Western Neighborhoods Project
"I am OMI"
Interview with Patricia Poole
January 17, 2004
LaBounty: It's January 17th, 2004.
So do you go by Patricia now?
LaBounty: Patti, still? Patti Poole?
LaBounty: We'll just have a little brief chat kind of about what you remember about growing up in Ingleside Terraces. You were pretty young when your family moved there, right?
Poole: I was six. Four. Well, five. Let's say five. I was told I was old. See, well, there was an incident that happened there. I don't know if you read about the burnt cross thing. I was told I was six. I don't remember. I remember the incident very clearly. I don't remember how old I was. So I was five or six.
LaBounty: So that was kind of one of your earliest memories of living there?
Poole: Actually, no. One of my earliest memories of living there was before we moved in. I remember driving around that neighborhood trying to find a house, and my parents finally being able to get that house. The only way we got it was because the person who sold it to us themselves. We couldn't buy through a realtor.
Then before we moved in, we were still living in our old house on Caine Avenue, which is on the other side of City College somewhere, and we used to come over to... we were painting the cabinets and doing some remodeling ourselves.
LaBounty: Right. Getting it ready.
Poole: Yes. So one of my earliest memories is going over there with my mom and dad and my sister, finding the cat that ended up being our cat for a long time. She had run away and came back, and she had kittens with her, and playing with the cat and playing with the neighborhood kids and then seeing that park for the first time, that crescent-moon shaped park. My sister loved to ride her bike through there, and I'd ride my tricycle around. Then I met by best friend, Kathy, there.
LaBounty: Before you even moved in?
Poole: Before we moved in. There were a bunch of kids. It was almost like something out of a science fiction movie because we used to go there. I think it was on weekends. I'm kind of hazy about when. But we went there one time, and we were all in the back of the house, and I came up on the side lawn. The way the house was positioned, there were these expansive lawns that rolled down. I came out on the side, and there were all these kids kind of lined up on the lawn, just kind of staring at us. Where my sister and I were, we were in the backyard, but we hadn't seen them. So they were like staring at us. It was like something out of the Children of the Corn. [Laughter]
They were the neighborhood kids, I mean, and one of them was Kathy. Kathy kept coming by. Kathy Cleary [phonetic], her father, Don Cleary, was the lobbyist for the city of San Francisco, and they lived on Moncada, so they were down around the corner from me.
LaBounty: He was a lobbyist for--
Poole: For the city, city and county of San Francisco.
LaBounty: So for like business to come to the city or--
Poole: Yes. He would spend a lot of his time in the capital, in Sacramento.
LaBounty: So, now, this is 90 Cedro, we're talking about?
LaBounty: Before that, you lived on the other side of City College, and you said you had some trouble finding a place to buy before you got this one.
Poole: Definitely. That was before the Fair Housing Act. So my father, with a VA [Veterans Administration] loan and being deputy D.A., could not get a house in the neighborhoods where we wanted to buy. We looked in some of the areas in Ingleside Terraces. I don't remember exactly where. My dad pointed a few of them out to me, and I don't remember which streets they were on. But we looked at a couple houses, and I remember distinctly that my dad telling me that he would call and talk to somebody on the phone, and then he'd get there, and they'd tell him that it was sold. And that the only way we bought the house was that it sold to us by a gentleman whose last name was Brisker [phonetic]. He was being transferred to Los Angeles. He had heard through the grapevine that we were looking for a house, and he sold it to us himself. And if he hadn't, we wouldn't have been able to buy that house.
LaBounty: Right, because the realtors just didn't want anything to do with selling to anybody of color?
Poole: They didn't want to sell to anybody of color, and the neighbors were afraid that we would move in about eighteen families. They actually came right out and told us they didn't want us to live there. There were several people who came up and told us that.
LaBounty: Right when you first moved in?
Poole: When we first moved in, they told us they didn't want us to live there.
I was still going to my kindergarten, which is why I think I was about four or five, and the house--hold on a second. Have you seen that house?
Poole: Anyway, there was the house. I have the negative of the picture. There was the house, which was a huge house, and then the backyard and a detached garage. My favorite thing to do was to try to beat my dad to the garage. I think he would go outside along the street, and I'd cut through the backyard, and I'd always beat him. Or I'd run not along the backyard; I'd run along the hedge, so outside the backyard but along the lawn. And I did that one day and ran smack into a burnt cross.
LaBounty: In the morning.
Poole: In the morning on the way to school. According to reports that I've read later, my mother said she smelled something burning that night and didn't think that much of it. So naturally, they kept me home from school.
LaBounty: Reporters came out?
Poole: Reporters came out. Herb Caen used to quote it about every ten years. But that was, we think, the neighbors, some of the neighbors' way of telling us that they didn't want us there. They got over it, though. [Laughs] They had to. We weren't going anywhere.
LaBounty: Yes, I read the newspaper reports, and it said like some teens did it, right? Some teens came forward.
Poole: They don't know. Oh, you know what, I've never known. I've never read that. So I don't know, because I've always just heard that--I mean, like I said, Herb Caen used to bring it up, and it used to embarrass the living daylights out of me because usually he'd bring it up, he'd drag it out about every fifteen years or ten fifteen years for some reason. And it was usually when I was at work, so I would say, "Oh, that." But I don't know who confessed to it, but I do know there was sentiment from other people in the neighborhood that didn't want us around.
LaBounty: So you guys got that when you first moved in from the neighbors, but you talked about the kids and you had a best friend immediately. How did the kids treat you?
Poole: There were a lot of the kids that were pretty cold to me. Kathy was, I mean, my complete opposite. She was porcelain skin, green-eyed, Irish, and we were like twins. But there were a couple kids that were cold, you know, and then there were some that moved in later. One of them, Carol, was the daughter of a Lutheran minister, and the three of us were really good friends. But there were others that were really snooty and just, for whatever, their own reasons, whether it was because of their parents or just because that's the way they were, I don't know.
There were two houses on the other side of Moncada, because we were on the corner, and there were two families. One had all girls and one had all boys. They were brats. It could have been--I don't think that they had anything to do with it, because I don't think they'd still be living there, but the boys, who were the Panagotacoses, were brats. One of them has gone on to be a very famous dermatologist. He's very famous in this area. And then there were the Iversons [phonetic] and the Panagotacoses. The Iversons were the girls, and the Panagotacoses were the boy, and they were always mean, but I think they were mean to anybody that was younger than they were, because they were older kids.
LaBounty: Your dad was already setting precedents, coming in and being assistant D.A., I guess.
Poole: He was deputy D.A.
LaBounty: Yes, deputy D.A., and the first African American. He kept like go up that next step and would be the first. Did he get that feeling that you were talking about, like being the first in this neighborhood?
Poole: Oh yes. So did my mother. So did my mother, but they were kind of used to it. I mean, they'd been doing it. I mean, it was something that they talked about, but they didn't make a big point of, because they didn't want me to feel really uncomfortable. But there were times when I could walk out my own front door and have somebody scream something at me. Didn't mean it was somebody from the neighborhood, but it was somebody driving by.
The neighborhood was okay, except that later there was a woman who was actually older than I was. I think I was in junior high school when I befriended her, and I believe her first name was Janet, and she lived around the corner on Moncada. She became an attorney. I think she actually became a deputy D.A., and I think she was in college when Kathy and I were kind of friends with her. And it wasn't like she played with us, like there was something wrong with her, but we talked and we'd sit out on the front porch and talk or whatever.
They did some work on the sidewalk. Being an old neighborhood, every once in a while there were cracks in the street or on the sidewalk, and water would come through or something like that, and they had something done right in front of her house where one of those squares had to be drilled up and then redone. And while the cement was still wet, some kids drew swastikas, and they're Jewish, so they drew swastikas in front of their house, and she was positive it was because they were Jewish and they wanted them out of there.
I hate to paint a picture of the neighborhood being like that, but then we had the next-door neighbors, we had the neighbors, the Dowds, who lived on Moncada, and they were really, really nice. When Mr. Dowd died and they moved out of the house, a family moved in, and the woman, again, was an attorney. But there were people that were worried. It was like, oh, it was okay the Pooles moved in, but they were worried about this family. Then eventually that kind of went away, I think. And my mother was the one that usually would tell me things like that, because she wanted me to be aware of it, but she didn't want me to have it consume me.
