History

Post image for Former Menlo Park City Attorney Jack Jorgeson talks about the 60s and 70s at Menlo Park Historical Association annual meeting

At the annual meeting of the Menlo Park Historical Association an audience of about 50 were taken back to the City of the 1960s and 70s by Jack Jorgenson, the Menlo Park City Attorney from 1961 to 1985.

In 1960, Jorgenson was assistant to City Attorney James O’Keefe, Jr. when O’Keefe left to take an elective office. That same year Jorgenson founded the firm that is now Jorgenson, Siegel, McClure & Flegel, LLP, located in Menlo Park. In 1961 he assumed the part-time position of City Attorney.

In his talk, Jorgenson described the main task of the City Attorney was to make everyone (Councilmembers, City Manager, etc) look good. In the 1960s, the City was still run by the good old boys: Bill Lawson was continuously Mayor for 12 years (1957-69). John Johnson was the City Manager to be followed in 1961 by his young assistant Mike Bedwell, who was to hold that position for the following 27 years.

Perhaps the most exciting event during Jorgenson’s tenure was when he was accused of violating the Brown Act, California’s sunshine law. The City wanted to buy some individually-owned, run-down apartment buildings along Willow Road in the Belle Haven area in order to upgrade them and put them under a unified management and create a more orderly life for the tenants.

Historical Association tourTo get a good price, the City decided to make the purchases through a third party. Eventually one Menlo Park Councilperson went to the District Attorney with the accusation that this violated the Brown Act. Jorgenson successfully argued that what the City was doing came under a specific exception written into the Brown Act. The matter was eventually dropped, but Jorgenson related at a later social event, he did not violate the Brown act, and he would never do it again.

Additional projects Jorgenson mentioned were the purchase of the Fremont School property from the Menlo Park School District to create a park, the creation of Bedwell Bayfront Park from a former dump site.

But without question the hottest issue in Menlo Park was the proposal for the Willow Expressway that would have continued NE from today’s Sand Hill Road toward 101. This proposal was voted down by Menlo Park’s residents, but perhaps just as important, the issue energized the population with respect to local politics, giving rise to a residentialists movement that continues to this day.

Earlier in the meeting, a new Historic Tour of Menlo Park fold-out was introduced. The touring map includes 28 historic sites in Menlo Park. It is pre-folded into a 3×8.5-inch size that easily fits into a pocket or purse. Free copies can be obtained at the Library’s Reference Desk or in the entryway of the City Administration Building or go to the store page on the Association web site.

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Personal remembrance: A disappointed Giants fan 25 years ago today

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When I was growing up in Menlo Park, the Giants moved to San Francisco. My extended family would attend games together, and my two uncles, who both lived in the City, taught me baseball and sowed the seeds for the lifetime fan I am. Twenty five years ago today, I was still technically living in Southern […]

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It all started with the Loma Prieta earthquake 25 years today for two fire fighters involved in search and rescue

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Editor’s note: The Loma Prieta earthquake struck at 5:04 pm on Oct. 17, 1989, recording a magnitude of 6.9.  Menlo Park sustained little damage, but the quake did prompt lasting changes to local search and rescue procedures as chronicled below. Twenty five years ago, Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Manny Navarro was off duty when […]

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Author Pamela Gullard tells the story of Menlo College’s 85 years set within each decade

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Ever wonder how the tiny town of Atherton got an institution of higher learning and what goes on behind its gates? A new book about Menlo College filled with over 100 archival photos and reminiscences of staff and alumni reveals the answers. Titled Through the Gates: Eighty-five Years of Menlo College and its Times, the book sets the […]

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Were you in Menlo Park or Atherton in 1967? Then Polk’s has you!

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Dave Waters posted this on the Facebook group, Do You Remember the (old Menlo Park). For those of us of a certain era, it’s a real jaunt down memory lane. Note: In somewhat of a quirk, children are listed separately from parents. Wrote Dave: “Here’s a link to a 1967 Polk’s edition. These are fun […]

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City of Menlo Park honors the Menlo Park Historical Association

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At last Tuesday’s City Council Meeting, Mayor Ray Mueller presented the Menlo Park Historical Association with a proclamation recognizing its accomplishments since 1971 in preserving the history of Menlo Park and in making its archived materials available to the public, including through its website Most recently the Association was instrumental in the creation of the […]

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Linda Janklow’s Peopleologie workshops teach history through hands-on activities

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Linda Janklow has a passion for history, and through her program, Peopleologie, she helps others discover their own. She defines Peopleologie as “an all-ages program promoting cultural literacy, celebrating community, and building connections to the world through history, humanities, anthropology, math, science, hand crafting traditions, and fun.” She stressed that it is not an art program, but rather a social […]

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Remembering Menlo Park’s Irish roots

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InMenlo contributing photographer Frances Freyberg took this photo of a four-leaf clover on a recent walk near Woodside. We thought it a good way to remember Menlo Park’s Irish roots on St. Patrick’s Day. Here are links to some relevant InMenlo posts that talk about the link between the two Menlos, one in California and […]

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Remembering Shirley Temple Black, the gracious children’s theater ticket taker

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Growing up in Menlo Park, I, along with what seemed like the whole neighborhood, attended children’s plays, I think performed at Sequoia High School. What the plays were, I don’t recall, although I enjoyed them. What I do remember quite distinctly is one of the ticket takers, undoubtedly pointed out to me by my mother, […]

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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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Caltrain celebrates 150 anniversary of rail service with a stop in Menlo Park

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The Sons of the Golden West presented a plaque commemorating the Menlo Park Train Depot (1867) to Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller as other City Council members looked on this morning. The occasion was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the railroad from Francisco to San Jose. Photo by Clay Curtin

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