Noe Valley Voice December 2012

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

Happy HoliDAZE

By Mazook

The NBVI snapped this shot of Santa and Mrs. Claus on Noel Street last month.  Apparently, the couple were in town checking out who’d been naughty or nice, and picking up some fresh produce at the Farmers Market. They said they had such a good visit they were looking at buying a house with a big tree on 21st Street.     Photo courtesy Mark O’Neill and Roseann Minafo

A TIZZY OF TINSEL has overtaken Downtown Noe Valley as merchants and revelers get ready to ring in 24 HoliDAYS on 24th Street. The event hopefully will attract many visitors to our little village. Wow, there are a multitude of lights, live music on every corner, hayrides, actual reindeer, a Noe Valley Wine Walk, book-signings, storytelling, various and sundry shopping deals, and yes, Santa Claus will visit DNV four times this year.

Seventy-one trees have been lit up on 24th Street (up from 56 last year), and many merchants are putting lights on their storefronts, too. Lots of lights. The tree at the “Christmas tree house” on 21st Street below Sanchez looks like it has another great holiday display this year, with Santa popping up periodically to give out candy. Drive carefully when you visit, though, and don’t honk your horn.

You should mark your calendars for Sunday, Dec. 9, 3 to 6 p.m., when Chabad of Noe Valley and Just for Fun present, for the first time, a block party and menorah lighting (and bouncy house) on Noe Street between 24th and Elizabeth. The menorah gets lit at sundown. I’m looking forward to the gelt (chocolate) and the latke bar.

I’m also planning to see the students from Noe Valley’s Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory School singing at the west parklet (in front of Just for Fun) at 3:20 p.m. on one of those magic days in the history of our calendar: 12-12-12. (It is the only HoliDAY event scheduled that day.)

And then on 12-21-12, on the Winter Solstice (and the day the Mayan calendar ends), I’ll try to catch the Buds—the four-piece band playing acoustic “garden rock” with guitars, vocals, harmonica, djembe drum, and pennywhistle—from noon to 3 p.m. Let’s hope the world doesn’t end before the band.

Also, a good history event will be held at Cliché Noe (4175 24th) on 12-16-12 at 1 p.m. San Francisco historian Catherine Accardi will be signing her latest book, San Francisco Landmarks, which is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series. Accardi also authored another real cool book in that series, San Francisco’s North Beach and Telegraph Hill, which captures the mystique of that complex neighborhood (my second favorite in the city). FYI, Accardi is also editor of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers newsletter, The Semaphore. And, by the way, there will be some good snacks at Cliché Noe.

The full schedule of 24 HoliDAYS events and all the freebies accompanying them is on a great poster available at shops in DNV—it would make a good holiday decoration.

Thanks go out to the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association and the Noe Valley Association for all their work in putting on the 24 days, and also to their many local sponsors. This year’s event looks to be the best ever. For the sake of Downtown Noe Valley, shop in our neighborhood.

Before leaving the holiday happenings, rumor is that Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be making an appearance on 24th Street this season. They would actually be 26th and Fair Oaks Street residents Mark O’Neill and Roseann Minafo, who are in their second season playing the jolly duo. They also plan to appear at places like the V.A. Hospital, Holy Innocents Church, Hamilton House, and St. James, as well as at private parties, to spread cheer. O’Neill is a retired actor and Minafo, who is also retired, has lived in the neighborhood for most of her life. (“I did live in the Mission for a time,” she admits.) O’Neill says he starts growing his very white beard in July, so it is “ready for Christmas time.”

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A GUIDE TO STAR US: The NVMPA has released the very first edition of the “Noe Valley Guide,” which not only has lists of its members with addresses and phone numbers, but also features a welcome from the association’s longtime president, Bob Roddick; a description of Noe Valley events during the year; maps with dots for store locations; and a brief history of Noe Valley with some fantastic then-and-now images of local buildings, courtesy of longtime Alvarado Street resident Bill Yenne. Yenne, as many of you know, authored (among almost a hundred other books) San Francisco’s Noe Valley, published by Arcadia in 2004.

According to Roddick, each member of the association has received a healthy supply of the guide, so they should be available at stores on 24th Street. Roddick says the S.F. Travel Association is distributing the guide, and he has already heard from the Hyatt Regency, which wants a big batch. “We are really excited about it. We have printed 15,000 copies for distribution and think it will bring more shoppers to 24th Street.”