LaBounty: Right. Feel real uncomfortable about it.
Poole: Yes. But she was pretty aware of what was going on. But I mean, in general, it was a fun place to grow up. When we first moved in, like I said, we went from no locks to moving up to five locks, but the climate and the whole world changed. My father was a federal judge when we moved out, and the FBI made us put locks on the doors. But I mean, I used to have a ball playing around there. It was so much fun. And going down to Stonestown. From our house from the second floor at Christmas, you could see the rides, the rides up on top of the Emporium.
LaBounty: Really? You could actually see them from your room?
Poole: Yes, you could see the Ferris wheel at least. So that was like that meant it was Christmas, because the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there was nothing there, and then all of a sudden it was there. Even on Thanksgiving, you kind of went, not there. Then all the banners and all the lights and everything, that's when it used to be. Everything went up like somewhere in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving, and then the day after it was all there.
On a quiet, usually winter, you know, like on a holiday, like at Christmas or Thanksgiving, when I was younger, when it was really quiet, you could hear the seals. You could hear the animals at the zoo. On a really good clear day, I could see the Farallones from my house. It was like it was really, really, really nice, because it was an amazing house itself. The house itself was something else...
LaBounty: Tell me about the house. It was big. Nine rooms?
Poole: Fourteen rooms. Fourteen rooms, full basement. Coal bin. It was gas-heated when we moved in.
LaBounty: There were four of you in it, right?
Poole: Yes. Hardwood floors, redwood-burl paneling everywhere, and beveled glass. Stained glass in what used to be the sun porch, I think, or sleeping porch that was enclosed and we called it a sewing room. Because you go up the stairs and up on the wall there were two windows. The one window, you could see into the room. It looked like they were outdoor windows. And the other one was closed off, because the people who had lived there before us, or whatever, had built a bar in there, and so there was a stained glass window over that and then on another window. But it was redwood everywhere and parquet floors, and huge but really comfortable.
Nice big backyard with a camilia tree that was probably older than dirt. I think it started out as a bush, and it was about a twenty-foot tree.
LaBounty: Wow. Because that was like the first house built there, I guess. It was Joseph Leonard who developed it.
Poole: It was his house.
LaBounty: Lived there, yes, and built it, I think, as like a little showplace, you know, for that.
Poole: Yes. It was his house, and he built the house next door for his mother. But, yes, that was Leonard's house, so that was a showcase. It had a pantry that had a cold meat storage. I mean, my mother used to actually hang hams up in there and keep potatoes in there, and I don't know if they could do it now, but they were perfectly fine then.
A couple of the bathtubs had old claw feet and stuff, even after my parents remodeled. It was fun.
LaBounty: And you played in the park right next door most of the time, you were saying.
Poole: Well, we played--it was usually Kathy, and then there were a couple other kids, and Carol. We played at each other's houses in the backyards and stuff, but if we played at my house, since I was on the corner, we had lots of room. There was a lot of ivy. Someone planted old English ivy that must have been this thick [gestures] by now, and so we used to roll down it, and it was like rolling on this box spring. I mean, it was just--it buoyed you up.
Poole: Yes, oh, yes. And then part of it was lawn. Then there was a spot between my house and the house next door where there used to be a palm tree, I think, and they cut it down. We had a palm tree on the property, which was really weird, but I think that when people were building it at the time, they brought those palms out. But we had another one that looked like it died, so it was a big old stump with a hole in it, and we used to play in there. I mean, that area became ours. My mother said we could play in and do anything we wanted in there as long as we didn't go on the neighbor's side. And that stump became different things. When we were in our science fiction stage, it was a giant pterodactyl or something like that. [Laughs]
LaBounty: Did you just kind of like fit inside the stump almost or what?
Poole: Yes, yes, you can fit inside the stump.
Then there was a way to get to the basement from the outside, and we used to play on the steps there, and there was a side yard, not that wide, but wide enough that we could plant. My mother taught us how to grow vegetables and stuff, except we used to always pull them out too early.
But we played in that park, which changed, if I remember, fairly quickly. It started out as a park that had benches and a lot of trees, and they cut down some of the trees, they took out the benches. They'd had a sidewalk going through the middle of it that we used to ride our bikes on, but the sidewalk got uprooted because of the roots, and so they kept trying to fix that, but they couldn't without killing the trees, and the trees were too big. The trees, actually the roots went across the street. The trees were there a long time ago before the houses were. So we played all over the neighborhood, basically.
LaBounty: Not this sitting inside watching TV so much like nowadays.
Poole: Hardly ever. At night. At night. And then if we did anything inside, Kathy and I used to think we were authors, and we used to write and we put on plays for the neighborhood. So we'd hole ourselves up in the den, and that was our office and nobody could come in. But I mean, for the most part, we were outside.
We'd go to Stonestown a lot when my mom finally let us go across the street, and we used to be able to go across Junipero Serra. We used to go down to State College and play. Actually, we used to play to play at W___ when we first moved out there.
LaBounty: Where did you play at State?
Poole: Oh, all around.
LaBounty: Just run all over it, huh?
Poole: I haven't been to State in a while, but, I mean, if you get off right where the streetcar stops and there's that kind of quad area, we used to play around there.
LaBounty: Just run through there.
Poole: Yes, yes.
LaBounty: I guess that was a little before a lot of that kind of craziness going on there with all the demonstrations and things like that.
Poole: Well, that was when I was in high school.
LaBounty: So that was before that.
Poole: But when we used to play as kids, that was before that. We used to go to Lake Merced. We used to ride our bikes down to Lake Merced and ride around there.
LaBounty: You had a lot of open area to run around in out there.
Poole: Lots of open area. When we were old enough that my parents trusted us to go that far, we'd go down as far as the zoo or we'd go out to Playland.
LaBounty: Playland's a long way.
Poole: Yes, it is.
LaBounty: And you'd take your bikes all the way out there?
Poole: Yes. We rode everywhere.
LaBounty: And then just give me a little time-warp thing here. So you ride your bike all the way to Playland. Do you lock up your bike back then?
Poole: We had chain locks. You locked the wheel to the rest of it, and you assumed that nobody's going to pick it up and throw it in the back of a truck.
LaBounty: Okay, and then when you go to Playland, what do you see there? What kind of stuff do you remember from Playland?
Poole: The funhouse, Mad Sal, Laughing Sal, scared the living daylights out of me. I hated her. I hated her. I really hated her.
What else was there? The deep-sea diving thing, you know.
LaBounty: The diving bell.
Poole: Yes, with the really ugly green water. And what I really remember is the faŤade that had all these little houses and the little people going in and out of the houses and stuff. And I don't remember much else. I think there was arcade stuff that we really didn't do, but I remember that my sister used to take us down to Playland.
LaBounty: Your sister was older.
Poole: My sister was five years older, and she used to take us down to Playland.
That's about all. We'd go through the park, so we'd ride through the park. Then when I got older, I rode horses through there. So we played in Golden Gate Park, but we played kind of towards the edges, you know, kind of like on Lincoln.
LaBounty: Did you get all the way up to the Cliff House or Sutro or anything like that?
Poole: Sure, on occasion, yes.
LaBounty: Was Sutro's open when you were a kid?
Poole: I don't remember.
LaBounty: How about Fleishhacker's?
Poole: Fleishhacker, yes. We used to go to Fleishhacker.
LaBounty: Go swimming there?
Poole: We'd go swimming there. There was always the myth of the shark getting in.
LaBounty: Oh, I haven't heard that one.
Poole: Yes, there was a running little myth that a little small tiger shark got in there somehow.
LaBounty: Because it was so big.
Poole: It was huge, where they pumped water directly from the ocean, so that somehow or other they figured that it got in. And I'm not sure [unclear] if there really was one. But, yes, Fleishhacker's was open then.
Poole: Cold, extremely cold. I don't like cold water. I don't swim well in cold water.
