This page contains historical information and facts about the Los Gatos-Saratoga AAUMW branch.

Los Gatos-Saratoga AAUW Recollections Facts and Historical Events
1940s retrospective  Facts from 1940s
1950s retrospective  Facts from 1950s
1960s retrospective  Facts from 1960s
1970s retrospective  Facts from 1970s
1980s retrospective  Facts from 1980s
1990s retrospective  Facts from 1990s
2000s retrospective  Facts from 2000s
2010s retrospective  Facts from 2010s


Recollections of the 1940s

In April 1941 three women met to discuss the formation of a Los Gatos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW): Mrs William (Margaret) Oliver (California Membership Chair) and Mrs. Frank (Marjory) Anderson (California Social Studies Chair) from the Santa Cruz Branch and Miss Ruth Beckwith of Los Gatos.  Miss Beckwith, who was preparing her resignation from the San Jose Branch because she was growing tired of trips to its meetings, suggested the inclusion of Saratoga since either town seemed too small for individual branches.  Armed with a list of 75 university graduate names, Miss Beckwith drove them winding their way about the hills hunting addresses.

Steps were taken to organize the Los Gatos-Saratoga “chapter” of AAUW at a May 17 lunch at Il Campo Bello, presided over by Mrs. James T. Richards of Saratoga and sponsored by the San Jose Branch.  Thirty-five women responded to the invitation to the lunch.  San Jose President Mrs. John Dowdle, who planned the program, several San Jose Board members and Mrs. Oliver all spoke persuasively and efficiently of the virtue of belonging to AAUW.  On June 7, 1941, California’s 48th branch met to adopt the AAUW constitution and by-laws and to elect officers; there were twenty-one charter members. Mrs. Clyde (Mabel) Kennedy, our first President, presided over the first regular meeting on October 9, 1941, and Mrs. Marjorie Robertson reviewed a trip to Mexican prehistoric ruins.  There were 31 members who paid an initiation fee of $1.00 and annual dues of $3.00.

Amy Coe, Welfare Committee Chairman, interviewed town and county officials to find out the needs and problems of Saratoga and Los Gatos. The eight interests were:

  1. The plight of the farmer
  2. Liquor control
  3. Nutrition
  4. Degrading literature in popular magazines and movies
  5. Cooperatives
  6. Homes for girls
  7. Migrants in our locality
  8. Race problems in our neighborhoods and labor problems.

The Branch sold Foothill cookbooks for the national Fellowship Fund. Mrs. G. M. Hunter was the Chairman for the first Fellowship tea, and a donation of $15 went to the fund as a result.  The Fellowship Fund was investing in defense bonds.

The Branch grew and name tags were instituted so that members could become acquainted. We held meetings at the Foothill Club, Little Village, Los Gatos History Club, Saratoga Federated Church, or in private homes.  We were the first community organization to meet at Villa Montalvo; child care was provided upstairs.

We collected school supplies for China and Ethiopia, sent eighteen boxes of clothing to women in Europe and magazines to a college in Japan. The Branch had a circulating library, a book review section, a political study group, and a Recent Grads group.  Another group was formed to read current plays for enjoyment, not merely for study.  Fundraising efforts included a fashion show, toy sales, raffles, bake sales, playing card sales, magazine subscriptions, teas and a carnival.

In 1948, at the San Francisco Mark Hopkins Hotel twelve members and four delegates from our Branch attended the 27th California State Annual Convention.  The Los Gatos-Saratoga Branch ranked second in membership increase statewide:  67% while San Fernando had 100% increase.  At the end of the 40’s the Branch had 144 very active and involved members.

Facts and Key Events from the 1940s

  • California population in 1940 – 6.9 million
  • World War II
  • United Nations
  • The Baby Boom
  • Penicillin
  • Best-selling books:
    • Dr. Spock – The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
    • The Diary of Anne Frank
    • Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “Casablanca”
  •             “Citizen Kane”
  •             “All the King’s Men”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “Mister Roberts”
  •             “Death of a Salesman”
  • Popular songs:
  •             “White Christmas”
  •             “That Old Black Magic”
  • Average cost of new home – $4,075
  • Gallon of gasoline – 12 cents
  • Tupperware introduced


Recollections of the 1950s

We were involved in a bond election to build a local high school in Saratoga and gave an “excitingly different” card party to raise funds for the Fellowship Fund. A Current Interests group formed with programs concerning India, France, Siam and Conservation.  A Samplers Group was started to acquaint new members with the Branch’s activities.

