Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Castro, SF

Anyone who hasn’t yet seen the movie “Milk”, I highly recommend it.

It was 1981 when my boyfriend (promoted to "husband" now) and I moved to the border of the Castro and Mission districts, only 3 years after Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone’s assassination. It is a sunny part of the city (for those who knows the San Francisco weather patterns, sunny is real good), affordable neighborhood (our one bedroom flat was only $400 a month rent), and conveniently down Market Street from Downtown (only 3 subway stops for me to get to work).

On those rare warm nights, we could walk to Castro Street to get an ice-cream from Double Rainbow, which used to be located north of the Castro Theater. I considered the Castro as the safest neighborhood for me since I didn’t have to worry about being picked up. (Yes, I made sure that I clutched onto my boyfriend’s arm to clearly show that he was taken. Lol.) The Castro Theater (still in operation today) is a beautiful piece of art deco styled architecture (designed by Timothy L. Pflueger) and is a perfect example of the grand movie palaces built in the 1920s. We loved hearing the organists playing, live, on the Wurlitzer organ before the movies started. We enjoyed many old films there, including those with Betty Boop, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, and numerous art films. Today, they also include live performances. Read more about the Castro Theater

Another event we used to enjoy at the Castro was the Halloween street party. In the beginning years, it was a ton of fun to walk over there on Halloween night. I still remember one guy had a mask/make-up that looked like his companion bull dog. In terms of costumes, creativity abound. And of course, some said the best costume was the lack of one. Everyone was out having a great time, and the street was closed to traffic for the evening. In the recent years though, it had become too rowdy and the city decided to shut it down. There was an attempt to move the party to the parking lot of the ballpark, but hardly anyone showed up. I think someone missed the point here – once you move something out of context, it’s just not the same.
The movie “Milk” today brought back so many fond memories. There are so many things that we take for granted today that were the results of Harvey Milk’s struggles. I want to thank him, the Mayor of Castro Street, for standing up for the minority groups – the gays/lesbians, the Asians, the African-Americans, the seniors, and the handicapped. He helped make San Francisco a very tolerant city.