Former Menlo Oaks resident recalls growing up in the same neighborhood as Gayle King

by Tamera White on July 29, 2015

Did you know that Gayle King, CBS This Morning co-anchor (and, of course, Oprah’s best friend), lived in Menlo Oaks during the late 60s through early 70’s and graduated from M-A? Her father’s job as an engineer brought them to Menlo Park.

The Kings were the second black family to move into Menlo Oaks. As far as we know, our family was the first. My father was a private practice physician in Menlo Park for nearly 50 years. Our two families became very good friends. We lived on Berkeley Avenue near Bay Road. The Kings lived a block over on Menlo Oaks Drive near Colby.

Gayle King_M-A yearbookThe Kings had four daughters and no boys, and our family had three girls and no boys. Mr. King and my dad, who became friends, were out numbered 9 to 2 by the “female factor!” They didn’t stand a chance!

The four to six year age difference between Gayle and my sisters and me is insignificant now, but in 1970 she was 16, and my sisters and I were between 10 and 12 years old. Those few years made a big difference then. Therefore, though Gayle’s sisters, Sharon, Lynn and Caryn, all hung out often with my sisters and me, understandably, we were too young to hang with teen Gayle.

Mrs. King used to come over to our house almost everyday. She was totally at home at our house. I remember she would open the frig and ask my mom, “Vi, what you got in this frig?” Mrs. King was very well educated but when with friends she’d be just a “down home girl.”

What I most remember about Gayle is her being in her room studying and that she had a Bill Cosby poster on the back of her bedroom door.

The Kings moved away to Maryland, but Gayle stayed behind in Menlo Park to finish high school (graduated in 1972 I believe) and lived for a year with M-A teachers Roger and Peggy Heathcote.

The ties that bind loosened over the decades and there was less and less contact with the Kings once they moved away. One day after almost 25 years of not seeing my Mom, Mrs. King totally unexpectedly rang my Mom’s doorbell. Mom answered the door and started (happily) screaming when she saw Mrs. King! From then on they kept in touch by phone until Mrs. King’s death in 1994.

My sisters and I last saw and spoke briefly with Gayle at M-A at the 2002 All Class Reunion. She was being followed by TV cameras from the Oxygen network.

Little-known Gayle King fact: “I changed my name from Gail to Gayle in seventh grade because I liked to make a loopy y.”

Now you know!

Photo of Gayle King courtesy CBS News

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily July 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

It’s nice to read stories about “the old” Menlo Park. Thank you, Tamera!

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Tamera White July 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Hi Emily.
You’re welcome. The Kings are a nice childhood memory. We hated to see them move away.

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Mary Coleman July 30, 2015 at 7:55 am

Tamera, YOU should be the co-anchor! Must’ve been something in the water in Menlo Oaks. You definitely have skills.

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Tamera White July 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Hi Mary,
Thank you.

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Craig K July 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Gayle had a poster of Bill Cosby…now the he is famous for something other than being a actor/comedian ……..it might be worth some bucks especially if he autographed it!!!!

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Jan August 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

The Heathcotes are amazing people! Always doing something for others!!

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Marcella (Cambell) Holmes July 18, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Yes and we the Campbell family of Menlo Park also have stories and memories. Sure wish I could see or hear from my then best friend. Sharon King.

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