Archive of Jym Clendenin

Jym Clendenin has lived in Menlo Park for 35 years and thinks the town’s best attributes are its attractive housing, friendly residents, and just-right downtown, not to mention the near perfect weather. He worked nearby at SLAC for 33 years as an experimental and accelerator physicist, retiring in 2008. Now he enjoys running, biking, backpacking, cooking and reading as well as unearthing facts about Menlo Park’s little known corners and hidden past.

Jym has written 50 article(s) for InMenlo.


McDonough house in Menlo Park

In the Bay Area it’s not unusual for a house to be painted a non-traditional color or colors. But here in Menlo Park, there is a house that has gone beyond just color: It’s a house plus garden that together presents an enchanting picture for the passer-by.

A typical reaction is “it makes me feel happy.” It reminds children of a play house. And for everyone it seems to trigger positive emotions. Here is the story as to how this work of art came to be.

McDonough house_second

Twenty years ago Tom and Becky McDonough moved into their house on a quiet, shady stretch of San Mateo Drive that Tom (Menlo-Atherton High School class of ’78) grew-up in. The yard was in really bad shape, so, initially, doing something about that was the highest priority.

About six years ago, with the help of super landscaper Sabino Zubillaga, the McDonoughs began working to create a low maintenance, water-conserving yard. The end result features a large amount of hardscape, perfect for displaying potted plants. But there was more to come.

McDonough house_peacockBecky’s mother enjoyed art, but in later life lost her eyesight, and thus the pleasure she derived from art. Becky says this is probably why she herself has always been intrigued by color. Both Becky and Tom do artwork from time to time so once the upgrade of the yard was completed, they decided they wanted a blue house.

But when they started painting, it looked more like Barney purple. They quickly realized that wouldn’t work! So they turned to the Benjamin Moore website, which has an app allowing users to audition various colors on house structures similar to their own. They settled on water hyacinth, a retired color that Gray’s Paint in downtown Menlo was able to custom mix from an old swatch they had. The trim color is celery.

One thing led to another. One day they decided to paint the open-rail fence along the street a version of celery. Becky began acquiring large, colorful pots with interesting plants that she distributed around the yard. Some outdoor furniture in coordinated colors was added, along with some objects (like the peacock pictured). The pots and furniture are moveable, so the picture can easily be fine-tuned.

These days the McDonoughs enjoy stepping into this enchanting picture they’ve created — dressed in appropriate colors of course — to enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book, or chat with the curious who walk by. What will be next?

Photos by Frances Freyberg

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The tale of Two Menlos on display at the Menlo Park Library through February

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During the month of February, a display at the Menlo Park Library entrance will feature the recently signed Friendship Agreement between the City of Menlo Park and Galway City, Ireland. As many are aware, Menlo Park is named for the very old Gaelic village of Mionloch (anglicized to Menlough and usually shortened to Menlo), which […]

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Friendship with Galway City results in visit to Menlo Park from Senator Cáit Keane

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Senator Cáit Keane, who grew up in Galway City and represents South-West Dublin in the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas (legislature) of Ireland, visited Menlo Park last Tuesday, Jan. 7th. She met  with Menlo Park Council Member and last year’s Mayor, Peter Ohtaki, at City Hall. She was here on holiday to visit […]

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Friendship agreement signed between Menlo Park and Galway City, Ireland

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Almost exactly one-year ago Gerry Hanley came from his hometown of Menlo (or Menlough, the anglicized version of the Irish Gaelic Mionloch, which means “small lake”), now a section of Galway City, Ireland, to Menlo Park with a personal mission to establish a friendship relationship between the two cities. His point of contact here was […]

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Festivities celebrating Caltrain’s 150th anniversary set for Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Menlo Park train station

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On October 17, 1863, the construction of the rail line for the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad was completed from San Francisco to Mayfield. A festive train brought 400 dignitaries, including Gov. Leland Stanford and Gov. A. C. Gibbs (Oregon), to a grand picnic just north of the San Francisquito Creek in today’s Menlo […]

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Summer adventures: Kibbie to Many Island Lakes backpack trip takes unexpected twists and turns

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My backpacking trip this summer was one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced. Seven of us set out to conquer the wilderness between Kibbie and Many Island Lakes in the southwest corner of Yosemite National Park, but we failed. The distance between these lakes is only about two miles as the crow flies, and the […]

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The Jewel of Santa Cruz Avenue grows up — beautifully

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In the 1930s, the brothers Bert and John Bartolome, while engaged in construction work at Stanford University, began building what turned out to be a rather whimsical house — completed in the early 1940s — on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park. The Jewel of Santa Cruz Avenue was first described in a March 4, […]

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Two Menlos nearer to forming friendship relationship

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The creation of an informal friendship relationship between Menlo Park and Galway City (which has absorbed the village of Menlough, Menlo Park’s namesake) took another step forward on June 5th when a letter to Cllr. Terry O’Flaherty, Mayor of Galway, was sent by Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki proposing a dialog between the two cities […]

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Then and now: El Camino Real moves west in Menlo Park

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The photo above showing the western side of El Camino Real between Santa Cruz and Oak Grove avenues in Menlo Park dates from about 1937. Menlo Grocery at 1101 El Camino was the successor to the venerable Duff & Doyle’s General Store, which was liquidated in the early 1920s. The second floor had long been […]

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Then and now: The changing face of downtown Menlo Park

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You can’t deny that there has been a dramatic change in the appearance of downtown Menlo Park over the past 65 years. The black and white photo (above) is from about 1950, taken near the corner of Santa Cruz Avenue and Doyle Street. Bank of America came to Menlo Park in 1937. Its first location was […]

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Group meets to ponder where Menlo Park and Galway City should become sister cities

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Gerry Hanley’s visit to Menlo Park last October inspired a number of local residents to think about a sister-city type relationship between Menlo Park and Gerry’s home, Galway City, Ireland. As has been told many times, the name “Menlo Park” derives from the name two Irishmen, Dennis J. Oliver and D. C. McGlynn, put on […]

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