Kim Shuck's parents met on Market Street in the late-1950s when her dad wrestled an ocelot away from its grips on her mom.
In this podcast, the San Francisco poet laureate emerita talks about the five generations of San Franciscans on her mom's side. Her dad joined the Navy partly to get out of Oklahoma. He was "career" for a while, but then left that to become an electronics engineer in Silicon Valley.
Her San Francisco grandparents (maternal) met at the Polish Hall in the Mission. Kim spent significant time with both sets of grandparents—both her in The City and in Oklahoma.
When she was young, Kim's mom started working as a special needs para at a school near their home. She was also a founder of Noe Valley Nursery School, one of the first such co-ops in The City and also where Kim went to nursery school. Kim tells stories of the no longer extant Noe Valley Street Fair, which was a fundraiser for the school.
Kim spent most of her years growing up in the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Castro. She lists the different public schools she went to. She reminisces about growing up in the Sixties and Seventies in San Francisco, with an emphasis on the way people used to paint houses in The City in vibrant color and with many hand-painted details (see our episode with Bob "Dr. Color" Buckter)
We eventually get around to stories about outdoor music shows and her memories of seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe when she was young. We also spend a good amount of time talking about her love of roller skating (see our podcasts last week with David Miles, Jr., of the Church of 8 Wheels).
Ruth Asawa was a neighbor and (probably) Kim's first art teacher at Alvarado Elementary School. Later in her life, Kim did origami and became friends with Ruth again.
Like so many guests of this show, Kim went to college at SF State. She recounts all the academic and social movements that have origins at the school, including ethnic students, free speech, and the American Indian takeover of Alcatraz.
One theme Kim keeps coming back to is the cyclical nature of things, especially pertaining to creativity and art in San Francisco. "One step forward, one step back. We're cha-cha-ing."
We end Part 1 with Kim going into her Cherokee heritage and then more of the story of her decision to stay in town and go to college at SF State.
This podcast is almost totally about Shizue Seigel's ancestors.
In Part 1, the poet and author digs deep into her family's history, which goes back to Japan just two generations ago. Sakuichi Tsutsumi and Umematsu Yokote Tsutsumi were from Kyushu, a large island in the south of Japan. Irene Yoshiko Tsutsumi Saiki, Shizue's mom, was born in Hawaii. Her family moved there to work on sugar plantations, but the conditions were brutal and they weren't able to save money thanks to the sugar companies' "company store" operations. Also, conditions in the cane fields were dangerous. The family went back to Japan.
Sakuichi moved to San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California. He and his cousins bought some land and used their knowledge of irrigation to help them grow produce. Thanks to an oil boom in the area, the town of San Luis was growing and its population needed vegetables. Now successful, it was time to send for his wife back in Japan.
Shizue shares the incredible story of finding the tiny mountain village and home where Sakuichi's family lived. It's one of those "you have to hear to believe" tales.
Shizue's mom, Irene, was born in 1920. Shizue shares many stories of her mother's family and the Japanese community in and around San Luis Obispo where she mostly grew up, notably before World War II.
Her dad's family moved from Hiroshima to Hawaii with his two older brothers. Life was tough there for them as well, and so it was decided that her grandfather, Yasaburo, would go ahead to California while her grandmother, Shige Matsuoka, took their children back to Japan. Shige waited for two years with no word back from the US. She left her two kids with in-laws and decided to come over to track her husband down. Her journey east is another amazing tale you just have to hear.
Yeva Johnson was born in Detroit by necessity.
In Part 1, we welcome Yeva back to the show. We first met her back in 2018 at Working With Death, the show we did that year with Reimagine End of Life.
Her family moved from Michigan to Washington, DC, when Yeva was young. She often joined her siblings and parents at various marches in the capital city—for the ERA, peace marches, etc.
As a student, Yeva liked to read. She talks about going to DC museums and the Library of Congress ("They had every book—almost!") when she was young. Her parents moved her to a new school, and so she had to adjust to a new environment and make new friends.
