Janey Way Memories #152

The Old Armory

Last Thursday, as I returned home from my weekly visit to Fancy Feet Dance Academy with granddaughter Gabrielle, I drove by the old National Guard Armory on Elvas Avenue and J Street. Something seemed different about the old facility, and then I noticed a mural on its northern wall depicting high school girls decked out in red and gray uniforms. I thought outloud that St. Francis High School must now occupy the old armory. Apparently, the Guard has left that building and turned it over to the school.
I remember when they built the armory in the early 1960s. It was quite a big deal on Janey Way because the main entrance to the facility was located at the north end of our neighborhood. Consequently, vehicles driven by Guard troops rolled regularly down Janey Way. Since this particular unit was a logistics battalion, that amounted to a lot of 5-ton trucks, jeeps and other military hardware.
The kids on our street thought this was great. What could be cooler than having all that military hardware right in our neighborhood? Our parents didn’t like it at all. Soon, Dante Viani came walking up and down the street collecting signatures on a petition opposing the location of the main entrance to the armory.
When he had gathered sufficient signatures, Dante took the petition down to the mayor’s office and requested that the Guard change the location of the entrance to the facility. His effort proved successful. The Guard unit built a new entrance where J Street meets Elvas Avenue and locked up the gate on Janey Way. Mission accomplished.
After that, the National Guard developed a good relationship with the people of Janey Way. I remember they held an annual open house where the public came in to tour the facility.
It proved a great experience for all of us. We got talk to the guard members all decked out in full military regalia. We also were able to climb all over the military vehicles that lined the facility. I guess they were hoping to recruit us sometime later in life.
After touring the facility, we gathered at a table in the main building to eat cookies and drink punch. To a 12-year-old boy, that sounds like the perfect day.
So, here I was last week, driving by the old armory and thinking how those soldiers served to protect us in the event of an emergencies like the fires we have recently experienced here in Northern California.. They did their job well. Now the old armory is just another military Janey Way memory.

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