The city gardener’s family shares the tale of the AIDS Memorial Grove

Before the area was named the AIDS Memorial Grove in the 1990’s, San Franciscans knew the wooded grove as DeLaveaga Dell. To Leef Smith, the area held special memories because his father was a city gardener who took care of the city’s parks. In today’s San Francisco Diaries podcast episode, Leef shares his childhood memories of growing up in San Francisco as the family of a city gardener, and how his childhood and this beautiful garden change when the AIDS crisis hit San Francisco.

Leef spent his childhood in DeLaveaga Dell playing with other children, wearing his mom’s homemade costumes and celebrating birthdays and other occasions there. As he was coming of age during a tumultuous in San Francisco, he recalls how a teacher came out to his class, and how DeLaveaga Dell became a symbol of the times to come.

Listen to Leef’s story here:

Leef kindly shared some of his childhood photos from De Laveaga Dell with us. Do you have stories of San Francisco during this time period? We want to know! Share your stories with us at muni.diarie.sf@gmail.com.

Want to hear more stories like this live? We are having two events this fall: a live podcast recording at the Betabrand Podcast Theater on Thursday, Oct. 3, and our Muni Diaries Live fall show at Rickshaw Stop on Saturday, Nov. 2. Tickets are on sale now!

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