Awesome Holiday Decorations at Greenview (Midtown Terrace)

Every year, the neighbors at Greenview in Midtown Terrace put up holiday decorations. The sheer exuberance of the decorations is so wonderfully festive and cheerful, each year around this time I start thinking about it and wondering when it’ll go up. On my shopping runs, I start to detour via Dellbrook to check it out. And then, magically, one evening it’s there! It stays up through Christmas, certainly, and maybe through New Year. (I’m not sure.)

They’re up now.

left side of GreenviewIt begins with a string of colored lights across the street, creating an entrance. And then nearly every house has bright lighting, on both sides of the street.

right side of GreenviewAnd at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, there’s a wonderful display of lights draped over berry bushes, and a tableau that includes a menorah, duly lit by number of days, a dreidl, and a Nativity scene.

happy holidays with menorah and santa

There there are a couple of elves, the north pole, and Santa and his reindeer. And a snowman.  And a sign saying, “Happy Holidays

Here’s what it looked like in earlier years: 2009 and 2010,  20112012  And of course, it’s much brighter and more awesome in real life… these little picture just can’t capture the scene and the ambiance.

Once again, thanks, Greenview neighbors!

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays!

The days are short, the houses decorated, and the year is almost done. It’s too cold for fog. Forest Knolls looks quite romantic

december evening

There’s a new restaurant in West Portal, a Greek place called Orexi, where the Round Table Pizza used to be. We ate there one evening. It was already decorated for Christmas, and had an great ambiance and good food.

orexi restaurant

The wonderful  decorations in Midtown Terrace are up again. Greenview is a cul-de-sac where all the residents hang lights on every house each year. Then, at the very end of the road, they put up a display made of painted plyboard cut-outs and lights. They have a menorah that is lit, one painted candle at a time; a dreidl, a creche, and Santa Claus, reindeer and even the North Pole. If you enjoy decorating enthusiasm – I do! – then  check it out. It’s a delight.

Holiday display in Midtown Terrace


Rest in Peace, Earl Martin

Earl and Connie Martin in 1956 outside their partially built home

Some time ago, I’d written about meeting Earl and Connie Martin, original residents of Midtown Terrace. Earl had taken a lot of photographs of Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace in the 1950s and early 1960s, when they first moved here. When I asked permission to publish them, he kindly invited me over to their home.

That article (with some of his pictures) is here: Historic Forest Knolls Pictures from Earl & Connie Martin, Midtown Terrace Original Residents

Today I was saddened to learn that he passed away last month, soon after my May 2012 interview. My thoughts go out to his family. I was honored and fortunate to meet him.

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 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.

Beware Speeding on Panorama Drive

If you’re like me, you may use Panorama Drive to cut across the hill to get to Tower Market or Safeway or just onto Portola. We need to bear in mind that it is actually a residential neighborhood. Apparently people have been speeding, and residents have been complaining.

So the police are acting. Here’s from Captain Feeney in the Park Station newsletter:

Speeders Beware!
Radar trailers have been deployed on Roosevelt and on Panorama in Midtown Terrace. Where there are radar trailers there will sometimes be officers with radar guns to enforce the speed limits in these areas. Do not assume that the trailer is out there for decoration and for us to say we have done something about improving traffic safety. We cannot be everywhere all of the time but when we are, beware! We will take enforcement action. We have received several complaints about these and other locations throughout the Park District and I assure you that we will address each of them at one time or another. Please slow down and be considerate of those who live on the street you drive on. If you or your friends drive on Roosevelt or Panorama, slow down or risk becoming a statistic.

What About A Block Party?

Last Sunday, our neighboring area Midtown Terrace had its annual block party. (I didn’t go, but I’m hoping to get a report on that soon, and when I do, I’ll post it here.)  [Edited to Add: I did – scroll down.]  And it started a correspondence on our neighborhood Yahoo Group.

“I just drove by the Midtown Terrace block party in envy.  Would love to have something like that for our street one day. I can already envision the jumpy house in the Forest Knolls cul-de-sac.  Any interest out there?” wrote one of our neighbors.

Walter Caplan, President of the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization (FKNO) immediately responded:

Funny you should ask. The Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization was recently granted [funds] by Sutro Tower Inc. to be used for a FOREST KNOLLS block party.  I have been talking with some neighbors, and the consensus is that we should have a block party next spring [i.e. 2012], and likely situate it on Oak Park at the curve just beyond Warren Drive.”

A number of people thought it would be a good idea (including me). I heard from someone who grew up here that they used to do stuff like that, but I guess as the young people grew up and left, so did the parties… It’s time to start again!

Some of those who responded also volunteered to help out in making it happen. So… with any luck, we’ll be on for the block party next spring.

Edited to Add: And here’s the report, also from Walter:

October 2nd started out like most foggy mornings and the Midtown Terrace Homeowners Association (MTHOA) volunteers were worried that a cold day would keep some people from attending the annual MTHOA Block faire. By 11 am the morning mist had turned into a beautiful sunny day and hundreds of local residents were streaming to the annual block party. Like always, the party was in full swing by 1 pm.

After seven years the MTHOA has become a real neighborhood success and a looked-forward-to event.   The first “block faire” was held at Midtown Terrace Park and only 43 people showed-up.   Once the MTHOA started blocking off Dellbrook Avenue the annual block party became a very popular neighborhood event.   Featuring free food and drinks, face painters, caricature artists, two inflatable jumpers, cotton candy, music, popcorn, a bubble machine and the ever-present Mr. Scruffy the clown, the entire MTHOA neighborhood is now attending an event that has become an annual neighborhood celebration and tradition.  There are scads of moms with kids, few teenagers (they think it uncool to be seen at this event), senior citizens, and the dads who seem to come for the food and usually leave as quickly as possible so that they can watch the Sunday afternoon football game.  Stay ten minutes or stay four hours, MTHOA is awfully glad that everyone showed up to spend some time with their neighbors.

Moms and kids seem to love this event the best as everything is designed to make children happy.   So many kids who now live in Midtown Terrace are now going to different schools and rarely get a chance to meet.  Mothers with children are constantly meeting other moms with children and forming lasting friendships in the community.  Events like the MTHOA block faire have turned out to be a great way to keep the neighborhood a community.  The local fire station parks a truck and gives tours of the fire engine and lets the kids ring the bell.  Almost 400 people were served this year and that’s not even counting the hundreds of kids who attended.   A block party is great way for a neighborhood to become a community.

The Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization hopes to create a similar block party for our residents in the spring of 2012 at a centrally located spot – possibly on Oak Park just past Warren Drive.