Rod Diridon Sr. has worn many hats in his 83 years: he served two combat tours in Vietnam with the US Navy, worked as a junior executive at Lockheed, started his own survey company and spent 20 years on the Santa Clara County Board. of supervisors before his retirement in 1994.
But the cap he’s probably most associated with is a railroad engineer’s cap, as he’s known both as the “father of modern public transit” in Silicon Valley and as a great historic railroad enthusiast. . For those two reasons — and more — History San Jose is honoring Diridon at its Valley of Heart’s Delight: Down by the Station fundraiser on Oct. 6 at History Park.
History San Jose CEO Bill Schroh Jr. says trains and streetcars are an important part of the Valley’s history, and Diridon helped History Park showcase these rolling memorabilia. The event’s “fund a need” donation campaign will help restore the park’s newest historic building acquisition, the 1869 Coyote Train Depot – one of the oldest in the Santa Clara Valley. It will be part of the History Park Transportation Corner, which features a locomotive, an Orchard Supply Hardware boxcar, and a caboose.
Diridon’s history with trains goes back even before he was born. His maternal grandmother took the train to high school in San Jose in the late 1800s, and Diridon’s father, Claudius Diridoni, changed the surname in part because of bigotry in the railroad industry. Rod Diridon worked as a railroad brakeman and firefighter to pay Shasta Junior College and Chico State before transferring to San Jose State.
While a member of the Board of Supervisors, he lobbied for the first half-cent transit sales tax, led the creation of VTA’s light rail system, and chaired the study that led to Caltrain commuter service. Along with charting the future of Santa Clara County public transit, he helped found the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation, which built the trolley barn at History Park and rebuilt nine vintage trolleys. He also advocated for preserving the downtown San Jose station after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and when he retired from the board of supervisors in 1994, the station was named in his honor.
“There is a love for history as I know we must always look to the future,” said Diridon, who now focuses her efforts on climate change and sustainability and looks forward with pride to the day when Caltrain will be fully electrified.
The 5:30 p.m. outdoor celebration will also serve as the opening of a new exhibit at the Trolley Barn, “Rod Diridon Sr.: A Lifetime of Public Service.” Tickets are available at historysanjose.org/get-involved/valley-of-hearts-delight-annual-fundraiser.
Diridon said he was very proud to be recognized by History San Jose and groups like him and the Preservation Action Council have missions that are “beyond worth.” “These two organizations working together ensure that we remember the best of the past as we move forward into a better future,” he said. “These people are there to protect the artifacts, homes and individual documents that will remind us of that.”
FIVE LEGGED REVIEW: How do therapy dogs acclimate to restaurant settings? It helps if you take them out to dinner once in a while.
George Nobile, owner of Vito’s Trattoria on Skyport Drive in San Jose, opened his restaurant for a therapy meeting and dinner for the South Bay chapter of Canine Companions. Mori Mandis, president of the Silicon Valley Concierge Association, said it was a good time.
When COVID-19 put an end to many Concierge Association events, Mandis confronted Healey, a released canine companion. A certified therapy team, they go to classes once a month and she thought it would be good to take the team to different restaurants and wineries to introduce the therapy dogs to the public.
“Therapy dogs are such great ambassadors to the public,” she said. “Dogs are allowed to be petted and participate with the public, whereas ‘service dogs’ are working dogs and are not permitted. Since the hospitality industry is going through some tough times, we haven’t had any events because of it, I just thought it might be fun and interesting for this group to come out and bring some joy.
SUCCESSFUL CELEBRATION: Cambodia’s Doris Dillion School – founded by retired San Jose Unified School District teachers Jim and Denise DeLong – marked 5 years of raising children in a rural middle school in the Southeast Asian country. The first of their students are either at university or graduate and embark on professional life. That’s a good reason for the celebration, held on September 17 at Almaden Golf and Country Club, which included a silent auction to continue providing scholarships to 40 middle and high school girls.
The school is named after Doris Dillon, a beloved Almaden Valley teacher who died of ALS in 2001. Columbia University Teachers College named a professional development center after her before her death, and the Almaden Branch Library Children’s Library in San Jose also carries it. Last name.
You can find out more about the work of the Doris Dillon School at www.dorisdillonschoolincambodia.org.
WELCOME BACK FOR THE SANTA CLARA PARADE: The 53rd Santa Clara Parade of Champions is set to return Oct. 1, with a full day of activities in the Franklin Square neighborhood. A farmers’ market and a “village” of community booths will be open a few hours before the parade’s opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. The parade itself leaves the corner of Market and Monroe streets at 11 a.m. and ends in Harrison and Washington.
The grand finale at 1 p.m. will feature the Sacramento State Marching Band, followed by “Salsa on the Square” until 5 p.m. More details are available at www.scparadeofchampions.org.
I heard the parade could use a few more convertibles to transport the winners around the community in a more visible way. If you have a car that fits the bill, contact Mike Hennessy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ray Pulver at email@example.com.