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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Yard show a seasonal tradition for many families

By Barry Schrader.................................December 8, 2005

Everyone who celebrates the holidays has certain traditions they follow and our family has made the annual pilgrimage to the decorated yard and light show at the home of Deacon Dave Resendez for more than a dozen years. This fantastic display with a new theme each year is free and open nightly through Jan.1.

Resendez, a fourth generation Californian, remembers being driven around town as a child to see the lighted windows and trees of local residents. One that stands out in his mind is the lighted window of Philomena and Manuel Medeiros. As he got older he helped out at St. Michael’s Church and one year they outlined the entire church exterior in white lights.

But let’s go back in time to 1956. That is the year his grandparents Manuel and Clara Gomez moved off their North Livermore Avenue farm onto a 10 or 15 acre parcel along Hillcrest, now known as 352 Hillcrest Ave. They built a house and some outbuildings. Eventually they sold all but four lots for housing and what remains there today is sort of an oasis in the middle of suburbia.

After serving in the US Army, Dave moved there to help his mother care for grandmother Gomez and he has stayed ever since. In 1982 he was ordained a Roman Catholic Deacon and at that time dedicated his home to the Holy Spirit, one symbol of which is the dove. He then named his estate Casa da Pomba (House of the Dove). He had raised pigeons, ducks, quail, doves and other birds as a child and today has an extensive menagerie in his back yard of exotic doves. He has also accumulated some 150 works of art featuring doves, spread throughout his spacious residence. But come holiday time the house is transformed into a maze of decorations with no less than 33 Christmas trees. The largest one, known as the Grand Library Tree, stands over 22 feet tall and holds 1,000 ornaments on its branches. He also has many designer trees with themes like wine and toy trains (I should mention he has a backyard building filled with an HO gauge train layout which friends help him continue to build). But only friends and a few church groups get to visit the inside of his home.

So this holiday display that started 23 years ago, with only the assistance of one high school student named David Graber, has mushroomed into a spectacle that rivals Macys and Nieman Marcus, this year topping out at more than 260,000 lights in the yard, the most ever. Of course PG&E had to install an industrial transformer in the neighborhood so all the surrounding houses don’t go dark when the switch is thrown each night. The 20 volunteers begin work in August on this extravaganza and it takes him until Easter each year to put it all away. But he sets the theme and begins planning for the following season each January. So it is really a year-round love affair with Christmas!

By the way, besides being a Deacon, which includes his appointment as the Bishop’s Representative to the 101 Deacons in the Oakland Diocese for the past nine years, Dave founded Security Eye Patrol 35 years ago and serves as president. Another worthy note-- the vice president and now a partner in the firm is that high school student volunteer from 1982 David Graber.

The display touches people of all faiths, as evidenced by the scrapbooks of letters from all over the country. One touching example: a lady standing on the bridge over the pond was crying one year. She and her husband had visited here together for many years, but she came alone this time because he had been killed in an accident earlier in the year. On a cheerful note—there have been some 50 marriage proposals on that same bridge over the years.

I thought his Victorian Christmas display last year was one of the best—but wait until you see the theme for this year!

***

Speaking of a Victorian Christmas, I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Cow Palace where the Charles Dickens Christmas Fair runs each weekend until Christmas. Some readers will remember Pleasanton Heritage Days where the daughter and father team were operating the old wooden printing press for two days. Gordon and Sharon Sullivan have an 1800s printshop installed at the Fair and I got to help them print business cards for the fair’s actors and characters. But this time we used a 2,800 pound iron press that is much faster than the old wooden model they demonstrated in Pleasanton.

Another tradition for many valley residents are the annual Holiday Parades featuring Santa, two of which occurred simultaneously last Saturday night—one in Pleasanton and the other in Livermore. The Pleasanton parade was particularly touching. It was dedicated to the memory of Ed Kinney who died earlier this year. Many of the people he had recruited and mentored over the years to announce the procession were there to take part, including me.

***

We’ll take a break from history mysteries awhile so I can catch up on my research.

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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