“Gone but not forgotten” is the theme of “Growing Up in San Francisco's Western Neighborhoods: Boomer Memories from Kezar Stadium to Zim’s Hamburgers,” a book of charming vignettes that capture a time and place as rapidly shifting as the sand dunes that once covered the outside lands.
The volume collects columns Frank Dunnigan wrote for the Western Neighborhoods Project, a group dedicated to preserving the history of San Francisco's west side co-founded by Woody LaBounty, who wrote the foreword.
Although it focuses mostly on the Richmond and Sunset, the book references most of San Francisco’s 46.9 square miles and, indeed, America’s past. Chapter 1, “Unspoken Facts of Life,” begins with the comment, “The bread is never fresh on Wednesdays” and ends with “The weather was usually foggy.”
Dunnigan, who grew up on 18th Avenue near Vicente Street, addresses dining out, shopping, churchgoing, movies and other quotidian activities, as well as birthdays, holidays and vacations, and newsworthy events and local personalities. He describes parks and playgrounds, delis and bakeries, and lists schools.
Remember Dekker & Sons Sporting Goods? The El Rey theater? The Hot House at Playland at the Beach? Real estate also is covered, including architects Henry Doelger and Oliver Rousseau, who built many houses in the Sunset.
Knowledgeable and personal, Dunnigan begins the “School Days” chapter: “Sometimes my thoughts drift back to my own school days in the Outside Lands, beginning with Mrs. Beckerman’s afternoon kindergarten class at Parkside School in the fall of 1957.”
Illustrations and black-and-white photos – including reproductions of brochures, Muni tickets, maps and other vintage ephemera, much from Jack Tillmany’s extensive collection – add oomph.
An index and bibliography (listing books, Internet sites, archives, alumni newsletters and newspapers) and four undated published periodical articles round out the text. It would have been nice to know when the pieces were written or posted, but that’s a minor point. Old timers and new residents in the area are likely to embrace this evocative trip down memory lane.
Growing Up in San Francisco's Western Neighborhoods: Boomer Memories from Kezar Stadium to Zim’s Hamburgers
By: Frank Dunnigan
Published by: The History Press