Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Greenmeadow, Part I (Palo Alto, CA, Summers 1991-93)

When I joined HP, I was asked to spend summers in California for a few years, since I'd be something of an island in Boston. In 1990, we spent about a month in boring corporate apartments (if you go to the link, you'll see the pond where Dora got to know about 40 ducks by name--the rest of us were just bored there).

But in 1991, 1992, and 1993, we rented the same absolutely wonderful Eichler house in a neighborhood of them called Greenmeadow, in Palo Alto. If you don't know about Eichler houses, I recommend the short Wikipedia article I linked; they are very special. The owners, Ken and Virginia Crittenden, were a retired couple who went to their cabin in the the Sierra each summer. They had bought the house new in the early 1950s, and were among the few remaining original owners in Greenmeadow.

In the Eichler philosophy, the house was a wall to the street, but inside it was built around a wonderful courtyard.

We had a few visits from our family members, especially the California ones, but all three of our living parents visted as well. Below, my Uncle Bud and his wife Laura are at the outdoor table with us, along with their three kids, Matthew (Cousin #10/Bud's #3), Natasha (Cousin #11/Bud's #4), and Sophia (Cousin #12/Bud's #5).

The Crittendens had a dog who went with them to the Sierra, but they left the cat, Sooty, with us (I don't think it would have worked to take him).

We "asked" the kids to engage in some activity for the summer, which was always hit-and-miss. But by the third summer there, Dave had gotten pretty old, and rebelled. So I set up a serious computer science exercise for him: He had to write a Pascal program that would efficiently find a solution to "Dad's Puzzle". I outlined the general nature of the steps one would take to do so (using a breadth-first tree search, and hashing to prune the tree), and, sure enough, by the end of the summer he had succeeded. It was even animated, so you could watch the solution happen on the screen.

The 4th of July parade was a big Greenmeadow thing, and if you look at the pictures of last year's, little has changed. Dora became good friends with a neighbor family, the Cookes (more on them tomorrow).

Willa's identical twins, Sherry (Cousin #13/Willa's #2.5) and Heather (Cousin #14/Willa's #2.5) came with Willa (no, I don't know who is who, though I imagine Sherry to be on the left).

That's Willa, with Dave, my father, Heather or Sherry, and Betty. There's my parents' two families together at a small gathering 40 years after the pictures I had before.

Bud's son Barry and his wife.

Matthew and (I think) Sophia, with the very-tolerant Sooty.

1 comment: