Growing up in the Silicon Valley I remember all those open fields around my neighborhood. Back in the early 60s these open fields were filled with these little yellow flowery plants called wild mustard greens. I remember there were Italian people picking these plants because it reminded them of a similar plant growing wild in the countryside of their home country. The harvesting of these mustard greens was introduced by the Italians who in turn showed the Asians how to pick and cook these plants.

Silicon Valley Wild Mustard Fields

As an Asian kid in a predominantly white and Mexican neighborhood when we used to play make believe Army-men I was usually on the other side for target practice. Yes, I was the neighborhood gook and I relied on those yellow flowery mustard plants to hide behind.

Before all those High-Tech companies were built these plants thrived in open undeveloped fields. I remember my parents and a lot of other Asians would go out to these fields and pick the leaves from the young wild mustard plants.

Studies have shown that mustard greens have anticancer effects, are low in calories and contain a large number of antioxidants. They provide an excellent source of vitamins B6, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, carotenes, manganese, copper, and fiber. They also offer a very good source of phosphorus, vitamins B1 and B2, magnesium, protein, potassium, and iron. 

The wild mustard plants grew rampant out in the open fields of the Silicon Valley's Golden triangle. This area is between highways 101, 880, and Interstate 237. The area is occupied now by Mission Community College, Our Lady of Peace Catholic church, Levi Stadium - home to the 49ers, Great America theme park, Santa Clara convention center and a whole bunch of tech companies and hotels.

Every now and then I go back to my old neighborhood sometimes for work, sometimes for trade shows at the Santa Clara convention Center. Sometimes I go back and check on the old neighborhood. I reminisce as a kid about all those fun times playing and running around in those open fields.

The fields are gone now replaced by hi-tech companies. There's a lot more Asians in the neighborhood with a few Mexican and white kids playing at the park. Kind of makes me want to get the kids together and play make-believe Army-men again. This time it's payback with all the new Asian immigrants. There's no need to hide behind the wild mustard plants anymore. This is redemption, hahahaha!

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Napkin Sketches

By the early 80s all the wild mustard fields were gone. Tree orchards on both sides of interstate 237 disappeared. The fruit stands were engulfed by the widening freeway as agriculture gave way to technology.

The Silicon Valley was establishing a new high-tech corridor. You could see the industrial transformation carving into the landscape. You could feel the spirit of innovation in the air. Companies establish businesses here to tap into that high-tech spirit. The Silicon Valley was like a gold mine of High Technology. Those were exciting times.  

Looking for work in the 80s was easy. The United States government was in an arms race with Russia and the Silicon Valley was booming. President Reagan's Star Wars agenda was the big buzz around town. Companies were racing to meet the need for new technology to outdo the Russians. Almost all the companies hiring were in some way supporting a government contracted program.

Happy Hours

New hires coming on as interns and university graduates fresh out of school were recruited from around the nation and abroad. Headhunters (recruiters) from job shops (employment agencies) would hunt down prospective graduates with the right skills to fill company employment needs. Soon the Silicon Valley was flooded with yuppies (young urban professionals) new to California and the country. Competition between companies bidding for government contracts was fierce.

New friends working long hours was the norm. Coworkers often congregated after work for a few drinks to unwind. Appetizers were free at the happy hour clubs if you buy a drink or two. I had some young coworker friends just out of college and from out of state case out the clubs for free appetizers every day of the week. That was dinner on a budget every night. Sooner or later work topics would pop up with new ideas discussed at the table and it wouldn't take long before someone pulled out a pen and started sketching on a napkin. I swear during those happy hours you could see many young minds with fresh ideas getting together forming new partnerships and imagine companies morphically developing out of those napkin sketches.