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Lose the HORSE!!

Original post made by Hal Bailey, another community, on Oct 12, 2009

Dear Dolores,

Neighbors gathered in discussion groups this weekend to discuss Alamo, as a ZIP CODE and a business district, and desired changes in our region's appearance. The HORSE on top of the original post office, now a shoe repair, was the number one candidate for change. The Quonset Hut that is the feed & fuel was number two. The old service station, now a used car dealership was number three.

It would be interesting to see how various factions and individuals, as residents of 94507 Alamo CA feel about such preferences for removal and property renewal.

Other properties on the list are:

#4 7-11 and Rotten Robbies
#5 Eastside of Danville Blvd from Las Trampas to Hemme

Is their commentary?


Comments (45)

Posted by Dolores Ciardelli
editor of Danville Express
on Oct 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Dolores Ciardelli is a registered user.

Lose the horse!? I'm shocked. If Alamo loses the horse and the Quonset hut and the old gas station/car dealership, what will it have left? A crossroads that is beautiful but with no distinguishing characteristics.


Posted by A G Taytor
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm

I believe the denizens of Alamo have shown precious little initiative or creativity with regard to that local icon. It could be painted with school colors, in whole or part, and perhaps even moved around town for special occasions. With the police diverted by traffic stops and bank robbery interdiction, and the locals disinclined to report vandalism, it should be easy enough.

C'mon Alamo, where's your unincorporated area spirit?

Posted by CG
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm

You have got to be kidding me. Lose the horse? Why would anyone want to lose the horse? What are they going to replace it with? A Cadillac Escalade hood ornament? PUH LEEZE! The Alamo Hay and Grain is the only thing in Alamo that resembles charm and character. Leave it alone. Go work on the 7-11 complex that looks like crap. Why doesn't the owner of 7-11 take more pride in keeping that store clean, with clean windows and surroundings. That place is nothing short of gross. If you are making money selling teenagers a bunch of junk food, then you should be more diligent in keeping the area clean.

Posted by East Coast girl
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 6:52 am

Keep the horse! As a 16 year Danville resident, I smile every time I go to the feed store or drive by. I shudder whenever people speak of "improvement".What about charma and tradition? Why do (Californians) think that new is always better? Hmmm, let's replace the Coliseum in Italy. It's just a bunch of ruins anyway! (But let's talk about the very un-charming 7-11....)

Posted by Cathy S.
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

Back off Hal and your "discussion group". This is precisely why we voted down incorporation. Leave Alamo alone or LEAVE it.

Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:01 am

Dear Dolores,

Thank you for taking time to comment on the Alamo horse and inviting other commentary. It was proposed some time ago that the horse be painted mother of pearl and changed into a unicorn. That proposal would be even better if the unicorn adorned the children's play area at Hap Magee Park or welcomed foreigners to the bridge to the SRV YMCA commercial operations deep in the Hemme neighborhood.

Certainly the quonset hut could be covered with a living garden to make it more appealing and the old post office, as a shoe repair, cound be updated in color and landscaping.

The entire corridor south of Stone Valley Road along Danville Blvd, according to many neighbors, needs rejuvenation and renewal as retail, commercial and high density residential. With SRV YMCA extending the business district with its commercial operations, most neighbors are looking for a well-defined commercial/residential renewal plan for that corridor in the district.

Please invite more to comment,


Posted by Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:47 am

Why do some of you think your viewpoint or opinion is better than someone else's?
Thank God you're just discussion groups and have no authority to carry out your plans. Why did you move here in the first place? Please, if you don't like what we've created...leave it. MOVE.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:48 am

HELLO HAL! SAVE THE HORSE! It's fantastic! It's the one thing that keeps it original. why would you get rid of the Hay and Grain store? Maybe you need to move to the 94506 area of Danville. Save everything that keeps our small towns, small towns. It's why people love to come and visit. Remember what Pleasanton did to their freeway exit.... Modern and TACKY! It ruined the look of the town. Gas and Jack In The Box in the middle of a beautiful open space. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Posted by Steve Mick
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 8:16 am

For some reason known only to smaller children, our grandkids named the Alamo horse "Norman." Now years later, they still ask how good old Norman is doing. The memory of Norman will be part of their memories of growing up all their lives and this is important. It gives stability and a kind of "roots."

