If you’ve been around this area for a while, you’ve probably had the same reaction I had when I saw REI move into the old Toys R Us store in Sunnyvale this fall: “Ain’t that the one haunted ? ”
Indeed, the former toy and game house on El Camino Real and Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, which closed its doors in 2018, had a haunted reputation that dates back almost to when Geoffrey first saw the giraffe up his neck in 1970 reached out. Self-proclaimed clairvoyant Sylvia Browne, who still had a large following after her death in San Jose in 2013 but had a dubious reputation, held a seance there in 1978 claiming that a ghost named “Johnson” was the one who drove through the Grazing corridors and the Play-Doh frightened of people.
As their story told, Johnson was a Swedish ranch on Murphy Farm in the 1880s, longing for the family’s daughter, Elizabeth, who ran away to get married on the east coast. He is said to have come to a bloody end by his own hand in the orchard in which the shop is now located. Creepy stuff, right? In addition, with the exception of the seance, it is almost exclusively a bunk. People with access to facts have put many holes in this campfire story over the years.
But the call lingered, as spirits can do. Even if Browne got her facts wrong, does that mean the store hasn’t been haunted? My practical sense tells me it wasn’t and it wasn’t, but I still wouldn’t want to be alone in this business after the big sporting goods retailer moved in. After all, Johnson might be from Sweden and interested in learning to snowboard.
JAZZING UP DOWNTOWN: San Jose Jazz is bringing music back downtown this week with its New Works Fest, which kicks off Thursday and celebrates International Jazz Day with a weekly streaming lineup. Performances will take place in the SJZ Break Room, an indoor stage in the new San Jose Jazz offices in the old Valley Title building in San Carlos and on South First Street. They will be streamed to ticket buyers as a live audience is not allowed.
But the really fun part is that the performances are also projected onto a cloth screen that fills the floor-to-ceiling windows in front of the SJZ Break Room so people can enjoy the shows for free and outdoors in a COVID. safe area. Brendan Rawson, Executive Director of San Jose Jazz, recently showed me around the room and shared his hopes of creating a new intimate indoor space for live music when the pandemic restrictions are behind us.
For the New Works Fest, San Jose commissioned jazz pieces from 11 Bay Area artists who received US $ 1,000 grants through the SJZ Jazz Aid Fund. The lineup of Bay Area artists includes Ian Santillano, Tammy Hall and Claudia Villela, who will get things started on April 29th, as well as Ten Spencer, Vân-Ánh Võ, Chris Cain and Javier Santiago, who will be on May 6th occur. Grammy winner Oran Etkin will headline International Jazz Day on April 30th with a free livestream of his Open Arms project starting at 7:30 p.m. Get the full schedule and purchase tickets for $ 10-20 at www.sanjosejazz.org.
SPOTLIGHT ON LOCAL RELIEF: Desseray “Dez” Vega, program manager at Alum Rock Counseling Center in San Jose, will be US Representative Zoe Lofgren’s “virtual guest” for President Joe Biden’s grand address to Congress on Wednesday. The San Jose Democrat said she highlighted Vega and the Alum Rock Counseling Center to help raise awareness of the impact the COVID relief bills are having on real people. “I was so happy to hear from the Alum Rock Counseling Center that the Paycheck Protection Program prevented them from laying off around 80 people to help both the staff and their families and the children they serve,” said Lofgren in the announcement video.
The non-profit organization offers mentoring and other support for young people at risk and their families, as well as crisis counseling. Vega said morale at the agency was higher than in over a year, and staff were working on plans for the summer. “As a manager, the COVID relief gave me hope that I could pass on to other employees I work with,” she said.
Visit www.alumrockcc.org to find out more about the agency who decided to cancel a virtual fundraiser this spring because they fear people are suffering from “zoom fatigue” and are instead working on “Light the Way” has focused. an online fundraiser.