What else was down there?
LaBounty: Was there hamburger places on Sloat there across the street?
Poole: Yes, there was the zoo and then there was Doggie Diner, again with an animal that scared me.
LaBounty: The Doggie Diner had scared you?
Poole: The doggy. I loved their hamburgers, but the doggy scared me. As a matter of fact, I understand they've restored that dog.
LaBounty: Yes, it's still there.
Poole: Actually, there were three of them that had dog heads. There was that one. There was the one at where Nineteenth and Junipero Serra streets that used to be, I believe, a Cadillac or Chevrolet dealership and a mortuary or a church or something. It's like this convergence right there, and there was a Doggie Diner there. And then there was one downtown on Mission. And they all had the doggy heads. But I remember the doggy mostly from being across from the zoo. And we used to go to the zoo a lot. What else did we do?
LaBounty: On Ocean Avenue, I think you said you went ice-skating there?
Poole: There was an ice-skating rink on Ocean.
LaBounty: Legg's, I think it was called. Somebody called it that at one point.
Poole: I don't remember what it was called. I was a bad ice skater. We used to go. My sister skated there.
I had ballet lessons at the San Francisco Ballet School. I used to go there after my ballet lessons and get frustrated because I couldn't stay up on skates. I could go up on point, but I couldn't stay on skates. My sister would run circles around me, you know, so I'd just kind of sit there. Oh, there was also down at Playland, there was a roller rink.
LaBounty: A roller rink?
LaBounty: That's what it was called.
Poole: Yes, Skateland.
LaBounty: Were you better at that than you were at ice-skating?
Poole: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Four wheels, I'm okay on four wheels. It was that little blade I couldn't do. Yes, there was an ice-skating rink. I remembered that it was there, but I don't remember that much bout it. It became a social club later. And then the El Rey Theater.
LaBounty: Yes. Tell me about the El Rey.
Poole: Oh, god. I spent weekends there. I mean, Kathy and I would go. We'd plot out what movie we wanted to see, especially like James Bond or whatever was coming out. We'd go to the first show if we could, and we'd stay all day. And we'd make sure we had enough money for a whole bunch of candy and popcorn.
LaBounty: You'd see the same movie over and over, sort of thing?
Poole: We'd watch it two or three times. [Laughs]
LaBounty: And they didn't mind?
Poole: No, they didn't care. Until we got the dialogue down, yes, then sometimes we'd go back the next day.
LaBounty: Was the balcony open then?
Poole: I think that you could go in the balcony, but we always sat down on the floor. I don't remember whether the balcony was open, but, I mean, I still really remember when they would bring the lights up, when you're waiting in between the shows, looking up at that ceiling and just looking around. I do that in almost any theater I'm in that's built like that. I mean, I do that when I go to the opera house, just looking at how the things are built and the lighting and everything and just kind of going, "Oh, my god."
LaBounty: And you remember it as kind of art deco-ish?
Poole: I remember it as art deco. This is an odd perspective [referring to photograph].
LaBounty: That in the forties, yes. That's looking up Victoria.
Poole: That's with the stone gate intact, too. The ones on Cedro sank.
LaBounty: Sank? You mean in the ground?
Poole: They sank in the--what was it, '56 earthquake? They weren't even. Let's put it that way. I mean, these were actual gates, if I remember correctly, a long time ago when it was first built. It was actually a gate. It was actually gated. But these posts, I mean, if they're what, about eight feet tall, one of them was maybe--I mean, it was very obvious, one of them was about six. Sank, just sank, just went straight down. We used to play on those all the time. We used to go do to the sundial on Urbana and we used to play on Urbana all the time.
LaBounty: Climb up the sundial.
Poole: Climb up the sundial. There was a little park area, too.
LaBounty: Was there a pool then, or an old reflecting pool still? Because I read things that there was a reflecting pool on the sundial. Now it's concrete.
Poole: No, not in my remembrance at all of any reflecting pool.
We generally played around the neighborhood. We played in the street, you know. I mean, it was fairly quiet, you know, and it wasn't like playing in the street in the Bronx or something, I mean. But it was fairly wide streets, and we just ran all over the place.
LaBounty: Did you ride bikes?
Poole: We rode our bikes and had our little game scenarios, whatever we were doing, because we didn't come from TV set era. I mean, we did, but that didn't rule our lives.
LaBounty: You were playing Kick the Can and stuff like that.
Poole: We were playing Kick the Can. We were playing Zorro. We were playing, you know, whatever it was. We acted out our fantasies rather than sitting in front of the TV like my daughter does.
LaBounty: So it's you and Kathy and another girl, Carol.
Poole: It was Carol, Carol Heidi [phonetic]. Kathy Cleary, Carol Heidi.
LaBounty: Did you have big things where like twenty kids would be involved in a game, or was it mostly like you three running around?
Poole: Oh, it was like the three of us, and then there were some boys and sometimes, I don't know, we'd just get into this tag, chasing, rolling down the lawn type thing, and sometimes the boys would play with us, but most the time it was because we were girls. But we were tomboys, so the first time that I actually could beat one of the boys at anything, they just kind of stayed away. And Kathy was pretty big. I mean, she was a good-sized girl compared to me. I'm pretty skinny. So we were kind of a formidable group. We would get together for things. I mean, like at Christmas, we'd do Christmas caroling.
LaBounty: Walk around the neighborhood?
Poole: The cliche, walk around the neighborhood, Christmas caroling. Kathy and I sang, and we played guitar. And actually, we played, we sang together for years, and we did it at churches and stuff. We did it at Carol's, at St. Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco, which was Carol's father's church. We did it there a lot, but we used to do it for Christmas. And then we used to put on our own little Christmas pageants, but we also used to do Shakespearean plays and stuff like that, too, for the neighborhood.
LaBounty: So they'd come out and kind of indulge you in this?
Poole: Oh, yes. We'd send out invitations and programs, and a couple of them we did on either my porch or Kathy's porch or we did them inside in the living room. We had a set staged and the whole thing. Oh, we did a Wagnerian one. We did the Ring Cycle.
LaBounty: So you were pretty well-educated kids.
Poole: Yes, yes, we were. We did Midsummer Night's Dream.
LaBounty: Did you get good houses? Did you get good crowds?
Poole: Yes, we did. I mean, we got about twenty people, and for that it's pretty good. Of course, our parents and then some other people in the neighborhood. It was really kind of funny. But, yes, they did. A couple of my mother's friends, I think she probably threatened them, because I know they didn't live in the neighborhood at all, but they showed up.
LaBounty: Is this an era where moms were still at home a lot, stuff like that?
Poole: Yes. My mom was--
LaBounty: Your mom seemed pretty active, though, from what I read of her.
Poole: She was active, but she was there. She was home. She gave up her job, her career, when they moved out west. She was the editor of the Pittsburgh Courier. She gave up her job as a journalist to support my father, basically. But she was active in a lot of civic things.
LaBounty: Wasn't she like the publicity director, or something like that?
Poole: She was one of the directors of protocol for San Francisco, which have you ever seen that Goldie Hawn movie Protocol? Well, that's what it is. Somebody who's in the protocol department, basically is a liaison when a dignitary comes into town and stuff like that.
And then her main job was being the wife of the U.S. attorney or the clemency secretary for the governor. There was a lot of social responsibility for that, too. And being a member of the Democratic Party. I mean, they were kind of a force in the Democratic Party. My father couldn't be, because at the time they had the Hatch Act, so he was a federal employee. He couldn't, but my mother could.
LaBounty: Did you have parties at your house a lot?
Poole: There were a lot of parties, there were a lot, a lot of people, a lot of people. I think I've met everybody from presidents on down.
LaBounty: I saw you met Bobby [Robert F.] Kennedy, I saw on something or another.
Poole: Oh, yes. There's a picture a me and my dad and Bobby Kennedy.
LaBounty: Yes, you were at the airport.
Poole: We went to the airport to go pick him up. My dad used to do that on a regular basis. Whenever a Kennedy would come in, he usually would go meet him. Whether he would actually physically take him in his car or not, I don't remember. I don't think we did. I think he went in another car. But dad was U.S. attorney, and there was some reason that he had to go out there, and I went with him. I've met the Kennedys. I've met [Lyndon B.] Johnson. Thurgood Marshall was a good friend of my parents.
