A quiz: So how much do you really know about Palo Alto? | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Almanac Online |


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By Diana Diamond

A quiz: So how much do you really know about Palo Alto?

Uploaded: Jun 2, 2021

It’s a local newly created zoom game. A small group of Rotary Club of Palo Alto members
played it last Friday evening. President Ben Threlkeld, O.D., an optometrist in Palo Alto, put
together the quiz and did a lot of work on ferreting out facts about Palo Alto.

It’s a quiz you can take by yourself, or play it with a spouse or friend(s). One point for each right answer. There were 18 of us who played, so we were put into three zoom rooms to confer, and then answer each set of three questions. The team that won got a prize. Here are the set of questions. Enjoy!

(Topic #1)
What is the name of this iconic tree by the railroad tracks at Alma and El Camino??
How old is the tree - 250, 500, 1000, or 2000 years old?
What specific event allowed residents to determine the tree’s age?

(Topic #2)
What was the name of Leland Stanford’s horse, known for being in a motion picture?
How did Leland Stanford Jr. die?
How did Jane Lathrop Stanford die?

(Topic #3)
A 250-acre farm in South Palo Alto, once owned by Sarah Wallis, is now part of what neighborhood?
What was the occupation of the man who bought the farm in 1873 - Butcher, Real Estate, or Banker?
What is the English translation of the Spanish word “Matadero” in Matadero Creek? Hint, the answer to this question relates to question previous question.

(Topic #4)
Who is known as “the father of Silicon Valley?”
Why is he called this?
What well-known test did his father invent?

(Topic #5)
How many public high schools were there in Palo Alto in 1978?
What state proposition later lead to closing of one of these high schools?
Why was that school picked as the school to close?

(Topic #6)
What was the name of an icy outdoor attraction, which it first opened 1956?
What past city council member was instrumental in preventing its closure?
What is the secret to keeping the ice frozen in Palo Alto’s warm climate?

(Topic #7)
Which neighborhood in Palo Alto boasts donkeys as its mascot?
What are the names of at least two donkeys?
What movie used one of the donkeys for artistic inspiration?

(Topic #8)
Who is this infamous female CEO whose headquarters were in Palo Alto?
What company did she found?
What was the title of the best-seller written about her career?


Topic #1
• This is El Palo Alto, the namesake of our city, meaning the tall stick or tree.
• The tree used to be a double-trunked.
• A windstorm in 1880 blew down the other twin trunk and locals eagerly counted the rings.
• The tree still stands today.

Topic #2
• Sallie Gardner
• Leland Stanford Jr.
• He died of Typhoid in Italy at the age of 16 years old.
• The Stanfords created Stanford University in Leland Jr.’s honor.

• Jane Lathrop Stanford
• Died of strychnine poisoning. In1905 in her Nob Hill mansion, she drank mineral water that was poisoned with strychnine but vomited and didn’t die.
• Maid under suspicion was dismissed.
• She then moved to Oahu.
• She drank some mineral water that was pre-packed and died of strychnine poisoning.
• Rumors of foul play from David Starr Jordan, since he sailed out to Oahu and hired a physician to say that she died of a heart attack, though it was obvious that this wasn’t the cause of death.
• Most people believe that he was just trying to protect the university from controversy.

Topic #3
• This mansion and farm was purchased from Sarah Wallis in 1873 by Edward Barron.
• This land is now known as Barron Park.
• Edward Barron made his fortune running a meat packing business during the Gold Rush.
• Coincidently, the word Matadero in Matadero Creek, means slaughterhouse.
• Matadero Creek was named prior to Edward Barron buying the land.

Topic #4
• Frederick Terman is the “Father of Silicon Valley” for developing the Stanford Industrial Park.
• Frederick Terman was the Dean of Engineering at Stanford.
• Frederick began encouraging faculty and graduates to stay in the area instead of leaving California, and develop a high-tech region.
• After the war Stanford needed money, so the University leased land for a shopping center to the North and in the South the land became the first university-owned industrial park.
• Early companies at the Stanford Industrial Park were Varian, HP, GE, Eastman Kodak, and Lockheed.
• 1970 the name changed to Stanford Research Park
• Terman’s vision of academic and business co-partnership was driving force creating Silicon Valley.
• Lewis Terman and the IQ test. His father Lewis was a psychology professor at Stanford, promoted eugenics and developed the IQ Test.

Topic #5
There were 3 public high schools in Palo Alto in 1978, Paly, Gunn, and Cubberley.
• Due to Proposition 13, the revenues in Palo Alto were declining and the city needed to close a school
•The city decided to sell one of the high schools so the funds could be used to support the city
• Because both Paly and Gunn are on Stanford Land, if the land were sold, Stanford would get the land for the original sale price, which was of 26K for Paly, and 358K for Gunn. Cubberley was worth 11M.
• The city chose Cubberley for financial reasons.

Topic #6
• The Winter Club opened 1956 by Duncan Williams, a Wisconsin native and engineering professor at San Jose State,
• Duncan figured out a way to keep the ice cool in a warmer climate “by using a refrigerant system with brine solution in the pipes and some strategically placed shade.
• 1983 the Winter Club’s lease would run out and Duncan was to retire.
• The land was destined to be redeveloped into condos.
• There were a number of ideas to build a new rink but couldn’t get sufficient funding.
• Past City Council member, Jack Morton, got a one-year lease extension and some funding from the city for renovations, and the name was changed to The Winter Lodge.
• Winter Lodge is still open for skating to this day.

Topic #7
• Barron Park is known for its donkeys.
• 1962 to 1972 the donkeys lived in the pasture owned by Cornelis Bol, Stanford researcher and inventor of the mercury vapor light.
• Neighborhood kids loved to play with them.
• In 1960 Negrita, one of the donkeys, served as a Gunn High Mascot at football games.
• 1965, when Cornelis Bol died, he asked that his pasture be converted into a city park.
• In 1972, the donkeys have lived on private land at their same location.
• With the help of Barron Park neighbors, in 1974, Bol’s pasture was converted to Bol Park.
• Mrs. Bol died in 1996 and donkey, Mickey, died in 1998.
• Other well-known donkeys are Perry, Niner, Jenny, and Buddy.
• In early 2000 "Shrek,” the donkeys were in the movies.
• PDI donated $75 dollars, and Barron Park residents miffed that no mention of them in the credits.

Topic #8
•This infamous CEO, known for her deep voice and deep blue eyes is Elizabeth Holmes.
• She founded Theranos in 2003 and the company was ultimately headquartered on Page Mill Rd.
• Theranos was touted as a breakthrough technology company, with claims of having devised blood tests that required only very small amounts of blood and could be performed very rapidly using small automated devices the company had developed.
• By 2015, Forbes had named Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America on the basis of a $9-billion valuation of her company.
• The next year, following fraud revelations about Theranos' claims, Forbes had revised Holmes's net worth to zero, and Fortune had named her one of the "World's Most Disappointing Leaders".
• In October 2015, John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal reported that Theranos was using traditional blood testing machines instead of the company's Edison devices to run its tests, and that the company's Edison machines might provide inaccurate results.
• John Carreyrou wrote the best-seller, “Bad Blood,” which focused on his reporting of the Theranos scandal.
• “Bad Blood” was one of the best-selling books of 2018, listed on NPR's Guide To 2018’s Great Reads, and The New York Times Book Review's 100 Notable Books of 2018.

Thank you, Ben, for this great local quiz!