Lee de Forest (1873-1961)


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Lee de Forest Travelogue Page 2 by Julie Newdoll

September 4: Julie and her family went to History San Jose this weekend to visit Lee de Forest at his final destination. What a fabulous place! This is a very well kept secret. All you pay for is parking, by the way, which was $6.00. We had a great time. Lee fits in so perfectly, you will have to agree.

As soon as we entered the park, a trolley car was there waiting for us. Built in 1907, it was made almost entirely of wood and was electric.

We must have ridden the trolley car about 20 times! It was just a short route around the town, which had wide empty streets with historic buildings all around. Here are Julie and the kids.
The music of a self-playing pipe organ filled the air at the end of the trolley line, in the Trolley Car Museum. Our GPS engineer / Julie's husband posing in the museum with the kids.

Inside and outside the museum were great old things like this bicycle for checking tunnels for pedestrians, an old gas station and an ancient looking vehicle with a jaunty cap, just like Lee.

It was worth the trip just to see this picture of what San Jose used to look like when it was "The Valley of Heart's Delight." You just have to see this in person, as it is much larger than any web photo can do justice.
We found Lee inside what used to be "The Pacific Hotel".
He greeted us in the lobby in front of the working soda shop, where we all had an ice cream. He has had his eye on the ice cream lady, but she claims he is not her type.

San Jose was very excited by electricity. Before they bothered wiring up everyone's homes, they decided to try using one big light for the whole city. This is a scaled down replica. They claim you could read a newspaper at the edge of town when it was on at night. This would have been a great exhibit for the ZeroOne festival, but it was 100 years ahead of its time.
Thus ends the chapter of Lee de Forest in our project (unless some company buys him and sets him off on another journey, like Hewlett and Packard. In fact, if you want to buy him for History San Jose or contribute something to help us get him permanently installed there, please contact me by email at exhibits __at__ ylem.org, or phone Brush with Science, 650 591 7999).

Jim Pallas, the sculptor of Lee de Forest, insisted that I have photos of myself and my family at History San Jose, so I am including one of Jim here out of fairness. Doesn't it look like his shop could be part of the Trolley Museum? He is also quite ahead of his time.

Go to de Forest Travelogue page 1 2




Copyright © 2006 Julie Newdoll, Jim Pallas, Mike Mosher, Mario Wolczko