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Re: "Going Downtown"

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Posted by Judy Hitzeman on Sunday, July 10, 2005 at 11:43:41 :

In Reply to: "Going Downtown" posted by Pamela Storm [] on Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 10:41:39 :

I too grew up in Noe Valley (on Army Street between Church and Dolores) about the same time (I was born at the tail end of 1953). My mother was a stay-at-home Mom when my sister and I were little, and she would take us all over the City on Muni. Going downtown for us meant riding the J-Church streetcar down to the Emporium. I don't remember having to wear gloves but I know Mom always made sure we were neat and clean. It was fun to ride downtown and look at the changing scenery, arriving amidst the bustle on Market St. Mom liked going to the sales under the dome at the Emporium, which I recall could be pretty vicious. My sister and I didn't like that part (she recalls Mom getting into a tug-of-war with another lady over a sweater) but we loved the bargain basement in the store; this was before the Big E tried to go more upscale.

Our lunchtime treat was to eat at the J. C. Penney store up the street. They had a restaurant on the mezzanine and we would try to get a table overlooking the shopping floor below. They had the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world, I thought then and still think to this day.

I agree that Noe Valley and the stores on Mission Street could fulfill all ones shopping needs. We did a lot of shopping at the Sears store at Army and Mission. Mom liked the Mode-o-Day store on Mission, at least to browse, and there was also great thrift store and a couple of 5&10s. We didn't have a lot of money (Noe Valley itself was pretty much a working-class neighborhood in those days) but Mom would let us buy little things in the thrift store. We little girls loved animal figurines so were always on the lookout for those. I still have 2 little ceramic dogs we bought at the thrift store for probably a nickel apiece. Among my favorite Christmas decorations, both for the funkiness and memories, are the latex rubber Mary, Joseph, and Jesus that Mom bought at a 5&10 on Mission. One is still marked with its price, 15 cents. Mary is hilarious with blond hair and black eyebrows. The manger is cardboard with real straw glued in.

One of my earliest memories of going down Mission Street is the horrifying sight (for a 5-year-old) of pigs' heads hanging in the window of a butcher shop. It's funny what you remember, isn't it? And how many memories revolve around food?

How many people remember King Kold Ice Cream at 24th and Church Streets? Henry's meat market on Church near 26th, run by a man named Tom, who would save the ends of the balongna sausages and give them to lucky kids while Mom bought liver (ugh) because your father loved it?

: When I was a little girl growing up in Noe Valley, I recall that "going downtown" was a pretty big deal. It wasn't something we did very often, because most anything we might want or need could be found either right there in Noe Valley or in the Mission. But one reason I really looked forward to my birthday every year was because I knew I would be "going downtown" with my grandparents, Albert and Myrtle (Seielstad) Mion.

: I'm dating myself here <grin> but this would have been in the early 1960's. Mom (Judy Mion Storm) took pains to see that I was properly dressed for the occasion. She believed, even as late as the early '60's, that one simply did NOT "go downtown" in everyday clothes! My outfit would include one of my very best dresses, matching ribbons tied at the ends of my braids, freshly shined black patent leather Mary Janes, white anklets with lace trim, and a hat, white gloves and purse as well. The purse wouldn't have much inside, but would definitely hold a freshly ironed embroidered lace hankie.

: We'd drive downtown, usually parking near the back of "The Big E" and off we'd go for a fun day of shopping. Nana and Papa would usually buy me a pretty new dress, and sometimes I'd come home with new shoes or a new coat, too.

: But the BEST part of the whole day for me was stopping for lunch. They'd let me choose where I wanted to eat, so I'd always pick Foster's. Foster's wasn't a fancy place to eat by any means, but seeing all that yummy food lined up so beautifully as you walked down the length of the counter was pretty amazing when you're seeing it through 6-year-old eyes! Even better, Nana and Papa would tell me I could choose ANYTHING I wanted for lunch! "Anything?" I'd ask? "Anything," they'd reply. "I don't have to get any vegetables?" I'd ask? "It's your birthday, so you may have anything you like." Wow!

: My birthday lunch was usually chocolate pudding served in a big parfait glass with gobs of whipped cream on top!

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