Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bayview resident writes about bitter-sweet move from Quesada

Martha, shown here on her wedding day in the 1950's, passed away several years ago in the house at 1751 Quesada where she had lived for most of her life. Mr. Woody Young, also mentioned in Deboran's story, contributed the photograph to the digital history archives when the house he shared with "Ms. Martha" was being cleared. The Harrison family lives in the house now.

Deboran Everist still has a house on the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue, and lived on the block many years...long before the Quesada Gardens Initiative was dreamed of. She contributes recollections from when she moved from her Quesada house that will interest all those familiar with the heart of the Bayview neighborhood.

The Move
by Deboran Everist

The mild, foggy morning has again given way to a warm cloudless day here in the Bay Area. I don’t believe the weather makes the day, but it sure can set the mood.

Sometimes the atmosphere of life seems to have a way of occupying time to a point whereby the weather is just an added nuisance or delight. I needed the momentous break from office work to student life to appreciate this world around me. However, I have just reached a state of terminal struggle with another paper for class, and while there still remains the formidable task of writing up the material, the reading is over and done, the notes are made and the clock tells me I still have time before the class cut-off date.

I decided to appreciate the day and the weather by heading for the beach. I have found walking on the beach a perfect transitional zone between one phase of life and another. The glorious solitude of the early morning with just the waves lapping on a long beach of sand and boulders, cliffs and coves was just what I needed to sort out my thoughts and hear myself think. The seagulls seem to drift in the air with their voices embellishing the easy-going sound of the waves with a note of high-pitched expectancy.

My mind drifted back eight years to the day we moved into the Victorian on Quesada Avenue. I remember the friends, laughter, trucks and carloads full of boxes, furniture and miscellaneous necessities that we felt we couldn’t do without. Even though the boxes were marked kitchen, upstairs bedroom and garage, they all seemed to end up in the living and dining rooms just inside the front door.

It seemed like each carload needing unloading brought another neighbor out of doors. Somehow, with armloads of paraphernalia, introductions and handshakes were made.

Banker Tom lived up the street in the Mediterranean style house. He generously handed us brochures on savings, checking and investment accounts along with advice on financial services in the area. Every morning at a quarter to eight and every evening at 5:15, Tom walks by in his distinguished blue suit and narrow blue tie with a smile, hello and the latest interest rates. But through the years he has gained a dividend of a middle age paunch causing him to wobble as he walks up and down the block.

Down the street lived Phil and Martha. Phil has passed on now. But, oh, how I remember the biscuits that he could make from scratch. Phil was the local baker and he would always bring us breads and cakes hot out of the oven. The day we moved in our Doberman casually walked down the street and took a loaf of bread out of his van. Phil thought it was his dog, Casey, until he heard me reprimand my 120-pound puppy, which was supposed to be a watchdog.

Phil, Martha and I would always start our conversations with how to make biscuits from flour, baking powder, and water, leisurely drifting into the details of the latest veterinarian visit for our menagerie. Phil had two dogs and we had three. I added two cats to our household, and along with the neighbors, left food out for all the strays.

Further down the street lived “Pop” and his wife Helen. He always wore faded, shabby overalls on his six-foot plus frame and a ragged, red baseball cap on his balding head with “POP” embroidered across the brim. It seems like all the neighbors were raised by him. He would reprimand the young ones, give advice to their parents, and with a hardy handshake and a look of steel stare into your eyes with the scrutiny of a prosecuting attorney. Yet he would always leave baskets of cherry tomatoes on everyone’s front steps during the summer and would deny this fact. However, he was the only one with a front yard overgrown with tomato vines.

Next door to us lived Woody. He sported a personality that was one part charm, one part wise old sage and one part hellbender. That day we moved in, Woody was right there with a handshake and a grin. My husband had worked with him years before. While they reminisced, Woody set up his barbecue pit in the driveway, and the sound of beer cans popping permeated the activities. Woody had a way of saying “If you need anything I’m right next door.” Initially I was skeptical considering he enticed the men with beer while the women carried in boxes.

Nevertheless, as the sun left the sky a yellow orange the move was completed and the neighbors brought chicken, steaks, ribs, potatoes and ears of corn for the barbecue. I remember the clear blue night with a gentle breeze, which rustled the palm trees that run down the middle of our block. The eyes of our new neighbors coincidentally twinkled like the constellations, which were visible that night.

Around midnight the welcoming committee dispersed and with our bellies full, muscles stretched tired, the mattresses on the floor in the living room, and the bedding somewhere in box number 143, we fell fast asleep in our new dwelling.

As I now watch the waves gently caress the sands, I think of all the changes since that day eight years ago. Besides Phil’s death, there was my husband, and “Pop” down the street, along with the dogs and cats and numerous friends. There have been divorces between the friends that moved us in that day including Woody and his wife, Annie. But through it all there has always been Woody’s voice saying “If you need anything I’m right next door.” Woody moved in with Martha, so he’s still on the block one house over. Woody has watched me paint, clean, and pack for my approaching move. And even though the weather can turn crazy with one day like summer, the next winter, the next rain, there is always another high-pressure system in the weather forecast to bring a balmy, cloudless day.
Do you have recollections about Bayview Hunters Point you would like to share? We'd love to hear from you.

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