Yenne’s book, by the way, is stocked at Just for Fun, Small Frys, and Cliché Noe, but it’s so popular that supplies have been dwindling. According to David Eiland at Just for Fun, “I am down to my last case, and I have attempted to reorder from Arcadia, but have been told that that they are on ‘back order.’” By the 24th HoliDAY, the book may be sold out, only to be found on eBay (hey, Arcadia—send more books!).

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“BRING BACK THE PIONEER!” is the rallying cry of a group of historical buffs from this and other neighborhoods in our city. The Pioneer, as some of you might know, is the name of the first motorcar built on the West Coast. It was constructed by J.A. Meyer in his machine shop, which was—and still is—located on the ground floor of the house at 4181 24th St. near Diamond. The Pioneer originally rolled out onto 24th Street in 1897.

The Pioneer was most recently on display at the Oakland Museum, but the vehicle has been relegated to basement storage since the museum renovated and reinvented itself back in 2006.

Well, J.A. Meyer’s great-grandson Fred Meyer and his wife Dani Sheehan-Meyer, who live at 4175 24th and own a gift shop (the aforementioned Cliché Noe) at the same address, are hoping to create a museum and a home for the Pioneer in its original garage (4181 24th) and to nudge the Oakland Museum to allow them to move it back to the motorcar’s birthplace.

Sheehan-Meyer says that over the years the family has accumulated “a lot of stuff” that she wants to put on exhibit at the Noe location. A few items are in the window at 4181, including such relics as a rotary phone.

If you’ve taken a City Guides tour of Noe Valley, you no doubt have heard the story of the Pioneer. Tour guide Sue Walsh says the Meyer house is one of her regular stops. On Dec. 1, the Meyers are giving all of the City Guides a tour of the interior of the house and the space where the Pioneer was built (which now holds a printing press—the Meyer family went into that business in the 1930s).

Nita Riccardi polishes the bronze plaque installed on a brick wall in the public lot next to Radio Shack to honor the late Harry Aleo, a longtime resident and merchant on 24th Street.Aleo, who was famous for his love of racehorses and Ronald Reagan, arranged for the purchase of the lot in 1959 and gave it to the city with the stipulation that it be used for parking.    Photo by Michel Fraser

There are discussions going on between the Meyers and others in the neighborhood about the idea of a Noe Valley museum. It could house the Noe Valley Archives created by the late Paul Kantus (currently being held by Bill Yenne) and the memorabilia accumulated by the late Harry Aleo during his 60 years of doing business on 24th Street and as a longtime leader of the Noe Valley Merchants Association (the original name). Many of the artifacts have been preserved by Aleo’s good friend Joel Panzer of Real Management Company on Castro. The Meyers have also contacted the San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society—Fred Meyer is a retired SFFD firefighter—which has expressed interest in helping bring the Pioneer home. The Meyers are sure other groups will offer help as well.

“Our plans are in a very incubator form right now,” says Sheehan-Meyer, “but there is going to be a conversation. And we are really excited.” We wish the curators good luck.

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PLAQUE MAN: Thank you to Nita Riccardi of Winning Colors Painting for adding luster to the Harry Aleo plaque in front of the parking lot next to Radio Shack on 24th near Castro. Riccardi’s cleaning and polishing were done this fall at the request of Tony Lyau, manager of the Aleo trust, who was also repainting Aleo’s buildings across the street.

The bronze plaque, which reads, “In Honor of Harry Aleo, whose determined effort helped provide Noe Valley with this parking lot,” was placed by the Noe Valley Association on the wall shortly after Aleo’s death in 2008.

Way back in 1959, Aleo, through the auspices of the Noe Valley Merchants Association and in collaboration with 20 of the merchant members who pooled their money, bought the vacant lot after the old Willopi Hall had been demolished, and then gave the property as a gift to the city for use as a public parking lot.

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MAINTAINING AN ELECTION: The S.F. Department of Elections reports that in the Nov. 6 election 14,625 of the 17,762 Noe Valley residents who are registered to vote actually did vote. That translates to an 82.3 percent turnout. The only higher turnout was in Diamond Heights, where 83.2 percent of the area’s 7,070 registered voters marked their ballots. Turnout over in Eureka Valley (Castro/Upper Market), with 19,571 registered voters, was 82 percent.

You might also be interested to know that in our Supervisorial District 8, where 60,626 are registered to vote, the party breakdown is 39,600 Democrat, 3,016 Republican, 1,412 Green, 809 American Independent, 297 Libertarian, 134 Peace and Freedom, and 15,315 with no party preference (about 25 percent).

