Family Tradition

Bigger-than-life figures continue to leave their mark on the Palo Verde Eichlers of Palo Alto
Family Tradition
The Gualdoni family of Palo Verde out for a neighborhood bike ride: (L-R) AJ, Scott, Mia, and Krishna (Varia).

It doesn't take long for newcomers to the Eichler tract alongside the Eichler Swim & Tennis Club to discover that it is more than a collection of houses.

It's a place with longtime traditions, legendary figures, and with community elders who enforce—well, let's say encourage—preserving those traditions.

And all of this occurs in a 202-home Palo Alto neighborhood built by Joe Eichler in 1957 and '58 that doesn't really have a name—or has too many names.

Eichler apparently called it 'Faircourt' when it was new, but nobody calls it that now. 'Royal Manor,' also a historic name, was used temporarily a few years ago but never came into general use.

Family Tradition
The Gualdonis' front exterior adorned with fresh, lovely landscaping.

Most neighbors just call the place 'Palo Verde,' the name of the larger, overall neighborhood and a nearby elementary school.

When Krishna Varia and her husband, Scott Gualdoni, pulled into their new home in Palo Verde, they encountered Rosalie Taimuty, a resident since 1976.

"When the new neighbors come in, well, naturally, as one of the elders of the community, I want to meet them and introduce them to the other neighbors," says Rosalie, describing the welcoming tradition on her stretch of Kenneth Drive. That first meeting with the Gualdonis was in 2006, and they remain fast friends today.

"I feel like it's my family. I really do," Rosalie says of her neighbors. Her driveway hosts the annual Halloween gathering. When Rosalie hit 90, neighbors closed the street for a birthday party.

Family Tradition
The Gualdoni kitchen.

"The kids think of me as their grandmother," Rosalie says. "I go to all their recitals. But I draw the line at soccer games."

Another longtime neighbor welcomed Krishna and Scott with the news that the Gualdonis were living in a home once inhabited by one of several famous scientists who have made the neighborhood their home—physicist, professor, and the first woman astronaut in space, Sally Ride.

Today that welcoming tradition continues, carried on by folks who themselves were welcomed when they were new arrivals decades ago. Among them, on Janice Way, are Katie Renati, Heather MacDonald, and Diane Reklis, who tell newcomers about the annual Janice Way block party and share information on emergency preparedness.

When Shekhar and Swati Kapoor and their son, Shaan, first visited the Eichler they would soon buy in 2011, they encountered the block party in full swing. "It was, like, amazing. We immediately met some of the neighbors," says Shekhar, an engineer like many in the tract.

Family Tradition
Kids gather for hoops on the streets of Palo Verde.

At the open house a flyer stated that this home had been the residence of Doug Engelbart, "who invented much of what went into personal computers, including the mouse, when he worked for SRI," in the words of Richard Willits, who has lived half a block away for 23 years.

"Engelbart demonstrated the work station computer, which he developed under a DARPA contract," Richard says. That was in 1968, while Engelbart was living in the Eichler—decades before PC's hit the market.