But the local people, the local movers and shakers, you know, mayors and governors and stuff, used to come through the house all the time, and before they even moved back then. In my guestroom areinvitations to various presidential inaugurations and so forth.
But I mean, my mother was there for us, but she also had stuff to do. She was on the Board of Directors for Children's Hospital in San Francisco and the Board of the Overseers of UCSF [University of California, San Francisco], but that was later. I was an adult then.
LaBounty: As a kid, did you feel this sort of inequity in the sense that you knew all these famous people, you had all these powerful folks coming to your house all the time, and yet there were people in the neighborhood who didn't want you even living in their neighborhood?
Poole: Well, you know, I didn't think so much anymore about the people that didn't want me in the neighborhood, because I was there. That was it. That was too bad.
LaBounty: You were there, and it was done.
Poole: Too bad, so sad, I'm there, I'm not going anywhere. And the people coming through, I think, in some way, it's never fazed me, because that's how I was raised, you know, and not to put myself on the same vein as a movie star or something, but some of the kids of movie stars have said they were just so used to seeing like Cary Grant march through their house, that they didn't think anything different. That's the way I was raised. I didn't think anything different. I have never been fazed by meeting somebody that's supposed to be famous, because it's happened to me so much, even if I idolize them--when I met Paul McCartney, I just about fell apart.
LaBounty: How did you meet Paul McCartney?
Poole: When he was in Wings, I was involved in the music business, and my boyfriend was in a band who used to play--he was English, and he used to open for Wings. They were here in the United States, and Wings was here. Their bands were doing two separate things. They were playing with Fleetwood Mac. Paul McCartney was at the Cow Palace. And so they were on tour, but Jack got his guitar player, Alex, his girlfriend, and myself, who were really good friends at the time, and he got us passes to go meet McCartney. Paul McCartney was like my idol, you know. That was the only time I can remember going like this [gestures trembling] to shake somebody's hand.
But I mean, I've just been kind of used to it, which has kind of backfired on me a few times working in law, because I'm not afraid of senior partners. But that was just something normal to me. I mean, I was raised to judge people as people, and the people that tromped through my house, yes, I knew that they were somebody special, but they just were somebody special that were friends of my parents. So I didn't think anything different of it until I was told later that I should have any special reverence for them or that they should be treated any differently or thought of as any different.
Poole: And now I know to be careful when I say, you know, when was the last time I talked to Bobby Kennedy or something, because it's like, oh, you know. You're not saying that to drop a name. To me, that was just what we--
LaBounty: It was just part of a life.
Poole: Yes, yes. So I was just really fortunate that I had parents that were able to provide very well for me and that also were pretty well connected, you know, regardless of what their race was, and maybe because of it, in spite of it, or whatever, they were pretty well connected, especially in this area in San Francisco. There wasn't anything that my dad, if he wanted it, he couldn't have.
That neighborhood was something special, too, I think, to me. What's funny, when my mom decided to sell the house, she got tired of knocking around the house by herself, she would tell my father, "You're a circuit judge now. You travel. I don't want to travel with you all the time. I'm here by myself." A lot of times when he was gone, she'd call me and ask me to come stay with her. But the house would creak. The cats would go up the stairs, and it would make a noise like somebody was walking through the house. And it was a lot of property to take care of, and she just wanted to leave, so they found this place.
LaBounty: When was that that they moved?
LaBounty: So tell me how the neighborhood changed. You mentioned that a little bit.
Poole: Well, just neighborhoods change. There wasn't as much of a feeling of neighborhood, you know, of everybody knowing each other, and I don't think we ever had a block party. But I mean, you know, it's like if my dad was barbecuing in the back, he could walk through and say hello. The Iversons' lab used to get in our backyard to chase our cats all the time until the cat turned around to swat the dog one time. But it was like they'd come over and talk to us about it. Now, I mean, if that happened, somebody would call the Humane Society. They wouldn't even bother. And that's what started to happen with Ingleside Terraces or with that area.
I think some of it was because somehow finally somebody figured out that's a shortcut to State College and it's a shortcut to Junipero Serra. When they widened Nineteenth, and Nineteenth merged into 280, you go straight down Cedro, you can go across Junipero Serra, then you go to Nineteenth, and there you are, bing. Or you're in Stonestown, bing. And it's a shortcut, and it was something that people didn't know about before. You almost never drove down Ocean Avenue unless you knew where you were going, maybe because at the time before they built the island, the streetcar tracks were intimidating.
But, yes, it was busy street, but you didn't see as many people going down it. You didn't see people coming down our street at all, unless they belonged there and lived around there. As a matter of fact, the police, we used to have a private security company. They were an arm of the San Francisco Police. They, for whatever reason, didn't get their full credentials. They were called police specialists. They were rent-a-cops.
LaBounty: Just for Ingleside Terraces?
Poole: No. Basically, their territory was San Francisco. I think they were hired by local area-merchants and the like. When I went to Cost Plus, they were there. They looked like police. They have blue uniforms, they have the gold shield, but it has one extra point. It's six stars instead five, or five instead six, one extra or one more, and it says "Special" on top of it. Some of them can carry guns if they can get a permit to carry guns. It was almost like they were policemen wannabes. They couldn't quite make it for some reason.
They used to patrol. They patrolled Ingleside Terraces, because when we used to go trick or treating, they would station themselves on the corners. They weren't in cop cars; they were in unmarked cars. But they would station themselves, one at Cedro and Moncada, and then one at Moncada and Junipero Serra, and then one off the other intersection if you go Moncada, whatever the intersection is that comes off Ocean from there, so that we could trick or treat without any problems. If anybody gave you any problems, this uniformed cop gets out. Everybody thinks it's a regular uniformed cop.
But they also used to come to the door. I mean, we had a couple problems with people trying to break in the house, and that's who came to the door. My father would make the phone call. So then they would come. So we had those guys to answer most calls.
Every once in a while, when I was a teenager, as a matter of fact, there was a guy I was dating who got lost, and I think he ended up on Urbana or someplace, and he was looking for me. He got pulled over, because he didn't look like he belonged in the neighborhood. They asked him what he was doing, and he finally said, "I'm going to pick up Patti Poole," and they said, "Oh, the judge's daughter?" Yes, okay. Or "Cecil's daughter," at that time when dad was U.S. attorney. So it was like then it was okay.
But, yes, we had our own rent-a-cops, and they functioned well for a long time. They were like an auxiliary of the police department. They worked in various areas. I think they worked in crowd control. I think the police hired them on a contract basis. They worked for crowd control, but they were private. They were paid for private security. I don't know for sure whether they were security for the entire neighborhood or whether my father might have hired them. I never knew that.
LaBounty: So Ingleside Terraces, you have Ingleside or, you know, you have the area east of Ingleside Terraces, which is south of Ocean there, and it's not this formal subdivision.
Poole: You mean going towards State College? I mean, City.
LaBounty: City, right.
Poole: You come to Ingleside, and then you have Ingleside Terraces.
LaBounty: Was there like a metaphorical line there that people felt?
LaBounty: And then how did that come out?
Poole: Not too well.
LaBounty: The kids weren't allowed to go over there, sort of thing?
Poole: Well, it was one of those things where my mother didn't like us to go past--well, let's see. There's the El Rey, the skating rink is on the other side.
LaBounty: Faxon or something?
Poole: Faxon. It was Faxon. So we couldn't go down City College unless we told them and we had a real reason to do that.
LaBounty: What was the fear there? Is it more of a class thing going on there?
Poole: Yes, and it was a rougher neighborhood in some ways. And when they started busing, I went to Aptos, which was right around the corner, like basically behind my house, and they started busing kids from other neighborhoods. I almost got beat up just because I was an upper middle-class black kid living right around the corner, and they were bused and they resented it. The big "they." I mean, some kids did, some kids didn't really care. But I did have some run-ins with some girls. It was usually in gym, in a very vulnerable state, that I would get confronted.
