Whatever happened to (bleep!) Creek?

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When I was a kid growing up in the City, we used to hear Mission Creek called "3rd Street Channel" or, more colorfully, "Shit Creek". I haven't heard this in years. Does anyone know the origin of this name or have any guesses as to why it's no longer used (beyond the obvious)

Don Martinich

-- Don Martinich (dutchm@dcn.davis.ca.us), July 23, 2001


Its proper name is "Islais Creek."

-- John Martini (jamartini@earthlink.net), July 23, 2001.

I'm not sure what John is trying to say here. Mission Creek and Islais Creek drain two different watersheds but they are contiguous, Mission being the more northerly. I once talked to an older S.F. native who thought that Islais Creek was the original "Shit Creek" so, I guess one of the things I am asking is which creek gets the prize. My question now expands to whatever happened to that very urban accent that many San Franciscans who grew up South o' Market, in the Mission, the Potrero, and Butchertown used to speak with so much color?

-- Don Martinich (dutchm@dcn.davis.ca.us), July 27, 2001.

It was called shit creek, at least when I hung out at the SP yards nearby with my dog around 1969, because all the storm drains from portrero hill and the south of Market drained into it-and of course these rains caused the sanitary sewers to overflow. The water was so dirty-it had a smell like chlorine, oil and grease and of course poop, that when my labrador swum in it he emerged with no fleas. I would usually use a firehose to wash him off at the cement plant that was where the 280 offramp is now.

-- nikko (freewebpage2000@yahoo.com), November 21, 2001.

Re: The San Francisco accent. My dad was a native San Franciscan, and he had a very definite accent. I've been told I have it too. My friends laughed at the way he said "Turd Street" instead of "Third Street" (which I've caught myself doing occasionally). And batteries were never batt-er-ies. They were "battries". "Wadda" was what came out of the faucet, and it still does at my house (my son constantly corrects me over this). People always thought my dad was from New York, but he wasn't. He was born in the North Beach area, and then moved to the Mission area (not sure what year), near 17th Street. He must have been in his 'teens then, because he used to tell stories of him and his friends using the cable car cables to pull their homemade go-carts up the hill when he was a kid. He said they got in lots of trouble for that. The cable car crews weren't too pleased by it. There are folks out there who maintain that there's no such thing as a San Francisco accent. I knew people who believed that, until they met my dad. As I said, I've been told I have an accent myself. And yes, I do like a cold glass of "wadda", and when I go to amusement parks, I still want to ride the "rolleycoasta". But I'm proud of my accent. It represents who I am and where I come from. I'm a 2nd- generation native San Franciscan.

-- Elaine Briggs (enterprise032@aol.com), September 28, 2003.

Per Nancy Olmsted in "Vanished Waters" Shit Creek was Mission Creek aka Channel Street. (page 52) Channel Street was once the busiest part of the waterfront, unloading hay, lumber, and bricks. Gas bubble broke the surface of the water and discolored the hulls of scow schooners and other boats tied up to unload cargo.

-- robert bardell (bbardell@pacbell.net), September 28, 2003.

Thanks to all of you who have posted responses, information and history on the greenspun community billboard.

In response to the orginal question about "Bleep" Creek, I would like to let it be know that during the last several years, we have created a funky little community website dedicated to Islais Creek: http://www.islaiscreek.org/

Furthermore, regarding Butchertown we have recently posted this url: http://www.islaiscreek.org/butchertownsanfrancisco.html

If any of you out there have any more history, resources, or personal accounts of the history of Islais Creek or Butchertown, I would be very grateful for your responses.

Thank you- David Erickson http://www.islaiscreek.org

-- David Erickson (zabudam@pacbell.net), October 30, 2003.

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