Lake Cunningham Park in San Jose is just a few blocks from my sister’s home and a beautiful place to go for walks. We are both trying to maintain a regular walking schedule and to keep our step counts over 4,000. Yesterday we did that by walking around the lake and we enjoyed looking at the geese and ducks. We also saw a jackrabbit, some pure white ducks that we couldn’t identify, and a very large seagull; at least, we think it’s a large seagull but we could be wrong.
Showing my age here, years ago the Lake Cunningham property was not being utilized and many wondered if it would be developed into more housing tracts. A woman, Velma Million, was a political activist in the Evergreen/San Jose East areas and she believed whole heartedly that there were far superior uses for that land. She began attending City meetings and encouraging her ideas. I don’t recall details 50+ years later but Velma won! Whenever I passed by Lake Cunningham I always thought of Velma Million. When the East Foothils are green, it is the most wonderful (beautiful) time of the year.
Velma’s story must be preserved somewhere!
Yes, indeed! In fact, I took a picture of the plaque with her name on it. Vera said that one of her goals had been to create a park in which the traffic could not be heard. She accomplished her goal!
I Googled her and she lived to be 97! And she was also involved in the mess of unfinished freeway connectors at 101/280/680 that resulted in folks placing an old car way up on the unconnected roadway as a protest. It worked and now that is one really amazing connection of roads that people possibly never give a second thought to.
The dairy was either run or owned by a family who had a son who was friends with one of our boys. Loved that place and occasionally cows would ‘escape’ and we would awaken to a yard (ours and neigbors’) covered in mooing cows! Our son even helped with milking sometimes if one can imagine that! The dairy store on White and Ocala was a neighborhood treasure. Family was Portuguese and our neighborhood had quite a few Portuguese families. I loved it.
Those are great stories, Mary Beth! Thank you for adding to my knowledge of the area and bringing added appreciation of the park.
The land was once a dairy farm but was repeatedly flooded so the dairy farm moved out.
I just found out that Lake Cunningham is named after James Cunningham who was originally from Canada. He was quite a character! https://www.evergreenmuralwalk.com/tag/velma-million/
Amazing. And what a huge area his farm occupied. He would be a ‘gazillionaire’ were he to have owned all that property now. And all this from a lovely stroll through Lake Cunningham with Vera. It is such a personal touch to understand some of the history behind various locales.
The white ducks may be American Pekin ducks which are normally domestic and raised primarily for meat. If they are, the three that live in the park must have escaped that fate.
It really is a lovely park and I have been enjoying my walks there very much. Marybeth you brought back some very good memories of going to that dairy. You could drive up and get milk, cheese, and eggs and they would hand it to you through the car window. Now when I go for my walk I will say thank you Velma (one in a) Million.
How lovely it must have been to get fresh dairy produce right off the farm!
Oh Vera, so true about stopping at the dairy (don’t know if it had an actual name, always called it ‘the dairy’). Bread, eggs, milk, and cheese right to the window of the car. The family name of those who worked/or owned the actual dairy was Raposo I believe. Our home was easily within walking distance and one day I asked a neighbor if she would like to walk to the dairy with me (this at least 50 years ago). Her response was “oh I’ll drive you. Is your car broken?” LOL
That is soooo California!
I remember the dairy and I remember the students at my high school, Mt Pleasant, getting involved politically in favor of the lake in the early 70s. PS So happy you and my mom had that lovely walk!
We did enjoy our walk. The story of the dairy has really sparked my interest now. I’m going to see what else I can find out.