A Freshman’s Biography


August, 2012

Thirty-five years ago, Brian Shea, a Tam High freshman who lived on Pixie Trail, interviewed 60-year old Virginia Spalding. The result was an 11-page hand-written biography for Miss Holland’s English class entitled, “Through the Window into the Life of Virginia.” A great deal has been written about Virginia Spalding, but the following excerpts from Brian’s biography reflect the perspective of a teen-ager.

“Virginia Spalding is a woman nearing the age that people refer to as elderly. Her face blooms with grace and fairness as she speaks, choosing her words purposefully. When her father [Fred Stolte] was a young man, he moved south from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco. ‘He accepted a job with the Examiner, display advertising, the great big ads Virginia explained to me, gesturing with her hands to show the size of one-half of a page of a newspaper. He was a good salesman, he must have been good to keep a job for half a century.’

“Soon after he received his advertising job, her father met her mother. They liked each other and got married. Then they had a child, Virginia. After two years living on Presidio Ave, in San Francisco, they moved to Homestead Valley in 1917. She remembers about that time that the area was mainly farms and grazing lands for dairy cattle. All the roads were dirt then.

“It was in this setting that Virginia went to Homestead School for education in grades one through four. She was to come back to this school, although she didn’t know it then. After junior high school she proceeded to Tamalpais High School. She started as a freshman in 1929. Radio was becoming very popular and movies made their debut just before the Depression. As a child, Virginia did not rely on media as children of today do. The first time she watched television was the inauguration of president Eisenhower in 1953.

“She graduated from Tamalpais High School in 1933. From there she went to the College of Marin. Then she enrolled at San Francisco State University, majoring in education. She took the train from Mill Valley to Sausalito, caught one of the two car ferries and floated across San Francisco Bay. On her way she saw the bridge while it was under construction. When the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public on the 27th of May, 1937, Virginia was there.

“Virginia then started her teaching career. First, she taught fourth grade at Park School. After three years, she gave herself a vacation. Somewhere in that vacation she met her to-be husband. The two of them married each other in 1944. Then she returned to teaching, but this time it was at her old school, Homestead School. Virginia Spalding has been living in Homestead Valley for 58 years. She saw Homestead School change from when she was a student to when she was a teacher. She is now an important citizen of the area. She is concerned about the community and involved in public affairs.”

Miss Holland gave Brian Shea an A on his biography with the comment, “Beautiful!” 

If you have comments or questions about this article
or other topics pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.