On a recent Saturday morning I went down to Ralph’s and we had planned to go out somewhere to have breakfast. Little did I know what lay in store for me early that day when we left the house, and as we cruised and talked about this and that, I began to notice what was passing by. As much as everything looked so different to me now, it looked as much the same, after all the time that had passed since I’d been there.
Coming off the 280 we suddenly were on Junipero Serra heading up exactly along the old way we used to take in and out to Alec in Colma and Serramonte from the old house. Immediately a mix of retro shock and surprise hit me as I realized and recognized all the things I now was seeing. By the time we reached the crest of 17th Street and crossed over to go down Ashbury Street, I was straining to see everything.
The wave that washed over me really hit home literally. I noticed that the door of the Ashbury Market was no longer on the corner; it had been moved to the Frederick Street side. Funny, but my first thought was what would Remy think if she if she were here. Ralph drove over to Clayton and turned right, and then he turned right again on to Waller Street and then up Lower Downey.
We were looking all the places and saying the names of people we used to know who lived there as we went up, and the lower yard was still there but it looked like a parking lot now, the old handball court gone. There are still some basketball hoops there though. The back of the school looked exactly the same except for the many security bars on all the windows, and Ralph then headed on to Upper Downey.
How much smaller it looks to me now as we go on up the street, and then again we start naming the names that went with the houses. We go slowly by our house with the 224 on the door, there with a nicely painted exterior and trim, the most noticeable thing for me was that the front stairs were completely re-done in Victorian fashion, the old concrete and metal ones Dad had installed back in the day seemed long gone.
In just a few minutes we were heading up Buena Vista going past the Hospital, condo’s now, and around the next corner down the slope, there was the door leading up to the old Boiler room. Then we proceeded on by the big back yard were we’d spent many an hour, playing and exploring right outside the upstairs back door. Back down we went via Ashbury past the school and by the Haight-Ashbury Street sign.
Ralph kind of circled around again and then we were going down Clayton past the old post office now closed, turning on Page and by the gym, back around continuing on down Haight towards Stanyan and then past the Library, which is still there! Over to and up Masonic, past the Church, the panhandle and the Funeral home now a school, where Mom was, and then I saw the Lucky Penny Restaurant.
In the old days it was the Copper Penny, and all of family, friends, others and us shared many meals there together, and walking into the place was like stepping back in time. We noticed the old lady and instantaneously recognized her face, and after we finished our
breakfast, I couldn’t help but to go talk to her over at the cash register. They had changed the name in ’92, and she was so nice and thanked us for coming back.
When we left we went down to Clement Street to get Beth some baked pork buns, cut through the park and headed back down to San Bruno. The perspective I had all along the journey was like being a kid again, looking out the car window at everything passing by, except this time I wasn’t in a white Valiant station wagon.