Casting call goes out for Burlingame’s oldest (or close to it) 

Once upon a time, Forsythe and Simpson’s and Levy Brothers heldcourt on Burlingame Avenue. Cows crossed the not-so-busy El Camino Real to graze on the west side of town, which eventually became the site of some of the city’s stateliest homes and expansive properties now incorporated into the town of Hillsborough.

And if you can remember any of that, the city of Burlingame would like to meet you.

Burlingame’s 100th birthday is June 6, 2008, and, to help celebrate the past, members of the centennial committee are on the lookout for someone who might remember the city in those bucolic early years to serve as grand marshal of the centennial parade.

The grand marshal will be either the oldest living citizen in Burlingame or the resident who has lived in Burlingame the longest, according to city officials. Committee officials hope to pick someone by April 1, according to parade planner Michael McQueen.

The centennial parade, planned for June 2 of this year, is the first event to kick off a year of celebration. The route will include key city locations including Roosevelt Elementary School, the Broadway shopping district, California Drive, City Hall, Burlingame Avenue and Washington Park, McQueen said.

McQueen, a Burlingame High School alumnus, and his committee met last week to discuss how they’re going to pick the lucky candidate. Though parade planners declined to give the names of the people submitted thus far, they said some worthy candidates have been suggested. Joanne Quadt, another Burlingame native who grew up on Acacia Drive, said the handful of submissions so far have ranged in age between 95 and 101.

Though he now resides in Belmont, McQueen also has a special place in his heart for his hometown. His father was publisher of the local newspaper, the Burlingame Advance. He attended Washington Elementary School, St. Catherine’s School and then Burlingame High, graduating in 1953, and still serves on its alumni association. He says he remembers Burlingame as a quaint, friendly community.

Some roads were paved, some weren’t, according to City Councilman and Burlingame Historical Society President Russ Cohen. There was a train stop — what is now considered the historic train depot off California Drive — that existed mainly to shuffle people between San Francisco and the Burlingame Country Club.

The city grew slowly in the late 1800s until the 1906 earthquake, when people poured into Burlingame and the rest of the Peninsula, Cohen said.

"There wasn’t a whole lot here in Burlingame," Cohen said.

Additional submissions for parade grand marshal can be submitted to Joanne Quadt at (650) 343-2237.

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