It was late 2001 or early 2002. I was recently laid off from my advertising agency, and had yet to begin slinging crab cakes to tourists in Ghirardelli Square. All this time on my hands, in between job hunting … a perfect opportunity to start the project.
Every few weeks, I would drive down to Menlo Park with my boyfriend at the time to have Sunday night dinner with his family. We always passed Oak Avenue. A sign: do this.
Google was in its infancy, at least to me; I don’t think I had a home computer at the time anyway, so online searching was just a twinkle in my eye. I called the San Mateo county planning office and asked if they could tell me all the house numbers on Oak. I remember the woman on the other end of the line sounding somewhat befuddled by my request, but she faxed me a report. Bless her heart.
I didn’t do anything with that data. The thought of contacting planning offices for every county across the country was a little overwhelming.
A decade later, after encountering a bevy of small, seemingly insignificant signs, I started typing “923 oak” plus the name of a state into Google. And poof, my screen was populated with cities & towns that claimed to have a 923 Oak. MAGIC!
I gleefully built a multi-page spreadsheet full of 923 Oaks all over the country. Then it dawned on me that Google was kindly letting me know where 923 Oak would be … there was no guarantee that either the number or a physical structure really existed. So I cross-referenced my addresses with the USPS zip code finder. My list got significantly smaller, but as of this writing, I have 85 verified 923 Oaks across the country. 85!
I’m hopeful that most of those 85 residents are game to participate. If you lived at 923 Oak, would you be game?