Re: A Kid in SF

12/11/16 - posted by Paul Judge

Carl Nolte is a San Francisco treasure. His columns often resonate well with memory and experience.

Growing up in the Richmond District in a family of seven during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s it seemed to my young mind that my parents belonged to a San Francisco populated by people whom they knew or easily found connection with.

When we mentioned the name of a new pal or someone we’d met we were accustomed to hearing Dad say, "I went to school / played ball / had worked with her/his father." We were confounded by how frequently it proved to be true.

Running the household didn’t curb mom’s social connections. When walking the blocks to the grocery store the trek was often punctuated by neighborly conversation on the sidewalk or in the aisle of the market. Her mid day routine included phone conversations with relatives, old chums or other moms from the parish, a brief afternoon nap, a cup of tea and then preparing family dinner. On special trips downtown she'd run into friends she knew from school, her old Mission District neighborhood or had worked with at the White House Department Store prior to marriage. For decades she gathered monthly with a loyal group of dear women who had bonded at Notre Dame High School on Dolores Street.

When we went on vacation my sisters and I grew up hearing Dad say, "Don't throw rocks, you'll hit a relative." Often enough during our stay somewhere someone would pop up who our parents knew growing up, had worked with or had some old time connection to. Of course that would be expected when we went to the Russian River or camped at Yosemite and Tahoe but this was true on trips elsewhere in the state.

Dad knew many of the service station operators in the neighborhood having worked and owned a station prior to the Second War. The same held true for grocery operators he’d met when his post War job for a brief time was selling for S&W and Rancho Foods. The axiom he gospeled to us was never burn a bridge you’ll meet that person again somewhere down the line.

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