I didn't have any friends that lived in Ingleside. Actually, I had a couple friends when I was end of junior high, high school, that lived in Ingleside, but I didn't make that distinction at the time. I mean, they lived away from me, but when I was little, no, they were all within a block.
LaBounty: All the kids you went to in Aptos didn't live in Ingleside either?
Poole: Well, when they started busing, they did. I was, I don't remember, in my second year in junior high was when they started busing. But Commodore Sloat, they all came from the same neighborhood. My elementary school, they all came from the same neighborhood. But when I was in junior high school is when they started busing. And then I went to Lowell, so everybody came from all over, although I was supposed to go to Lincoln, Lincoln was not a good school to go to if you could help it at the time.
LaBounty: You know that's changed.
Poole: Yes, I do.
LaBounty: Have you heard that?
LaBounty: I know, me too. I'm amazed. It was like Lincoln, oh, and now it's like people are fighting each other to get in.
Poole: Fighting each other to get in. But at the time, it was not a school to go to.
LaBounty: Yes, I know. It was not good.
Poole: No, it was not good. My sister went to Lincoln, and she had a lot of problems. She got picked on a lot, and it wasn't easy for her. And I don't know whether it had to do with--some of it had to do with who her family was, and some of it just had to do with the way kids were.
LaBounty: So you're entering high school, and it's like the mid-sixties, late sixties, something like that?
LaBounty: And so all that stuff that's going on in the late sixties is going on in San Francisco. You have the demonstrations that are going on at State and everything's changing. Were you part of all that?
Poole: I was right smack in the middle of it. My father was United States Attorney. So when they demonstrated, they demonstrated in front of the Federal Building. They were demonstrating for my father. I was smack in the middle of it. I had friends that were peace-demonstrating hippies. I couldn't tell them what my dad did. The closest I'd get to it was saying he's a lawyer. I couldn't say he was a United States Attorney; he was the prosecutor for the federal government. My ex-husband was prosecuted by my father for draft evasion.
Poole: Personally. He didn't know him. I didn't know him. But that's one of the things when I first Michael, he said, "Oh, you know what? Your dad--." Yes, he was in the middle of the draft, the Oakland induction riots. He got into trouble with that.
LaBounty: I heard that he decided that the smart thing to do would be to leave at that point. He was trying to get between police and demonstrators or something.
Poole: Oh, well, there're a couple of things. I think it's in his oral history. There's one where he's in Oakland and the demonstrators are coming straight at him, and he and this other attorney had to jump over a bush to get out of their way.
Also, I don't know if it's the same day, but they were at the riots. The guys were burning their draft cards, and my dad watched them do it for a while, and then he watched, as they burned their draft card, the sheriff would take them away. A guy would throw his draft card in the bonfire, the sheriff would take him away. He'd do it again, the sheriff would take him away. So my father stopped--the guy throws his card in the bonfire, and the sheriff's about ready to take him away, and my father stops the sheriff. He says, "Wait a second. Before you take this guy away, how old are you?"
And he says, "Twenty-seven."
He says, "Where's your draft card?"
The sheriff says, "I don't know. It must be back in my locker at the station."
He says, "You don't have it? It's against the law. You have to take yourself away." And he refused to prosecute the guys that burned their draft cards, and got in trouble with the government for doing that.
But, yes, I was smack in the middle of it. Actually, there was a group of people that picketed in front of our house. I came home from a guitar lesson, and there was a kid that I knew that was on that picket line, picketing against the war. They decided to picket our house, and I came out to say, "Why are you picketing our house?" and my mom pulled me out and said, "Don't talk to them." But I mean, I was really offended.
But, yes, I was in the middle of it. I was also hanging out on Haight Street at the same time and going to the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore. So, yes, I was in the middle of it.
LaBounty: Your dad, did he know about any of this?
Poole: Oh, yes.
LaBounty: What did he think? Were there lots of like discussions going on?
Poole: Well, there were discussions going on. I tried to be as discreet as possible. I knew that if I got caught in anything, it would get blown up. I also had friends that said, "Well, if we're ever in a demonstration or anything ever happens, I should get handcuffed to you, because you're the U.S. Attorney's daughter, and we'll all get out."
And I'd say, "No, if you get handcuffed to me, you'll stay there a lot longer, because my dad will keep you there."
Dad knew, but when I would go to demonstrations at the Federal Building, I'd stay in the back of the crowd, because I would see the FBI agents out there taking photographs, and I knew that I was on their photographs. But I didn't want to be right there smack in the front, because I didn't want to compromise him, and that's kind of how I carried myself.
LaBounty: It's tough.
Poole: It was really hard. It was really hard, because in some ways, being a teenager at that time and you kind of want to let loose and do it, I couldn't. I was just terrified that something would happen and then they'd find out about my dad. But conversely, when I used to go to the Avalon Ballroom all the time, at first I used to sneak out. I used to go to my friend Chris' house, and Chris' mom would cover for us and say that she was taking us, and we'd go out together, and then we'd come back to the house, but we'd go. And my father found out about it. When the Avalon, which was on Sutter and Van Ness, there was a complaint against it and they were closed down or they were going to be closed down and they had a permit hearing, my father went and testified for them as U.S. Attorney. Then when they reopened at the beach, Family Dog on the beach, he was on their permanent guest list because he did that. So my dad knew. And I've worked with and around a lot of rock bands, and he knew. Then when Dad went into private practice, they turned out to be his clients.
LaBounty: So he was a--
Poole: He was a cool dad, actually, you know. He had his moments, but he was a cool dad. I had a Sweet Sixteen birthday party at the house on Cedro, and we had a band. There were some kids that smoked, but they went outside to smoke their cigarettes. After the party was over, my mother was really upset. My mother, who was a smoker, was really upset because she could swear that they were smoking marijuana in the house. My father walked through the living room. He said, "I know the smell of marijuana. This isn't it." [Laughs] But I think if he'd ever caught me with a joint at that time, I would have been grounded for ten years.
But he was a cool dad, you know. He knew what was going on, and it was difficult for him, too. There were a lot of not-too-kind words going back and forth between my parents because it made everything very, very tense. There's a lot of moral issues that my father had to wrangle with what he had to do professionally and what he really felt was right. He had to basically act as an arm of the presidency, of the government, and carry out the wishes of Johnson and then later [Richard M.] Nixon. Kennedy, but not so much Kennedy, but Johnson and Nixon; Nixon for a year. The way the federal government was trying to handle the draft dodgers and the whole draft situation and Vietnam War, and there were some things that he was conflicted about and it made it very difficult for him.
LaBounty: He's conflicted about this professionally, balancing his personal viewpoints, perhaps, and his professional responsibilities, but your mother had your own take on this, you were saying?
Poole: Well, I'd say that however they handled it, my parents kept their arguments to themselves. All I know is that there were problems, I mean, during that time, and later my mother said that it was because of the pressures of the period of time. There were other things going on, too. I don't know. Anyway, yes, there were problems then.
LaBounty: Tell me about your sister. I don't really get to hear much about her. Whenever it's in the news and stuff, you always seem to be the cute daughter that gets put in the picture.
Poole: There's a reason for that. My sister had some problems. So I don't talk about her.
LaBounty: That's fine. It's funny, it's an obvious thing that kind of comes out.
Poole: I know. Most people think I'm an only child, and for years, I had to. I was like an only child. As a matter of fact, for years I was like both daughters, which made it really difficult for me. But my sister had some emotional problems.
LaBounty: Did you have any other family out here?
LaBounty: So your parents just were kind of like the trailblazers, came all the way out to California.
Poole: Yes. I think there's some isolated cousins.
LaBounty: You don't really know them?
Poole: I don't really know them. Everybody else is back east.
LaBounty: What do you think got your dad to do that or your parents to do it?
Poole: What, to move?
LaBounty: To come all the way out to California.
Poole: Oh, I know exactly. They were tired of the East Coast. They were tired of the snow, and they wanted a new beginning. They heard it was warm in California, and they came out to San Francisco.
LaBounty: They moved to the fog.
