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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

  • How Andrew P. Hill Saved the Redwoods: Have you ever been to Big Basin Park and stood under a giant redwood, the tallest living trees on earth, and wondered how and why they are still here? This is the story of the man who saved them: artist and photographer Andrew Putnam Hill. Hill came to California in 1867 at the age of […]
  • Dirt (Part 4): I learned some valuable lessons working on the land in the local orchards. When I was about 13, I worked for Dr. Seikman, a woman chiropractor who owned ten acres of fruit trees near the San Jose Los Gatos Road. First we picked apricots and then, after a lull, prunes.
  • Artist Andrew P. Hill: Over the years some great artists have lived and painted here. Of particular interest to me are A.D.M. Cooper (1856-1924), Charles Harmon (1859-1936) and Andrew P. Hill (1853-1922). Cooper was certainly the most prolific and he commanded the highest prices for his paintings. When he was still alive, one of his paintings sold for $60,000, the equivalent of more than $1 million today. In my opinion Charles Harmon was perhaps the most gifted, but my favorite is Andrew P. Hill and, while not well known today, he painted some wonderful local pieces. Of course his real fame is that of the “man who saved the redwoods.” His painting “California Redwood Park” was exhibited during the second year of the San Francisco Panama Pacific Exposition in 1916.
  • 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?
  • Mormons in California: More than 35 years ago, our renowned historian, Clyde Arbuckle, stood at Emigration Canyon, overlooking the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and repeated the words that Mormon leader Brigham Young uttered 130 years before: “This is the place.” But then, Clyde added something that is not listed in Mormon ideology: “This is the place, I cannot go any further.” The faithful were carrying the desperately ill Young on a bed, and it was there that he urged them to stop and build their “Kingdom of God.”