Noe Valley Voice May 2000

Upper Noe Rec Center Has Senior-itis

By Heidi Anderson

The longest-running group at Upper Noe Recreation Center -- the Upper Noe Senior Citizens Club -- is looking for a few new members who have time for some social fun.

What began in 1957 as a men's poker club was quickly overtaken that same year by senior women who transformed it into a sewing club. In the '60s, the seniors knitted up a storm. "In 1973, when I started working here," recalls Upper Noe recreation director Chris Borg, "there were 60 members and a waiting list!"

Ironically, Borg notes, even though the member roster is a lot smaller nowadays (10 active members, both women and men), the group is more organized than 25 years ago. Though they no longer play poker, club members play bingo, bridge, and other card games, go out to restaurants for lunch, and take trips to Reno and Bay Meadows. This year the group is organizing a softball team.

Events are reasonably priced and sometimes subsidized by the city's Rec and Park Department, Borg says.

Some former members have enriched the group with some interesting stories. According to Borg, Angie Carter, vice president of the club for 24 years starting in the early '60s, claimed she grew up playing with neighborhood pal Al Capone, but didn't know it until she moved to California years later.

And Mamie DiMaggio, a club member in the '70s and '80s, said her son gave Marilyn Monroe a black eye. Mamie was the movie star's sister-in-law, and Monroe used to love to roughhouse with her small nephew. Mamie was married to the only DiMaggio brother who didn't play baseball, Borg says. "He ran the DiMaggio restaurant down on the wharf. Mamie had her own special chair near the entrance where she would sit and sip strawberry margaritas."

Sound like a group with an interesting legacy? You have to be 55 or older to get in. Time has its rewards.

The group meets every Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m, at Upper Noe Rec Center (also known as Day Street Park), 295 Day Street near Sanchez. Snacks and coffee are provided by club members on a rotating basis. Borg's co-director, Tracey Dye, helps coordinate events and is licensed by the city to drive the group in a Rec and Park van.

Borg notes that the twice-yearly over-night trips to Reno ($35 to $50) are among the club's best-attended excursions. Another popular outing is the annual day at the races at Bay Meadows. (May they be revisiting their poker club roots?) Starting this month, the seniors will take monthly van trips to malls and other shopping outlets in the Bay Area.

For more information -- no fair lying about your age to get in -- call the Upper Noe Rec Center at 695-5011, and ask for either Chris Borg or Tracey Dye.