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Leader Relay Walk

The good walking weather returned last Wednesday for our Piedmont RecreationDepartment's Walking on Wednesdays group. It was cool and a little cloudy,

but no precipitation, and a great morning to get outside and walk after the many recent days of rains. A strong showing of 44 walkers and three K-9 best friends were at the Exedra to enjoy it.

As we were assembling, 83 year old, robust walker Martin Levy said he wanted it to be "noted and reported" that he was "proudly wearing a 60 year old jacket." He got it as a young man in his native Brooklyn, New York. It is still quite stylish, as is Martin. There was another announcement. Piedmont Post cartoonist and walker Phil Witte is going to have an exhibition of his work for three weekends, starting on January 21st, at the Piedmont Center for the Arts at 801 Magnolia Avenue. Phil invited all the walkers to come.

Then I recalled that this day was supposed to be the last Wednesday my doctor said I would have to be out recovering from a medical procedure. So, there was going to be a need for six weeks of alternate walk leaders.However, my doctor allowed me to return early. I was back, but I said I appreciated that Will Adams, Melba Y, Mike and Nancy H, Charlene L, and Priscilla W had volunteered to lead the walks.

I also said I thought a positive from my being out was that other walker shad stepped up and led the walks while I was gone. This is great because I hope Walking on Wednesdays will continue on indefinitely in Piedmont with other leaders after I walk off into the sunset. I said anyone can lead aWednesday walk just by walking Piedmont streets with friends. To prove it, I proposed that this day's walk leaders come from the group. I pulled a red baton (actually about 12 inches from the top of an old broom stick) and asked for a volunteer to start the day's walk off. She/he could go off in any direction, and in about seven minutes I would toot a whistle and the baton would be handed off to another walker.

There was only mild trepidation and hesitation before Matt G raised his hand and took the baton in it. Matt is especially qualified to lead a walk in Piedmont because a little over a year ago he created a walking route around Piedmont's entire perimeter. Matt said we wouldn't be going on that one this morning because it takes about seven hours to do. However, Matt did take us down the west side of Highland Avenue. We passed a home in the200 block that is way back off the street. This home was built in 1890 on the other side of Vernal (now Highland) Avenue. However, someone determined the street needed to be widened and the house's front garden had to be taken for the expansion. The owner was determined this would never happen again, and she/he had the home put on log rollers and moved it across the street and far back off of it.

Matt handed off the baton to Pat K at the corner with Blair Avenue, andPat who took us down it to Waldo Avenue. On Waldo it was noted this street was once the backside of the home of Walker Blair, the first European settler in what was to become Piedmont. Pat took us up Waldo to Park Way, and then passed the baton to Christine C. Christine led us down ParkWay past Dracena Park, which was once Walter Blair's quarry next to his dairy farm, and she passed the baton to Sherry Jacobs. Sherry took us all the way down the Park Way hill. We passed many beautiful cedar shake shingle homes built around 1908 after the San Francisco Earthquake. Walker architects Will Adams, Bob Wong, and Jim Kellogg provided insights into this architectural style and type of construction. At the bottom of Park Way, the street takes a hard right. Sherry pointed out that right there on the left is a hidden path that goes down to Artuna Avenue and the lower edge of Dracena Park. Sherry led us down the path to Artuna and then to another path on Ricardo Avenue that goes to York Avenue. Sherry handed the baton off to Phil Witte who took us up York. On York Charlene L pointed out a home that she had seen in an old photo on Meghan’s History of Piedmont website. In the photo this is the only house in open fields, and it still looks much the same. Phil Witte did a quick Zillow search and discovered the house was built in 1912.

At Arroyo Avenue it was Charlene's turn to lead. She took us up the street, past her home, to another hidden path at Monticello Avenue. This one goes along the side of another beautiful cedar shake shingle house. We emerged at the top of the path on the Lorita Avenue cul-de-sac. Then Edith L took over and returned us to Monticello and Park Way. Finally, Kat L took the baton on Park Way and brought us back to Highland and the Exedra.It had been a 2.3 mile, wondering Wednesday walk with great streets, lovely homes, hidden paths, and Piedmont history; all led by a wonderful set ofWednesday walkers. They proved that anyone can lead, or just take, a delightful tour of Piedmont streets on a Wednesday, or any day of the week.


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