The Berryessa Adobe



This simple home is located at 373 Jefferson St. near downtown Santa Clara. It is the oldest home in the city. It is also one of the last Adobe buildings to remain here in the Santa Clara Valley.

It was built in the 1840s by Juan Chrisostomo Galindo and has been home to many generations of families through the years.

The dimensions of the home are 38 x 18′. the Adobe walls were set on top of stone foundations and sealed  with plaster.

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Juan Bautista de Anza in 1775 led a group of settlers and soldiers from Mexico to establish a Presidio and two missions in what is now the San Francisco bay area. He chose Santa Clara as a location. He found plenty of water flat fertile land, and a large population of Native Americans.

Among the settlers were, Nicolas Galindo, Nicolás and his sister Ysabel Berryessa. Their descendants built this Adobe home.

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The city of Santa Clara restored this historic building. They used the traditional methods and research and used the original materials. This building is in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by more modern family homes. It is not difficult to find but there are no large signs once you arrive there.

There is a pleasant garden behind the house. At the time I was there it was closed to the public.

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In front of that tree I found this marker.  “City of Santa Clara heritage tree.” It is an olive tree and it must be quite old. It provides shade and is still producing olives.

I would like to return and visit here again. What historic places are near your home?



















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On a Mission by Carlos and Joseph Najera


In the late 1700s the Spanish crown was aware of the vulnerability of the Northwest Pacific Coast. Russian hunters and explorers are settling in Alaska and moving down the coast in search of furs and places to establish settlements. The Pacific West Coast was unexplored and unsettled by the Europeans.

In an effort to establish her presence the Spanish crown ordered the establishment of a series of missions. The goal would be to spread Christianity, establish commerce, and settle the land.

Father Junipero Serra was chosen to undertake this task he began what would turn out to be a series of 21 missions in what is now California.  Mission San Carlos Borromeo was founded on June 3, 1775 by him. The original location was in Monterey, on the other side of the peninsula.

The missionaries there decided that the native people, the Costanoan, and the Esselen, would be more comfortable away from the soldiers Monterey and built their mission settlement in what became the town of Carmel.

Father Serra loved this mission. He would spend the rest of his life devoted to God’s work and the missions, and when his life ended he was buried there.

Through the years the mission system was shut down. The church properties were sold off or just abandoned.   After many years of neglect most of the missions were in ruins.


It is our good fortune that people felt the need to preserve his wonderful structures. Very little was left of mission San Carlos de Borromeo. Through funding in dedicated workers the mission was again sparkles in the sun.


Today it is now an active Roman Catholic Church. It has a parochial school, a museum. It offers many social events such as weddings.


Here, Christina I are sitting in front of a cork tree. It is a variety of oak. Winemakers use the bark by shaping it into cylinders and sealing bottles of wine. We are outside the front of the church itself waiting for a wedding to begin.

Christie is feeling better now. We were now settled into our home in Santa Clara. The weather there is not nearly as extreme as the Imperial Valley. She seems to have all her strength and energy. She has lots of energy to go shopping, and all the other things that needs to be done around the house. Joe was still a boy and he keeps finding new ways of getting into mischief. Christie even has the energy to deal with him.


Here is my boy Joe. Sitting at the same tree many years after Christie and I sat there that wedding day. The cork tree still alive but it doesn’t look healthy anymore. I am hoping it can be saved.


A little to the right of the cork tree is this statue of Father Serra. The shadow of the tree is at the bottom of the picture.

The reason we are sitting there by that cork tree in 1963 is a happy one. One of our nieces was getting married. One of Christie’s brothers, Melecio, has one daughter and for this occasion we and many other family members have come to their town.

Melecio lives in Monterey. He works nearby as a teacher. They have arranged for the wedding to be at the Mission. It is a pretty place to visit and a wonderful place to hold a wedding.

We lived in the city of Santa Clara at the time. It was around 80 miles away from us. The Monterey Peninsula is a pretty place. It has a lot of history and, a lot of things to see. The Monterey Bay is part of the attraction so we go there often.