I had not visited my hometown in Ohio for several years. On a visit a few years ago I was stunned to see the changes that had been made. The new "freeway" went through my old neighborhood. The house I lived in as a youngster was gone and so was the ugly brick elementary schoolhouse. The hospital I was born in was also gone and so was the library and the high school.

I felt that a part of my personal history had been lost. Make no mistake, memory anchors such as Norman are an important part of our lives.

Posted by Doreen Francisco-LaScala
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 8:20 am

Greetings to All,

Leave the horse, it is a landmark of Alamo! Has Hollywood taken the big wooden sign down from the Hollywood hills. No, why because it is a landmark. My kids look forward to each Christmas when the horse has its Christmas wreath put on him. Let Almo keep some of its old charm.

Posted by Kirk D
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

What - lose the horse. Are you all crazy? Just the other day my wife and I drove by and commented how great it is to have the Hay and Grain in Alamo in its current structure and how fantastic it is to have the horse on the building in front. They give our town some character and differentiate us from all the other locations. I was thinking how sad it would be to see some new sterile structure go in. Feed stores are supposed to look rustic and rural. I do agree that the 7-11 area could be improved. KEEP the horse and Hay and Grain.
You must have something better to do with your time than form a 'discussion group' and make idiotic suggestions. Why don't you spend your free time doing something useful like teaching illiterate kids in Oakland to read or work at the food bank – add something to our society.

Posted by Anono Mouse
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

Hey Lisa, don't bash us in 94506 - we've got some great farms and old stuff out here too! My view looks like I'm looking out into the year 1898. We've got some old gems hiding out here on the east side.

PS I love the Alamo horse!

Posted by Kristen Trisko
a resident of Green Valley Elementary School
on Oct 13, 2009 at 9:55 am

I am not sure what residents made up this discussion group but what a shame to get rid of the few things that have made Alamo, Alamo for the last 50 years. I have been driving through the Quonset hut Hay and Grain for 40 years to buy hay. Even coming from Lafayette when I was a teenager. Don't make Alamo just another generic spot on 680.

Posted by Miranda Momma
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:01 am

Next,they will want to take that area and make it a multi level commercial site! I love the charm of "Norman".

Posted by Val W.
a resident of Diablo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:06 am

Please keep the Horse! We love the character of the Hay & Grain too! Focus your time and energy on improving the 7-11 -- but please don't mess with the good things about Alamo.

Posted by East Coast Girl
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:10 am

My heart is warmed on this cool rainy day by all of the passionate comments on keeping (Norman) the horse!! Thanks all!!

Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

Dear Dolores,

Excellent commentary with respectful, heart-felt considerations.

I suggest that you do a feature on "Norman" and have Steve Mick help you with the history. You will likely have a large, interested audience of readers. I know I am very curious.

As for rejuvenation and renewal south of Stone Valley Road, it seems only the 7-11 is drawing commentary. What do your readers feel should be done with the current high-density residential and the little summer cabins in poor repair on overgrown lots?

Neighbors throughout Alamo and its region are listening!


Posted by Alysa
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

Our kids love "Norman" and regard him as a great part of our town. To change any of the corner, Hay & Grain or Shoe Repair would destroy a part of what makes Alamo special.

Yes, the 7-11 area needs to be fixed. It isn't really needed.

Posted by Danville mom
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 11:31 am

When my kids were little, we would ride bikes on Iron Horse Trail in the warm weather, get a Slurpee as a special treat from 7-11 and pop across the street to check on the bunnies and baby chicks at the Hay and Feed before our ride home. My kids thought the trail was named after the beloved 'Norman'.
Both locations serve as fond memories for us and while I absolutely agree that 7-11 and the entire tiny strip mall it resides in could use a a major face lift, I don't agree that it is unnecessary.

