What year is it? I'm not sure today.
This all started on Saturday, when I went to help make calls for our 50th high school reunion. It reunited me with two women that I was never particularly close to, but 50 years later it was really fun to see again.
That set off some searching to contact people we had not been able to reach by phone. Also, the news of the death of a good friend 3 years ago made me write to the friends I am in contact with. One of those sent me the e-mail address for a woman I'm been trying to find for years. I wrote to her at 4:30 this morning when I couldn't sleep. I also found her on Facebook and have requested to be her friend.
Trying to find a woman I went to both grammar school and high school with, I wrote to a grammar school friend, who doesn't know how to find her,but did have an e-mail address for another friend, who supposedly has the first woman's contact information. I wrote to that woman and also found her on Facebook.
But all this was just the tip of of the iceburg. I discovered there is a "We Grew Up in San Francisco" group on Facebook which I decided to check out. I felt like I'd struck the mother lode. We native San Franciscans are very proud of our upbringing and there are >15,000 members of the group. So far two of them have already requested being on my friends list.
The discussions were such fun and brought such a deluge of memories. It was nearly noon before I realized that the morning was gone. There were 100 posts alone about "native sanfrenciscans." The person who started the group explained the title: "The first lesson - learned at birth - is never to call it "Frisco" or "San FRANcisco." Most resident tourists have settled on something that sounds like an Anglicized version of the Spanish San Francisco, but natives run the two words together, and it comes out "Sanfrencisco." It may also be called "thecity," which is one word. It is never called "the city," which is two words and tacky."
The discussion goes on from there and I identified with most things that people added to it.
When he asks where you went to school, he means high school - not college, not trade school, and certainly not P.S. 178. The correct answer is one of several San Francisco high schools. "S.H.," of course, means Sacred Heart High School (now known as Sacred Heart Cathedral), which not only reveals your high school but often what district of the city you came from, and other details.
If, for example, the answer is "S.I." you know the guy went to St. Ignatius High School and was probably raised a Catholic and is from an upper-middle-class family.
If the person says "Poly," they probably grew up in the shadow of Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park -- the site of many memorable high school football games, or in the Haight-Ashbury.
If the response is "Mission" or "Bal" (for Balboa High), you know he is from the Mission District, and his father was probably a member of the working class, called "a workinman" in the San Francisco dialect.
I understood that completely.
There were other discussion topics like which theatres, now long gone, do you remember? (I remembered The Alhambra, walking distance from our house where admission was 25 cents, popcorn was 10 cents, candy bars were 5 cents and you got a cartoon, a news reel, a serial, and a double feature, and could sit through them all twice, if you wanted to).
There was another one about which was the first concert you ever saw. Most remember rock concerts, but mine was Judy Garland at the Civic Center Auditorium in 1961.
A discussion on "the best hamburger in San Francisco" had several of us missing The Hippo, which served lots and lots of kinds of hamburgers. Jeri was smart and always ordered the "hamburger sundae," which came with ice cream and chocolate sauce. That way she got dessert as well as a main course. (The Hippo was also the place where Ann Pool and Orva Hoskinson decided to create a theatre group they ultimately called "The Lamplighters.")
A couple of guys and I reminisced about Don Sherwood, "the world's greatest disc jockey." Until I read one guy's assessment of Sherwood, I never realized how much Ned would have appreciated him.
Lucky for me, Sherwood stayed local and rejected offers to go national (he was offered a late night show out of Chi) because he detested the "suits," network executives....His DJ gig was as far as he wanted to go in show business. Our loss, since he was as talented as anyone I worked with in Hollywood. Don could have been right up there with the best of them. But that's why we all loved Don, wasn't it, his refusal to take any crap from anybody. Unless you're willing to take some, you stay where you are... which he did until the end. Much too young.
When I had finally mined the best of the discussions, I turned to the photos. There were >1600 of them. Some of them were very personal of the "me and my cousin" type, but some brought back even greater floods of memories, such as the Fun House at Playland at the Beach...
where Laughing Sal in the street level window terrified me as a little kid, and Bernstein's Fish Grotto...
a restaurant that for years "poked its proud prow out onto Powell Street." There were lots of pictures of hills, like this one which is somewhat near the house where I grew up (but not nearly as steep!)
I looked at nearly all of the 1600 photos and what fun it was. I couldn't tear myself away.
And then the mail arrived and brought a letter from my high school freshman home room teacher, Sister Louise, from whom I have not heard in well over 40 years.
So I'm not really sure what year this is....heck, I'm not even sure what decade it is. It could be the 50s, or the 60s or even the 70s. My brain is certainly stuck in one of those decades this evening.