Monday, October 18, 2010
Last Saturday at Eureka Valley Recreation Park I was one of three ( Susan Maher & Marie Callaghan on a panel of old residents to discuss life in this famous neighborhood before it became known as "The Castro."
Memories of Most Holy Redeemer school and life with the BVM nuns made for a much lively conversation. Although the other two panelists' memories where of the difficult and often cruel times with the nuns and Catholic church, I remember some positive ones also. The days at EV park was a huge positive memory for all especially for Marie who fondly reminisced about two of the directors, Dody and Clair’s, encouraging influence on her life. We all talked about how the Castro theater filled every Saturday with kids and Susan laughingly referred to Saturday picture day as the “babysitter.”
Memories of the neighborhood stores like Cliff's who put on the annual Halloween parade, costume and ice cream eating contests and the mechanical dinosaur were spoken about as were Mueller’s Swiss deli, Rossi’s meat market, ice cream shop (softies w/birdseed) and mentioned were the nine bars in two block radius. Eureka Valley was mostly Irish, Swiss, Swedes, some Italians and a then us, the Scottish immigrants.
I mentioned that my family's first home in the US was on Market Street, (featured in my novel The Skye in June) is now a center for psychic classes (ESP/Tarot) and readings, a coincidence since one character in my story experiences psychic phenomena lived at that very address. Then I read an excerpt from my novel.
There were many questions and sharing from the audience. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with their headdresses, white faces and colorful dresses and who generously contributed and sponsored the event - Friends of the Library, had questions about life with the nuns and the first signs of the changing of the neighborhood into the gay mecca it was to become. Other in the audience shared historical facts and stories. One saying that Eureka Valley was the heart (center) of San Francisco. It holds a huge part in my heart.
Former owner of Thomas’ Cleaners spoke and had a table with antique irons including one heated by a Coleman gas contraption as well as some cast iron ones and early electric ones.
Author Jim Strange (Strange de Jim) presented a slide show and his book, San Francisco’s Castro.