And Norman, the Iron Horse needs to stay right where he is. I do not want to drive through Alamo and try to look for Norman "Where's Waldo" style. Restoration? Sure. Maybe just a cleaning and touch up paint? That's OK, too. School colors? I don't think so. My kids think he could use a jack-o-lantern for the month of October, though.

I agree with Hal that an article on Norm would be a very good idea and I appreciate his open mindedness and willingness to to rethink his discussion group's idea of improvement. He asked for comments and did not get defensive when many disagreed. This is just another reason why I love living here.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Sorry about that Anono Mouse, It was difficult to the line out the specific area. I was referring to the new McDonald's looking spots. Long live the people out on those beautiful hills.... Long Live Norman the Horse!

Posted by Reader
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 13, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I drive by the horse everyday! Definitely keep the horse and the Alamo Hay and Grain. With the Safeway Plaza and the mini strip mall across the street, I think Alamo has enough of the modern sterile architecture and expansive parking lots for one town. Don't ever let go of a town's character and history. So glad to see so many pro-horsers in my community. Its re-assuring!

Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I find the "love it, or leave it" attitude just as objectionable as the "my opinion is the only one that counts" attitude. Isn't it interesting that one person's gem is another person's trash?

As an local artist, I have always wondered how an icon like the horse would fare if someone were to suggest its removal. I am glad that it generated such a surge of feelings. One of the fabulous parts of living in a place like San Francisco is that there are works of public art (Murals and sculptures) that function like the horse does on the hay and grain. They bestow a sense of place and community to the resident and the visitor. Even though the horse started out as a form of signage, it has obviously become something more.

During holidays, we decorate our homes and businesses with ornaments of all kinds. The horse just takes that idea a step further. What would it be like if every home, each neighborhood, each community, each business could install works of public art like murals and sculptures, some more permanent than others, if they want?

Posted by Mark
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I couldn't agree with you more, Bill.

Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Dear Dolores,

I think Bill, who I believe is Bill Carmel as a very inventive artist, has reminded us of an event some years ago in South Lake Tahoe. >50 full size plastic cows were given to local artists to paint and decorate as art. We took a tour throughout the south lake area to see every result. Beautiful, inventive, creative and capable of gathering crowds to their location.

What if we took full size plastic horses and did the same in our corridor? Imagine how it would get people to stop and enjoy our region. Being aware of such full-size plastic animals for use as stands for mail boxes in our neighborhood, each box in the east end of a west facing cow, I believe I have sources and support for such art.

Seriously, readers, do we want to celebrate Norman with a HERD of Art? South Lake Tahoe's result was exceptional.


Posted by Elmer
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Web Link

Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Very funny, Elmer! I don't mind being the butt of that joke.

OK, Hal. Santa Rosa did the same thing with large sculptural images of Charlie Brown. San Francisco did the same thing with large sculptural hearts. There must be Many communities that have done something similar. Indeed, why not here? You willing to forge ahead and make this happen?

Posted by 12 year resident
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 6:31 pm

We love the horse and the drive-thru feed store - That's why we chose Alamo, for it's rural appeal.
~12 year resident

Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Dear Dolores,

This art project is a community focus and an invitation to visitors. Let me take the remainder of the week to contact Tahoe contacts and local community relations at corporations to see if we can give Norman a herd of his/her own.

Great opportunity!


Posted by Alamo Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I think it's a great idea to get some full size plastic horses and then have a decoration contest. To make things fair, though, only half the horse should be used. The contest would be decided on how accurately the finished product resembled certain politicians.

Posted by Oh! Riley
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:04 pm

The horse and the hay & grain adds character to Alamo and reminds us of it's rural past. When my kids were young it was a treat to go and see the chicks and bunnies. Your discussion group sound less proactive and productive and more whiny and divisive.

Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:46 pm

That horse brings a smile to my face most mornings.

And I like having a part of town where you can go to the hardware store in the middle of a house or garden project, without feeling the need to dress up.

Being down to earth is what makes Alamo a comfortable place to live, so, let's keep it that way.

