Sweet Sixteen - Page 2

Neighbors build friendships and retain a distinctive rural feeling along Monte Sereno’s tranquil Eichler cul-de-sac
Sweet Sixteen
Sweet Sixteen
The neighborhood loves their block parties—including this one at the home of David Frankel and Karl Brown. That's Liam Sullivan jumping into the pool.
Sweet Sixteen
Relaxing in the atrium with the Sullivan family—parents Patrick and Shelley with children Liam and Keira. "We are real Eichler enthusiasts," Shelley says. "We find ourselves talking about our houses a lot [with neighbors]...You're part of a club."
Sweet Sixteen
Sweet Sixteen
The miniature Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (top) at Vasona Lake County Park. The park is part the neighboring city of Los Gatos, whose downtown (above) "we get as part of the bargain," says David Frankel.

Patrick Sullivan remembers when he and wife Shelley arrived from a New York suburb. "The truck moved us in, and right away neighbors were coming by bringing wine, bread, salt," he says. "'Welcome to the neighborhood!'"

"The neighbors have taken to block parties," Jennifer says. "Everyone comes and brings food. We sit outside and have beer."

"Being on a cul-de-sac it's easy to have barbecues on the street," says David Frankel, who arrived in 2014 after living in nearby Los Gatos for 15 years.

"It occurred to me that when I left that street, I had only been in one [other] house that entire time," he says, "and that was when it was being sold and I went in as a looky-loo. I didn't care much about my neighbors. I was doing my own thing."

Today, he says, he knows everyone on the street—and has opened his own home for neighborhood parties. "It's always been close," Laura Roenicke says of life on Via Sereno. Her parents owned a home there when she was in college, and she and her husband, Eric, bought the home in 2013. "It's a little cul-de-sac of 16, so it's hard not to know everybody's business."

Friendships on the cul-de-sac help explain why parents feel free to let their children play on the street. "It's nice for us to know that the kids know everyone, and are safe," says Jennifer.

The two children she and Tim brought to Via Sereno—Emily, a kindergartner, and Nicolas, in second grade—are the youngest on the street—and perhaps the noisiest.

"Some of [the neighbors] tell us they love hearing the sound of kids playing on the street," says Tim, who also goes by the name 'Ozzie.' "We wonder if it doesn't bother some of them, but they say it anyway."

Via Sereno has never been filled with young families with children of similar ages, people say. "We had five houses with kids for a while," says L.D. Hirschklau, who's lived on the street with her husband since 1977. "But that didn't last very long."

But there have always been several homes with kids of varying ages. There are more families with children now than in the recent past.

And it's a great place for kids. Directly behind Via Sereno sits Daves Avenue Elementary School, whose expansive playing fields border several Eichler backyards.

The Sullivans have installed a ladder atop their fence so their daughter, Keira, and son, Liam, and friends can climb over and play in the school field. They also have a basketball hoop at the top of the cul-de-sac.

The Sullivan children often walk by themselves to Vasona Park. It's a sprawling place with picnic grounds, playing fields, a lake, and a historic carousel that kids and parents love.

Not to mention the miniature trains. Jennifer Begg remembers when Emily was small and would hear the train steaming in the morning and imagine the carousel horses bobbing up and down.

"[Emily] would say, 'The train! The train! The horses are open! The horses are open!'" Jennifer says. Many days her parents would take the kids there—but not always. "Okay," Tim would tell his daughter, "we're not going to go every day, sweetheart."

The park, which is in the neighboring town of Los Gatos, has walking and bike trails that lead to several nearby towns, including Campbell, and to downtown Los Gatos. "Our kids walk to town by themselves," Shelley Sullivan says.