“I Heard That” — Keep Hope for the 49ers

by Rochelle Metcalfe on December 19, 2007

BAH HUMBUG!!! The 49er football season was already down hill, when Quarterback Alex Smith put the death knell on what’s left of the 2007 season when he let it be known to the Press there was a rift between he and Head Coach Mike Nolan! Why burst our bubble?

Fans expressed high hopes at the beginning of the season that this would be a good year when Smith was signed! Not to be, but 49er faithful fans like myself continue to keep hope alive! Will quarterback Shaun Hill be the one to save an embarrassing season??? Definitely impressive last Saturday night at the ‘Stick when he lead the team victoriously over the Cincinnati Bengals!

Two more games left on the schedule; last home stand this Sunday evening; season closer December 30 in Cleveland against the Cleveland Browns. Hill seems to be the only bright spot for next season; perhaps after sitting on the bench for 6 years, it’s his time! Let us pray he’ll kick Smith to the curb!

The Last Prize!!! Last Wednesday night, stopped in 1300 on Fillmore during the cocktail hour, enjoyed camaraderie with an old friend – Rueben Nash, successful San Francisco businessman who operate several concessions at the San Francisco Airport.

So happens Gaynell Armstrong-McCurn, Project Manager, Western Addition A2, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) convened a meeting to discuss with interested parties the restoration and reuse of the old MUNI Substation in the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District, corner of Fillmore and Turk. Built in 1902, the Muni Substation is a Romanesque-style, two-story brick structure, designated a city landmark in 1979, survived the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes.

The building, a haven for pigeons that pilfered the property, has been an eyesore for over 20 years. Only within a year or two the exterior has been water washed, cleaned inside, boarded up, now up for bid!

“We need a developer for this very important site,” said Armstrong-McCurn to me over the phone prior to this deadline. “This is a key site because the Muni Substation will represent the gateway into the southern part of Fillmore, a catalyst to bring foot traffic to the businesses to this area of the Fillmore/Western Addition.” SFRA Deadline submission for bids extended to February 1, 2008.

Back in the mid-90s when discussion turned to the Fillmore Renaissance and the Muni Substation, one interested party, Joseph “Bunny” Simon, noted entrepreneur of several nightclubs – famed ‘Play Pen’ on Divisadero near McAllister, where then brash young attorney on the rise, Willie Brown Jr. launched his first political campaign in an unsuccessful run for the State Assembly seat, but won the second time around; “The Jack of Diamonds” in North Beach on Kearney, later changed to ‘Bunny Simon’s’ during the Topless craze, and ‘The Full Moon’ on upper Haight Street.

The astute Marin county businessman, now retired, proposed a combination outdoor Market Place, overhead retro roof, cocktail lounge and restaurant. Discouraged by Landmark committee refusal to allow his plan, and dealing with argumentative Western Addition Community leaders, found too much politicking, gave up the idea and dropped out of the process!

Currently in the year 2007, Several interested parties have set forth their proposals, one the Sepia Queen – fabulous Leola King (soon to celebrate her 80-plus birthday in January) let her intentions be known. The Queen, known for the legendary Blue Mirror nightclub, did not attend the meeting, but represented by her son Tony Taylor King; seems Mom was across the street at her main headquarters, interviewed by a national magazine! Also attending the meeting was SFRA Board President Francee Covington (shared with me her enthusiasm over 1300, and on several occasion have invited people for dinner).

The Holiday Sea Son in black clubs of old would be jumpin’ off the hook… juke box blaring with the Black Holiday anthem – ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ and my favorite ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’…two popular blues ballads recorded mid-40s by the late Blues crooner Charles Brown whose Christmas classics heard every yule.

White fans embraced and loved Brown, introduced by vocalist Bonnie Raitt in the late 80s, reviving his career after years of hard times; Blacks go back to the days Brown was traveling the chitlin’ circuit, segregation, when Brown recorded the 1946 hit ‘Driftin’ Blues,’ and so many songs that got us through Jim Crow, and those war years and beyond. Off the radar screen, but they never forgot ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ for every yuletide bars crowded with Black customers, the song was heard
many times.

Ah, those were good times, jobs were plentiful for blacks who earned high wages as Muni bus drivers, longshoremen, to name a few; no fear of crime, crack cocaine, and other violence. Only a handful of Black nightclub establishments left in the City – one in the Bayview – famous Sam Jordan’s on 3-street (Third Street) where Sam Jordan, known as Mayor of Butcher town, and his lady Ruth Jordan reined; both have passed but their siblings carry on!

Brown passed January 21, 1999 here in Oakland at Summit Hospital. This writer traveled to L.A. to cover his Homecoming Celebration at Angelus Mortuary, officiated by R&B and gospel singer Bishop Solomon Burke of The House of God for All People church, eulogized “The True American Legend.” Among those paying respect, included Brown’s family Zeta and Marcellus “David” Sykes; members of his band – guitarist Danny Caron and bassist Ruth Davies; Lil’ Richard, Ruth Brown, Ernie Andrews, Lil’ Jimmy Scott and Bonnie Raitt.

HEY, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE…LOOK FOR ME…I’LL BE THERE…

E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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