Los Gatos-Santa Cruz Local History Tidbit: Old Hotels

I think my current fascination with old hotels probably had its roots in my childhood.

Growing up in Los Gatos, I distinctly remember the Lyndon Hotel on the corner of

Santa Cruz & Main Streets. When I began high school, the hotel was mysteriously demolished. I had no idea why this occurred & still don’t know. In researching history in the Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Santa Cruz Mountains, I am amazed how many truly grand hotels & resorts there once were.

Strangely, many old hotels were reported to have burned down. I am curious why that would be the case. Most old houses did not burn down (evidenced by the fact they are still standing!), but most hotels did. Why?

Another unanswered question I have has to do with the reporting of these events. The literature I have read usually states that a particular hotel burned down in 1910 or whatever, & never gives a cause of the fire, nor mentions how the parcel of land subsequently became city owned (in the case of the Capitola Hotel, once privately owned, now apparently City of Capitola turf). I would much prefer a beautiful, elegant hotel to what is on the parcel now (a lawn, some stairs, & some miscellaneous privately owned businesses), although I did read recently that something more interesting is being considered for the site, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what. debryman.com

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Los Gatos-Santa Cruz Local History Tidbit: Highway 17

Just by coincidence, I recently met Richard Beal, the author of Highway 17 (1991, The Pacific Group, Aptos, CA). When I got back to my office, I pulled the book off the shelf and began thumbing through it. What a gold mine of local history! I saw that the year I graduated high school (no hints) there were 36 fatalities on “17!” (I don’t think my parents knew that, otherwise, why would they allow a crazy teenager to regularly drive over the hill?). According to Beal, Harvey West was responsible for installing “gory billboards” up on 17 – complete with red day-glo images of skeletons & coffins, as a way to discourage unsafe drivers. It seems to have worked!

I get nostalgic every time I read about the towns of Alma and Lexington being flooded to create Lexington Reservoir (discussed in Beal’s book). I seriously wish history had unfolded differently. I miss those towns I never knew!

It’s also interesting to look at the old maps & pictures of the Santa Cruz Mountains & the various routes from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz & imagine how it once was from the days of Mountain Charlie to crazy Riker’s Holy City . . . debryman.com

The Intersection of Feng Shui & Real Estate

After working on my Ph.D. thesis for three years and having the epiphany that I should not finish my dissertation (the subject of a future blog, no doubt), I decided to train to become a Feng Shui consultant. I have a natural love of metaphysics, architecture & design, and thought my complete skill set and personality would be well suited to this art.

I also live in a progressive community and believed that I would have no problem attracting clients.

I flew to the temperate rain forest of Indiana (which henceforth, I had never even known existed) for the first part of my training. It was a one week intensive, and it was just that. Having studied transpersonal psychology in graduate school, and having attended many workshops and intensives (from Holotropic Breathwork to Process Oriened Psychology to Psychosynthesis to you-name-it, I had distinct opinions about what constituted good training and I thought this was extremely valuable.

I came home raring to go. Despite my previous career in marketing, I somehow “forgot” that it might take more than a few months and a few dollars to get the word out that I was in business. I became discouraged and decided to segway into real estate. I had a handfull of Feng Shui clients, and fully enjoyed Feng Shui-ing, but was not sure if the area would support another consultant (there are several who have worked very hard to get their names out there). My father was sick at the time, and I didn’t have the burning desire to gamble everything on a career that seemed untested and uncertain.

When I first got into real estate, I had the notion that my Feng Shui training could be an asset to my clients. I quickly found out that most people I have come in contact with do not appreciate unsolicited Feng Shui advice.

One client had an enormous collection of dried flowers and stuffed animals (both Feng Shui no-no’s – the former because it attracts dust, and the latter because it is clutter). I suggested the home might sell faster with these items put in storage and the response was incredibly negative. It was as if I had insulted the client’s children! The client unwillingly complied and the house sold and I learned a valuable lesson about people’s sensitivity to their “stuff.”

Subsequently, I have used my Feng Shui knowledge to support my intuition about a property. I trust bad feelings I get when touring a house – some houses I cannot even go into because “the vibes” are so bad.

I can also see what needs to be done to sell a house, or what modifications could make significant improvements in the property. It’s the most fun for me when clients “get it,” and intuitively understand my perceptions and suggestions.

I showed a property a couple of weeks ago to a couple I was working with. One of the homes we toured was a complete mess. It had very interesting architectural features, but the husband told me the messy house made him so uncomfortable, he just wanted to leave.

I had initially thought that since Feng Shui and real estate were married to one another that the application of the art of Feng Shui to the real estate marketplace would be a natural, and valuable asset to my clients. What I have found instead is that most people I meet are not so interested in what they can’t see, so I have taken my Feng Shui awareness underground. I use my knowledge of Feng Shui to inform everything I might bring to the table in real estate, but I don’t hit people over the head with my observations unless there is an obvious interest on the part of the client. debryman.com creativeharmony.org

Unprofessional “Professionals”

As a result of my nature, personality and upbringing (or maybe my diet, the stars, and the influence of my parents) I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist. I always thought being a perfectionist was a good thing (because it requires such strength and tenacity).  It is just recently that I realized I would have to “admit to it,” instead of brag about it. Something in me drives me to strive to “do the right thing,” do things “correctly” and attempt to provide superior service. It is a little OCD-ish, but I was always proud of it and flattered myself by thinking it was “character.”

When I encounter what for the sake of politeness I am calling “unprofessionalism” in others, I am always surprised by it (that’s another personality trait of mine: I am stubborn and don’t learn from experience until it hits me over the head one too many times). I truly expect people to have high moral values and ethics, and to treat others as they would like to be treated.

My training in psychology taught me that the expectation that others will act a certain way because it is my preference is projection. To me, it is just common sense in general and good business sense to try to do your work to your best ability and to treat your clients politely and respectfully. I have been accused of being idealistic, “over-achieving” (which I always thought was a bizarre backhanded “compliment” (i.e., insult – effectively saying “You’re really not that great, so no need to try so hard:).

This latest rant was prompted by a truly horrible experience with an educated “professional” who traditionally is busy in April (hint, hint). I had discovered several errors in the work performed and was told that the errors would not be corrected. This to me, was completely mind-blowing. There was no apology for making the errors, and no attempt at making the customer happy. Instead, the response was very curt and rude. I had dejavu’ of previous experiences when I have pointed out bad news of some kind to someone – the response is often “shoot the messenger.”

I always expect people to truly care about whatever has been reported as being a problem, but the truth is many people apparently do not. I find it particularly distressful when you hire someone to do a job for you and you pay them good money and the work is less than satisfactory. It’s like some people have entitlement issues, and truly believe that they are doing their customers or clients a favor by working for them, and that the client has to accept errors or less than professional work. This pheonomenon really boggles my mind. I think most people probably don’t do the level of proofing I do, otherwise they would also be livid at the errors that are made. I am guessing most people probably trust “professionals” to do a professional job and don’t second guess them.

I realized that I need to trust my instincts about the people I hire to do work for me. In each case where I was sorely disappointed in the service I received, there were subtle hints that the relationship might not be suitable for me, but I chose to ignore them (in this last case, the person talked fast and mumbled at the same time, which I thought was odd and a bit of a practical problem in that I could not understand a good deal of what was said, but I shrugged it off as my problem – not being able to understand – instead of a sign that the person might not be a good fit for me). At some point, you (I) just get sick of looking for the “perfect  professional,” knowing that no one is perfect. But I have to remind myself again that there are kind, honest, ethical, competent people out there and no matter how inconvenient, I should never settle for less! debryman.com