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The Old Neighborhood
A friend of mine gave me the Voice's web site [www.noevalleyvoice.com], and after reading several back issues, I just couldn't help myself and had to send you a few of my memories.
I was born in April of 1949 at St. Luke's Hospital and went home to 311 Valley Street, where I lived until 1973. I had a four-year absence while I was in the Air Force from 1968 through 1972, and the change from when I left to when I came back was quite a shock. I had been in Vietnam for a year and a half and was pretty much just dropped right back into the city overnight, but that's another story.
My first memories were of the sisters from St. Paul's in those black habits they wore. I was about 4 years old and sitting on the front porch. I'd watch the kids have lunch in the schoolyard across the street from my house. I will always remember how harsh those nuns were to those kids. My friends and I always said that if our folks ever made us go to Catholic school, we would all run away together.
I started school at Kate Kennedy [on 30th Street] and went completely through each grade until junior high, which was James Lick. At Kate Kennedy when it rained, all the kids dressed in those yellow rain suits that made us look like bananas and we had to stay in the classrooms during lunch. The teachers would let us play 7-up and other games during the lunch hour. I still can remember the names of the kids in our class pictures.
I remember Day Street Park when it was just a big field. We played in it at night during the time they were digging it up --believe me, it was real easy to fall in the big holes they made. We could almost always find enough change under the swings at the park to go over to "Old Lady" Emmett's store on the corner of Day and Sanchez and get an ice cream cone.
The Star Bakery on Church Street had the best nut rings with the best glaze on them. I just couldn't get enough of them, and I used to get a giant T-bone steak from Drewes Meat Market for my dad on his birthday, with the silver dollar that I'd saved all year. Next door at Stellings, they knew me by my first name.
Up the street on the corner of 29th and Sanchez was the old five-and-dime. Across the street from it was the drugstore, where George the druggist was like an old family friend. He would send us on deliveries and pay us 10 cents, which we'd spend on the ice cream that he had in the freezer. We would read comic books while we waited for the next 10-cent run. The egg lady, Mrs. Schutt, was where Mom would send me for a dozen large cracked eggs for about 35 cents. The other store on the corner where Leonard was the owner always seemed to have what the family needed.
Everyone knew everyone up and down the hill we lived on. Next door to us were the Dohans, Highsmiths, Colmans, Millers, Pallas, Petersens, Toccalinos, Gurganus, Fords, Hoffmans, and the Schiffers. (Forgive any misspellings.) This last name always stuck in my head, not just because the Schiffers had a TV set and let me come over to watch Disneyland, but because one day when Mr. Schiffer was in his garage, I brought my new squirt gun in to show him. He looked at it and nodded approvingly at my new toy, but then he showed me a secret panel up on a back wall and out he pulled a Thompson machine gun, which I guess was left over from the war or his gangster days. He let me hold it, which I could barely do, and to this day I still wonder if it's there.
Red Rock Hill and Kite Hill were our stomping grounds, where we would slide down the grass hill on cardboard boxes, but any one of the steep hills was fair game if you had an old board and a bar of soap. Dr. Savio was my dentist and I used to play with his kids, Teddie and Ignina. They just about had the only house up on Red Rock Hill when we were growing up, and now you can barely see the old house amongst all the others. The old quarry up on Goat Hill was another place where we kids could spend all day, and the old water tank above the quarry was a good place to splash and get wet.
Seems like everything I write brings to mind another memory, but I'll end by saying: Robert Rouspell, Hamilton and Randy Meek, Danny Giles, Danny Toccalino, Tyde Boil, Claudia Bunton, Donna Shilds, Roy Parazzo, where the heck did all of you go? I miss all of you and the sunny growing-up days in the Noe Valley. I sure miss the old neighborhood.
Million Moms for Gun Control
Dear Noe Valley Moms, Dads, and Friends of the Community:
By now, I hope most of you have heard of the Million Mom March. Many of us were in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2000 (Mother's Day), to rally for stricter gun laws. We were there to send a strong message to the U.S. Congress that there is a great need to protect our children and loved ones from the terrible tragedy of gun violence. Too many precious lives are lost every day from the easy accessibility of firearms.
A recent Centers for Disease Control study shows that American children are 12 times more likely to die from a gun injury than children in all the other industrialized countries combined. More California kids are killed by handguns than by car crashes, diseases, or drugs.
We've got to put a stop to this insanity, and we need your help. The children cannot fend for themselves. It is important that we keep writing to our legislators until they pass bills protecting our families.
The Million Mom March is asking Congress to enact sensible gun laws that require the licensing of handgun owners and the registration of all handguns. We want a safety test for all gun buyers to make sure they know the basics of how a handgun works, how to safely load and unload it, and how to store it properly. Moms and dads are also working hard to close the gun show loopholes and to enforce background checks on all handgun buyers, so that people who should not have handguns don't get them.
I want to thank Little Bean Sprouts on 24th Street for helping to sell Million Mom March T-shirts for our Wear Your Million Mom March T-Shirt Day on Sept. 23. I also want to thank Noe Valley Video Store for its participation in the event by playing the Million Mom March video in the store during peak hours! (The videotape is available for rental at the store.)
If you would like to join our group or obtain more information about the Million Mom March, please visit us at www. millionmommarch.org.
Your Noe Valley neighbor and
one of a million moms
San Francisco Chapter,
Million Mom March
Repose in Paris
On the last page of your September 2000 issue, there is a photograph entitled "Repose." It looks like something long ago and far away, and a place that I would like to visit if it still exists. Any clues as to what and where this might be?
Editor's reply: This letter was one of several the Voice received asking about Pamela Gerard's photo on the back page of the September issue. The photograph, taken in June 2000, is the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Garden in Paris.