| October 2012
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Back to the ’70s: The Noe Valley Bar and Grill was an iconic 24th Street presence back in the day. Reader Molly Campbell sent us her memories (see “I Was There”). Photos courtesy Greg Mitchell, Molly Campbell, and Rosemary Davis
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, P.O. Box460249, S.F., CA 94146. Or email email@example.com. Please include your full name and contact information. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.
MISSY, a Good Dog
Missy, a loving and faithful companion to the Mendoza family of Church Street, passed away Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 171/2 . Born in January 1995, the little black schipperke became well known as an adventurer along Church and 28th streets. Her neighborhood and family will miss her greatly. Photo courtesy Janet Mendoza
I Was There
What a great memory by the author who wrote about Noe Valley [“Farewell to Noe Valley,” Larry Beresford, October 1999 Voice].
I lived there, on 24th Street, and worked at the Noe Valley Bar and Grill [where Fresca is now] from 1978 to 1984.
It was an amazing time and place. I was a 21-year-old kid, new to the city. It seemed everyone I met had also just arrived, and we went about the business of starting out. Making new friends, loves, and memories. We had no idea what AIDS was or how it was about to crush our world.
Later, most of us scattered, and many of the gay men died. My best male friend, Robert Vinas, died in 1988, the year my son was born. He often inhabits my dreams and we’re working the NVB&G floor together.
Kimball Allen and his wife Jane opened the Noe Valley Bar and Grill in 1977. I worked as a waitress and then a bartender. For a while, I lived at 24th and Chattanooga with my other best male friend and co-worker, Paul Pukay, who died in 1992.
Women and mostly gay men worked at the NVB&G, but cool straight guys made it through the doors, gaining employment as well.
We were all hardworking people who made good money while pursuing our dreams. It was the time of est and cocaine and cheaper rents, disco (Sylvester), and the I-Beam on Haight Street. Open-toe shoes were not allowed on the dance floor, but we could take our tops off and dance half-naked if we chose to! I always felt safe, with my gang of friends.
I remember all the characters—the staff, the customers—at the NVB&G. There was a microphone set up in the waiter station, which wasn’t hooked up to the P.A. system, but boy did we work it. Robert would often become Peggy Lee, singing “You give me fever” at closing time, to an audience of one. Me. It was also a chance to say everything you wanted to say to the world, without having to pay the consequences. The microphone was a wonderful therapeutic tool.
We had so many great customers—young and old, gay men, lesbians, and “straight” people. Artists. David Ireland was one of them, so was Marga Gomez. The staff from other local restaurants, like Little Italy, the Acme Cafe, and Maggie’s, frequented the bar after their shift. It was a shared magic that brought us to this time and place in SF.
Our customers were also city government staff—Dianne Feinstein, Quentin Kopp, and other Board of Supes like Carole Ruth Silver. On Halloween 1978, a month before Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated, the staff all came to the restaurant in drag. Paul was Ms. Finland and the manager, Fred King, was Ms. Guam. I dressed up as an Italian waiter, with a stash and a bad attitude. My boyfriend was Dolly Parton on a bummer.
For a long stretch, the J-Church Metro line was being dug up, and all the rats arrived at our bar, down in the basement. I tried to keep the customers unaware, but it wasn’t easy. I had lots of ketchup bottles on hand, to slow the rats down if they came too close.
I’ve recently connected with some of the alumni of the NVB&G, and it’s been sweet. Peggy Smith and Sue Conley, who are now owners of Cowgirl Creamery, live in Petaluma, as I do. They approached my ice cream truck (mollymoosicecream.com), and I instantly recognized them. Greg Mitchell, who was one of the waiters, lives close to me now, and is in touch with Peggy and Sue. Molly Fox, who became her own brand in New York City as the fitness queen, is back in Palo Alto.
With the devastation caused by AIDS in those years, it is so comforting to know that there are some fellow witnesses to that extraordinary time in San Francisco.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Grooving at the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade are (left to right) Phylis Kramer, John Bishop, Molly Campbell, Molly Fox, Robert Vinas, Mark _____, Meredith Snow, and Rosemary Davis.
