There's not a whole lot I am able to investigate with Peanut in tow. He's an active little almost-two-year-old who's into exhibiting his unbridled enthusiasm. Sitting still while Mommy does her research is so not going to happen. But on that rare occasion he takes an afternoon nap, I can tour around our new neighborhood looking for interesting architecture to j'adore. Knowing that we now live in the land of Eichler, I decided start with those original post-war modern neighborhoods...but of course!
But being a pioneer is not without challenges; one must wage through a whole lot of buffalo dung along the dusty trail. In the beginning for Eichler and Anshen, that meant dealing with outdated local building codes and hesitant perplexed building departments (and we all know how dealing with the building department can be akin to getting a horse to drink the water) not to mention a balking Federal Housing Authority (an agency set up to insure home mortgages so the emerging middle class could afford them...). The FHA thought modern homes were nothing more than a passing fancy equating to a piss-poor investment. They imposed "anti-modern" [no, not sic, just my words] design guidelines for evaluations which limited the amount of assistance they could give a "conspicuously modern" houses such as "an Eichler". This threatened Eichler's ability to compete in the housing market. So what does one do when a steak dinner and a couple double scotch-on-the-rocks won't ease such resistance? You lobby congress. And that is exactly what Eichler did along with Eichler Homes' first marketing director, Jim San Jule. Jim there was a Don Drapper cum Jimmy Hoffa that could sell ice to an Eskimo.
Jule was the smooth talker, the diplomat. He knew how to sweet talk a city council and he always wore the proper kid gloves when dealing with passionate pursuer of perfection Eichler who was known as a demanding, outspoken (to put it mildly) son of a gun. Here's a little anecdote: One evening after Eichler called the city council of Palo Alto a bunch of ignorant "men without mothers", Jule politely yet pointedly suggested to Eichler that he do all the talking instead. From then on, Eichler zipped it, and Jule turned on the charm. You can catch more flies with honey, honey.
And so it begins...the road to modern mass produced gems has been paved. But will they sell? Will there be accolades or outcries? Will Eichler in his quest for perfect perfection eventually "jump the shark"? Stay tuned folks...