Noe Valley Voice September 2001

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

By Olivia Boler

Noe Valley has always been one of the most popular neighborhoods in San Francisco, and Noe Valley History Day, held annually in September, gives us a chance to discover some clues to the neighborhood's appeal.

The Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library and the East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club will sponsor the 2001 Noe Valley History Day on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Noe Valley Library, 451 Jersey Street. This year, the historical exhibits will focus on Noe Valley in the 1930s and '40s.

"It's a time that is of most interest to Noe Valley residents," says East & West Club president Paul Kantus, who helps organize the annual event. "At least, it's interesting to me."

Kantus, who has lived on Douglass Street his entire life (since 1926), has been busy collecting artifacts and memorabilia such as street signs, old photos and newspapers, comic books, diaries, business records, and toys from the past. Display cases filled with these relicswill be set up in the main reading room of the library.

"I'm trying to get new historical photos for the display," Kantus says. "Many of the merchants in the area actually have some photos in their shops, and I'm asking to borrow them."

Another highlight of this year's History Day will be a slide presentation and talk by local historian Mae Silver (see story, page 1). Silver has written three books on San Francisco history, including her most recent Rancho San Miguel: A San Francisco Neighborhood History. Before Noe Valley was Noe Valley, it was part of a 4,443-acre rancho owned by Mexican-born Jose de Jesus Noe (1805­62). Come to Silver's talk at 2 p.m. and find out what other parts of San Francisco Señor Noe owned and what the landscape of the city was like in the late 19th century.

History Day will also feature entertainment for kids. At 3:30 p.m., Tye the Magic Guy will perform "acts of illusion and mystery" in the library's children's room.

"I enjoy History Day," says children's librarian Carol Small. "It's a festive atmosphere. We break our own [quiet] rules and offer refreshments, and it's quite lively in the Main Room."

Approximately 100 people attended Noe Valley History Day last year. The open house runs from 2 to 5 p.m., and the displays and photos will be up through the end of September. The library is open Tuesday through Saturday.

If you would like to loan or donate any photos or memorabilia for History Day, contact Paul Kantus at 647-3753.