Music has always been a big part of Yeva's life. She has been playing the piano since she was five and the flute since she was in fourth grade. When she was young, she went to several jazz festivals in the DC area with her mom. She kept playing flute throughout her time in school and in fact, she still plays today.
She went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she immediately got into their medical program. In her third year of college, she spent time in Brazil, which we wrap this episode with.
Alan Kaufman is lucky to be alive.
In Part 1, the writer and poet traces his lineage back to his parents, who met in New York in the 1940s. His dad was a Jewish gangster, as Alan describes it, and his mom was a French Jewish Holocaust survivor. Here is the card that the French government issued, verifying his mother as a Holocaust survivor:
Alan details a trip to Europe he took in 2014. His hosts in Zurich drove him to the mountains in Northern Italy where his mother and grandmother hid during World War II.
He fast-forwards to his parents' meeting and starting a family in the Bronx. When he was a teenager, he picked up a copy of On the Road, and the book ended up inspiring his move out west.
Poet Tongo Eisen-Martin was born into a revolutionary home.
Tongo's parents met in Chicago but moved to San Francisco soon after. He was born and raised in an apartment at 25th and Valencia, part of a communal environment that taught him to question and analyze institutions from a young age.
He got started with poetry in elementary school doing a rap for Jesse Jackson when Jackson ran for president in 1988 (Tongo was 8 at the time).
Tongo started seeing poetry all around The City and the Bay Area before heading to New York City for college, where he soon discovered Nuyorican Poets Cafe. He ended up working in arts-based education with imprisoned youth at Rikers Island before returning to San Francisco to teach chronically truant kids through a YMCA program.
Josiah Luis Alderete's poetry speaks for a people devastated by gentrification and colonization.
In Part 1, Josiah traces his life back to his parents' union at a club in North Beach roughly 50 years ago. He moved around the Bay Area a bit, from various spots in the Mission to Marin and back. He tells stories from the back room at Cafe Babar, including his first time to read poetry in front of people, and the connections he made as a result. Josiah reflects on how he finds representation and expression in poetry. He and other poets formed a group called Molotov Mouths that toured the country doing readings, which he'll talk more about in Part 2.
Josiah ends this podcast describing the world of artists in the Mission in the late-'80s and early-'90s and the influence that Bucky Sinister had on him.
Poet, activist, and scholar Thea Matthews grew up in the Excelsior, which to this day is still a largely ungentrified, working-class neighborhood in San Francisco.
In Part 1, Thea talks about growing up as a Black/Mexican/Indigenous kid with a single mom in San Francisco in the 1990s. Most of her childhood experiences with her Blackness were negative, but they later formed a backdrop to her embracing that aspect of her life. Her views of the city, in all its complexity, inspire a lot of her poetry to this day.
Toward the middle of the podcast, Thea reads her poem "St. Francis."
She ends Part 1 talking about embracing her Blackness and drawing strength from it.
Please visit Thea's website to learn more.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
When Cassandra Dallett moved to San Francisco in the mid-1980s, she hit the ground running ...
Welcome to Season 3 of Storied: San Francisco! It's good to be back at it, capturing the spirit of the people still here making this city one hell of a special place. Cassandra is the perfect person to get us started.
In Part 1, Cassandra talks about her early life in New England and what drew here to San Francisco as a teenager. She takes us through adventures in a flat at Haight and Fillmore that sounds like something right out of Tales of the City. She started going to shows all over town, but the Mab in North Beach had the strongest attraction for her and her young punk rocker friends.
Today, Cassandra lives in Oakland and is an award-nominated poet with her own podcast and book club. She'll be reading her poetry live tonight at our Season 3 kickoff event--Love Letters to the City.
Film photography by Michelle Kilfeather
K.R. Morrison moved to San Francisco in 1997. In Part 1, she talks about the differences between people like her who came here in the late-'90s and those who've come over the past several years. She also describes what it was that drew her here and what's kept her calling San Francisco home for more than 20 years.