Bellingham by the Bay

With a turn of the page

I know I’m getting old when elderly Chinese ladies offer me their seats on the 30-Stockton bus. … Jane Fonda says when she turned 60, she knew she was entering the third act of her life.

“And the third act, as anyone knows from the theater, is the most important,” she muses. … Some still call her Hanoi Jane. Gee, that’s really holding a grudge. But it indicates what an impact the Vietnam War still holds.

By the way, when did “impact” become a verb? I’ll have to “double-down” on that question — at this “point in time.” … The First Amendment has taken a beating lately, as has the English language. Does Trump really know the meaning of the word “incredible”? That’s right. Not to be believed. … These things impact me. … I’ll just “take a knee” in protest. …

Speaking of the 30-Stockton, a large group of Marina residents gathered to observe the 100 years that Valentino Market has done business at Buchanan and Filbert Streets. … Supervisor Mark Farrell and Police Chief Bill Scott were in the crowd to recognize the current owner Elie Chahwan. The locals like to call Elie “the heart of the neighborhood.”

Ground was broken for the restoration of the Presidio Theatre. The house has a venerable history, including memorable performances by Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, a former San Francisco newspaperman. …I forget just how big the Presidio is — nearly 1,500 acres. By comparison, Golden Gate Park is just over 1,000 acres. … So says longtime docent Alan Kaye, who is based at the Presidio Officers’ Club. “People are too detached these days,” he observes. “It’s texting, it’s Twitter, Facebook — all that. It’s a good idea to come out to the Presidio, and get a real dose of history.” … “If anything causes Trump to implode,” says historian Douglas Brinkley, “it will be Twitter.” …

I was recently castigated for lamenting the closure of Noah’s Bagels in Pacific Heights. I read the familiar refrain that San Francisco can’t produce decent bagels, as New York can. Or pizza, of course. … One thing about New York, it’s a clean city — as this once was. I’ve seen people pick up garbage off the sidewalk. I witnessed a patrician-looking older lady chide a kid who dropped a candy wrapper on the sidewalk at Columbus Circle.

“Young man,” she said sharply, “pick that up, and put it in the trash.”

He quietly obeyed.

Too bad we don’t have more of that here. I’d be afraid to try it. . . .

When I first spotted Herb Caen in the 1970s, he was picking up some litter on Fillmore and Jackson Streets, and tossing it into the trash can on the corner.

I sent a friend a postcard today, making the Saturday pick-up. I’m surprised the mailbox was still there — and not dragged away to a pawn shop on Sixth Street. That would be alarming — another crime statistic … Most people love to get postcards, even if they’re sent from next door. … I was sorry to hear on the BBC that the U.K.’s oldest postcard maker, J. Salmon, is shutting down for good. The company was founded in 1882. The explanation? Social media, of course. And, according to the Salmon Bros., people are busy these days, and take shorter vacations. … My favorite postcard shop is One Half on Polk and Jackson Streets. The owner, Dan Blackwelder, and his crew — that’s Stacy HornDonna Maruta … and Melanie Sanchez — recovered quickly from a fire in July. Dan sells everything — books, scarves, all sorts of things — at wholesale prices. …

One may knock the U.S. Postal Service but the workers knock themselves out to get the mail to us in a usually reliable fashion. I feel sorry for mail carriers during election season. They have to schlep cascades of campaign literature. They must bear the weight of all those political deceptions and distortions. Yes, some of us still send postcards. …

The Goethe-Institut has been holding a number of events tied to its 50th anniversary. The great German poets Goethe and Schiller have a memorial in Golden Gate Park. It was dedicated in 1901. An astonishing 30,000 San Franciscans turned out for the dedication. … 66 years later, the same number of people, thereabouts, turned out for the first Human Be-In, marking the beginning of the Summer of Love, also observing its 50th anniversary this year. Poets like Lawrence FerlinghettiAllen GinsbergMichael McClureGary Snyder … and Allen Cohen, were in attendance back in 1967. … Goethe, author of Faust, and Schiller might have been amused. … I tried selling my soul once — but the line ahead of me was too long. …

It’s been a lousy season for many. But yet in the resilient spirit of San Francisco, she’s risen from the ashes. The residents of the Northern counties still manage to be grateful for what they have on this Thanksgiving. … Many “go home” for the holiday, and return to San Francisco for rest and relaxation. If you can imagine. …

“Tell me something, doctor,” someone said to a friend, “How come every time I go home for Thanksgiving, I am traumatized? How can my family push all of my buttons?” … “Because,” said the doc, “they installed them.” …


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Bruce Bellingham is the author of Bellingham by the Bay. Push his buttons at [email protected]. Follow the Marina Times on Twitter @TheMarinaTimes and like us on Facebook @MarinaTimes.

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