Working for a Living: Greg Mitchell and Molly Campbell, shown on the job at the Noe Valley Bar and Grill in 1978, recently reunited with old friends in Petaluma.
Wrongs and Remedies
As a relative newcomer to Noe Valley, I learn much from your fine news stories, letters, and interviews. For example, I had wondered what those painted dots on the pavements meant, thinking they might represent a new form of street art. Your story [“White Dots Have Residents Seeing Red,” June 2012] revealed they were yet another of the city’s efforts to raise the cost of living by forcing home and store owners to replace sidewalks that authorities deemed dangerous to pedestrians. I see few cement problems that could pose a hazard.
If city officials were truly concerned about pedestrians, they would enforce the laws against bicycling on the sidewalks (which should include skateboards) or the prevalent ignoring of stop signs at almost all corners by autos and bicyclists. Eager to raise money, the city could make a fortune handing out speeding tickets on Guerrero Street between 21st and 24th streets, where the posted speed limit is 25 mph because of the numerous schools. The posted speed limit of 15 mph when students are present near 24th Street and Fair Oaks is similarly ignored by all those on wheels.
My wife, who was born and raised on Guerrero Street, was assured by members of the Noe Valley community organization that Guerrero is indeed part of Noe Valley.
Having already had two very close calls, I have to look both ways when emerging from our house to the sidewalk. It is particularly scary at night, since many bicyclists have no headlights. I am loathe to go out at night anyhow, given the violence in this area and the lack of police protection.
Walking in “downtown” 24th Street can be pleasant, unless one is confronted by unleashed dogs, self-absorbed joggers, or aggressive families with double-sized strollers and dogs. But there is less there to attract me: in the 18 months I have been here, two of the three bookstores have closed—Cover to Cover on Castro and the Mystery Bookstore one block from it.
The recent comments in the Noe Valley Voice by the head of the Mission Police Station that the increase in crime on 24th Street is no greater than elsewhere in his precinct is not comforting.
There are remedies: San Francisco’s budget needs greater scrutiny. We need an expansion of the police department, increased foot patrols, more members in the unpaid Police Reserve Officer Program, increased dedication to other police-run, citizen volunteer programs, and greater enforcement of existing laws. There are a lot of people with money in Noe Valley, so paying private, professional security firms to make patrols by foot and car here would not be onerous. Street cameras are greatly needed.
Pedestrians should not hesitate to vocally reprimand looney drivers of cars or bicycles, as I often see them do to those doing something ecologically negative, likeaccidentally dropping a paper napkin on the sidewalk. Bicycles should have large ID’s on them, fore and aft. To avoid whining by the sanctimonious bike pedalers, these can be given out for free, but made mandatory. While they (and city officials) seem to consider themselves analogous to the Danes, who are brought up using bicycles, they clearly lack the proficiency, good manners, self-control, or civic-mindedness of those in Copenhagen.
THE NOE VALLEY VOICE
P.O. Box 460249
San Francisco, CA 94146
The Noe Valley Voice is an independent newspaper published monthly except in January and August. It is distributed free in Noe Valley and vicinity, on or before the first Friday of the month. Subscriptions are available at $30 per year ($25 for seniors) by writing to the above address.
The Voice welcomes your letters, photos, and stories, particularly on topics relating to Noe Valley. All items should include your name, address, and phone number, and may be edited for brevity or clarity. (Unsigned letters will not be considered for publication.) Unsolicited contributions will be returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS AND EDITORS
Olivia Boler, Other Voices Editor
Corrie M. Anders, Associate Editor
Heather World, Associate Editor
Heidi Anderson, Owen Baker-Flynn, Karol Barske, Helen Colgan, Chrissy Elgersma, Jan Goben, Liz Highleyman, Rebecca Huval, Laura McHale Holland, Florence Holub, Tim Innes, Jeff Kaliss, Doug Konecky, Rhiana Maidenberg, Roger Rubin, Shayna Rubin, Karen Topakian
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Najib Joe Hakim, Senior Photographer
Jennifer O. Viereck
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Jack Tipple, Misha Yagudin
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Pat Rose, Jack Tipple
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Contents ©2012 The Noe Valley Voice
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, P.O. Box 460249, S.F., CA 94146. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name and contact information. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.