Poole: They moved to San Francisco in the summer. But there was an opportunity for my father out there. He'd got out of Tuskegee Air Corps. He wanted to do something else. The war was over. They wanted a change.
LaBounty: Are you still in touch with any of those childhood friends?
Poole: You know what, no. Carol I lost touch with completely. She got married, moved someplace up in Seattle; lost touch with her. Kathy, we ran into each other and kept in touch for a long time. She lives in San Diego, but I haven't talked to her probably in seven or eight years. I lost her. I had another friend, Chris, the one I used to sneak out to the Avalon with. Chris, unfortunately, was killed. There was another one, Robin, whose father was a State College professor, and somehow I heard of Robin through somebody else somehow or other several years ago. She'd gotten married, had a couple of kids. For the most part, that's it. Then people that I knew in high school, except for, I guess, what I consider now my oldest best friend, Barbara, who lives in San Diego, who I met the first day of high school, and she lives in San Diego and we keep in touch constantly. But other than that, I think at reunions, but that's about it.
LaBounty: On the balance, do you look back at your time living in Ingleside Terrace as it mostly positive?
LaBounty: You mostly have positive memories?
Poole: I have positive memories. When Mom told Dad that basically he had to move, she was tired of that house, tired of keeping it up, tired of being there by herself, tired of living in the fog and not being able to see across the street on a bad day, she wanted a warmer climate, she wanted someplace where she could swim, wanted something that was all one story, she didn't want to worry about going up and down stairs when she got older, and they sold the house, I hated it. And it wasn't because I hated change, because I was the one that moved every couple of years, you know. My father hated change of any kind.
And it was a lot packing that house up. I mean physically a lot, because it was a fourteen-room house, into this which was just like a six-room house, I guess, and fifty years' worth of stuff, it seemed like, you know. Maybe not that much. I kept throwing out stuffed animals, and my dad would come behind me and put them in a box, that kind of stuff.
And I loved that house. When my father died and I moved into this house, which is almost seven years ago now, people said to me, "Well, are you going to sell it? What are you going to do with it?"
I said, "Well, the first thing I have to do is, I have to do a little work on it," because it didn't have a good roof. I mean, the roof was so bad that it was appraised at even less than half the value of what it is now, because it was so rundown, and it needs a lot of work. I need to replace the carpeting if I'm going to stay here. But I don't have as much of a feeling for this house. I mean, I could sell it anytime. If my parents had kept that house and the same situation had happened, that my mother passed away and then my dad passed away and I inherited that house, I'd do everything I could. Although I don't know what the neighborhood's like now, but I'd do everything I could to keep that house. I mean, I wouldn't even think about it, you know. That house has a lot of memories for me. This is just--you know.
LaBounty: Right. This is a place you live.
Poole: This is a place I live, the place my parents moved into.
LaBounty: What was the best thing? Well, let's do it the opposite way. What was the worst thing about growing up in that neighborhood? If you can think of one thing you just thought was like--it could be the fog, it could be anything, what was the worth memory or the worst thing about that neighborhood? Don't really have any?
LaBounty: That's good. Okay. So what was the best thing?
Poole: Oh, god, there was just so much. There was so much to do. I mean, in summers, there were a few good days in the summer. Because the house was multi-roofed, and outside that sunroom, playroom, whatever, when I had friends stay over, we used to stay in there, and we used to get this--it was like a big tree. We used to be able to get on the roof and sit up on the roof and just let our imaginations go.
There were tons of things to do and places to play. We'd go in between where the garage, the fence for the next-door neighbor and the freestanding garage, there was, maybe, from there to the beginning of the--what is it, maybe about seven, eight feet, maybe a little bit bigger, and it was all grown over with bushes, berry bushes and stuff. And we tunneled our way through and we made a fort in the back, and then we climbed up on top of the roof of the garage and we sat up on there. My dad let us play up there. It was like a flat tar and gravel roof, and we used to play up there.
We used to play in the basement. I had a dungeon of model monsters, you know, and we had the vampire shrew, which was a pinecone with two little teethlike things sticking out of it.
Our imaginations just went nuts, and there was just so much to do. I mean, we'd play our little game scenario fantasy things in the park and all up and down the street and in each other's backyards. Kathy and I were inseparable, so I mean, just everything that we did, we grew up together. Being able to go down to Stonestown, I mean, that used to be our hangout. We used to go down there, ride our bikes down there, and go to the Emporium. There was a Sherman Clay music store, and there was a guy there who taught me jazz guitar. I was taking classical lessons at the conservatory, and he taught me jazz notes, though. We used to hang out there, and a lot of musicians came through. Really cool. And, as a matter of fact, he got me--
LaBounty: It's hard to imagine somebody cool at Stonestown. [Laughs]
Poole: I know. Well, he had long hair, you know. But before I ever met the Starship, he got me this picture from Marty Balin. As a matter of fact, I can show it to you. I think I have it somewhere easily accessible, which is amazing in this house. But it's like a little Mad magazine pilot-type guy standing in front of a broken-down airplane.
But yes, I loved that house. I loved that house. My Barbies had great adventures on those stairways on the banister, you know, and my horses, I had all those plastic horses, my horses were all over the place. They were up and down and everywhere, and they had these great adventures all through there. I mean, thinking back on that living room with its fireplace and those huge beams and the wood paneling and the beveled glass windows in the bookshelves and in the sliding glass doors and the built-in china cabinet that had the mirror that makes you look back into infinity, when I had nothing else to do and none of my friends could play, I could do that for hours, trying to make that other person blink, you know, that kind of stuff.
I loved that neighborhood. It did start to deteriorate, and I think it was because--my mother thought that it was because it was a straight shot to Nineteenth Avenue, and not necessarily that it was just to the school or to the college or Stonestown, but that because Nineteenth and Junipero Serra became more arteries than they had been because of 280 and whatever else, that it was a side street.
A couple times my mother had to go out. She went out. She was gutsy. She would go out and yell at young people that were parked in front of our house and scream at them.
LaBounty: It just became more of a thoroughfare, so it attracted people who--
Poole: It became more of a thoroughfare. There were more people. There was traffic. There were a couple times when there was an attempted break-in that I remember. My parents were out of town. I was staying at Kathy's. Kathy's dad had this boxer named Nellie, and he'd walk Nellie through the neighborhood. He told me he went by the house, because Kathy and I could only go over there if I needed something, but I was supposed to stay at Kathy's. I mean, she just lived like right around the corner, but still, they didn't want me being in the house when they were away. And he said he went up to the front door, and it was open. But you've got to remember, this is a redwood door that was this thick [gestures], with a brass chain that had links like this [gestures]. My parents, I guess, had gone out the back door because the chain was still on it. So he said obviously somebody had opened it, and that thing wouldn't budge. So he just went up very calmly and closed it.
But we went from having the foyer that had a windowbox and nice planter area, it got a gate, so that you couldn't get up to the front door, and the back door was the one that had all the locks on it. Then I remember the FBI coming out to try to wire the house for an alarm system, and throwing up their hands because the house was all windows, all old, and the windows opened out that way [gestures]. It was really hard to wire. They didn't know what to do with it. I mean, there were too many windows in that house for them to do anything, too many. And the basement, I mean, everything just [unclear].
LaBounty: Things just became more chaotic and a little more dangerous.
Poole: Just became a little more chaotic, a little more dangerous, it wasn't as fun. Then, you know, as we got older, I mean, for me, all of my friends, we were all moving out of the area. After high school, it wasn't as fun anymore. Then, you know, I'd go back, and when I worked in the city, I'd stay there a lot.
But it got to be, you know, I'd hang out with my parents, but it wasn't the neighborhood as much anymore. Of course, I was older and wasn't caught up in the neighborhood kids and stuff. But it just didn't seem the same. I mean, I've driven past there a couple times. The house itself is the same. My parents actually sold to someone they knew, and Mom said she went to visit and she said, "Oh, my god, there's wallpaper everywhere." Not on the wood bureau, but I mean, everyplace else there was wallpaper. It was a little hard to deal with, and I said I don't think I could do it. I don't think I could even go back in. I've thought about going, knocking on the door and say, "I used to live here."
