturally a Mr Fix-It,” Connie said.

After he finally retired, his father-in-law interested him in the stock market. “I made more investing than I ever did working,” he said.

When they occupied their home, Forest Knolls was a barren building site. “They had heavy machinery out there, building the terraces. Then they planted rye-grass to stabilize it.”

Here are some more of Earl Martin’s photographs. I asked him about permissions: Anyone may reproduce the pictures, but with attribution to him.

In this picture, a few houses have been built…


I found another cool 20-second snippet of video: It’s an aerial view that shows the transformation from 1938 – when the forest was only about 40-50 years old, but much more extensive – to the neighborhoods there now in 2012.

Click HERE to watch that.

Thanks to the realty website JacksonFuller.com who made it. 


And I’ll end with a few more pictures from Earl Martin: Of the newly-built Clarendon School –

and the old golf driving range…

… and one with a bit of the old Sutro Tower – much slimmer than its successor.

Here’s the view across to Mount Davidson, with its forest on the west and the bare East side where Leyland Stanford thought he’d develop housing.

Letter from Clarendon School

At the request of Walter Caplan, we’re posting this letter from the Principal of the Clarendon School. (Click twice on it for a clearer copy if this looks a bit blurry.)


“Ganbare Japan” Concert, Clarendon School, 16 March 2011

Clarendon Elementary School, which has a Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program, is staging a charity concert to send aid to Japan. It’s open to everyone. If you can’t go to the concert, you can still donate to the same cause. (This notice courtesy of the ISPN message board.)

Charity Concert for Japan at Clarendon
“Ganbare Japan!”

Date:  Wednesday March 16th, 2011
Time:  6:30-8:30 (Performance starts at 7pm)
Place:  Clarendon Elementary School Auditorium (500 Clarendon Ave., San Francisco, CA)

We will have a Taiko performance by GenRyu Arts featuring Gen Taiko School, Shamisen (Japanese lute) and singing performance by Fujimoto Hideki Kai Minyo School, and Choral performance by San Francisco Forest Choir, Chorale May, and Ensemble Shiki, and singing by Clarendon students.

Children of all ages are encouraged to come and participate in the concert.

We will be collecting donations that will be sent directly to the relief efforts in Japan through a fund established by the JCCCNC (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California). Checks should be payable to JCCCNC (note to Earthquake Fund) and cash donations will also be accepted.

If you cannot attend the concert but would like to donate to the Northern Japan Earthquake Fund, please visit www.jcccnc.org .

The concert will be preceded by a Potluck dinner. Please bring a dish to share.

We hope to see you on Wednesday night. Please invite your family and friends as this event is open to all.

Thank you!

All of us at Clarendon Elementary School

Traffic Light at Clarendon x Panorama

There’s a shiny new set of traffic lights at Clarendon x Panorama, opposite Clarendon Elementary School’s playground.

(Literally shiny!  They’re so new the post hasn’t yet oxidised to the usual dull gray.) They appeared suddenly, like magic. I drive by there several times a day, usually, and didn’t see them go up. One day they were just there, like great steel and glass mushrooms that had sprung up overnight.

A good thing,” I thought. It’s opposite the Clarendon Elementary School, and it should make our kids safer. It’s the suspenders in addition to the belt of the conscientious crossing guards who patrol the place when school gives out.

I hate those new lights,” commented someone last evening as he waited at the lights,  red against the Clarendon traffic. There wasn’t another car in sight. No one crossed the road, not even a raccoon.  “It’s needed like maybe twice a day, on weekdays. What about the rest of the time?”

“He has a point,” said a passenger in the car. “There isn’t much cross traffic here. They should just switch off the lights at 6 p.m.”

“Or convert them to flashing beacons,” said another.

“And,” the first speaker added, “It doesn’t bother anyone below Panorama. It essentially just affects our neighborhood.” [Which is true if you assume that most traffic on Clarendon goes south toward Laguna Honda Boulevard.]

So what does everyone else think? (If you leave a comment, don’t worry if it doesn’t show up until the next day; all comments are moderated as an anti-spam measure.)