August 3, 1908 was the first day of school for three Homestead Valley girls: Edith, age 9, Margaret, age 10, and Leslie, age 11. They would enter fourth grade at Mill Valley Grammar School (later, Summit School) located near downtown.
Edith lived at 361 Ridgewood on her father’s dairy ranch. Margaret lived at 424 LaVerne, an 8-acre gentleman’s farm—her father was a San Francisco attorney. Leslie lived in a large house at 227 LaVerne—her father was a buyer for a fur house in San Francisco.
That morning, Edith left home at 8 am, walked down the lane from Ridgewood to Ferndale and waited at the corner of LaVerne for Margaret who was walking down LaVerne. They met Leslie at her house and the three of them walked down Hawthorne to Evergreen. The streets were very dusty. But on Linden Lane there was a wooden sidewalk all the way to Miller Ave. They did not stop at Cooper’s Grocery on Linden Lane, but planned to do so on the way home to buy penny candies. They crossed Miller to the train platform which extended from La Goma to beyond the depot at the end of Locust Ave. It served long electrified trains full of tourists on weekends. They boarded the 8:32 single-car train which arrived at the Mill Valley Depot at 8:35. They walked up Throckmorton to Madrona and then up the Madrona steps to the school, arriving well before the 9 o’clock bell. They were the only Homestead kids in the fourth grade, a class of 10 girls and 9 boys. [The bell had been loaned to the school by the Church of Our Savior—it was too heavy for the church building.]
The above account is based on census data, school records, railroad timetables, old maps, etc. What follows is fantasy. Fast forward to today. Three Homestead Valley girls attend fourth grade at a private school located in downtown Mill Valley. Emma’s mom drives her to school in a Prius on the way to her law office. Madison’s dad, a hedge fund manager who works from home, drives her in an Escalade to Boyle Park, and walks with her to the school. He jogs back for his 9 o’clock tennis lesson. Lauren’s nanny drops her off in the family’s Explorer, and then goes to Mill Valley Market. The girls cannot walk to school—too many SUV’s on the roads, too far and no train.
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.