Tag Archives: San Francisco

The Flat

“In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.”
Ari Berk

The last flat¹ we lived in in San Francisco had a little room off the kitchen where there was a sink with a window over it, and there were counters and shelves on each side of the sink. I thought of it as a pantry but it was probably more like a scullery, “since the scullery was the room with running water, it had a sink…”². Scullery³ sounds like a place to store sculls, catacombs. There were no skulls in our pantry.

800px-DJJ_1_Catacombes_de_Paris by djtox on Wikipedia.

Catacombs of Paris by Djtox

The kitchen had a built in breakfast nook with a vinyl covered U-shaped banquette, like a booth in a diner. My mother loved the nook. Flats are like large apartments. Ours had a kitchen, den, two bedrooms, living room, 1¼ bath. I say ¼ bath because there was a small room in the hall with a second toilet. The rooms of the flat were bigger than a typical modern apartment in the US. Our flat was on the top floor. You had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the front door and another flight once you got inside. My mother did not lock the front door. You were not afraid living in The City in those days. Flats seem more like homes than apartments.

10754345204_a0846b68e7_zThe Mission District by Ken Lund on Flickr

Mission District by Ken Lund

This (above) looks something like the flat we lived in, only nicer. Below image is not too far from my old neighborhood.

800px-CastroAnd20thStreetInSanFranciscosCastroDistrict via wikimedia

2oth and Castro Street


1.flat: A set of rooms forming an individual residence, typically on one floor and within a larger building containing a number of such residences.-Oxford Living Dictionaries


3. Etymololgy of scullery: Middle English squilerie, sculerie department of household in charge of dishes, from Anglo-French esquilerie, from escuele, eskel bowl, from Latin scutella drinking bowl-Merriam-Webster Dictionary online.

One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Featured image The Scullery Maid  painting by Giuseppe Maria Crespi via Wikimedia


No Wasted Words

“No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”-Erin Bow

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
Erin Bow

I was born and grew up part the way in San Francisco. You could buy fresh San Francisco sourdough bread all over The City.  I really love dark crust sourdough bread with some dry Italian salami and a good cheese, a semi-soft cheese like teleme or Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, Ca. Seems like the only place you can get the original sourdough dark crust bread by Boudin Bakery is at Tadish Grill Restaurant. Both Boudin and Tadish Grill have been around since SF Gold Rush days (1849).



One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Featured image of San Francisco sourdough bread and beer by Jon Sullivan on wikimedia, Image of Red Hawk cheese by Frank Schulenburg on wikimedia, Image of Columbus salami by Kent Wang on Flickr. Had to throw in the Image of Humboldt Fog cheese via Sharona Gott on Flickr.



San Francisco: A Drone’s Eye View

Here are some nice shots of San Francisco and its bridges done by danesdrone on You Tube:

Makes me homesick. Beautiful city. This poem reminds me of the fog coming over Twin Peaks into the valleys of San Francisco.

The Fog by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

How Irish Coffee Came to America

Irish Coffee was brought to San Francisco by one of its famous newspaper columnists, Stanton Delaplane. He had first tasted Irish Coffee at Shannon Airport and wanted to recreate the coffee. He collaborated with Jack Koeppler, then the owner of the Buena Vista Café, and with the help of the mayor of San Francisco, created the recipe for Irish Coffee in 1952. It is still served at the Buena Vista to this day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! Erin Go Bragh!

The City of Paris

The City of Paris in San Francisco was a beautiful department store that was founded in the years of the California Gold Rush. I remember it in its final location on Geary and Stockton. The store had an open rotunda which was a large open circular space that went all the way to the beautiful stained glass dome ceiling.

During the Christmas season the City of Paris filled their rotunda with a giant Christmas tree. The store fell on hard times and Neiman Marcus wanted to buy the property and tear down the building. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and many San Franciscans fought against it. Neiman Marcus won and they tore down the original building.

One happy note about this story is that they preserved the rotunda with the stained glass dome in the new store.  Part of the stained glass image contains the motto  “Fluctuat nec Mergitur,” which means It floats but never sinks.


Historical information from the Nora Leishman article on foundsf.org and More history of the City of Paris

Eureka Valley and The Castro

Eureka Valley

My early childhood memories are of living in the Eureka Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. My father’s parents came to San Francisco from Ireland and owned a house on Eureka Street. My mother’s parents came to San Francisco from Canada when my mother was 7 years old. We lived a block over from my father’s childhood home.

At that time, in the 1950s, it was a neighborhood with mostly an Irish, Italian and German ethnic makeup and Catholic. The neighborhood was self-contained in that our lives pretty much revolved around that area and we did not venture out of it that often.

My neighborhood world consisted of a public school, Douglass Elementary, a public park, Eureka Valley Recreation Center, the Catholic church and elementary school, Most Holy Redeemer, and our local movie theater, the Castro. My father told me our neighborhood had the most children in all of San Francisco.

I transferred to the Catholic elementary school in first grade. Then it was about uniforms with navy blue pleated skirts. White blouses with t-bow ties. Bobby socks and saddle shoes. Nuns dressed in long black habits with starched white wimples and heavy waist rosaries. Catechism and first communions, with white dresses and veils. Rosaries, prayers, and stations of the cross. I was taught religious tolerance and that other religions are different paths to God.

The Monsignor would come to our classrooms and read us our report cards. He pronounced my name De-BOR-ah, with a brogue. It was a time of high expectations and pressure for a sensitive kid.

It was a time of hula hoops, jump ropes and clamp on metal skates that you tightened with a key. I was not allowed to have a bicycle because of the city traffic.

We watched the Mickey Mouse Club afterschool every day and dreamed of being Mouseketeers, like Annette Funicello. I loved Spin and Marty, a short TV series that was part of the Mickey Mouse Club show. I really wanted a Mouseketeer hat with a pink bow.

Halloween in our neighborhood was a big occasion. There was a local five and dime store called Cliffs on Castro Street. Every year Cliff hosted a Halloween parade lead by a large mechanical dinosaur. I remember kids lining up in their costumes behind the dinosaur to march down 18th Street.

The Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre was built in 1922. It has over a 1400 seat capacity with a mezzanine and balcony. It is still in operation today. I can remember going there for the Saturday matinee with the theater full of kids. The price of admission was 25 cents. Candy was 10-15 cents. Some of that sugary fare included Necco wafers, Rolo caramels, Charms squares, Milk Duds, Red Vines licorice and Juicy Fruits.

Some movies that were showing at that time were, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin comedies like Scared Stiff, Godzilla, Cinderella, and Lady and the Tramp. I would laugh hysterically at Abbott and Costello and Jerry Lewis. Some may remember Tobor the Great and ” Tobor is robot spelled backwards.”

Sometimes I saw really scary movies like The Fly ( 1958), The Blob (1958) and The Tingler (1959), a centipede like creature that lived on our spines and grew stronger with fear. The only way to keep it from growing was to scream. There was a scene with blood running out of a faucet and a bath tub filled with blood. In one part of the movie, Vincent Price announced the Tingler was loose in the theater. The scary feelings elicited by those movies would last for weeks.

My friends and I often went by ourselves to the movies, but I can remember my mother taking me as well. My mother took me to see Creature from the Black Lagoon, one of the 3D films of the 1950s.

We moved from San Francisco to the peninsula when I was in 4th grade. There was a waiting list for the Catholic school there so I was enrolled in the local public school. That was the end of my Catholic school experience.

The old neighborhood has changed since the 1950s and is now known as The Castro and for its history in the beginning of the Gay Rights movement. Douglass Elementary is now the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy.

Featured image “The Castro” by Lucy Orloski