Parents didn't hesitate to let their children roam. Jim Larson remembers kids racing from backyard to backyard, playing 'Man from Uncle' and 'I Spy,' and smashing line drives into Dr. Horton's home. Marie Pardini remembers the neighborhood kids putting on plays by her backyard pool. "The play would always end with one character falling into the pool, followed by everyone else."
Today there are far fewer children, and the wider neighborhood, including the Eichlers, has attracted many gays, "a community within a community," Hill says. South Land Park remains a liberal, ethnically mixed neighborhood, Henas and Hill say, near restaurants and bakeries, and with a quick commute. Joel Rice bikes to work along the Sacramento River bike path.
This is not a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else, however. Tom Graham and Dave Blanchard, who live across from each other on South Land Park Drive, spent a year shouting to each other over the traffic before crossing the street to talk.
A lot of the socializing on South Land Park Drive revolves around the houses, Hill says. "We trade tools back and forth to help each other with our remodels." Many people on South Land Park don't have friends on Fordham or Oakridge. "We just don't know each other because no one's planned a social event," Lisa Foster says.
"Fordham is the street that has the most neighborly socializing," says Henas, who lives on Oakridge. But even on Fordham, it's been a while since there have been neighborhood progressive dinners, says Ann Sharp, Tom's wife.
One of the most enthusiastic members of the Eichler community doesn't even live there—yet. Gretchen Steinberg, who bought a home as an investment with plans to retire there with her husband once her children are raised, has emerged as a leading booster.
Steinberg's blog, 'Eichler Homes in Sacramento,' focuses also on Googie coffee shops and mid-century bowling alleys. She also publicizes mid-century homes that come up for sale to ensure they fall into good hands.
"Someone recently said I was a curator," she says. "I enjoy sharing what I know and helping educate people, to help them develop an appreciation."
Today, Sacramento Eichlers sell quickly, often to fans. When Walt Larson, who was considered the neighborhood historian, sold in 2007, he had four offers in as many days and got more than an asking price his broker had suggested was too high.
"I think if Eichler built these today," Ann Sharp says, "he'd sell a lot of them."
• The Eichlers of South Land Park can be found on South Land Park Drive (on both the north and south of 47th Avenue), Fordham Way, and Oakridge Way (both south of 47th Avenue). Gretchen Steinberg's Sacramento-modern blog is online at eichlerific.blogspot.com.