7501 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito, Ca
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Sundar Shadi met Dorothy Clotelle Clarke at UC Berkeley, where she was studying Spanish. They married in 1934. Dorothy continued her studies and became a professor of Spanish at Berkeley. Sundar and Dorothy had three daughters: Zilpha Tedforda Shadi (Mrs. George Roland Paganelli), Ramona Rhea Shadi (Mrs. William Walter Miller) and Verna Carol Shadi. They built and lived in their home on the Arlington in El Cerrito. The girls attended local schools and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. Sundar Shadi became a citizen in 1948. Although he didn't pursue his profession as a pomologist, he did continue his interest in the science. He published research about subtropical horticulture and became an elected member of professional honor societies, including Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society. When he retired, he was able to spend more time with the thousands of flowers he loved at the family home at on the Arlington, and start what would turn into a virtuoso seasonal sculpture garden.
"It began with a single star…,” his daughter said, “then it grew year by year. He loved doing it, and it gave him something to do in the fall when his flowers were not in bloom." And while Shadi knew plants, he didn't know how to make models of creatures and buildings, especially those that could withstand the rain and chill of an El Cerrito winter. He found that a wooden frame covered in chicken wire formed a good foundation. For the outer layer, he tried various materials, including Plaster of Paris and even concrete for some sheep, Rich Bartke said, but eventually seemed to favor stucco. One element that surprises many people when they visit the display is that there is no manger nor nativity scene. Many people will swear to having seen one in the display, but there's never been one. The scene depicts Bethlehem before Christ’s birth.