In my last blog I shared my summertime memories, focusing on The Starlite Drive-In in the Homeview Neighborhood (south of Ralston at Hiller). It eventually gave way to a Coca Cola bottling plant, and ultimately San Mateo County office buildings. Today I'd like to cross Ralston at Hiller to the north into Sterling Downs, where I grew up (and where my mom still resides). It was developed in the 50's, and soon became a true blue collar neighborhood. My dad was one of many who worked at United Airlines and drove in a carpool every morning. We went to school at Nesbit, and everyone either walked or rode bikes. In the summer we would go to "Rec" at Nesbit every day. "Rec" was a summer program at every elementary school. There was a leader from the parks and recreation department there, and every day from 9-4 we would go there to play games, do activities, and hang around. During the school year there would be "After School Sports, which was another program from the P&R Department. When we weren't at Rec we would walk around the neighborhood looking for bottles to return for money. Back then sodas came in bottles, and when you would buy one they would charge 3¢ deposit. You'd return the empties and get your 3¢ back. We'd scour the neighborhood for bottles, then take them back to the store for money to buy candy. There were two stores at the strip mall (aka Bel-Plaza Shopping Center) for candy: Mayfair Market and The Pharmacy. Once a large presence all over the west coast, Mayfair Markets is now reduced to one store in Hollywood. There was also one at the Hillsdale Shopping Center. The pharmacy was the best because they had tons of bulk penny candy. You'd fill up a bag with your favorites and pay Auggie or Barbara. There was also a gumball machine in front that had a few striped gumballs in it. If you got a striped one, you could take it into the pharmacy and swap it for a candy bar! Another place to buy candy and ice cream was "Jorgensen's Dairy." It was actually called The Baywood Dairy--located on O'Neill near The Starlite. It was a drive-thru kind of place where you could get dairy products and candy. There, we would get chocolate milk in bottles or ice cream. Mr. Jorgensen ran the dairy, and his son Mark also worked there. Years later Mark wound up as a teacher at Ralston, where he taught for many years. Another popular thing was the summer movies at The Belmont Theater (now Planet Granite). You would buy your summer movie tickets through your school, and every week the theater would be full of kids watching a double feature. You'd buy popcorn, and if you were lucky there was a coupon in the bottom of the box good for a free movie or dinner at Doran's Steak House (where Honeybaked Ham was). We were busy and happy all summer. When we weren't doing fun stuff, we were going door-to-door asking people if they wanted their car washed or lawn mowed for 50¢. Those were the days.
Next Time: The Belmont Carwash, McDonald's, and Pilgrim Kitchen