Tuesday, January 30, 2007


CBS-5's Marla Tellez and her cameraman interview Mario the Barber at his shop in Alum Rock Village for an upcoming segment on Eye on the Bay. Lucas Ramirez, 4, enjoys the trim.

The date was set, the calls were made and the camera crew from CBS 5's Eye on the Bay rolled into Alum Rock Village to focus on the characters and places that make our neighborhood unique.

As tour guide for this trip around the East Foothills, I wanted to expose Bay Area television viewers to as much as possible. So we started early, at James Lick High School. Principal Bill Rice showed us around the recently renovated campus including the new athletic fields. But the highlight of the trip to the home of the Comets was a sneak peek at the new Media Magnet facilities, which are absolutely top-notch. We saw the state-of-the-art television studio, control room and a non-linear edit suite. We also saw the plans for the media lab which will include approximately 30 more edit suites for film and vido production.

Next it was off to another Village landmark, Peters Bakery. Nancy Peters graciously showed us around the shop offering tastes of their classic items like burnt almond cake, plus their newest specialty, pineapple upsidedown cake (do try it). Then we hit Mario's Barber Shop for a chat with Mario while he cut my son Lucas's hair. As expected, Mario had great stories to tell about the neighborhood and the people who make it special. While in the Village, we also hit YSI Thrift and Gift, Treasure Chest Aquarium and Pets to see the 1,000 gallong shark tank (we were "treated" to a viewing of a shark feeding frenzy!), and the Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library. Then it was off to Reynaud Drive for a sequence on what it was like growing up in the area. There, we interviewed my friend and neighbor Dan Gentile, Sr. who showed off his classic Ferarri and Alfa Romeo cars. Dan is also a living piece of Silicon Valley history. He holds 3 patents for chip design during his time at Fairchild Semiconductor, the company that "started it all" in Silicon Valley.

Our next stop was the National Hispanic University where we spoke to Roberto Cruz II about his family's educational contributions to the Alum Rock area. His father, Dr. Roberto Cruz started the NHU 25 years ago and his mother Lupe, teaches at Linda Vista Elementary. We also learned that San Jose and Santa Clara County have special citations in store for the school's award-winning debate team.

Then, it was off to the crown jewel of the neighborhood, Alum Rock park. Suffice it to say,this sequence will be one of the highlights of the show, so you'll just have to watch. Even I was surprised and amazed by what I saw.

With our earlier slices of cake starting to wear off, it was time for lunch at Mark's Hot Dogs. After a quick bite, we trekked off to see an another Alum Rock landmark: Cesar Chavez' home on Scharff Avenue.

We ended the day with a few more shots of neighborhoods and views from Miradero at the top of the East Highlands. Although a bit hazy, we could see Alum Rock and San Jose spread out beneath us, and glistening in the afternoon sunlight.

Overall, we shot over an hour's worth of footage for what will be a 5 minute segment. We don't have an air date yet, but keep watching this space for an update when a date has been set. I would like to thank Marla, her cameraman Scott and her Producer James Reid for coming to Alum Rock and giving our area some positive attention. And finally, thanks to all the readers of The Neighborhood View who wrote and emailed me suggestions on what to see and do. As you will see, we packed a lot of your suggestions in.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


photos courtesy Silicon Valley History Online

By Park Ranger Roger Abe, Alum Rock Park

From Downtown San Jose it came up Alum Rock Avenue, along Kirk, to Penitencia Creek Road. It carried families to picnics in "Little Yosemite". It ran through fragrant fruit orchards and olive groves, and to climb on, it only cost a quarter—what is it? If you ask local historians or train buffs, you might get a knowledgeable answer, but most people wouldn’t have a clue. This, of course, excludes those of you who have seen Judy Thompson’s Alum Rock Park History--still available online in the New Neighborhood Voice Archives. Don’t you think there should be something right here to tell the story?
There is no visible explanation for the old elevated roadbed abutments decorating the creek and the hillsides as you meander up Penitencia Creek Road into Alum Rock Park. Currently there is nothing on site to explain that railroads existed here from 1896 through the 1930’s and impacted local culture, politics and economics with all the related drama surrounding railroads. 25 cent fares, train crashes, saloons, dance halls, hotels, restaurants, bathhouses, zoos, the Natatorium, business scandals, a world-wide popular spa destination, crowded park use, bankruptcies--those abutments may no longer carry "The Big Red Cars" but they and their cohort, the Alum Rock Trestle, (all about 96 years old) represent an era during which railed mass transit served both the park and the neighborhoods on this side of town.

There are few now who remember those times. If you would like to help commemorate the Alum Rock Railroads, please contact the Park Rangers at Alum Rock Park at 259-5477 or e-mail roger.abe@sanjoseca.gov or rob.reynolds@sanjoseca.gov. The park is seeking help in the form of funding, partners or sponsors, historical photos or information or volunteers to create historical markers to tell some of the stories of the Alum Rock Railroads—a grand, but nearly forgotten part of our community heritage.

Friday, January 19, 2007

NHU takes on USC and wins!

East San Jose's National Hispanic University took on the best...and won!
NHU's Ethics/Debate team defeated the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business to become California Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Champions.
The NHU Debate team went undefeated in the 8-team competition hosted by Chico State on December 2nd, beating the host, CSU San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, UC Santa Cruz and the University of Southern California in route to the title.

Clockwise from left: Prof. Michael Jordan, Juan Ruiz, Ana Castro and Team Captain Xavier Flores.

