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Leonard McKay

Leonard McKay

Welcome to www.leonardmckay.com, the site dedicated to the life and learnings of Leonard McKay, historian, San Jose, California. My grandfather was an amazing man and a wealth of knowledge. As such, I have decided that it is a crime to let his knowledge go to waste, and will be developing this site in his honor.

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Excerpts from Leonard's Blog

  • Credo Quia Absurdum: There has been considerable debate about the purpose of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. Is it a men’s historical and drinking society, or is it a drinking and historical society? What does the name stand for? I can’t answer these questions and the name doesn’t translate into anything meaningful in English. The society’s roots—as a benevolent fraternal society—go deep into the gold rush history of California, when there was a real need for such things.
  • Anatomy of a Street (Part 1): What San Jose street is actually in two cites, has had a murder by hired assassins, has three churches and narrows at both ends? What street had a property with a live lion patrolling the grounds in the 1930s and has a house that was once a brothel before it was moved to its present location? What private eye living on this street was stabbed when answering his door late one night in 1974?
  • Lou’s Donuts: Did you ever buy a lopsided donut, one with a handle on it, and discover that it was the best donut you ever ate in your life? If you bought your sinker at Lou’s Living Donut Museum, you are in for a real treat. Lou’s is one of those hidden gems of old San Jose—not the kind you find in every shopping center, but a place where quality, friendliness and patriotism prevail. How many donut shops can you name where the employees raise the American flag and sing the Star Spangled Banner every morning? How many donut emporiums have their own little theatre where touring school children can see a video on donut making? How many donut shops have displays of World War II aircraft, pictures and displays of American Independence, such as a copy of the Declaration of Independence, pictures of George Washington and memorabilia of the area?
  • Beer Making in San Jose (Part 2): Prohibition brought chaos. There was no longer any control over alcohol quality or purity. Bootleggers flourished, sometimes killing their customers with bad hooch. If you knew the password, usually “Joe sent me,” and could afford it, then you could get a shot of “bathtub gin” at George’s on South First Street, out at the Hoo-Hoo House on Stevens Creek Road, or at many other local “blind pigs.”
  • The Saratoga Relay – Class of 1940: On the occassion of the 50th Class Reunion of Los Gatos High School, the reunion committee asked L McKay for his reminiscences.