Billie Jean Walk–but which one?


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The whole time I was trudging up the thigh-buster known as Marin Avenue, I was singing the Michael Jackson song “Billie Jean” in my head. It’s quite catchy. I dare you to start humming it right now and see if it doesn’t become an ear worm.

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Twas a sunny April afternoon, and even though Dave had a cold, he joined me on this strenuous trek. He asked how long I thought it would take, and I answered maybe an hour. But I forgot to calculate what was sure to be a slow ascent. Plus we took many brief side trips, such as wandering over to this little miracle of nature. Why is it that I can plant something in perfect soil, water it, and give it plant food, and it dies, but this tree found its way through solid rock?

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I liked the  grapevine cut-outs on a gate.
On the north side of Marin was a skeleton wearing a flak helmet waving a U.S. flag.

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Once we turned right on Euclid, the bottom entrance to Billie Jean Walk was easy to find. It had railings on the first part of the walk, which disappeared once the trail narrowed. A tall wall bordered one side, and overhanging trees provided a thick canopy of shade. Before we got to the top, the railings reappeared. The end of the path was punctuated by a house painted in the most brilliant shade of blue and a bed of cheerful yellow daisy-like blooms.

2016-04-23 16.01.56So 2016-04-23 16.04.56why is the path called Billie Jean Walk? Most of the paths are named for one of the streets on either end, but Billie Jean Walk leads from Euclid Avenue up to Hilldale. Clearly someone thinks there is a connection to the tennis legend, Billie Jean King, because we found her photo attached to a house on Hilldale, inexplicably next to one of (I think) Olivia Newton John.

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This mailbox is so deeply embedded that I’m surprised that USPS can find it.

But the path was built long before Billie Jean King picked up a tennis racquet. Joe and Pearl Harris, who once lived in one of the houses that abuts the path, adopted baby Billie Jean in 1931. The reason the path was named for her is less clear. One source declared that Joe was so happy to be a parent that he lobbied for the path to be named for his daughter. Another source credits the San Francisco Examiner, who dedicated the walk to her. I don’t know why a newspaper in another city would do that though.


Incidentally, Billie Jean Harris went to Berkeley High with one of the founders of the Path Wanderers, Jacques Ensign. So it all connects in the end.

Dave was drawn to this happy little piglet rolling in a patch of dirt next to the sidewalk.
I generally don’t take photographs of anything in people’s back yards, but Dave saw this from along Easter Way and couldn’t resist.


On the way home, we lollygagged for a bit in Cragmont Rock Park where some rock climbers had set up for a picnic and we got to romp with two different dogs. From there we took Easter Way down to Spruce rather than subjecting our old knees to the precipitous descent of Marin.

20160423_165416On our walk, we saw one official Little Free Library and one unaffiliated little free library. I apologize in advance to the person who reads my blog and is trying to find all the LFLs in the hood because I do not recall where either one is.20160423_165140

I loved the fence that had dozens of little animal figures glued to the top. It created a magical land where penguins are as big as dinosaurs, and elephants cavort with insects.

20160423_165953Undoubtedly the strangest sight was some newly bought baby items resting on the edge of the sidewalk. You’ll have to create your own story to explain that. I couldn’t come up with one.


The hour-long walk turned out to be two an20160423_164643d a half hours, and we were both quite tired. But it was worth it because we got lots of fun photos and made three animal friends. (But the cat was the only one willing to pose for a picture.)


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