The Department of Elections posted the final results at press time, so the NVBI only had  time to crunch a few numbers. Here is where those 14,625 Noe Valley votes went:

President: Barack Obama 13,095 vs. Mitt Romney 961

Senate: Dianne Feinstein 13,094 vs. Elizabeth Emken 971

Congress: Nancy Pelosi 12,638 vs. John Dennis 1,287

State Senate: Mark Leno 12,380 vs. Harmeet Dhillon 1,182

In state propositions, we voted emphatically yes on Props. 30 (temporary taxes to fund education), 34 (repeal death penalty), and 37 (genetically engineered food labeling). We also liked City Proposition A (parcel tax for City College), B (neighborhood parks bond), E (gross receipts tax), and lastly Prop. G (political spending limits on corporations).

If you’d like more election analysis, go hear Professor Emeritus Gerard Heather (San Francisco State) at the Odd Mondays series on Jan. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at Phoenix Books. He will tackle the topic “What Really Happened on Election Day and What Does It Mean?” 

Also, do not miss longtime Noe Valleyan and political scientist David Binder, who will speak at the Noe Valley Demos Club on Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Philip’s. He is back after his stint with the Obama campaign. I would suggest an early arrival for good seats, and, as always, there will be snacks.

Admission to both events is free.

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SCAVENGERS IN THE SUNSET: While you’re marking your calendars, be sure to circle Feb. 2, 2013, when the Noe Valley Tech Search Party celebrates its fourth annual scavenger hunt, to benefit our local schools.

The hunt starts at James Lick Middle School (25th Street entrance), where teams get a map and clues, which will lead them to the answers at locations in the neighborhood. The team takes a photo and emails it back to home base and heads for the finish line at Valley Tavern, where the entrants hoist beers and toast the prize winners.

Check-in time will be 5:15 to 6 p.m. If past years are any indication, there will be over 30 teams and could be as many as 50. You will need to coordinate your team, and everyone must have a smart phone to help decipher the clues and send the photos to Tech Central, unless you send a courier with the photo. The fee is $50 for a team of up to four people and $75 for a team of up to six. In this hunt, six heads will be better than four. To sign up, go to techsearchparty.comIt is a guaranteed good time for all. Happy hunting!

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SHORT SHRIFTS: The “community bank” Circle Bank on 24th Street has become Umpqua Bank, which is based in Portland, Ore. The change became official last month when new signs went up and notices were sent out to bank customers.

Thanks go out to Wells Fargo Bank for donating $1,000 to each of 74 San Francisco schools, including Alvarado, James Lick Middle, Ruth Asawa School for the Arts, and Mission High.

A Noe Valley pizza restaurant “well-established for 30 years” was listed on Craigslist mid-November for the asking price of $320,000, which is a lot of dough. The owner was “relocating abroad and that is the reason for selling.” The ad, however, has now expired.

A kids spot called Little Folkies has opened at 1515 Church St. (where Heliotrope used to be), offering singing and other classes aimed at children and their parents/caregivers. I say, “Let them sing.”

It appears that all corner grocery markets in Noe Valley are out of Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, and Ding-Dongs. I checked.

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IN MEMORIAM: Before I go, I want to offer my sincere condolences to her family and friends, to our neighborhood, and to the City and County of San Francisco, for the loss of Claire Pilcher, who passed away on Oct. 5 after a short illness. She was 73.

Claire moved to Noe Valley in 1963 with her husband, the late Will Pilcher. She founded the Friends of Noe Valley in 1971, was its leader through the 1970s, and devoted herself to making our neighborhood a better place to live. She was a land-use lawyer and served as commissioner and president of the Public Utilities Commission, commissioner of San Francisco’s Board of Permit Appeals, member of the Bay Area Air Quality District, and co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreation and Open Space. She also was on the board of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).

Claire is survived by her daughter, Lisa Young, who lives in McArthur, Ohio, with Claire’s two grandchildren, and her sister Mary Katherine Tabor of Rochester, New York.

There will be a memorial service  for Claire the evening of Dec. 21 at her favorite church, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church at 101 Goldmine Drive at Diamond Heights Boulevard.

“She lived out her faith in her work and was a lovely liberal attorney in this city who stood up for people, and she will be truly missed,” says church pastor Tommy Dillon.

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THAT’S ALL, YOU ALL: Here’s wishing you and yours a happy holiday of your choosing and a super new year 2013. I will be back at you in February, after all us Voicers take our winter vacation. Ciao for now.