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6584 Saroni Drive

6584 Saroni Drive, Michael & JessicaHey 6584 fans! Our new friends Michael Rubin & Jessica Barksdale, the current owners of 6584 contacted us through NiceyRicey this week. Thx Michael and Jessica for stalking us! Michael and Jessica relatively newlyweds (5 years) who purchased 6584 a couple years ago and have done some really nice remodeling.

Michael wrote seeking historical information in the home as he and Jessica liked the original theme that Pops John Sue designed with. Turns out that Michael is an architect who really got into what Dad was trying to accomplish. Says Michael,

Jessica and I met 5-1/2 years ago after our original marriages ended. We each have grown children (I have two girls, Jessica has two boys – you can imagine what goes through my mind from time to time). We bought 6584 Saroni Drive before we were married – in fact, before we were engaged. Jessica loved the house from the first moment; it took me a little longer. I had to start sketching, but once I came up with a few ideas, I, too, fell in love with the house. I remember telling Jessica “I can make this house fit us like a well-worn pair of jeans.” I’ve repeated that statement in so many stories now that I know she’s tired of hearing it, but I never tire of telling it.

This isn’t an interim location for us. We bought this house to spend the rest of our lives in, got married in the back yard 15 months later, and if things go as planned, will never leave.

We both feel far more connected with the house now that we know some of its history, and appreciate your generosity in sharing. Again, if you’re ever in the bay area and your curiously gets the best of you, drop us a line!


Please don’t go Chinese on them and descend all at once… 🙂 But Michael did offer his email in case anyone would like to touch base or contribute stories (michaelparallel @ gmail.com) For example, Alan Sue (youngest child of the Sue clan) wrote,

Dear Michael and Jessica,

It is so wonderful that our family home has found a new family who has passion and caring for the place we all grew up…I am sure you are filling every corner with love and memories just as my family did for those 30 or so years.

Your pictures were wonderful to see and brought many memories back for me as they did for Linda. I’ve included a few notes below that may offer an additional perspective or two for you both. Enjoy our home and make it your own.

Aj Sue

1. $25,000 ….In the basement in the southwest corner of the utility underground area. There is a support post that may still have a building permit on it that I always found fascinating as a kid. It said that the cost of building 6584 was $25,000. That sounded like a pretty good deal even in the 1970’s ☺

2. You can’t really ever go home…The southwest corner of the bedroom floor used to be my bedroom. During the renovation to build a master bedroom suite, my room was rather unceremoniously subsumed. While I was glad that my parents were able to make their bedroom more comfortable, it is interesting to understand the psychology of losing one’s childhood kingdom.

3. The Wisteria vine on the southwest corner… I love that plant…maybe my favorite plant (generally and specifically) of all time. It’s really pretty and all, but it also possesses an unseen beauty…from the backyard, the bulky trunk spirals form a nearly perfect ladder to the second story deck…great for theoretical sereptitous exits and entries…I have not comment as to when, why, or if any of these unreported departures/returns were made…

4. Redwood, Redwood, Redwood…in this case the lumber, not the tree in the yard. When my father built our home, he was limited in his budget, but unlimited in his vision. This conundrum was solved by a great deal of economy and thriftiness. The original living room, dining room and and office areas were all paneled in tongue-and-groove clear heart redwood that my father had somehow secured from mills (as I heard the story) as offcuts and short lots. It was very rich but also very dark. I have a great affinity for wood as a woodworking hobbiest, but I do like the brighter environment created by the painted finishes in these rooms.

5. The office in the Southwest corner behind the dining room was my mom’s sewing room and pantry. She did a lot of projects and made a lot of clothes for us over the years in that room. The entire south wall was sliding door closets that held enough rations for an army (we were very nearly an army too). There was also a kind of open attic space over the eastern end of this room under the roof peak that was always a source of great mystery to me as this was the place were early purchase Christmas gifts were stored…ah so close and yet so far.

6. The Pond. You should fill this up with water and fish. It was a source of great entertainment over the years as a kid. We had even put a couple of bluegills in it at one point…they did very well, and my cousins and I spent many enjoyable hours feeding them worms and/or fishing for them with stick and line set-ups…it was catch&release though ☺

7. The back yard…all the center area used to be lawn when we were young. I really like the stone paths and think the stone patio area must be a very lovely place to sit and contemplate the world.

8. The olive trees…The olive trees in the front of the house were champion specimens procured following some landscape architecture event in the early days. It looks like the largest one that sat at street level over the mailbox may be gone now…time moves on…

9. It’s all about me…I was 6 months old when we moved into the Saroni house…I like to think that it was really built just for me. But my dad really built for my mom because he would have done anything for her. We all loved the house, but I think my mom loved it the most. She even said that the birthday of the house was valentine’s day (better than some box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers I suppose) and she/we celebrated our home’s birthday every year with a giant chocolate chip pan cookie made in the shape of a heart with little red hots all along the edge and spelling out some happy message or other. It is a great house, it was and is a great home…

One Response to “6584 Saroni Drive”

  1. sjsue says:

    I’m adding this for John Sue who wrote back to Michael & Jessica:

    You may be surprised to learn, you’re living in the second of my do it yourself houses. Our first was a 1200 sf 3br house my brother designed and we built for my mother, right after I graduated from UC Berkeley at 21. It amazing we attempted it, as nothing in our urban Chinatown background would indicate interest or competency in carpentry or construction.

    By the early 60’s, our family was bursting the seams of our little home near Montgomery Wards, so that at 31, wife Darlene and I, as first generation children of immigrants, had the laudable, perhaps at the time, laughable, aspiration for a better neighborhood, outstanding schools for our children and a much bigger house Fortunately we were able to find and bought the 6584 lot for $4,000, all of Darlene’s savings. We were amongst the first Asians in the previously segregated Montclair, which welcomed us. Sorry to say, I could not afford to hire an architect.

    6584 is designed to be economical. It is a no-frills, basic box 30×40 feet in dimension. For maximum space, its 2×10 floor joists are stretched to maximum span. Using my mother’s house as collateral, Barclay’s Bank loaned $30,000 for our construction. We thought this would provide unfinished lower floors, a liveable first floor, with the remainder to be completed later after we moved in. Surprisingly the paltry funds provided a completed home, with entry and decks, an automatically irrigated garden, lacking only the carpeting we couldn’t afford. We shopped carefully. The luxuriously beautiful interior redwood paneling were boards from excess mill runs, We even built our own kitchen cabinets, the shingle siding was well suited to unskilled labor.

    For 18 months we paid our crew of 4 unskilled men, mostly UC Berkeley “Odd Job workers” who labored evenings, Saturday, Sunday and every holiday with me. After all these years, these boys who became engineers and businssmen, value their experience and still stay in touch.

    Our children Larry, Steven, Linda and Alan received fine educations in Montclair schools attending Monclair Elementary, Montera Junior High, Skyline High and graduated from UC Berkeley and UCLA. Soon after our 50th Anniversary, Darlene passed away in 2008. Linda and I moved to Honolulu shortly after to join Steve who had moved there some years earlier to marry his wife Karen Asato.

    I bought an 80 year old single wall construction “Plantation Style” house in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu. It’s 3 br’s, living, dining room required only painting, we have completed renovations to an outside bath and laundry.The 14 x14 kitchen has been renovated with new cabinets, appliances, and a center island design. My helper Reggi and I are installing a tile floor in the kitchen. Next on our schedule are French doors opening to a new lanai deck.

    I hope you enjoy our past house and make it a very happy home for yourselves.

    Best regards,

    John Sue

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