Note: There is already one property with replica animals backing onto the Iron Horse Trail - here is a big THANK YOU to their owners :-)

Posted by resident
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 14, 2009 at 8:21 am

I love the horse!!!

Posted by Sherrie
a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

Keep the horse - he brings such fond memories to so many people.

When my 17 year old daughter was still in her car seat she would point and say "Horsey in the sky Mommy".

I think it is important to keep the horse in pristine condition, because it has such high visibility. No painting of school colors - it is not a Mustang. Also holiday decoration should be removed in a timely fashion.

The horse and Alamo Feed & Grain helps remind us of rural history.

Posted by Jack Whale
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 14, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I'm thinking that maybe Hal made up this 'neighborhood' poll. Probably a few people talking together--maybe disgruntled that incorporation didn't pass.
Alamo has a past and the horse, courtyard cafe, and feed store are what is left. The old school at the same intersection is now an office building selling discount lawn furniture.

Posted by Amanda
a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Aloha, I grew up in Danville (83-94) and have since moved on to Maui, Hawaii( please don't feel bad for me...I'm managing ) and I've been "home" only 5 times since. However, It's absolutely amazing to me how much things have changed ( not all bad of course!) BUT please keep that silly horse and hay hut thingy around. I can cleary picture both of them in my head when I start feeling nostaglic for the more carefree days of my life.....
In contrast, My new island home is losing it's charm by the second with a "bulldoze the old and replace with new" mentality. I mean honestly, the first thing you see out of the Maui airport now is Krispy Kreme and Costco.... Please don't do that to Alamo.

Posted by Alamo Resident
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 15, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Who is on Hal's "committee" and why would they have so much decision making power for the people of Alamo.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 16, 2009 at 7:50 am

Dear Alamo Resident(s),

As far as I can tell, Hal is in the information gathering stage. The mere fact that Hal is willing to do some legwork is admirable. Thanks, Hal.

This "herd project" can be as large or small as people want it to be, because the cost will be real and require the active participation of many. It is full of potential to be inclusive, highly visible, interactive, and FUN! It will work if it is done professionally and with humor. There are many good examples from nearby communities.

As with all community projects, not everyone will be pleased. But the results will be pleasing to the vast majority of residents.

Save the horse, indeed! Save ourselves in the process....

Posted by Hal
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2009 at 10:14 am

Dear Dolores,

This is let Bill know that you have the initial information on the HERD art project.


Posted by jack whale
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Bill: you mention that Hal is in the 'information gathering stage' and I guess we should thank him for doing 'legwork'. You've got to be kidding. Polls need verification to be of any use.

Posted by Member
a resident of Alamo Elementary School
on Oct 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm

This has got to be some kind of sick joke. Parents of this community need to try and find something else better to do with your time. Why destroy tradition when you could just simply TAKING DOWN NORMAN? Who would think of such a thing? KEEP THE HORSE.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Oct 19, 2009 at 7:50 am

Jack must be referring to a Gallop Poll...

Posted by Michael Heimans
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Hey, I am Steve Mick grandson, my sister emailed me this posting and I cant tell you how much it upset me that anyone would want to take Norman down. When I come out to visit my grandparents, make the right off the freeway, left at the single light and there he is, NORMAN! I am 23 and I love that horse he has been there my whole life. How could anyone think he is an eye sore? The roads are cracked in places, people have a dirty car, guy wearing really ugly pants, they are an eye sore but they are still there. Norman the horse is a big connection to my childhood and my sisters. There are so little things left in this world we can look and connect with from our past, we are just 2 of thousands who love and will always look for Norman, don't take that away from us. THEY CAN TAKE OUR LIVES, BUT THEY WILL NEVER TAKE OUR NORMAN!

Posted by Michael Heimans
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Sorry for the spelling errors, I got frustrated writing that post and didn't check it before posting. I just needed to post that asap lol

Posted by Steve Mick
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Hi Michael,

Norman will persist and endure.


Posted by Elmer
a resident of Alamo
on Oct 19, 2009 at 10:47 pm

So, to summarize: there is broad, deep support to retain Norman, but the 7-11?

-- Well, that's a horse of a different color.

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