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I remember......

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Posted by Judie Cook on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 18:00:36 :

My very first memories of San Francisco were in about 1942 when we lived on 18th ave...2559 18th Ave to be exact. Our house was directly across the street from a huge Catholic school/church. We had a "magical" house....in the very center of the house was a patio like area...it could be reached by french doors from the living room and from the hall way. It became a special hideaway for me. However, on one Christmas Eve, while we were decorating the tree in the living room, I heard the door handle jiggle...suddenly the doors flew open, and I was terrified!!!! I tried to hide behind the tree....and it started to fall over!!! But my dad caught it before it crashed to the floor. Then I heard the strangest noise...sort of HO-HO-HO....I looked up and THERE was Santa Claus!!! AND he did have a HUGE pack on his back! I couldn't believe my eyes! AND, just like the song, he set about emptying his pack....asked if I had been a good girl, and disappeared back through the same doors he had come through. I jumped to my feet, and ran after him....pulling open the doors...and found...NO ONE! He was gone! However, there was this noise coming from the roof...????

Just the next week, the sirens went off...and mommy and daddy grabbed their "tote bags", put their special yellow hard hats on, told me to lock the door behind them and turn off the lights. They were air raid wardens and we had practised this routine many times so that I would not be freightened when they left. You see, I was an only child....sort of! We had a little Toy Boston Bull (the call them Boston Terriers now) and his name was KJ. When the sirens went off, they scared him and he always ran to me for comfort. So, after the door was locked, and the lights turned off, I grabbed my little flashlight and we made our way to my bedroom....and crawled into bed and under the covers. Most of the time, I fell asleep before the all clear sirens sounded.
It didn't seem stange to me at all that 1/2 of the headlights were painted black...that would be the top half of course. And it didn't seem strange that we could never turn lights on without the blackout shades being pulled and the drapes afterward. It was common place to save the fat from cooking and take it to someplace every week. They said it was for the soldiers overseas. And then there were our ration books. They were precious...very valuable..my daddy told me to never never lose it!!! As I write now, I have mine and theirs right here in front of me. And there are still stamps...each one has a big letter with a number below...and different pictures above. They are the shape of a rectange...the top half of one has a sheaf of wheat, with W under it, and a 1 under the W. Of course, they are all different looking. Another picture looks like the Statue of Liberty's hand, holding a torch. Another says SPARE on it. I guess there were stamps to be used on different days for different items. That was alot to remember!

I remember going over the Bay bridge and ducking down on the floor in the back seat...I was scared to death of the sight of all that water!

I remember going to Fleishaker (??) Zoo...and the HUGE swimming pool. We've had a chat about this several years ago on Norcal...but for those who don't remember, the pool was a salt water pool...maybe an acre in size. They used row boats for the life guards!

Fifty four years later, I took my oldest daughter to THE CITY with me (from virginia) to do some O'shea/Keenan research. I had met a wonderful woman online whose name was also Judy. She came to our Bread/breakfast and we spent the whole day revisiting my memories and going to Colma to find my O'sheas and Keenans at Holy Cross Cemetery. The very first place we went was to 524 Utah st....the house that belonged to my great-grandparents and where the "reception" was held for the wedding of my grandparents. It is still standing...in good shape, and looks as though the neighborhood is being upgraded. It was a very strange feeling to stand there with my daughter, taking pictures of that house. We continued through the city through the areas where my O'shea family had their businesses and homes, but there was nothing to take pictures of I'm afraid. My heart sunk. But then Judy said "we're going someplace that you will remember"...and before I knew it, she said..."Look, way down the hill to the left...."...and there was that huge catholic school in the distance...St.Cecilias. In the last 50+ years it has grown significantly and is incredibly beautiful. As is the neighborhood...and my old house...2259. Suddenly, I found myself weeping...all sorts of memories coming forth...mommy and daddy....little friends I still remember...my school...ULLOA...the park just down the street and around the corner...but most of all, my house...with the magical area hidden in the middle of the house... a little bit of magic that every little girl should have.
I remembered...and I wept.

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