This is Christie’s sister Manuela and her husband Max. This picture of them was taken at the same occasion. They are in another part of mission grounds. They were godparents Joe and the girls. Both of us appreciate the sacrifices they made.   For many years Max worked at the naval base in Port Hueneme and also at the naval base at Point Mugu.

Here is the happy bride, Artemis Ledesma soon to be Mrs. William Warren.



There is the happy couple next to both their mothers. There is so much promise on a wedding day. There is so much to look forward to, all of it seems good on your wedding day. Family members I haven’t seen in years showed up. I was happy to see them spend some time catching up. Some of those good folks I never saw again. That’s part of it too, good and the bad of it, looking forward to things that come.

Monterey and the surrounding areas and valleys had a powerful connection to us, Christie and I. It was those same feelings every time we came to Monterey, even if it was for a day. Being this close to the water always felt clean. The air was clean and the ocean breeze at times was cold but was always refreshing.

We love driving through the Seventeen Mile Drive, walking down Cannery Row. Fisherman’s Wharf held many attractions, many of which included fresh fish. Downtown Monterey preserved its old buildings and kept its charm. Many artists, writers, and other famous people made their homes around here.

Took us over 10 years after the wedding to finally decide to live here. Christie and I found a house in Pacific Grove. It was near the water and across the street from a golf course. When we first saw it we knew we wanted to live there. I wish I had pictures of that house.




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Dust of the Moon by Carlos Leonardo Najera de Madrid

My father spent his last days keeping a record of his life. He wrote about his beginnings and his struggles through each phase of his life.

He was born in 1908. Gas engines and automobiles were still a novelty. People walked or rode horses or mules. Most people never traveled more than a few miles from where they born.

His time saw the beginning of flight, radio waves, and telephones.

He witnessed the terrible World Wars, atomic bombs, the Cold War, the Moon landing.

These things and his personal struggles to survive his time, led him to bring pen to paper.

He left his writings to me. This was my inheritance. He gave his words to me. He told me to make them mine.

For the past six years. I have been editing his writings. I have shared them by posting them through WordPress.

I published them recently through Amazon Books. Now his first volume is available in book form as well as Kindle Book.  You may click the link at the top of the page.


I am currently working on the next volume of writings, which will be available soon.


Other books by Joseph Nájera:

  • Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose
  • The Last Smoke of Andrew Fitzpatrick
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The Big Sleep

I don’t remember the exact moment when I started getting headaches. My muscles started getting sore for no apparent reason. Again, for no apparent reason I was getting nauseous. I started getting fever. And then I don’t remember the rest.

It was much later that I learned that I succumbed to Encephalitis Lethargica. It is also known as Sleeping Sickness.

Like I said I don’t remember. The doctor said I was asleep and awake at the same time. It wasn’t exactly a coma but I was definitely out of it. I later read in newspaper article about a woman who was asleep like that for over 80 years, before she woke up. Many people never wake up. They cannot move their muscles. I am told that some of these people even though they could move were aware of everything that was happening around them.

My wife Christi told me that right after I woke up, two months later, I didn’t know who she was. I wasn’t able to recognize her. Then she told me I didn’t know who I was.

“Who are you?” I asked her.  “Where am I?”

When Christi told me that I was in the hospital in Oxnard, I said, “How did I get here? I am the Duke of Kent. I live in England.”  It took a while to get the cobwebs out of my head and remember who I was again.







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Men to Match My . . . (Sam Walter Foss)

   One evening when it was story time, we were sitting outside in the twilight shadows.  All of us were there, my mom, John, Bobby, Natalia, and Virginia.  John spoke up.  Usually he let my mama do the storytelling, she had a lot of good ones.

   “Honey, tell us that story about the boy and the giant.”  John asked.  My mom looked confused for a moment and then she understood.

   “Once upon a time in a place across the ocean, there lived a giant who wanted to kill everybody in the next kingdom. He was so big that he did not fit in the bathtub. His hair was long and stringy because no one was tall enough to cut it. His beard reached below his knees and he was so big that birds made their nests in it. This giant was so smelly that people knew he was coming when he was still many miles away.”

   “He said to the good king, ‘I’ll fight your army all by myself! And then I will have your little babies for dinner.’  The King and everyone else were frightened.”

