San Jose in the 50’s

Hey history buffs, check out this awesome video produced by the San Jose Chamber of Commerce back in the 1950s. The only footage from Willow Glen itself is of Laura Ville, but the film is worth a watch for shots of landmark buildings in downtown San Jose, the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose State “College”, the Cambrian Park neighborhood just being built, and brand new “ultra-modern” Eichlers.

The video also takes a look at local businesses of the time, making it quite clear with effusive praise heaped upon them that they funded the production. Featured businesses include a downtown store called O’Briens, a supermarket called Bettencourt’s, Normandin’s car dealership, and (I think) Orchard Supply Hardware.

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The film is worth watching for the narration alone. It’s high cheese with some real gems that bely the language and culture of the time. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • San Jose’s growth: “From that humble beginning, the city grew. Nurtured by man’s vision and man’s enterprise, it was inevitable that nature’s generosity would be used wisely and well.”
  • San Jose’s Schools: “Academic standards are high in San Jose’s school systems, which in addition to the 2 high schools has 4 junior high, 15 elementary and 11 kindergarten schools to round out the splendid educational facilities available to all children.”
  • Normandin’s Service Department: “Every modern facility known to engineering science is here to diagnose and correct the ills of the faithful family car.”
  • Laura Ville: “Typical of the architecture of its day is the Laura Ville residence. It still stands in quiet dignity, a reminder of a gentler day before living had developed so many of its present day complications.”
  • The Rose Garden: “In the gentle climate of San Jose, flowers of every description grow in delightful profusion. The San Jose Municipal Rose Garden is a mecca for tourists and flower lovers from around the world. In flower shows throughout America, San Jose roses are always to be found in the list of prize winners.”
  • New Homes Being Built: “These rooms were planned with great care to provide the maximum of living with a minimum of effort on the part of the lady of the house. Closet space for every need, modern plumbing and gleaming tile to simplify household chores make these homes the delight of every feminine visitor.”

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