Several presidents touched down in the West Valley

Candidate Richard Milhouse Nixon (center) is flanked (left to right) by Clelles Ness, Mr. Gailbraith (in the broad-brim hat; first name unknown), a local auto agency owner; Pat Morton, State Sen. Thompson, Lester Fonseca and Terry Hanel. Photo courtesy of Orville and Terry Hanel

Candidate Richard Milhouse Nixon (center) is flanked (left to right) by Clelles Ness, Mr. Gailbraith (in the broad-brim hat; first name unknown), a local auto agency owner; Pat Morton, State Sen. Thompson, Lester Fonseca and Terry Hanel. Photo courtesy of Orville and Terry Hanel

‘Here’s to Teddy, rough and ready, population is his cry. Watch the rabbit, get the habit, learn to multiply.”

A wag composed this ditty about Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, hero of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, great white hunter on African safaris, conservationist and advocate of large families to populate the great open spaces of his country.

Due to an oversight, Presidents Day came and went on Feb.17 without due recognition here. To make amends, let’s observe the presidents who have touched down in the West Valley.

Today’s photograph shows future president Richard Nixon with a group of Los Gatans during his campaign for the United States Senate.

Five presidents—sitting, past and future—are known to have appeared in the West Valley.

First to come this way was President William Harrison, who arrived by train on May 1, 1891. He and Mrs. Harrison were welcomed by honorary mayor John W. Lyndon and a large crowd at the local train depot. The president spoke from a flower-decorated flatcar at the depot.

In 1903 Teddy Roosevelt, the ardent conservationist, accepted an invitation to come to Campbell and plant a redwood tree at a local school on Winchester Road. Indeed, Roosevelt turned the first shovelful of soil, and the farm tool became an item at the Campbell museum.

T.R.’s distant younger cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, then serving in the U.S. Navy, was a guest of U.S. Sen. Phelan at his Saratoga Montalvo Estate during Blossom Festival Time, probably between 1910 and 1920.

In the 1930s, ex-President Herbert Hoover, having lost to FDR in 1932, came to Los Gatos to visit State Sen. Sanborn Young and his writer wife, Ruth Comfort Mitchell, at their residence in the hills above Loma Alta Avenue.

In his first campaign for the presidency, candidate Bill Clinton courted the corporate heads of Silicon Valley and was guided to Los Gatos to dine at the California Cafe in Old Town. It was at this time that local people learned of the “candidate handshake,” touching the flesh quickly and moving, talking all the while. Working the crowd, it’s called, a time-honored maneuver.

 

This column is from the Los Gatos Weekly-Times archives. © Metro Publishing, Inc.

  • guest

    William Harrison was the ninth president and died in 1841. Was it Grover Cleveland that was welcomed by John Lyndon in 1891?

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