Neighbor Ralph lives a few doors down from me in Precitaville, and he’s been here for a long time. His father bought the house he lives in now back in 1943 with money he made working as a laborer at Fort Mason.
Ralph remembers the years after World War II, when San Francisco’s population swelled with returning soldiers and sailors who decided to stay. Everyone had work, he recalled, particularly at the shipyards.”Hunter’s Point was going 24 hours a day,” he says.
Ralph worked for the SFPD as a policeman. He started on the beat, but then spent most of his career “inside” at the Hall of Justice before retiring.
He pointed to my house. “Sam lived there,” he said. That jogged my memory about the census records from 1940. Sam? Sam Piazza? “Yeah, Sam Piazza.” Ralph knew him.
In Ralph’s earliest memories, Bernal Heights was Italian and Irish. Then he remembers Mexicans and Filipinos moving in, and now Ralph notices that the neighborhood is changing again.
This is Neighbor Ralph’s thumbnail history of the last 45 years of Bernal Heights history:
PHOTO: Neighbor Ralph by Telstar Logistics
Liz Weil is a world-famous writer (and glamorous Bernalwood contributor) who lives in Cortlandia. Last year she helped organize a terrific little gathering for writers and culture mavens who live in Bernal Heights, and it was so much fun that it’s happening again this year.
Come raise a glass! Liz says:
Hey folks. Last year’s Bernal Word People Holiday Gathering was such a success we decided to do it again.
It’s on for this Thursday, December 12, at the Lucky Horseshoe on Cortland, at 8 pm.
Please interpret Bernal and word people liberally. Even if you just like Bernal, or words , or people we’d love to see you there.
Neighbor Deborah on Gates tells Bernalwood that her brother-in-law, Victor Dallons, came to visit during the Thanksgiving holiday. Victor was impressed with the views here in Bernal, so he took some photographs using his impressive long-exposure nighttime kung-fu techniques.
As Brother-in-Law Victor tells it:
We were in San Francisco for thanksgiving at Naomi’s sister’s house. We had a wonderful thanksgiving there. In the evenings, I went up on Bernal Heights, the hill up the street from their house, to take a few pictures of the city.
Here’s some more of Victor’s amazingness:
Frankly, we think Brother-in-Law Victor should come visit more often.
PHOTOS: by Victor Dallons, 2013
Neighbor Alicia is spreading the word about a community meeting that will happen tomorrow, Wesdnesday December 11 at 7 pm at the Precita Neighborhood Center, to review a proposal to build two single-family homes on a patch of undeveloped land on Folsom near Chapman, on the south side of the hill just below Bernal Heights Blvd.
Here’s the meeting announcement:
It’s time for the Annual Winter Celebration at the Bernal Heights Branch Library! It’s happening tomorrow, Wednesday, December 11 starting at 6:30 pm, and Miss Valerie, the children’s librarian, tells us:
Please join us for our annual celebration. The evening features the awesome Bernal Jazz Quartet playing seasonal selections, holiday craft making in the children’s room AND this year, our first COOKIE CONTEST & RECIPE SWAP! Celebrity judges are our own Stacie Pierce (Little Bee Baking) and Mutsumi Takehara (Sandbox Bakery.) Bring your favorite cookies with recipe, and maybe YOU will get a blue ribbon!
PHOTO: Telstar Logistics, 2012
Considering that the highest point in Bernal Heights is dominated by a Space Age antenna array used to transmit microwaves, it’s surprising that the Bernal Heights literary scene is not known for its homegrown science fiction. But Neighbor M. Luke McDonell of Precitaville is doing her part to put Bernal on the sci-fi map.
Her new ebook is called The Perfect Specimen:
Dr. Derek Singh is sure that one of planet Victoria’s millions of venomous insects holds the key to destroying cancerous tumors–and jumpstarting his stalled career.
Unfortunately, the traps he sets each night capture nothing but dust, and his competitive colleagues don’t share the venom they’ve collected. The clock is running down on his two-year grant and he’s making no progress.
When his young neighbor–one of the few native-born children–finds out he studies “bugs,” she is eager to bring him all the specimens he needs. Derek worries she’ll be bitten or stung, but soon discovers Mia is in danger from a far larger predator–the corporation that funds him.
You can download The Perfect Specimen from Amazon for just 99 cents. (Sorry, no Bitcoin please.) But if you need convincing before parting with your hard-earned dollar, know that the reviews on Amazon are strong:
This short story by new Sci-Fi author M. Luke McDonell shows us a glimpse of an interesting and well thought out future world. A fun story with a satisfying end, it left me wanting more stories in this universe.
HAT TIP: Rusty/SomaFM
Bernalwood has received another photo shared from the family albums of Greg Dabel, the great, great grandson of Joseph McTigue, who owned a saddlery business that occupied the site that is now home to El Rio during the first decades of the 20th century.
In this installment, Mr. Dabel writes:
I scanned a couple of photos from the family album taken in 1923. My best guess is that these were taken standing in the open fields on the west side of Mission (between Army and Valencia).
Indeed! The photo above shows the view from one of the McTigue pastures. It was taken on the western side of Mission, looking east while standing on the site of the building that is now the former Sears department store.
And how do we know this? We know this because the two buildings in the background on the right side of the photo are still there! Check it:
Here’s a bonus photo, also taken from the McTigue pasture. Bernalwood believes it shows the view looking north, with an apartment building that used to stand at the intersection of Mission and Army (Cesar Chavez) visible in the background:
HISTORICAL PHOTOS: Courtesy of Greg Dabel