Welcome to Paradise - Page 4

Eichlers of Los Altos' Fallen Leaf Park turn to historic designation to keep their world tranquil and pristine
Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
More Fallen Leaf models, surrounded by large, beautiful trees.
Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
Top: Rob Castaneda in the midst of his house remodel. Above: Rob, wife Aimee and their three children at play.

"Then for a while there were hardly any children," Angela recalls. Now parents who work in high tech are moving back in, and bringing their children. "But the young parents often are not stay-at-homes," she says.

"We babysat for each other," Angela Horine says. "It was like an extended family, and it's not the same anymore."

"I don't lament it," her husband David puts in. "It's normal."

"If a child was sick at school, he could call six moms and get a ride home," adds Angela, who runs what she calls her paper-delivery service—picking up newspapers at the curb and depositing them at people's doors during her morning walks.

This is indeed a neighborhood of walkers, hikers, and dog owners. Richard Campbell is part of a dog-walking group that goes out every day, often to nearby Grant Park.

Jan Hustler is part of a hiking group that takes off on a long jaunt once a week, every week of the year. The Peninsula and South Bay are so rich with open-space preserves, she says, "you don't have to repeat a hike."

Although block parties have never been a big thing, original owner George Mulhern recalls how Bud and Betty Igel—who lived in what had been Joe's house—instigated a July 4 fireworks tradition. "They loved being with people and were always looking for things to do together."

"All the kids up and down the street started fireworks off of our fence," Mulhern says. For a time, neighbors also gathered on New Year's day.

Also fun were the square dances Jan and Jim Hustler organized on Clay Drive. "We all have two left feet, but we would hire a caller with a sense of humor," Jan recalls, and 60 to 70 dancers might show up.

At any social gathering, someone might reminisce about Joe, who only lived in the neighborhood briefly, a year perhaps. Old-timers say Eichler originally planned to build more homes past Clay Drive but halted due to financial difficulties.

Margot Gordon, who, with her dentist husband Barry, was the first to buy and move into Fallen Leaf, recalls how Joe, his photographer Ernie Braun, and architect Oakland spent three days in their home doing a photo shoot.

She also found Joe amenable to changes the Gordons wanted in the house, and when Oakland told them the original model they wanted could not be built on the lot for reasons of cost, she asked Joe to provide the courtyard fountain that would have come with that model. "He said, 'I'll throw in the fountain, for God's sake.'"

"Joe went around smoking cigars, like my husband, constantly," she recalls. "They would get together and smoke cigars."