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December 9, 2023

Fond Gilroy memories

After 39 years, we have decided to leave Gilroy and begin a new chapter in our lives. This departure is bittersweet for us. Bitter  in that Gilroy has become our home, the town in which we lived our lives and raised our kids. Yet sweet in that we are moving to a new town and new opportunities with the same reserved excitement as when we made the decision to move south to Gilroy.

It was in 1979 when as a young apprentice plumber, I was sent by my employer to work in Gilroy. Before then Gilroy was a place I remembered passing through as a child during occasional trips to Southern California to visit relatives and, of course, Disneyland. I remember how I enjoyed gazing out the window as we passed by the iconic City Hall building, Dad pointing out the coffee shop where he once spent his last dime years before as he hitchhiked home to San Francisco from his naval base in San Diego. Passing by farms and ranches along the Pacheco Pass, I would notice windows aglow in the early morning darkness as I imagined farmers were getting ready to begin their day. By 1979, a new six-lane freeway had bypassed the downtown. I exited at 10th Street and turned left toward my job assignment at Gilroy Foods. In addition to the work at Gilroy Foods, I worked on an addition to Wheeler Hospital on Fifth Street, and the construction of Gilroy’s new City Hall. The workers on all of these job sites were mostly local, and some of the friendliest, most welcoming I’d met. I thought then that Gilroy might be a good place for our growing young family to settle.

One day along my commute, I noticed a billboard advertising homes for sale, and touting Gilroy as the “$30,000 difference.” Since we were looking for a larger home at the time, I decided to take a look. As it turned out, the homes advertised were identical to those we had been considering in San Jose. But in Gilroy, they were within our budget, had larger yards and were in a much better neighborhood setting. By the following summer we were Gilroy residents, having moved in to a pre-owned model just a couple of blocks from Gilroy High. Just across the street was the elementary school where our oldest would begin kindergarten that fall.

Our time in Gilroy has been nothing short of wonderful. Our involvement in church, school and community activities has brought our family happiness and prosperity. Many young adults in town will remember miss Debbie as their preschool teacher at Wheeler Auditorium, and day camp leader at Christmas Hill Park.

We’ve enjoyed everything about Gilroy. The downtown merchants—Bruhn’s, Ford’s, JCPenney—mostly gone now. The Garlic Festival, Gilroy Gardens and the Hecker Pass Wine Corridor, near our current Gilroy home. 

But now it’s time to seek new adventure in a new location, a smaller home and a much smaller property to maintain. We’ll enjoy the recreational opportunities here for nearby hiking, biking, skiing and paddling. We’ll have a home base from which to ply our newfound passion for travel. Hopefully along the way, we’ll find the folks of Lake Tahoe to be as warm and friendly as Gilroy.

As we say goodbye to the community of people we’ve come to so dearly love, we will remember that goodbye doesn’t mean forever.

Steve and Debbie Andrade

This author byline indicates that the post was contributed by a member of the community.

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