   In my imagination I could almost see that happening. What was the king going to do? What were the people going to do? I had to wait for the answer.

   “All the kings’ soldiers were too frightened to attack the giant. But there was this one little boy went before the king said “I will fight him. I will take a bath first and then he won’t be able to find me.”

   “The King looked down at him and thought about his plan. He was surprised that nobody had thought of this before.”

   “When his advisers told him how silly this plan was, he got mad at them. At least he came up with a plan. So he told the boy to go take a bath then fight the giant.”

  “When the fateful day arrived, the boy walked alone into the battlefield. The giant saw him and started laughing. He kept looking at the little boy and was laughing louder and louder. He laughed so loud that the sides of the mountain started tumbling down. A great big boulder landed on his head and killed him dead.”

   “And that is why we take a bath every Saturday night.”


   There was a lesson hidden deep inside my mother’s story. I am not sure what the lesson was because I never saw any giants here in California.

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The Spider


I was doodling with my compass when I came up with this design. My wife saw it and said it reminded her of a spider. So, I went with that for a title. I like the design so far. I decided to build it.


My work table already had another design on it. I did not want to erase it. I might want to use it again.


I bought me a new board to plan the design full scale. I need to know how long each piece of steel needs to be. Although the design is based on a circle I need to draw a square, then find the center of the square.


X marks the spot. Now I can make a circle. I don’t have a compass that can make a circle with a 36 inch diameter.


I am going to make a circle the old fashion way, as old as the first man ever who thought about circles. I am tapping a nail in the center of the square.


I tied a slip knot around the nail.


I have a pencil tied to the other end.


I pull tightly on the thong and start drawing the circle.


I am going to fit my design into this circle. I still don’t know if the final outcome will resemble the drawing. It usually doesn’t happen that way.


I am drawing it in by hand.


From one end to the other measures 40 inches. The “rose” part will be 4 inches on both ends. That’s an extra 4 inches on each end for a total of 48 inches. I won’t know if that is the right length until I make it and bend it into the shape I want.

it is time to hammer each piece in the shape. I do not have an anvil. Instead I use a piece of real his heavy service most of my hammering needs.

It looks like the 48 inches length is going to work.


I am not sure of the length for the second piece. It looks good so far.

I am roughing out the third piece. Then the 4th.



As I’m adding more pieces I am comparing them with my drawing.


Now I have all the pieces together. It’s a little different than my original drawing.


You can see in the center I have used a piece of soapstone to keep them all centered.


it is time to complete each iron rose before final assembly.


I precut all the pieces that I’m going to need.

This is a rivet. These have been used for many centuries to bind pieces of steel together.


the center punch makes it dent in the steel. When I drill a hole the dent keeps the Drill bit from sliding around.


The rivet expands when it is hammered on, and holds the pieces tightly together.


No two pieces will ever be the same. There are too many variables. That is why trying to make a duplicate of one side is very difficult.




It took me about 12 weeks to get to the final project. The final project turned out a little different. Highlight the changes that I made. They seem more graceful to me.


The spider is currently on display at the Red Berry Coffee Bar on Main Street in Los Altos, California through February 2018.











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Graduation Day by Carlos Najera

It was here at last. June 1923. Graduation day at the Haydock Grammar School here in Oxnard. I went to school on that day wearing my best, that is to say, I wore what I wore every day, an old threadbare shirt and worn-out knee pants, no shoes. 


 In the afternoon the principal came to our classroom and he gave us the worst scolding that we had ever received. “. . . . I don’t know why you girls are even here! You’re just going to get married and have babies. And you! Young men, unless you have rich daddies you’re just going to work every day until you drop dead from exhaustion. Find work at the factory. Work for the railroad. Work on the farms. If you can’t do that, get out town because there is nothing else here you can do.”

 He made us line up at the front of the class then he passed out the diplomas.  “Here! Here! Here!” He said as he shoved them into our hands. “Now try not to mess up the rest of your lives!” Then he rushed out of the room.

Boy! I sure was glad I had a rich daddy! Oh! Wait a minute . . . .


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