Noe Valley Voice May 2012

Letters to the Editor

Many current and former residents of Noe Valley like to reminisce about the movie palaces of 24th Street, such as the Noe Theater, a towering landmark that once stood near the corner of 24th and Noe. In the November 2003 Voice, Paul Kantus (1926–2008) shared his movie adventures and archival photos, including this 1950 gem (see


The Movies Were Across the Street


I was just talking to my dad, and he was telling me that the Noe Theater was his and his brother’s “babysitter” on Saturdays in the mid-1940s. They lived across the street. I came across your article and picture in the November 2003 issue [“Growing Up in Noe Valley: The Movie Palaces of 24th Street,” by Paul Kantus], which was great. Thanks so much. I will show it to my dad.

Jennifer Wright
Camarillo, Calif.


St. James’ Living History Project


St. James Parish was dedicated on April 25, 1888, and is still going strong today. As part of the celebrations leading up to the 125th anniversary, the parish would like to put together a living history of the church and community.

To this end, we are trying to contact anyone who has photos of weddings, baptisms, communions, or other celebrations that were held at St. James Church. We promise that photos will be treated with respect and returned to the owners after being digitized to be used in a presentation at the church and on the church website. Please include as many names of people in the photos as possible and a mailing address to have the items returned. If anyone would like to write about their memories of growing up in the parish or an insight into life in the Mission District, that would be a wonderful contribution to the project.

For over a century, Mission Dolores was the only church in the area, but as the population grew, more parishes were formed to serve the needs of the community. When St. James Catholic Church opened, the parish boundaries were 20th Street on the north, 26th Street on the south, Mission Street on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.

As the Mission District changed and Noe Valley grew, a lot of families moved to other areas of the city or to other parts of the Bay Area. If your readers could reach out to them or spread word of the project through social groups or online networks, that would be a big help.

Photos or stories can be brought or mailed to the Rectory at 1086 Guerrero St., San Francisco, CA 94110; 415-824-4232; or emailed to

We would also invite you to visit our website at to view upcoming events.

Anne Devine


A Stop Sign at Every Corner


One day this week, 7:30 a.m.-ish, as I walked my dogs south on Church Street, I became aware of a persistent honk. One of the buses which comes to pick up Peninsula employees was proceeding in the same direction, from Duncan toward 30th. It was followed by a dark silver-gray  pickup truck which obviously felt the bus was moving too slowly and honked persistently. Unable to get around the bus, which he shouldn’t do anyway, and every time the bus slowed for kids and parents crossing for school, whether at a stop sign or not, the pickup driver would honk irritably. The bus, about which there has been some controversy periodically, was being courteous and careful, protecting his passengers and the pedestrians, by moving slowly. The truck, on the other hand, was intent on getting where he was going, probably the way he always drives down Church.

This situation occurs regularly, and I fear for the school crossing guard and her charges at 29th Street. The City has sent out police officers to help her maintain her seniority, but cars often ignore her and do as they desire, not as they should.

There is no stop sign between 27th and 29th, and cars reach unsafe speeds in those four blocks, often ignoring those trying to cross. This happens all during the day but is particularly dangerous during school beginning and release times. As a dog walker, I have very nearly been hit by those in a big hurry more than once.

We need a stop sign at every corner on Church Street, especially in and around St. Paul’s, for the safety of the students and local residents.

Shannon Miller


Bell Still Strikes a Chord


I used to live in Noe Valley from 1986 to 1989, after I was transferred to San Francisco with my airline. One thing I liked was the quaint and mellow atmosphere of shopping on 24th Street.

One place I did love was Bell Market. It was a sensible-size market. I always found what I needed, and the staff was so helpful.

Today, my mom, 92 years old and going strong, talked about it fondly. She came out from New York with me. She loved that market.

I was sad to see it had closed, but sadder to read your story via Google  [“Goodbye Bell Market, Hello Whole Foods,” February 2009 Voice]. The tone was a bit condescending about the era of “meat and potatoes” being kind of gone. I beg to differ. I am very much a meat/potatoes guy and don’t notice that people that shop Whole Foods have any particular secret key to health. Perhaps the desire to appear trendy or in the know attracts shoppers there. Quality food can be found everywhere, frankly.

I even saw a comment from a customer saying one could now be “proud to come in and get food to serve to your family, friends, and neighbors.” The height of snobbery!

One thing I don’t miss is the self-awarded, superior attitude of some Noe Valley residents. Odd how San Francisco prides itself on tolerance and diversity, so long as one is left of center. More than a few San Franciscans, most not born there, I encountered were some of the most rigid conformists I’d ever met.

