Eichlers in Bloom - Page 2

Clusters of tall trees and extensive trails define the peaceful 34-home enclave known as Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove
Top: Young neighbors with strollers and pets parade past Reta Gardner’s home. Middle: Inside the Gardner living room. Above: Reta Gardner with friend Alan Cavey.
Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove “didn't turn out to be the big neighborhood that Eichler wanted,” says Bob Deutscher (pictured here), who's lived there since 1971.
Walnut Grove
The simple brochure Eichler used to open Walnut Grove.

But they don't enjoy the foliage the trees drop in the winter, clogging drains, or their roots, that have cut into drains leading to costly repairs.

 "They're pretty, but not when they're ten feet from the house," says Mike.

Still, the trees suggest the neighborhood's connection with the out of doors.

Walnut Creek itself is a great place for lovers of the outdoors. An extensive series of walking trails winds throughout the town, passing not far from the tract, allowing folks to hike, bike, skate, or scoot on pathways that are unlike streets and sidewalks. The trails often run beneath trees and alongside creeks.

Dan Sonnier, a doctor who arrived in 1991 with his wife, Tami, says, "We didn't think Walnut Creek was in the running as a place to live until we got on the trails. Pretty much every day we'll go walking on the trails somewhere." He says their kids used to bike and roller blade on the trails.

The trails also lead to many large open-space preserves, including the towering Mount Diablo State Park.

On a more domestic note, trees and other vegetation shield neighbors from neighbors—in a good way.

It is also a friendly neighborhood, while not the sort of place where everyone knows everyone and street parties are a regular order of business. Most folks in the tract know their neighbors—their immediate neighbors.

But it is not an Eichler-centric neighborhood, as so many Eichler tracts are, Audrey Gee says.

 "We don't band together because we're Eichler-ites," Audrey says. "It's because our kids are in school together. But certainly the people who are in Eichlers, we all pat ourselves on the back because they are nice homes."

"Everybody pretty much keeps to themselves," says Bob Deutscher, a retired physician who lives on Belford Drive, which is a block removed from the other Eichler streets.

In the old days, he says, adults knew each other through their kids. "There would be a party here or there, but nothing major."

"It goes in waves, social activities," says Dan Sonnier.

"For a time there were regular parties on the street," he says, though he and Tami only occasionally attended. The folks who threw the parties moved away. "After that, nobody picked up the ball."

Still, he says, folks get along. "The people who live next door are incredibly friendly."

Mike and Joe, who own a steep-gabled home with an original covered patio to the rear, often dine there—and entertain. "Summers are great," Mike says. "Neighbors come over, have wine and cheese on the deck, swim in the pool."

The most famous person ever to live in one of these Eichlers was major league baseball player Ray Fosse, today a well-known sports TV commentator for the Oakland A's.

Fosse, a catcher, made news about two years before he moved into the neighborhood. In 1970, while Fosse was trying to cover home plate, runner Pete Rose slammed into him. Fosse suffered shoulder injuries that harmed his career and have lingered.