Noe Valley Voice July-August 2007

Letters to the Editor

"Oye Como Va" from Australia


I stumbled upon your web site while Google-map searching...and was delighted to read one of your articles on childhood recollections of Noe Valley. It painted a beautiful picture and was obviously a fantastic place for children.

I live in Donnybrook, West Australia. However, I visited Noe Valley in 1976 and recall my stay there with fond memories. I had been backpacking through Africa and Europe for 18 months before returning home to Australia to earn a few dollars to continue traveling. My friend and I drove across Australia before flying to Hawaii for some well-earned R & R. On a beach in Maui, we were lucky enough to meet a great girl by the name of Helena Zynstein. Helena invited us to spend some time with her in San Francisco. She lived in a Victorian-style apartment not far from Mission Dolores Park.

Helena treated us like royalty, and we lived there for about a month, visiting all the famous San Francisco landmarks, as well as enjoying the local lifestyle. I play guitar and sing, and on our first night in her house, there was a party in the downstairs apartment. When we entered, there was a makeshift band jamming in the kitchen. The music was sensational! I distinctly remember a guy entering the kitchen with a sax and asking if he could join in. One of the musicians said, "Can you read concert music?" And the sax guy said, "Of course!" He then commenced to blow the place apart. Needless to say, after that I thought everyone in Noe Valley could read concert music.

Helena told me Carlos Santana used to busk [play music for spare change] in Mission Park. I thought, hell, I'm gonna check this out. Alas, I never spotted him (too famous by then). But about three years ago, in Perth, Australia, Santana did a concert and I was lucky enough to be staying in the same hotel as the touring party. My wife and I, with our daughter, met the guitar legend, had a few photo opportunities, chatted for a while, and shared breakfast (well, the next table anyway!). I retold the busking story to him and how I had gone down to Mission Park hoping for a glimpse, and he joked, "Well, I'm still busking--it's just that the hat is a lot bigger these days." He struck me as a very gentle man--"Never lose your childhood innocence," he said--and his words that day helped inspire me to complete a children's book I was writing at the time. The book has since been published.

My memories of Noe Valley were rekindled after that meeting, and suddenly it seemed like only yesterday that I was enjoying Bud's Ice Cream on 24th Street. Of course, the passage of time changes all things, and we can never truly capture the noises, smells, fashions, slang, and music of days gone by. That's why our memories are so valuable and special to each of us.

I hope I haven't bored you with these few recollections. You have a wonderful city, especially Noe Valley.

Steve Trigwell

Donnybrook, Australia

Books Fly Off the Sidewalk on Church Street


I help head-up a new Noe Valley group called Church Street Professionals, and we hosted our very first community fundraising effort. Our May 12 Church Street Sidewalk Book Sale raised over $2,250 for the Noe Valley Library Campaign's interior renovation, and we could not be happier with our success. We also facilitated the donation of over 1,000 books to the San Francisco Public Library's annual Big Book Sale at Fort Mason. (The event this year is Sept. 26-30.)

So many people helped to make the day a fun success, and I'd love to take this opportunity to thank them publicly. Kim Drew with the Noe Valley Library Campaign and Marian Chatfield-Taylor, Anne Wintroub, and Clair Kells with the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library put up with all of our shenanigans with optimism and grace. Thank you, ladies! Even when our energy was waning, they pumped us up with delicious homemade cookies and brownies.

As I've always known, Noe Valleyans are very generous people, and together you donated more books than my little brain could count. What I did not know is that Noe Valleyans are also very well read, as are their children. Library volunteers marveled with glee when they saw your donations and were very impressed with the fabulous condition the books were in. Thank you, donors, for gifting your treasures to other readers and for caring so deeply about your neighborhood library.

We needed volunteers for the day to move smoothly, and I'd like to thank especially: Sara Butz, Lois Hirsch, Debra Niemann, Leslie Crawford, and her 9-year old son, Sam Fox. Saturdays are precious, and I thank you for giving up your time to help.

And finally, I'd like to thank the Church Street Professionals who were the heart and soul of the day! So many of you put your commitment to our library and our community ahead of your own businesses that day. Thank you, Donna Davis at Forbeadin'; Susan Romer at Law Offices of Adams and Romer; Fran Aldwell and your lovely wife and kids at Purely Physical; Dr. Darci Kendrick and Dr. Kristine Hicks at More Mojo; T.J. Jackovich and May Kraiwikrai at Chloe's Cafe; Jill Sweringen at Purple Iris; Celia Sack and Paula Harris at Noe Valley Pet Company; Angela Zhang at Royal Cleaners; Lynn Ingham, Brent Albert, and Pam Beach at Lynn Antiques; Susan Levinson at State Farm Insurance; Dona Taylor and Kimberly Karnes at When Modern Was; Cara Honigsfeld and Brigitte Schoppmann (and your fabulous husband) at Jaboh; Mardie Van Dervort at One Stop Party Shop; Bonnie Farrell, Serena, and Wendy at Curves; Charlie at Church Street Apothecary; Suzanne George at Suzanne George Shoes; and Pietro Fonda at Fonda's Custom Orthopedic Shoes.

Thank you all! Appreciatively,

Paula Benton

Owner, Artery