As a former New Yorker and, may I add, Peace Corps/Tunisia volunteer and current teacher in a private school, it takes a lot to impress me. The demise of Bell Market is certainly sad, but I won’t tell my mom. Somehow she managed to reach this age surviving on humble supermarket fare.

Kenneth Kasalis
Concord, Calif.


Mazook vs. 24th and Church


We couldn’t agree more with Mazook’s self-described “gripe” in the April issue Rumors about the lack of a traffic light at the intersection of 24th and Church. Some of us have learned firsthand how dangerous that intersection is.

We are part of a group called the Noe Valley Traffic Safety Project, which is working on solutions that include getting a traffic light installed there. Our website——has information about what we’re doing and how people can help.

Ed Moore

Catherine Bruce


Pedestrians Must Share Blame


I’m with Mazook, but maybe I’m just getting crotchety. I just walked down to 24th Street to pick up something at Walgreens. As I passed the parking lot next to Radio Shack, there was a woman, cell phone in one hand, steering wheel in the other, two kids in the back seat, trying to back out into the traffic on 24th. I wish they’d enforce the law about “driving distracted.” In mid-April, there were several accidents on the San Mateo Bridge, three of which were caused by just that.

I am both a driver and more often a pedestrian in the Noe Valley neighborhood. I don’t like to drive near 24th Street because the pedestrians are, in general, so heedless of what’s going on around them—they are either on cell phones or chatting to someone or just not paying attention.

In any case, they often walk into the street without looking in any direction for traffic, no matter who might have the right of way. California law does not say that pedestrians have the right to walk into an intersection, or into whatever traffic is around, without looking and recognizing that a car is halfway through the intersection when they step off the curb!

I witnessed another near miss a few weeks ago, when a car was in the process of making a perfectly legitimate right turn from 24th on to Castro. A heedless young woman came down 24th and pushed her baby carriage directly into the path of the car. Fortunately, the driver was acting responsibly. I find that most drivers are careful and courteous.

But not so the pedestrians. And I’m a little tired of hearing the blame for incidents placed only on drivers.

Jane Smith
Elizabeth Street


Let’s Examine This Litter Issue


I wonder whether anyone else is as annoyed and frustrated as I am that the San Francisco Examiner strews its unsolicited newspapers in plastic bags all over our sidewalks and in our gutters. It appears that no one reads them and few people even pick them up. They not only litter the streets, but constitute an appalling waste of resources. How many people who do pick them up and recycle the paper also recycle the plastic bags? (Now that Whole Foods has abandoned that particular “greenery,” the nearest plastic-bag-recycle bin I know of is in the Molly Stone’s parking lot in the Castro.)

I have repeatedly emailed the Examiner, to no avail. I’ve called the “stop delivery” phone number listed in the paper. I filled out the “stop delivery” request form on theExaminers website, but apparently it was non-functional. Even if I’d succeeded, however, it would mean only one less paper on the street every Sunday.

Does anyone have an idea about how to stop this disgusting littering?

Leslie Wellbaum 


P.O. Box 460249

San Francisco, CA 94146

The Noe Valley Voice is an independent newspaper published monthly except in January and August. It is distributed free in Noe Valley and vicinity, on or before the first Friday of the month. Subscriptions are available at $30 per year ($25 for seniors) by writing to the above address.

The Voice welcomes your letters, photos, and stories, particularly on topics relating to Noe Valley. All items should include your name, address, and phone number, and may be edited for brevity or clarity. (Unsigned letters will not be considered for publication.) Unsolicited contributions will be returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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Sally Smith, Jack Tipple


Olivia Boler, Other Voices Editor

Corrie M. Anders, Associate Editor

Heather World, Associate Editor

Heidi Anderson, Karol Barske, Helen Colgan, Chrissy Elgersma, Jan Goben, Liz Highleyman, Rebecca Huval, Laura McHale Holland, Florence Holub, Tim Innes, Jeff Kaliss, Doug Konecky, Roger Rubin, Shayna Rubin, Karen Topakian, Nicole Wong


Pamela Gerard, Photo Editor

Beverly Tharp, Senior Photographer

Najib Joe Hakim, Senior Photographer


Karol Barske


Jack Tipple, André Thélémaque


Jack Tipple, Misha Yagudin


Jon Elkin, Elliot Poger


Pat Rose, Jack Tipple


Contents ©2012 The Noe Valley Voice