Since leaving for college in 1999, I’ve come back to Gilroy on
several occasions to see my family and friends.
Since leaving for college in 1999, I’ve come back to Gilroy on several occasions to see my family and friends.
But it took spending some time jogging in my neighborhood to realize how much this town has changed – and in some ways stayed the same – during the past six years. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time here lately – I moved home six weeks ago when my husband was deployed to Iraq.
I’m not talking about the mini-San Jose shopping area that popped up on the east side of town, or the massive road-widening project I pass on Santa Teresa Boulevard every day on my way home.
The things I’ve seen are less noticeable, and because I grew up in this town – which, when I was born, had about 30,000 less people – each change brings back a memory.
One example is the new housing development being built on Westwood Drive, where the old Nob Hill grocery store once stood. Little do the people who are moving there know that once upon a time, back in the ’80s, myself, dressed in stretch pants and a New Kids on the Block T-shirt, and hundreds of other Gilroy kids dove through the candy aisles the day before Easter and left with belly aches.
On that day, store employees would dump loads of chocolates, nougats and peppermints all over the floor of the store, and when the whistle was blown, the race was on to grab as much sweet deliciousness as you could. The aisles were separated by age group, so kids were on an even playing field as they duked it out for the best Cadbury Egg or chocolate rabbit to be found.
And while eating some chocolate the other day (because, let’s face it, some things in life don’t change), I went for a cruise up Mantelli Drive toward the Country Estates, just to take in the gorgeous weather.
Again I wondered, “Do the people who live at the top of Columbine Court know that for years, hundreds of Gilroy High School kids had make-out sessions with their high school sweethearts and drank their parents’ beer like it was the cool thing to do?”
I see these changes, and in a way, some of my memories are becoming more distant. But they’ll never fade for good. As homes are thrown up in the fields around my house, where as kids we built frog swamps and “baked” mud pies, I realize Gilroy is growing fast. But even with 30,000 more people, this town still has the hometown charm it has always been known for.
Whether I’m walking the dog or checking out at the grocery store, I’m always greeted with a “hello” or a “have a good day.”
When I moved to the South a year ago for a job and to be near my then fiance, everyone told me how hospitable people would be and how welcomed I would feel.They forgot to mention that some Southerners don’t like “fast-talking Californians,” as I was called.
So, for all you fast-talkin’ Gilroyans, appreciate where you live for the 5 degrees of separation this community embodies. Knowing six out of the 10 people in line at Longs Drug Store when you’re buying Haagen Dazs and Midol may not be fun, but the next time you’re locked out or you get a flat tire, one of those six just might be there to help.