The branches sponsored a summer demonstration school for nursery and kindergarten teachers and parents’ observation of four and five year olds under the guidance of Betty Peck.  This became the Easterbrook Farm School.  In 1953 the Branch presented a Forum on Mental Health in the county to learn the accomplishments and problems of the Mental Health Agencies.

The AAUW Interbranch Council began with presidents and social studies chairs from San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos-Saratoga and Santa Clara. AAUW and the Santa Clara County Supervisors presented a public workshop on Jail and Juvenile Home Problems of Santa Clara County at San Jose State College.

Lockheed moved into the valley and our membership grew to 209. AAUW was dubbed the Lockheed Wives Club.  International Relations topics were about Penang, Japan under democracy, and the social economic, and political aspects of Iran, Israel and Scandinavia.  A choral group, known as the AAUW Singers, was formed under the direction of Elizabeth Elbon. Gwen Penniman gets the credit for starting several language sections – Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese and German — in the local schools for children, starting them in her own home and branching out into other members’ homes later.

As a fundraiser for Fellowships, we held a “Meet the Authors” tea, chaired by Nancy Hobbs, at the Saratoga Foothill Club in 1958.  Other fundraisers included an Oriental theme fashion show luncheon and a “Meet the Architect” tea at Montalvo.

Under president Louise Cooper, a committee was formed to screen and recommend members for public offices. Louise Easterbrook became a member of the Los Gatos Union High School Board of Trustees.

The Social Service Group, under the chairmanship of Margaret Whalen, adopted a ward at Agnew State Hospital and provided monthly, Christmas and July Fourth parties, semi-annual programs by the AAUW Singers, and a volunteer teaching program.

Facts and Key Events from the 1950s

  • California population in 1950 – 10.6 million
  • Queen Elizabeth II ascends the throne
  • Polio vaccine
  • Alaska and Hawaii statehood
  • New York Giants move to San Francisco
  • Disneyland opens
  • Best-selling books:
  •             The Old Man and the Sea
  •             The Power of Positive Thinking
  •             Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
  •             The Catcher in the Rye
  •             Lolita
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “From Here to Eternity”
  •             “On the Waterfront”
  •             “Around the World in 80 Days”
  •             “Bridge on the River Kwai”
  •             “Gigi”
  •             “Ben-Hur”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “The Teahouse of the August Moon”
  •             “Long Day’s Journey into Night”
  •             “Sunrise at Campobello”
  • Popular television shows:
  •             The Red Skelton Show
  •             I Love Lucy
  •             Gunsmoke
  •             Maverick
  • Popular songs:
  •             “Volare”
  •             “Mack the Knife”
  • Family-style loaf of bread – 12 cents
  • T-bone steak – 59 cents per pound
  • 17” black and white TV – $180
  • Gallon of gas – 18 cents
  • Men’s all-wool suit – $28.90


Recollections of the 1960s

Our skirts were shorter and our hair was longer. The branch was incorporated September 22 1960 as a non-profit organization.  Our interests grew, and our membership expanded up to 350.  We studied the gifted child throughout 1960 and 1961, water conservation in 1962, and new teacher credential qualifications.  A Gourmet Group began and took responsibility for the April tea.  We sponsored a Children’s Art Fair for several years.  The play reading group entertained us at general meetings.  There were three book review sections:  morning, afternoon, and couples.

The AAUW Investment Section made money playing the stock market on paper while studying and doing research on stocks, mutual funds, and estate planning. Our Occident and Orient Section presented a program on the history, culture and religion of Tibet.

Mrs. James Richards was honored in 1961 for her 70 year membership in AAUW with a Life Membership.

Both Ruth Cannon and Louise Cooper, AAUW members, filed for candidates as trustees at Los Gatos High School District.  In 1964-65 Mary Drake represented AAUW on the State Committee to redefine and organize higher education in California by defining the role of community and state colleges and the university system.

A new travel section began with Isobel Darrow and Bette Sample as co-chairs; Cathy Foscato carried on as Chair when they retired.  Many AAUW meetings took place at West Valley College.   Gladys Armstrong opened her home for the early Yuletide Open House, as did Betty Hall.

In 1969 a study program was started on Testing Values in a Changing Society; Martha Beverett and Lucia Callis were co-chairs.  Among the topics studied were young people of today, prejudice, drugs and minorities. Louise Webb submitted the committee report to the Association Program Development Chair in Washington, D.C., and received a letter calling it “Well done … a good job.”

