A Look Back in History: Traditional Red Berries and Greens

There is nothing like the holiday spirit during the months of November through January. Whatever holiday one may celebrate or grumble about, many people decorate during this time of year.

And what better symbol of this festive time than holly berry bundles? It’s an age-old tradition. “From the Archives” this week features some holiday fun from Spring Valley Water Company (SVWC). The following letters to and from Spring Valley concern various requests for red berries and greens from the watershed properties.

December 5, 1921. From SVWC Vice-President S.P. Eastman to one Colonel Loveland at the Flood Building
Eastman would become President of the company in 1925.

Three days later Eastman responded to Mrs. Nellie C. Moody, Secretary to the Women’s Board at St. Luke’s Hospital. He graciously acknowledges receipt of the inquiry of Mrs. Moody about “the usual greens and red berries.” In doing so he is keeping up SVWC President Bourn’s tradition of sending the festive cuttings to the hospital.

December 8, 1921. Eastman’s Holiday Season Letter to Mrs. Nellie C. Moody.

William Bowers Bourn II would be elected Chairman of the Board of Spring Valley Water Company in 1925. (It was at that time that Eastman was elected President of the company.) Bourn is perhaps best known as the builder of the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California.

Another Hospital delivery was arranged later that month by W.B. Lawrence, Supervisor of the Peninsula Division at Millbrae. This time the delivery of “bundles of berries and bundles of greens” would be to the Government Hospital in Menlo Park. The Spring Valley Water Company was certainly spreading cheer.

December 17, 1921. Spring Valley Internal Memo from Peninsula Division Head to V.P. Eastman.

Next up, it’s holly and cedar for the enlisted men of Company “C” – Motor Repair Battalion No. 4. It is made quite clear that the distribution of holiday flora is a long-standing favor of the water company.

Notice the address to which the appeal is submitted. This is the Sutter St. leased property pre-dating the company-owned, Willis Polk-designed property on Mason Street.

December 19, 1921. Captain of the Quartermaster Corps Appeals to General Manager of Spring Valley Water Company.

The last letter is another one outgoing from SVWC. A San Franciscan had requested a permit to pick berries in November. Who knows what winding way that letter followed to finally get to Supervisor Lawrence. The remnants of many correspondence from him in the Archive shows that his were typically very timely responses.

December 20, 1921. The Supervisor of Peninsula Division was Dutiful – But Miss Baldwin “Did Not Call” Back.