I’m Tim Stanley, the author of the new local history book, The Last of the Prune Pickers: A Pre-Silicon Valley Story, and I’ll be posting a bi-weekly blog in the Campbell Patch.
Most of the content will be taken from the book, but from time to time I’ll digress, as there is always a large amount of interesting material that simply cannot fit in a book—regardless of how much we would like it to.
I grew up in area where Saratoga, San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos all meld together, and as the title suggests, was one of the last of the prune pickers here.
There was a time, not long ago (don’t go telling me I’m old) that that was how the local kids earned their school clothes.
In order to tell the story of the orchard farms that once graced the Santa Clara Valley, I needed to go back to the beginning. The transitions of the Valley from the days of the native peoples until the demise of the fruit farms were many and colorful. Few locals know the story of the wheat farms that once covered the Valley. Fewer still know of the high tech boom that transformed the place they call home in the 1850s through the 1870s.
That’s not a typo. I did say 1850s and 1870s.
So watch this column to read about the local oil boom, the pasteboard mill, one of the last Native American settlements in the Valley after the mission was disbanded, and of course, how to be a successful prune picker.