This was truly a story of David versus Goliath as the team from the 25 year old, little known university serving 600+ nontraditional college-going undergraduates in the East Foothills defeated the team from a 126 year old, premier institution with 16,500 undergraduates for the title. The NHU Debate team was founded in 2003 by a group of 5 students that were interested in philosophy. The team has faced obstacles including inexperience, and a lack of confidence.

But the biggest challenge may have been the fact that more than half of the team had to debate in their second language- English.
""It was difficult at the beginning. I was the one with the heaviest accent and the least amount of confidence", said senior, team captain Xavier Flores.
The Ethics Bowl competition is inspired by TV’s College Bowl, but modified rules adapt the game to the subject of ethics. In Ethics Bowl a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may address ethical problems on classroom topics (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine), or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.). Each team receives a set of ethical issues in advance of the competition, and questions posed to the teams at competition are taken from that set. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are clarity and intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant factors, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.
NHU's first place finish qualifies them for the 32-team national competition which will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio this February. The team is now preparing to take on schools such as Indiana University, University of Washington, Clemson University, Depaul University, Tuskegee University and the U.S. Military and Naval Academies in the nationals. We wish them well!

The National Hispanic University is a private, accredited, 4-year university authorized to grant degrees since 1981. For more information on NHU, please log onto:www.nhu.edu

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


CBS-5's hit TV show Eye on the Bay will be focusing an upcoming segment on our dear old Alum Rock neighborhood. I got a call this morning from show host/producer Marla Tellez asking me if I could play tour guide for the show which will be taped on January 30th. Of course I exitedly accepted this great offer to show off our little corner of the world to the TV viewers of the Bay Area. But where to start? We plan to meet at the Dr. Roberto Cruz library and fan out from there, our stops will include Peters Bakery, James Lick High, Marks Hot Dogs, and of course Alum Rock Park. Here's where you, the readers of The Neighborhood View come in. We need a few more location suggestions...the often overlooked, the off-beat, the interesting and of course anything picturesque. Please put suggestions in the comments section below and we will see you on TV!
Eye on the Bay used to be known as Evening Magazine. It is a daily, half-hour TV program that airs at 7pm on CBS 5. The show is known for its high quality, often witty and always interesting profiles of people and places around the Bay Area. You can check out some recent segments here: http://cbs5.com/eyeonthebay
As a lifelong resident of the Alum Rock area and a CBS-5 TV News Reporter, I want to put our best foot forward on this important project.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The giant jaws of an excavator chomped down on the wood frame of The Lord's Baptist Church on Fleming Avenue this morning, reducing it to rubble in a matter of minutes. Work to clear the site will continue for the next few weeks as developer Braddock and Logan begins the long awaited and hard-fought construction project. A new 14 home neighborhood will be built on the site. But thanks to neighborhood involvement, a deal was struck with the developer and the city to also build a half-acre park on the land along the Fleming frontage. More on this to come...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION!... James Lick Shoots for New Image

Videographer Tom Castellano moves in for a shot during the production of a video that will be shown to San Jose high schools to attract more students to James Lick's new media magnet program.

James Lick High School is undergoing some exciting and dramatic changes that are designed to inspire its current student body and attract new students into a top-notch learning environment.
The newly renovated exterior of the school invites students and visitors to this "charming" school, according to Principal Bill Rice. "With a population of about 1,100 students, James Lick is easily the smallest and most comfortable school in the district," said Rice in a recent video documentary about the school that is being produced to promote its new media magnet program. "This is a school where the administration, counselors and teachers know the students well, so no students feel lost."
James Lick offers the comprehensive academic, athletic and extra-curricular programs found at all district schools, but because of its status as a magnet school, it also offers a unique cutting-edge program in "New Media."
The program features an academic and career program that introduces students to the latest digital media: television and radio broadcasting, graphic arts, digital photography, music, multi-media, and journalism. These are the building blocks of our new digital society as outlined recently in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue.
The school is installing a new state of the art television broadcast studio. Students will produce a weekly community show broadcast through Comcast Cable as well as live broadcasts to James Lick High School.
There are also new state of the art computer labs utilizing the latest software, including Adobe Creative Suite and Video Suite. The program is designed to be cross-curricular in that it integrates language arts, computer technology, visual arts, and media production (radio, television, web page, desktop publishing, music, video, print journalism, and digital photography).
Business Partnerships with Comcast and CBS-5 Eyewitness News and education partnerships with local colleges and universities will further enhance the student experience.
"As students prepare for college, they will be exposed to potential four-year majors in the areas of communication and modern media," according to Rice.
Students will develop skills in modern media that will allow them to enter the media professions such as broadcasting, multimedia, and graphic arts.
"When students graduate from the Modern Media Magnet, they will have produced a digital portfolio featuring quality works from each of the areas of modern media," Rice stated. The portfolios will be presented as part of their senior project, he said.
Access to this kind of technology will be available at Lick and be invaluable to students wishing to pursue exciting multi-media careers. But it will be just one of many reasons students and families should choose James Lick. Lick also offers several honors or advanced placement (AP) classes in english, english literature, spanish, spanish literature, US history, biology and calculus. These rigorous courses allow students the opportunity to get college credit in these courses, so they won't have to take them at the University level, saving time (and their parent's money!).

Monday, January 01, 2007


In case you missed it, the James Lick Comets football team was featured in the San Jose Mercury News recently. It's a nice article that focuses on the courage and determination of the student athletes and the school in general. As you know, James Lick is making a major turnaround. Like the football team, the school has a long way to go, but I believe it has turned the corner and is on the comeback! Look for great things in the future from the Mighty Comets!

You can check it out here: