Eureka Valley....Any info on Eureka Valley/Castro in late 50's thru70's : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I am looking for any info on Eureka Valley/ Castro dist. from the late 50's thru the 70's. I grew up there from 1965 on, but I am looking for ANY info on who lived there, Was it primarily Itallian, Irish and Hispanic? Any help would be appreciated. When did the Gay community begin to take hold? (I was too young to notice the real changes) Thank You Ruby Pedersen

-- Ruby Pedersen (, October 16, 2001


Wow! Even I didn't know this website was up:

Eureka Valley was nearly all Irish at one time (lots of policemen who got more retirement money rehabbing and selling). The Mission District slopped over a little bit into it (for instance, the mother of one of the original Santana band members lived for decades just off Castro). As late as 1972 you could still get a house for under $120,000 .... probably waaaaay under since the neighborhood changed from block to block as to whether you wanted to be walking there at night.

The gay community became an economic force in the Castro in the early 70s, forming their own bank when downtown lenders refused to take them seriously.

Rosa (gimmee a Double Rainbow cone) Debonneheure

-- Rosa Debonneheure (, October 16, 2001.

KQED made a television series about san francisco neighborhoods, the castro being one of them. The following site might interest you:

-- Bob Verbrugge (, October 17, 2001.

I lived at 19th and Eureka in 1960 where I rented a room from a Muni motorman and his wife. It was a quiet, mostly blue-collar neighborhood, with a fair percentage of Irish, Italian, and Scandanavian families. I remember Castro Street had at least 3 banks: The B of A, a Hibernia, and a Crocker-Anglo. About the only happening thing was a 24 hour donut shop which attracted a few bikers. There was a very good Italian deli/ ravioli factory just around the corner from Castro where I could by things like fresh basil. Next door to my local laundromat was a bar called The Gem owned by a genial fellow named O'Connor or O'Connell. On Saturday they featured a free lunch along with the ballgames on tv. The one time I tried it they served canned tamales and beans. Just down the street was a generic looking storefront office with the sign on the window saying Eureka Valley Improvement Association. This was supposedly the office a group of local politicos known as the "Eureka Valley Boys". I guess at one time they could deliver the vote to Sunny Jim or the McDonough brothers. There was another bar up a bit on Castro that would open at 6am and when I walked by in the morning on my way to catch the streetcar I could see a row of middle aged working men with their black lunch boxes on the bar all having a shot-and-a-beer eye opener. Yes, time have changed.

-- Don Martinich (, October 17, 2001.

Ruby Check in Rand Robertson's new book titled "History Walks in San Francisco" - it was released this month. It features a section on Castro/Eureka in form of a walking tour. It is the first chapter.

Buy it at the Crissy Field Center (open Wed thru Sun, 9-5) at the Corner of Halleck and Mason Streets in the Presidio. Bought my copy there today!

Best, Wolfgang

-- Wolfgang Schubert (, October 21, 2001.

I grew uyp in Eureka Valley In the 50s thru the 70s. The area was predominately Irish. As was Noe Valley. The Gays started moving in during the late 60s. i read a reply to your request from someone who mentioned Santana. The person they are referring to was Albert Giaunquinto who was of Sicillian heritage and lived on my block. He was a self taught musician who learned the piano in a Tailor shop on 18th St. The area was predominately Catholic and most of us attended Most Holy Redeemer School on Diamond St. The press started to refer to Eureka Valley as the Castro and it caught on. I still refer to it as Eureka Valley. Eureka Valley was a tough Neighborhood with a lot of bars that always seemed to be full.However there was not a lot of crime there.

-- Dan Wynne (, March 26, 2002.

I grew up in the Eureka valley. I was born in 1978. I lived at 491 Castro from 1968 to 1978 abve the Castro Flower shop. We lived at 17th and Hartford from 1979 to 1989. My mom lived there until she died. I went to MOst Holy Redeemer School. I knew Albert Giancuinto and his mom, "Peg". I had one of my first jobs cleaning up the bingo hall at MHR and running errands for Joe Marian. I worked at Eureka Market and Rosi Deli on Castro Street. I have some fond memories of that place. I grew up in a Irish Maxican family. My mom's name was Mary Kenny. Everyone called me, "Tigger". I never forgave my sister, THerese for giving me that name. I remeber Ernie from Cliffs. Great memories.

-- Timothy J. Zuniga (, January 09, 2003.

no faggots better not have turned an italian neighboorhood into that shit. look at this sick world

-- sicilliano calabrese (ibk@loc.ia), September 01, 2003.

I lived in the Noe Vally District in the '60's. I was born in '61, and my family had been living at 547 Alvarado St. for years by then. Our block was between Castro and Noe streets. We moved from there in 1970. I went to St. Philip's School, and my family attended St. Philip's Catholic Church. My block seemed to be fairly ethnically diverse. Our next-door neighbors, the Murrays, were of Welsh descent. The DeGuzmans, who lived across the street, were Phillipinos (sic?), and an Italian family, the Blandinis, lived next to them (I think). The Machados, a Hawaiian family, lived up the street. My sister and I spent many a Saturday (or was it Sunday?) afternoon at Tina Machado's house, watching Shirley Temple Theater. At the corner of Castro and Alvarado was a store, run by an Israeli man whom we all knew as Jack. As a kid, I thought Jack was the handsomest man I ever saw (although this never reached the "crush" stage), and his wife the most beautiful lady. There was just something about them that fascinated me. We rarely saw Jack's wife, but I remember a phase of wanting to be like her. At the corner of Alvarado and Noe was an old store building that had been converted into a house. Dion Sabalvaro (a classmate of mine)lived there. In my childhood, the Noe Valley was mainly populated by hippies. Every Halloween, mother told us not to go to certain houses, where the inhabitants were known to be hippies. We usually obeyed, but there was one house in particular that we went to as many times as we could. The hippie lady who lived there made the absolute best popcorn balls (no drugs, much to my mother's surprise), and she never seemed to mind "repeat customers". We got in trouble every year for going there. And the next year we went back. The Gay community was just beginning to take root when my family moved in 1971 (but that wasn't why we moved). I have lots of memories of old Noe Valley. The main shopping area for us was 24th Street. You could get lots of goodies at the Glen 5 and 10. There was another "5 and 10 store" on the same block, but I forget it's name. I rarely went there. Fat Ron's Delicatessen was on the corner of 24th and Noe, and they sold some delicious (and huge) pink sugar cookies. My private shopping trips always ended with one of those cookies. Or two if I could afford it. Of course, my sister and I also went to Castro and Market when we had a bit more cash. This took extra money, because we had to ride the bus (the #24 Divisadero). These trips always included shopping at Cliff's Variety Store where we bought bus tickets (cost: 50 cents) which gave us 10 bus rides. We also got free book covers at the Hibernia Bank. We were always a bit wary of the hippies, being told that "hippies give you poison candy", but they also fascinated me. I loved their colorful clothes, the flowers in their hair, and the fact that all the women had long hair like mine. Well, once again I've posted a book here. Hope it wasn't boring! And I'd love to hear from anybody with similar memories. I've been looking for some of my old friends, neighbors, and St. Philip's classmates. If any are reading this, please email me!

-- Elaine Briggs (, September 28, 2003.

I am fourth generation San Franciscan, was born 1942 and grew up at 4635-18th street until I was five and then we moved upstairs to 4637- 18th Street. This location is one and a half blocks down from the intersection of 18th and Market.

Perhaps I could write a book about the subject of growing up in Eureka Valley. At present I am reading the book “Rancho San Miguel”, which Eureka Valley was a part of. Great book by the way!

I mentioned to my wife that in my old neighborhood (Eureka Valley) I could name 64 family names and we said hello to each other by name. The street I live on in Silicon Valley is very different – we know no one and nobody says hello. I have no idea how people treat each other in Eureka Valley these days. I hope they are still friendly.

Our neighborhood (18th Street about 1 ½ blocks in either direction) was primarily Irish Catholic, with five Italian families, one Mexican family, one Apache family, one Jewish family, two Austrian sisters and that is about it. I attended Most Holly Redeemer from Kindergarten through the third grade, and then transferred to Douglas Elementary on 19th and Diamond.

One of my friends, neighbors and schoolmates was clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, who lived on Casselli, about 1 ½ blocks from us. Richard and I made our musical “debut” on the same evening in the fourth grade, and played soccer. Richard’s dad was transferred to Ohio in 1957.

Concerning the “Gay Community”, there were one or two gay couples in the late 1950’s around Collingwood and 18th. By the early 1970’s a greater presence was seen throughout the entire neighborhood.

Next month my mother will be 89, and she remembers everything. With my mom’s memories and the stories my grandfather told, I can relate stories going back to about 1900.

The older you are the more memories you acquire.

We called Castro Street, between Market and 19th, the “Little Downtown”. You could purchase just about anything you wanted that was useful to a family or individual. I can remember many of the stores and people who owned them. Edna and Jerry's toy store was more fun than Toy's r Us, as an example.

Three years ago I returned for a visit and there was little left that I knew, but some things were the same. Rossi’s Deli was still there – I grew up next to Louisa who married Pete Rossi. Pete passed away many years ago they told me – and he was young. I liked Pete! The Castro Theater and Cliff’s were still open. I remember when Cliff’s was on the South side of Castro, before it moved around the early 1950’s, and the present location was the Bon Ami 5 and 10 cent store, up a few doors from where they were when I lived there. My mom remembers Cliff’s from the time when she was a girl. I think the grandson now runs the place.

It was a fun neighborhood to grow up in. We had three grocery stores within ½ block of our house, Charlie’s, Holsom Market and Friendly Market.

A neat thing about our block was you walked up 18th, pulled your coaster or wagon with you, and could ride down Danvers, Casselli, and then Clover. Never mind how steep 18th is in relation to the other named streets! The continuous ride was what counted! It is great to be young and have lots of energy!

I had better stop as I have not really started and may forget to cut this short.

-- Thomas Whiteley (, October 08, 2003.

I lived at 339 Diamond St. and attended MHR. I was actually in Al Gianquinto's class. I'm interested in exchanging anecdotes.

-- John Flynn (, November 12, 2003.

I just happen to come upon this website. I grew up at 118 Diamond St. and my Mom and Dad (Joe/Ruth Marion) ran the Bingo at Most Holy Redeemer. I have a Brother Joe 1952 and Michael 1956 and myself Diana 1958, I lived there from 1960 to 1981 when I got married. The neighborhood was mostly Irish and Italian. I hung out at the park until the (park punks) arrived and stayed away. That was in the early 70's and then the gays came in. I remember Cliff's, the ice cream store, Littlemans which is Cala Foods now and Claire and Dodi at the park. It was a great neighborhood where you could leave your door unlocked until times changed. I was good friends with Kelly Martinez her dad owned Pat's Liquors. I haven't seen a soul since I moved to Marin in 1981 and now once in a while I drive my daughter Victoria through the old neighborhood to show her where I grew up. I am so glad the Castro Theatre is still around...boy did I love to play on the upstairs furniture when I was a kid...If anyone from MHR class of 72 sees back...Diana Marion Giampaoli

-- Diana Marion Giampaoli (, January 26, 2004.


-- Diana Marion Giampaoli (, January 26, 2004.

I was born on 20th and Eureka, and then when I was 4 my parents bought the house at 329 Eureka St. I grew up in that house, and like most kids in the neighborhood, I went to Most Holy Redeemer. I graduated with the class of '75. I had the greatest childhood growing up in Eureka Valley. There was always a ton of kids to play with. We were mainly middle class Italian, Irish, Mexican, etc. I remember playing in the middle of 20th st, "spud" or some other game and having to stop everytime a car, or the 35 Eureka would go by. Most of the kids either lived on 20th between Eureka and Diamond, or would end up there. During the summer we would play outside until are fingers were blue (summers were always FREEEZING COLD!!!) .. We played all over that neighborhood, Rocky Mountain, Solari (SP) Hill, and of course Slide Park.. Eureka Valley playground was also the place to watch the twilight leagues play baseball, and basketball games between MHR and whoever.. of course the big game was the St.Brendan's , MHR tournament!!! I also was an altar boy at MHR, and got to work in the Bingo Hall on Sundays, selling "pull tabs".. I remember Mr. Marion would always pay us kids in silver dollars at the end of the day.. Usually 6 or 7.. and Mrs. Marion, would sneak us a couple of bucks more when Joe wasn't looking... My parents sold the house in 1987 and retired to Las Vegas. I live in Miami, but still come home from time to time.. Whenever I drive thru the old "hood" I have great memories of a great childhood! I hope the kids growing up there now have the same memories. Nothing beats growing up in San Francisco!!

-- Anthony Proietti (, December 18, 2004.

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