San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Proclaimed, Saturday, March 31, 2012, LIONEL HORNSBY DAY in San Francisco! WOW! What a marvelous surprise when read by CAROL TATUM at The FRIENDS of Lionel Hornsby Celebration held at Sinbad Restaurant on the Embarcadero! Cheers spread among the guests - a surprised gleam in the eyes of the beloved bartender, seated with his proud sons - CHRIS and KIRK HORNSBY. When standing at the mike to receive the acknowledgment, Hornsby expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of love given him that evening.
You ask, WHO is Lionel Hornsby? A living legend! A man, who during his professional career as a bartender during the heydays of the Divisadero and Haight Street years, 60’s and 70’s especially, worked many Black owned clubs that have bit the dust. Notably, The Play Pen, the Halfnote, Sugar Hill, Full Moon Saloon, Anxious Asp, Sportsmen. The Proclamation highlighted his career, but also giving of himself to many charitable works within the San Francisco community.
Hornsby’s last gig, restaurant/bar manager for Castagnola’s Restaurant at Fisherman wharf, where he retired September 18, 2003. While employed, involved with owner, former U.S. Army General ANDREW LOLLI, in his pursuit to get more cemetery plots in San Francisco National Cemetery at Presidio, so more veterans and San Franciscans could be buried there. And where rites were held for him some years ago.
Hornsby, a man who gave beyond his profession to serve his community of San Francisco in volunteering to help others! In particular, JEAN COSBY, Office Manager Seniors Center Program, at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, in fundraising efforts, and FAYE D’ALESSIO, Founder/President Hear Me and Company, work with the hearing impaired. Both ladies expressed “Whenever called upon, he’s there!”
They praised Hornsby’s unselfish willingness to help others has won him countless awards. And The Bay Area Blues Society, in 2008, awarded him “Bartender of the Year” for his dedication and expertise enhancing the field of bartender All reflected in the Proclamation.
Ms. Cosby and D’Alessio coordinated the Friendship Celebration to show their appreciation, called together a core group of those who have known Hornsby for years, planned, along with a committee, that included: Tatum, legendary bartender DAVID GUNTER (mentored Hornsby - taught him the art of bartending), Lil’ ALICE KEATON ( waitress at the Half Note), Rudy Smith.
This writer knows Hornsby well, fondly recall those days of the Half Note where I first met him. He’s a SWELL GUY! Pleased to attend the wonderful party, that saw a gathering of loved ones and friends who have remained friends through the years with the “People’s Bartender” as he’s lovingly called.
Ah, the swinging people were there at the early evening soiree which started about 4 p.m. included, Hornsby’s former bosses - BUNNIE SIMON, and his wife Ann, owner of The Anxious Asp, and several other clubs ... HERMAN WARREN, The Half Note and Sugar Hill, flew up from L.A.; also former club owners - VELMA LANDERS of Velma’s (bit the dust last year); MINNIE BAKER of famed MINNIE’S CAN-DO when on Fillmore, joined by her son Aaron Dunn; BETTYE BURLESON, owned a Bar on Bayview’s Third Street.
SADLY, BILL WILLIAMSON (Half Note bartender fame) passed several weeks after attending the affair; award-winning photographer JIM DENNIS bartended at the Halfnote, but went on to become a STAR photographer; that evening busy taking pictures - shared the photo of Hornsby seen in this column! Thank You!
Hornsby’s close POSSE - among them, Lady Bealo, Laura Mason, Elaine Johnson, Abbie Malone, Cookie, Peter Bulkley, Phil Marks, Bernard and Ruth Poole.
As I expressed on the mike, its wonderful to receive your flowers while one can smell them. Lionel received almost 200 blossoms - a splendid rainbow bouquet! He shared with me, and I’m sure with others - he has the “BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD”!
HEY, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE ... LOOK FOR ME ... I’LL BE THERE ...
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