Facts and Key Events from the 1960s

  • California population in 1960 – 15.7 million
  • First man on the moon
  • Civil Rights movement
  • Vietnam war and protests
  • Medicare enacted
  • Psychedelic Summer of Love
  • Pantyhose
  • Best-selling books:
  •             Catch-22
  •             One Hundred Years of Solitude
  •             To Kill A Mockingbird
  •             Valley of the Dolls
  •             The Godfather
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “Lawrence of Arabia”
  •             “The Sound of Music”
  •             “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
  •             “The Graduate”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “The Miracle Worker”
  •             “Becket”
  •             “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • The Fugitive
  •             Mission Impossible
  •             Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In
  • Popular songs::
  •             “Moon River”
  •             “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”
  •             “Michelle”
  •             “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”
  • Swanson chicken TV dinner – 49 cents
  • Gallon of gas – 25 cents
  • Brick ranch-style home – $22,800



Recollections of the 1970s

The word for this decade was EQUALITY.   1971 brought official support for the Equal Rights Amendment which became the Association’s top priority in 1975:  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any State on account of sex.”

Our Branch strongly endorsed and actively supported the Los Gatos Union High District Bond authorization for $1,850,000 to replace the previously authorized bonds. An Interbranch study on Truth in Balloting Information resulted in a disclaimer to be printed in all voters’ pamphlets that the information presented is not necessarily accurate.

Over the decade many AAUW members served in elected office. Ruth Cannon was Mayor of Los Gatos, Joan Goodill was on the Saratoga Union School District Board of Trustees, and Mildred Wharton was President of the West Valley College Board of Trustees. Peggy Corr was elected to the Saratoga City Council, Louise Cooper and Kathy Mellema were members of the Los Gatos school board, and Sally Drake, Marlene Duffin and Ethel James were members of the Saratoga school board. Helen Nesbett became Mayor of Monte Sereno.  Many other members served on boards and advisory committees in a wide variety of positions.

By the middle of the decade the branch had more than 500 members

The branch became politically active by protesting to Saratoga City Council the $130 per year charge for the city agenda packets. The Branch actively supported a new city library on the Saratoga and Fruitvale Avenues site.  As a member of the Saratoga Bicentennial Committee, Margie Foote produced The Saratoga Walking Tour in cooperation with the Saratoga Historical Foundation and coordinated the Saratoga Bicentennial Festival.

Facts and Key Events from the 1970s

  • California population in 1970 – 20.0 million
  • Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister of the UK
  • Watergate
  • Title IX passes
  • American Bicentennial celebrations
  • Best-selling books:
  •             Love Story
  •             Watership Down
  •             Shogun
  •             The Exorcist
  •             The Thorn Birds
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “The Sting”
  •             “The Godfather”
  •             “Jaws”
  •             “Star Wars”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “Equus”
  •             “The Elephant Man”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             All in the Family
  •             M*A*S*H
  •             Upstairs, Downstairs
  •             Saturday Night Live
  •             Taxi
  •             “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
  •             “Send in the Clowns”
  •             “Hotel California”
  •             “Just the Way You Are”
  • Toyota Corolla – $3,700
  • Heinz ketchup – 19 cents
  • Wrangler jeans – $9.95

Gallon of gas went from 36 cents in 1970 to 86 cents in 1979


Recollections of the 1980s

The decade of the 1980’s saw members visible in the community in various ways; for seven years the Saratoga Citizens of the Year were members of our Branch of AAUW: Mildred Gordon (1980), Marge Bunyard (1981), Peggy Corr (1983), Willys and Betty Peck (1985), Marion Card (1986), Gladys Armstrong (1987) and Louise Cooper (1989).  Many members were elected to school boards and city councils or served on advisory committees and commissions.

Our Committee on Homeless Women and Children was probably the most active and visible group. Georgia Travis initiated the work in 1985 as a Women’s Issue.  By 1986 it was presented to Interbranch and became a county committee.  In the spring of 1987 Georgia received the Santa Clara County Human Relations/Human Rights Award.  She became a member of the Senior Hall of Fame of the Santa Clara County Fair Association for her work in research, organization and program development in addressing the problem of Homeless Women and Children.

At the California State Division of AAUW, eight Branch members served on the Group Effectiveness Training Team: Margie Foote, Jean Foss, Mildred Gordon, Nancy Hobbs, Peggy Johnson, Jan Leyse, Phyll Marangoni, and Mary Pastrone.  Fourteen members attended AAUW’s 100th Anniversary convention in Boston and found the optional trips made this convention the most fun of any of the national meetings.

The Branch began co-sponsoring Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science, a one-day workshop at San Jose State to help girls see the variety of options available within these fields and to encourage them to take math and science classes. This program continued for nearly two decades.

