I was inspired indirectly by http://allanh.livejournal.com/347206.html to post this story (and also some comments about "central California").
When my family moved to California in 1968, my dad had 2 job offers, one at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, and one at IBM in San Jose. An out-of-date dictionary had entries like these, but with smaller populations:
city W California WNW of San Jose population 131,760
city W California SSE of San Francisco population 894,943
(I checked the 1948 New Century Dictionary. It has San Jose in southeastern central Calif., pop. 68,000, and Santa Clara valley, northern Calif., both noted for prunes, and San Francisco in west central Calif., population with suburbs about 1.4 million.)
My parents met in high school in Prairie du Chien, WI (population now: 6,018), and they knew the small-town inconveniences, like only one movie theater, and not many grocery stores, although nowadays with cineplexes it's not so bad: http://movies.yahoo.com/showtimes/showtimes?z=53821
San Jose sounded like a better-sized city, and IBM had a good reputation. The housing developments near IBM were so new that there weren't many stores or schools yet, so we always lived in or near Campbell, and in 1971, while their friends expected a drop in home prices ("$30,000, for a used house?") and mortgage rates ("6%? Outrageous!"), my folks bought a nice 1950's house on a street with full-grown trees (but they almost bought a house in that_dang_otter's area). As it turns out, the man next door to us worked at Lockheed, so Sunnyvale and San Jose weren't far apart at all!
Local maps showed the future Hwy 85 running to IBM, but it wasn't built until the early 1990's, just in time for my dad to take IBM's early-retirement incentives.
Also of note, the neighbors diagonally across the street were Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan's brother and mother, but I don't think Amy ever lived there.