LaBounty: Now it's a city landmark. How do you feel about that?
Poole: I think it's great. I think it's great. I think it's kind of ironic that my dad's name is attached to it when the covenants of that neighborhood restricted anybody of color from owning a house, and that my father, himself, could not have bought that house with somebody, an individual, selling it to him. So I think it's rather ironic, and I think my dad would have been really happy with that. I love the idea that it's a city landmark. I don't know what that means, exactly, except that they probably can't do anything to it, or that they have to get permission to paint it a different color.
LaBounty: Right. It's one of the great landmarks of the city for the irony of it. Do you know what I mean? For having Joseph Leonard own it, who wrote this covenant, who wasn't going to let anybody of any other race to live in the neighborhood, and then to become the trailblazing house.
Poole: I think it's called the Leonard-Poole House.
LaBounty: Yes, it is.
Poole: I remember, and I don't know if it's still there, because I know it was kind of a little work was one of my favorite things about that house, I had a great closet in my house in my bedroom. I had a huge bedroom. All the rooms were big, that I remember. They probably weren't. But I remember them as being big.
LaBounty: I think they were big. It's a pretty big Craftsman house.
Poole: Well, the living room was twice this size.
LaBounty: Wow. That's hard to imagine.
Poole: Yes, twice this size. Because if you look at all this furniture that's all kind of crowded in here, the reason my mother had all this furniture was because she needed to take up room. We had the nine-by-twelve in here instead of this rug. We have another one that's in the garage.
I was going to say, but there's a tile fresco on the first landing, second landing, when you go up the stairs, the second landing before you go left to go into the house, there's this whole mural tile thing and then, of course, the flagpole which my father just loved. He made me go out there and put that flag up and take it down and learn how to refold a flag and do it at sunset and all but salute the thing. But then my dad was a lieutenant in the army, you know. He could still bounce a quarter off his bed.
LaBounty: When you guys went shopping, you must have gone to Stonestown.
Poole: All the time.
LaBounty: That's where you did your groceries and--
Poole: Stonestown. We went to Lakeside Village. There used to a pharmacy right there on the corner, Lakeside Village Pharmacy, and Petrini's. I don't know what it is now, but it was Petrini's Market. But that also was the place where I pulled up one day and decided to become a vegetarian for about ten years.
LaBounty: At Lakeside Village?
Poole: Yes, because I saw a meat truck, and I'd never seen them deliver the meat before.
LaBounty: You had meat hanging in your house, didn't you?
Poole: Well, we had hams. They were in like, you know, stocking things. I mean, seeing a leg and thinking of it as--but I mean, seeing a whole animal, it was a little bit worse.
Lakeside Village was where we'd go. We'd go to the pharmacy and then West Lake. That had the best ice cream store. But we used to go down to Stonestown all the time and then the grocery store, which changed all the time. I can't remember it. It was a Petrini's or it was a something else before.
LaBounty: Right. You didn't really shop on Ocean Avenue?
Poole: No, but there was a wine merchant on Ocean Avenue. He could get rare wine. And when my parents, after they took a trip to France, and my dad came back as a wineophile or whatever you call it, my mother went and bought him like some Chateau Lafitte, which he actually had until I had to take it away from him. [Laughs]
Poole: But yes, at the time they were like eighty-dollar bottles of wine. They weren't cheap. And so there was a wine merchant down there and there was Kimura Frame Shop, and he did some of these frames [gestures], he did these up here, and he was excellent. He was a little old Japanese guy, and I went to school with his daughter. He was just amazing, just amazing.
LaBounty: Whose taste is most of this Japanese, it looks like, and East Asian?
Poole: Well, it started out with my parents. That screen is my grandparents'. The Hiroshigeas, actually, the middle one my parents got for me. The other two, a friend of mine that worked for a jazz musician when he was in Japan, he got those for me. These were my mother's. She had these. And then a lot of Japanese stuff, actually, is my mother's. The little Netskis were my mom and dad's. My mother loved Japanese stuff or anything that had to do with the Orient, China, and so do I. That kind of transferred from me into some of the things that I personally collect. I also collect dragons, because I was born in the Year of the Dragon. So a lot of little things around here, some of them are mine and some of them are my parents'.
LaBounty: You moved into the law yourself as a career?
LaBounty: What drew you to that? Was it anything to do with the family?
Poole: Yes, I went into the family business. [Laughs] I started out at U.C. Santa Cruz, hated it. U.C. Santa Cruz at the time was that most exclusive school. Hated it, hated it, hated it. To me, it was like a four-year summer camp. I went in there as a freshman with advanced standing because I'd gone to the San Francisco Art Institute, and I was older than most of the people. I was given a dorm room with a sixteen-year-old, and I felt like everybody was acting like they were two.
I couldn't do the photography that I wanted to do, so I left. I took a leave of absence. Everybody told me I was nuts. I transferred to U.C. Berkeley in the art department, didn't like the art department because I was in the wrong school. I should have gone to UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles]. But one of the requirements was that I take a humanities class, and I took anthropology, and it was a cultural anthropology class. I fell in love with it, so I changed my major.
When I was a senior, I was invited to apply for the Ph.D. program, so I did. While I was in the Ph.D. program and my parents had been paying for school the whole time, I told them that I wanted to contribute, because they were paying for my apartment. I didn't live at home. I didn't live in the dorm. So they paid for my apartment, they paid for my schoolbooks, they paid for my living. I had jobs here and there.
So I said to my father that I'd like to go work in law without going to law school and becoming a lawyer. They were just starting out with paralegals at the time, really calling them paralegals. So he set me up with somebody who sent my resume out, and McCutcheon, Doyle, Brown, and Enerson at the time was looking for anybody that knew anything about an office, had any office experience whatsoever. Maybe if you had a bachelor's degree, it would be nice. Knew the alphabet. And they hired me as a paralegal and threw me actually into doing some things. After my first week, they asked me to summarize a deposition. They gave me a template to look at, and they said, "Here's the deposition. Here's what we want you to do."
And I looked at them and I said, "You're really lucky I know what a deposition is."
And I went on from there, worked as a paralegal while I was doing my graduate work, continued afterwards, went to law school, and passed the bar and have never really practiced as a lawyer.
LaBounty: So you just did it sort of like, "Well, I should make some money to help pay you back," and then you ended up having to go to law school?
Poole: Well, no, I did it because I wanted to learn more. I wanted to learn about law. I wanted to learn what my father's profession was, but I didn't want to go through law school at the time, and I didn't want to be a lawyer. I didn't think I could be a secretary. At the time, I didn't think I could type. At the time, you didn't need to type. If you went in as a paralegal, they didn't really want you to type your own work. They had word processing departments to do all that. So I wanted to learn more about the law without having to go through all that, so that's what I did, and I also helped support myself that way. And it turned out that I loved it and I had an affinity for it.
When I got my Ph.D. in anthropology, my parents, my mother looked at me, and quite honestly said, "I should be thinking about grandchildren now," because it was like one of those professions that what the hell are you going to do with it? I mean, I could go work at the Smithsonian [Institution]. Not. And what am I going to do with a Ph.D. in anthropology? It was very educational and it still helps me learn now, but, you know, I don't know, not everybody can utilize it. It was something I did for myself.
Yes, I could have gone into law, I could have gone into anything else, so I finally, after I saw what I liked about that profession, that's when I decided to go to school, and then I passed the bar. Like I said, I've never really practiced as an attorney. I've been a paralegal, been a paralegal for years. And then I opened up my art gallery, and now I'm back to square one, because people think that I've dropped into a gutter somewhere because I've been out of it for five years. It's something that comes naturally for me, is legal research.
LaBounty: Yes, it's in your genes.
Poole: It is. It really is. It really is. There really is something. My joke has always been that I could say deposition before Daddy, and I think it's true because I lived around it constantly.
LaBounty: It must have been a little tempting at some point or another, to think that with your father's reputation, that if you went into some line of work in the law that you'd have your advantage in knowing all you know and growing up with it. I don't know if you were the kind of person who sought his advice, but, I mean, he could say, "You should do this" or, "You should go that way."
