Los Trancos Woods in the 40's and 50's
Original post made by JoAnne, Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde, on Mar 3, 2007
I have some photos of the home and grounds (from approximately 1948 through 1958). My parents named the acreage "Mounteen," and the home "Tig Cnocin" which are Gaelic, for "Little Mountain" and "Little House on the Hill," respectively. My parents, William and Eileen Quinn were first-generation San Franciscans. They purchased the property along with my Mother's sister, Anna Hennessy - probably in the early 40's. You must remember that this was an era when "Middle Class" families could afford to buy a summer home.
My folks did all the landscaping on the acreage, hauling rocks to create borders and pathways, stairs to the house, and low-walled garden areas. The house itself was built to resemble a log cabin (with a knotty pine interior), with a large and impressive flagstone fireplace. It had three bedrooms (two of which had spectacular views of the grounds), one bathroom, a living-dining room area, a kitchen and a screened in breakfast nook and reading area off of the kitchen. Aside from the fireplace, one of the best features was solid oak french doors leading to two of the bedrooms. On the grounds, there was a huge hand-built stone barbeque, and a small stone incinerator for burning garbage. The yearly weed burn-off (a fire prevention thing) was done by Dad, with a gasoline-powered weed burner which threw out long tongues of flame, requiring Mom to stand nearby with a long hose in case things got out of hand. I recall stories of how after WWII ended, rationing was still going on, and periodically my brother, John Quinn, would come up to the house and shoot a deer for food for our SF table. My brother was a student at Stanford, and a member of the Stanford Fire Dept. (his earnings helped to pay for his books and tuition
I don't think I have to tell you that the many summers I spent there were the most idyllic a child could have. I roamed the hills, and explored back roads with little friends...except during August, which my parents called Rattlesnake Season. And I recall the long drive from SF to the cabin on lots of narrow dirt roads that could only contain one car at a time. Another memory involved heavy flooding, when we were returning to SF, with water clear up to the tops of our hubcaps, and law enforcement people out in the rain and the dark, trying to help the cars get through the dangerous areas.
The only neighbors I recall were Fred and Carol Wiseman, and their son Chris, and the Dr. Weinholtz (sp?) Family, who were directly across the road from our home. The Wisemans were permanent residents, and the Weinholtz's were summer people. I clearly remember the Weinholtz place. They had peacocks who would periodically escape and sit on our roof, making the godawful noises that peacocks make. The Weinholtz's also had a spectacular home with a lot of stone work, and a huge swimming pool. Chris and I used to scale the fence and wander around the property (when the family was not there, of course). We were mesmerized with not only the peacocks, but also the swimming pool, which looked nothing like today's pools. The water was a very dark green, and rather scary looking! Thank goodness its eerie appearance served as a deterrent to our jumping in!
As far as I can tell, the house address (in a photo), tacked to a large oak tree in the circular driveway, was 239...and I believe we were on Los Trancos Circle, not Los Trancos Road. I tried looking it up in the San Mateo County records, but there was nothing. I can only surmise that the property was subsequently subdivided after it passed out of family hands. I do know that my parents sold the property to a cousin, Monsignor Leo Coughlan (sometime in the early 60s?) and he in turn sold it to his nephew, Rev. Jack (John) Coughlan.
I'm wondering if anyone who is familiar with the history of the area, might have Know of some websites I could go to on the Internet to look into this further....narratives, old photos, maps, recorded deeds, etc. My brother John passed away several years ago, and I am trying to gather "family history" information for his children and grandchildren (who all reside in Texas). The Little House on the Hill named Mounteen was a very big part of his life.
I thank you in advance for anything you can do.
Jo Anne Quinn
P.O. Box 53
Tidewater, OR 97390