Family Tradition - Page 2

Bigger-than-life figures continue to leave their mark on the Palo Verde Eichlers of Palo Alto
Family Tradition
Andy and Darcy Escovedo walk their dog at nearby Baylands Nature Preserve.

The name Engelbart meant nothing to the Kapoors, who bought the home because they appreciate modern architecture, and because it was a pie-shaped lot with an immense garden.

But they soon realized "this home was really a historic value," Shekhar says, and within a year of buying the home they wined and dined the great man himself. Engelbart died a year later.

"We took a tour of the house," Swati says. "He told us about every single nook and corner, and the first question I had for him was, 'Please tell where did you work in the house? I want to know where it really happened, that moment.' He said, 'Back then we never brought work home. Home was meant only for family.'"

And then Swati did something that elevated the home from historic site into a shrine. "I said, I must have some mark from him. I brought blue ink. I made him put his hand in the ink, and then we put it on the wall." She adds, "And he was a real sport. He really enjoyed it. He loved it!"

Family Tradition
The Escovedos' living room is tranquil and relaxing.

Today many neighbors proudly tell visitors about the scientist who helped give us personal computing, often concluding by saying, as Patti Regehr does, "And Doug Engelbart put his handprint on the wall of the house."

Willits has even suggested renaming their tract after Engelbart, a suggestion that raises a quizzical look from his longtime neighbor and friend, David Hanzel, a biologist.

Maybe the tract does need a new name, as some neighbors believe it doesn't have a name at all. Palo Verde, after all, is a much larger area that encompasses other tracts both Eichler and non-Eichler.

Eichler advertised the tract, on Louis Road immediately north of the Eichler Swim & Tennis Club, as 'Faircourt' when it was new, as shown by the sales brochure.

Family Tradition
The Escovedos' moody front exterior.

'Faircourt,' according to the brochure, also included a smaller grouping of Eichlers across Louis Road. Today these homes, but not the would-be 'Engelbart Eichler tract,' are identified as 'Faircourt' on the city's official Eichler map.

The city of Palo Alto's map of Eichler tracts calls Engelbart's old neighborhood 'Royal Manor.' But no one in the tract uses that name and most have never heard of it.

The name 'Royal Manor' came into temporary use four years ago when a group of residents sought to stave off teardowns and second-story additions by seeking to rezone the tract as single-story only.

"There was no name for this area that people used," says Richard Willits, one of the leaders of the single-story effort. "The city planners used it [Royal Manor]. We had no other name, so that was what was we used.

Family Tradition
The popular Eichler Swim & Tennis Club, just outside Palo Verde's boundaries.

He adds, "Nobody likes that name."

"I thought it was called Palo Verde," says Larry Magid, a 25-year resident.

Whatever you call it, residents brag about the tract for its longstanding social traditions. Besides the Janice block party, a July 4 parade on Kenneth Drive "brings everybody together," says neighbor Sudha Nagarajan.