The Branch established a scholarship at West Valley College in memory of Sammye Wishneff to benefit reentry women.  Later this was expanded to include all women pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Thanks to the efforts of Nancy Hobbs, the Interbranch Special Projects Foundation (ISPF) of Santa Clara County was incorporated as a Charitable Nonprofit Organization which allows donations for charitable projects within AAUW to be tax-deductible.  Nancy served as ISPF president for many years, and Jan Leyse was the original treasurer.  The first project reported through ISPF was our English Tea to benefit the Committee on Homeless Women and Children.

Our first male members, Fred Hawkes and Brent Ventura, joined after membership in AAUW was opened to men at the Houston convention in 1987.

Facts and Key Events from the 1980s

  • California population in 1980 – 23.7 million
  • Sandra Day O’Connor, justice of the Supreme Court
  • Personal computers
  • AIDS epidemic
  • Collapse of the Berlin War
  • Sally Ride, astronaut
  • Loma Prieta earthquake
  • Best-selling books:
  •             The Name of the Rose
  •             A Brief History of Time
  •             The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “Chariots of Fire”
  •             “Gandhi”
  •             “Amadeus”
  •             “Out of Africa”
  •             “Rain Man”
  •             “Driving Miss Daisy”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “Children of a Lesser God”
  •             “Biloxi Blues”
  •             “M. Butterfly”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             Hill Street Blues
  •             Cheers
  •             The Golden Girls
  •             L.A. Law
  • Popular Songs:
  •             “Always on My Mind”
  •             “We Are the World”
  •             “Graceland”
  •             “Wind Beneath My Wings”
  • Gallon of gas – 97 cents
  • Half gallon of milk – 85 cents
  • 19” portable color TV – $589.95


Recollections of the 1990s

The branch celebrated its 50th anniversary with a reenactment of our 50-year history, including songs performed by our own “Andrews Sisters” and a 1940’s tableau depicting the valuable contribution of women to the war effort through service in the armed forces, the Red Cross, the workplace, and volunteer organizations.

Georgia Travis was appointed to the Santa Clara County Commission on Social services. Margaret Brackett and Nancy Hobbs received the Santa Clara County Human Relations Award.  Two members were named Saratoga Citizen of the Year – Mary Jeanne Fenn (1998) and Marlene Duffin (1999).

In 1992 AAUW released its research report “How Schools Shortchange Girls” which prompted Marie Wolbach of the Palo Alto branch to seek funding for projects that AAUW could perform locally to engage girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In the spring of 1997, AAUW of California received a Community Action Grant from the national AAUW office, and Tech Trek began in the summer of 1998 with 151 California girls attending the first camp.

The Local Scholarship Committee, organized in 1992, inaugurated the annual Chinese New Year Dinner as its fundraiser, held around the time of the Lunar New Year and featuring a variety of speakers about some aspect of Chinese history and culture. The Committee on Homeless Women and Children continued to hold an English Tea as their fundraiser each year; members provided the food and brought their finest china dishes for the table settings.  We held several House Tours and we sold entertainment coupon books to raise money for the Education Foundation.

Monthly programs featured a wide variety of topics – the emerging European woman, women in the arts, teaching astronomy to teachers, the North American Free Trade Agreement, women’s health issues, cultural diversity, stress management and coping, the juvenile justice system, the rewards of rituals.  Our Interest Groups included both morning and evening book review groups, bridge, film buffs, Friday matinee, Great Decisions, hikes and walks, let’s do lunch, low-fat gourmet, sights and sounds, supper club, travel, and the vintage sippers.

We earned the Five Star Award at the 1997-98 state convention with our excellence in Community Action, Public Policy, Education Foundation, Legal Advocacy, and Visibility.

Facts and Key Events from the 1990s

  • California population in 1990 – 29.8 million
  • Internet
  • Soviet Union breakup
  • Policy of Apartheid ends in South Africa
  • Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State
  • Best-selling books:
  •             Harry Potter (series)
  •             The Bridges of Madison County
  •             The Celestine Prophecy
  •             The Horse Whisperer
  •             Tuesdays with Morrie
  • Oscar-winning movies
  •             “The Silence of the Lambs”
  •             “Schindler’s List”
  •             “Forrest Gump”
  •             “Titanic”
  •             “Shakespeare in Love”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “The Grapes of Wrath”
  •             “The Lion King”
  •             “Master Class”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             Northern Exposure
  •             Seinfeld
  •             Law & Order
  •             Frasier
  • Popular songs:
  •             “From a Distance”
  •             “Unforgettable”
  •             “My Heart Will Go On”
  • Lazy Boy recliner – $260
  • Levi jeans – $34.99
  • Gallon of gas – $1.22
  • Chicken – $1.05 per pound