Poole: Well, I have. I mean, there were times when I did seek his advice, but it worked against me in a lot of ways, and I chose to not emphasize it. I worked at law firms where I would work on a case and then they'd say, "Well, we're up for a motion. It's going to be heard in federal court."
And I'd look at who the motion judge was, and I'd go, "Excuse me," you know. I'd been working on this case for three months. "Do you know who the judge is that's hearing this motion?" And this happened to me once a month.
And the attorney's going, "Who?"
I said, "Cecil Poole."
He said, "Yeah?"
I said, "Name sound familiar to you? Any recognition here?"
And he said, "Poole. Are you related?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Well, what is he, your uncle?"
"No, he's my father."
"Oh, well, do you talk about this case?"
"No, we haven't, but now I have to tell him." And if it was just a motion, then there wasn't any problem, but there was one time where it was a trial, and I had worked on the case all along as a paralegal. But still, a lot of the background work and the witness interviews and stuff I had done. My father had to go to all the parties and say, "My daughter's worked on this, and I have to inform all parties of her involvement."
He also heard cases that were argued by his former clerks and would bring that relationship to the attention of the parties as well.
LaBounty: Right. What's the difference?
Poole: So he could be impartial. I used to tell attorneys when they go, "Well, if your dad knows that you've worked on this case , and how's he going to rule, wouldn't he just kind of like rule more in your favor?"
I'd say, "No probably rule more in the opposite, and that's just his nature."
But one of the reasons that I didn't really want to become a full-fledged, full-blooded attorney was because of who my father was, because they knew him so well, because they expect me to be this amazingly brilliant legal phenom that my father was, and I didn't think I could do that. I didn't even want to try to live up to that. I mean, all my life I'd been Cecil Poole's daughter, and I'm still Cecil Poole's daughter.
As a matter of fact, the attorney I work for now was an attorney who was opposite my father in the Caryl Chessman case when he was with the governor. This guy had just come out of law school, so he always whenever he talked to his friends, he introduces me as Cecil Poole's daughter. I have not yet become Patti Poole. I'm still Cecil's daughter.
When I had my art gallery, it's like I'm always going to be my dad's daughter. So it was really difficult for me to think that I was going to go into that same field in the same level, and I didn't think of it as an advantage. I thought of it as a disadvantage. I mean, it's a pleasant disadvantage, because I really adore my father, but it was a disadvantage, because people would go, "You're Cecil Poole's daughter. You're supposed to be great."
And if I screwed up, then it was like, "How could you do that?" I just didn't want to go through that, so I prefer sitting in the background.
LaBounty: Right. Or having something else.
Poole: I have realized that going back into law is what I was meant to do, but I prefer not to be a lawyer. I prefer to be a paralegal because then there's always somebody else that's responsible, and in some ways, it's not that I--I mean, I can do everything a lawyer does. I can write briefs. I could argue in court if they'd let me, and I'm good at it. I'm good at legal research. I'm good at everything that a good litigation attorney could do, but I don't need that extra headache, and I don't want it.
So I've decided to stay where I am. After it gets down to a point where I can't do without it, then I will go back and get my license.
LaBounty: Does your daughter have--do you think she has any of that connection with that feeling pressure and all that now?
Poole: She wants to be a writer. She wants to be a writer. She knows that her grandfather is very, very special.
LaBounty: Right, but she doesn't feel that same sort of pressure?
Poole: Well, she has her own pressures.
LaBounty: Different things.
Poole: Yes. She has me and then her father's like entirely opposite of me. So she's kind of torn between somebody who's really an overachiever and somebody who's an underachiever, and that's about all I can say about it. But she's got her own little pressures. I didn't have any desire to go into law, except that I was fascinated with everything my father said, until I thought about it as just something else to do. I didn't even think about it until I was in college, really.
So, you know, at her stage, I wouldn't expect her to--some kids say, "Yes, I want to be a lawyer," but I wouldn't expect her to say that. She wants to be a writer. She's an actress. She probably will go in that vein, and, who knows, maybe she'll change her mind.
LaBounty: Yes, every ten years we all change a little bit.
Poole: We molt. [Laughter]
LaBounty: Well, this has been great. Is there anything else that you think you'd like to get out about the old neighborhood or anything?
Poole: I can't think of any. I can't think of one really seriously bad thing about Ingleside Terraces. It was such a physically interesting place to grow up. I mean, I remember walking up one morning and Kathy standing outside going, "It's snowing," and we made snowmen, and the snow stuck for two days.
The hail in July, you know. The Mark Twain famous thing about the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, and it's true. But I mean, just thinking back on it, being able to see the Farallones, being able to hear the animals at the zoo. It was that quiet. I remember thinking, god, it's that quiet.
Or the first time I ever saw a kid on a skateboard, was looking out Kathy's back window, because there was an alley that went down the back of her house. And this kid went by on Ocean Avenue on a skateboard, and he thought he was levitating. You could just see him--
LaBounty: Floating by.
Poole: I mean, first time we'd ever seen that.
The house, you know, the little things, the bat that got stuck in there one day and the owl that used to live in the eaves. He lived there for about five years, you know, and didn't hear him every night, but we didn't have any mice and he left the cats alone. And we had cats all the time, and he left the cats alone, left the kittens alone. But you'd hear this "Whoo" every once in a while, and at first we thought it was one of the neighbors, and then we figured out he was living in the top eave of the house, and he just was happy as a clam. We saw him a few times.
I don't know, that whole neighborhood just was really kind of neat, and it was a neat place to grow up. I'm lucky that where we live here right now. We lived in a condo when Nikki was first born. Then we moved in here after my dad died, and it's nice because it's quiet like it was in Ingleside Terraces. The streets are wide. But there's still more of that paranoia now.
LaBounty: Yes, even in Novato.
Poole: Especially in Novato. I just told her yesterday--I came home. I don't usually work on Fridays, but I've been working on Fridays. And I came home and I thought, I get to relax a little while before I pick up Nikki. The doorbell rang, and there was this guy who I'd seen being dropped off by a van and he's in a painter's uniform, so I thought maybe he was going across the street because there's all this construction going on there. He's soliciting magazine subscriptions or something, but he starts out saying he's trying to learn people skills. Then I said, "What is it you want?"
He says, "Well, I'm trying to sell these magazines."
I said, "I don't want any more. I've got too much clutter in my house. Thank you very much."
He said, "I come from the ghetto. Do you know what that is?"
And I went, "Bye." You know, but I just thought, if Nikki had answered the door, I mean, I can be pretty abrasive, and I just kind of basically verbally pushed him out of my way. But so it's not the same comfort level. We could walk around late at night and stuff. I mean, I get nervous if she goes down to the golf course. She goes down to the country club. Of course, she has to go with a friend, but I get nervous if she's gone for too long. She can take care of herself, but I mean, it's just the way things are in these times.
But I'm glad that she's living here, that we're living here, rather than either the condo or someplace else. I moved to Marin County because I was used to not having anything next to me.
LaBounty: You recreated Ingleside Terraces out here.
Poole: Yes. Well, I did. I lived in a house where you couldn't hear the person next door to you sneeze, and they were in the next building. But in San Francisco, unfortunately, that can happen, and when I moved out of the house, that's the first thing that happened. I moved into an apartment and was watching some comedy show, and I turned it down to answer the phone, and there was an obvious punch line, and I hear this laughter and it's from a woman in the next building. You know, the buildings were that close to each other. It's like I don't want to hear you sneeze in the middle of the night. I really don't, you know. Our addresses are not the same. You don't live upstairs from me. You live in the next building. So that's when I moved to Marin County, because I wanted to have some of the open space that I had when I was growing up, which I was on that big corner lot.
LaBounty: Well, thanks again. This has been great.
[End of interview]
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This project is made possible by a grant from the CALIFORNIA COUNCIL FOR THE HUMANITIES with generous support from the San Francisco Foundation, as part of the Council's statewide California Stories Initiative. The COUNCIL is an independent non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES. For more information on the Council and the California Stories Initiative, visit www.californiastories.org.
Page launched 3 March 2004.