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					    The Shoulders of San Pedro Square 2

We all stand on the shoulders of others in the building of a family,
a city or a nation. Nowhere is that simple fact more true than in this
valley and in one small part of San Jose called San Pedro Square. In
the late eighteenth century, a boy named Luis Peralta traveled north
from Tubac, in what was then Mexico, fully one thousand miles in
tortuous conditions, and he settled with his family right there. This De
Anza Party – the vanguard of a great empire’s attempt to extend its
boundaries north –founded our city. This expedition followed native
people, the Ohlones, already established on the banks of the
Guadalupe who led a simple life and valued the hummingbird, the
water-kisser, umunhum in their language. These new ‘conquistadors’
carried the cross and sword forward in their version of a brave new
world. When Captain Thomas Fallon raised the American flag down
the street on Market at the old ‘jusgado’ in 1846 – what
inexplicably became a controversial event in recent times – he and his
wife, Carmel Castro, became neighbors of the Peraltas and followed
Luis Maria’s lead in many endeavors becoming fast friends. Fallon
learned to be a premier orchardist and his pears were the pride of San
Jose. His marriage into one of the original Californio families with vast
land holdings from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the sea, secured his
position and he became a prominent capitalist and Mayor. By the
time Fallon died in 1885, Paul Masson and his in-laws, the LeFranc
family, were building a “liquid empire” right on that same block –
and had pioneered the commercial wine business of the State. Masson
would remain there with his Champagne Cellars and the new
“Vineyard in the Sky” at Saratoga, until the advent of World War
Two. One block north, Louis Pellier, ‘the Prune Man’, introduced the
"petite d’agen" to our State, part of the foundation of the vaunted
Valley of Heart’s Delight, the fruit basket of the world.
Next to Masson’s start up venture, the Publisher of the original San
Jose Mercury, J.J.Owens, printed his paper and indulged in amazing
ventures of daring, like the Electric Light Tower – a 288 foot
extravaganza that preceded the Eiffel Tower by over a decade. It
dominated the corner of Market and Santa Clara Streets shedding
powerful rays on our pivotal block.
 Next to him also, right on the corner of San Pedro and Santa Clara
Streets, the Farmers Union Bank, Growers’ Cooperative and Mill
financed much of this great and entrepreneurial area of blossoms and
fruit and the rest –as they say – is history. It surely contained a full
measure of vision. From 1874 onward, leaders of this pioneer business
were also leaders of the City, from noted philanthropist Robert
Benson to John P. McEnery. The Farmers Union was the western
linchpin of the vital commercial and cultural hub of the Valley of
Heart’s Delight – few farms, orchards or homes were complete
without a monthly visit to the historic store on the corner of San Pedro
Square.
Yet in all that first amazing century and the great accomplishments of
those mentioned, the past was only a fascinating prologue to what
would follow. There is one thing that would come closest to an electric
connection to that first period of progress in an entrepreneurial six
degrees of separation to those of us today in Silicon Valley. We can get
to Steve Jobs and the new, new world of information and technology
by invoking the name of the man born right across the street from the
San Pedro Square Market, A.P. Giannini, the founder of the Bank of
Italy, soon to be the Bank of America. He helped build much of the
great economic engine of California and then re-build the Golden
State again after the Great Quake of 1906. Giannini was unique and he
spotted an opportunity quickly. He had that clarity when he helped
finance a man named Walt Disney who had his own dream: a world of
celluloid images and unimaginable dreams. It was a gamble for
Giannini, but he believed character mattered. Later Disney played that
philosophy forward and gave a big contract to two men named Dave
Packard and Bill Hewlett, who sold him their first product called
oscillators for the ground-breaking movie, Fantasia. They began their
business in a small garage. It was a seminal venture and a magnificent
investment. One day as the business and cultural behemoth, Hewlett
Packard, or simply "HP" in Valley parlance, Bill Hewlett gave some old
parts and equipment to two young fellows named “Steve” from
Cupertino who were also working in a garage. One of them, Steve
Wozniak, the “Woz”, often frequents this block still. Down the street,
above O’Flaherty’s Pub, is the San Pedro Square Theatre where Nolan
Bushnell, the founder of meteoric Atari, the Facebook of its day, had
his club – named obviously, The Farmers Union - in the old Mill
Building, with headliners like Jimmy Buffet and Ricky Nelson. He also
had the sense to give Steve Jobs employment in the nascent years of
the seventies in the emerging first chapter of that tale.
 So there is the simple story of one block, one tiny part of a
remarkable City in a world famous valley, and how in the flickering of
an eye, we can move swiftly from Peralta to Fallon, Masson, Giannini,
Disney, Hewlett and Packard, and on to Steve Jobs in just a few short
steps and over two hundred years of San Jose history. And it all
happened right on San Pedro Square. One might ask what all these
various fascinating soldiers of fortune, visionaries, captains of industry
and dreamers have in common and the answer would echo out loudly:
simply everything.

				
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