Recollections of the 2000s

Four past presidents, Mary Henderson, Nany Hobbs, Pat Khan and Mary Ellen Madden, took over that job one year.  In 2003 we adopted a segment of the Los Gatos Creek Trail, taking on the responsibility for cleaning up a portion of the hiking trail which the Hikes and Walks group has continued doing to the present.  We had programs about Pacific migrations, portraits of women throughout the Santa Clara Valley, and women in Afghanistan.  We had an update on the Women’s Health Initiative.  We learned about our local Korean community and enjoyed seeing our members portray various historical women, not just for our branch but in the local schools as well.  We searched for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence and learned about the impact of immigration on education.  We looked at women and the prison system and learned about charter schools.

A small interest group began for those who wanted to keep up their conversational Spanish, another group started for “women on their own,” and we launched our very own website where we post our Grapevine and all kinds of branch information. We still did a lot of reading, and eating, and playing bridge, of course, and discussed controversial international issues in Great Decisions.

 Nancy Anderson was named Saratoga Citizen of the Year in 2008.

Assorted fundraisers kept us busy through the decade: the Games Party for Tech Trek, the Chinese New Year dinner, traditional Japanese music at Hakone Gardens and the Mission Valley Chorus for local scholarships at West Valley College, and the English Tea for the Committee on Homeless Women and Children.  The popular Authors’ Lunch raised money for AAUW Funds, formerly called the Education Foundation.  We particularly enjoyed hearing from the EF recipients themselves throughout the years at our spring potluck luncheons, with their studies ranging from stream restoration, women’s health care in Pakistan, and ways to improve how science is taught.

Facts and Key Events from the 2000s

  • California population in 2000 – 33.9 million
  • Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
  • Hybrid cars
  • 9/11 at the World Trade Center
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • iPad and iPhone
  • Best-selling books:
  •             The Kite Runner
  •             The DaVinci Code
  •             The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  •             The Hunger Games
  •             Life of Pi
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “A Beautiful Mind”
  •             “Chicago”
  •            “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
  •             “Slumdog Millionaire”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “Doubt”
  •             “Wicked”
  •             “August:  Osage County”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             Friends
  •             The West Wing
  •             The Sopranos
  •             Mad Men
  • Gallon of gas – $3.18
  • Median income – $46,326


Recollections of the 2010s

We pioneered another form of organization early in the decade with rotating Chairwomen of the Month where various committees took responsibility for the Board meeting agenda and monthly programs. A comprehensive guide was developed which we then shared with other AAUW branches that had difficulty filling all their leadership positions.

Lavonne Marafino and Gail Pedersen began collecting recipes for our own AAUW cookbook.

We enjoyed programs about West Valley College, women’s strategic role in addressing global issues, and women’s ways of leading. We learned about the Los Gatos and Saratoga Railway, an electric interurban railroad built at the beginning of the 20th century, and we heard Larry Gerston discuss his book Restoring the Luster to the Once Golden State.  When the America’s Cup sailing race came to San Francisco we were well prepared, and we recognized the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  We got an update on research relating to Alzheimer’s disease and heard about efforts to exonerate those wrongfully convicted of a serious crime.

When the AAUW California convention was held in Santa Clara in 2012, our branch provided several volunteers to act as greeters. The Homeless Committee, having held the English Tea for 23 years, decided to try a spring garden party in 2012, but with disappointing results decided to reinvigorate the English Tea in 2013 and then celebrated the 25th “Silver” English Tea in 2014.

Our Tech Trek girls inspired us all with their enthusiastic response to their week of math and science camp at Stanford University. Local scholarship recipients represented varied countries of origin — Mexico, Iran, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union–and an equally wide range of majors – physics, mechanical engineering, molecular biology and mathematics.  AAUW certainly supports women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through our local, statewide and national efforts.

Facts and Key Events from the 2010s

  • California population in 2010 – 37.3 million
  •  (and estimated to be 38.7 million in 2015)
  • Japanese earthquake and tsunami
  • “Arab spring” protests
  • Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve
  • Best-selling books:
  •             The Help
  •             Three Cups of Tea
  •             Fifty Shades of Gray
  •             Still Alice
  •             Lean In
  • Oscar-winning movies:
  •             “The King’s Speech”
  •  “Argo”
  •             “12 Years a Slave”
  • On Broadway:
  •             “War Horse”
  • Emmy Awards:
  •             Modern Family
  •             The Big Bang Theory
  •             Breaking Bad
  • Loaf of bread – $2.49
  • Gallon of gas – $3.52>