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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Our fall show is back! We’re bringing Muni Diaries Live back to the Rickshaw Stop in Hayes Valley. You’ll hear true and hilarious only-in-SF stories and experience the Muni Haiku Battle—where champion MC Allen steps back into the spotlight to defend his (inflatable) crown. Join us in celebrating all the hilarity, delight, and weirdness that happens on public transit in San Francisco.
Our stellar lineup:
Annette Mullaney is a standup comic based in San Francisco. She was named a “comic to catch” by the San Francisco Chronicle and has performed at the Portland Comedy Festival, Detroit Women of Comedy Festival, and the Out of Bounds Festival. Her comedy is self-deprecating, feminist, existentialist, smart, vulgar, and full of big words to prove she’s been to grad school.
George McCalmanis an artist and creative director based in San Francisco. Trained as a philosophy-focused fine artist at St John’s University, the Caribbean-born designer had a 14-year editorial magazine career before opening the doors of his creative branding studio, McCalman.Co, in 2011. In 2016, he resuscitated a dormant fine-art calling and began obsessively illustrating, dreaming ,and painting everything he saw. The monthly “Observed” column, which he writes, designs and illustrates, debuted the same year. Additionally, George teaches graphic design and illustration at California College of the Arts.
Jefferson Bergey is professional musician in Oakland. He is a regular performer in San Francisco’s Bawdy Storytelling for which he writes custom songs for creator and host—and beloved Muni Diaries Live alum—Dixie De La Tour. He’s performed at Punchline SF for SF Sketchfest and even some unlikely venues, such as the JCC of San Francisco. His music is regularly featured on the award-winning Bawdy Storytelling Podcast and has appeared on Kevin Allison’s wildly popular RISK! podcast.
Maureen Bogues is a writer, editor, speaker, dog nerd and Beethoven obsessive. She loves helping people find their creative voice, and writing plays. Her stories have been featured in Beyond Border Storytelling.
MC Allen, alongside his two children, has ridden every Muni route end to end in a single summer. His next Muni endeavor is writing a poem for every route. As our reigning haiku champion he is well on his way. You can find these every week in the Bay City Beacon.
Molly Martin is a longtime activist and Bernal Heights resident. She was an organizer of Occupy Bernal, which saved many homes in the neighborhood from foreclosure. Molly is also an activist for women in the trades, and is working on a book about the history of women construction workers in the Bay Area.
Wonder Dave is a writer, comedian and performer from Minneapolis, MN, now living in California. He has toured the country performing at poetry venues, schools, cabarets, science fiction conventions, burlesque shows, bowling alleys and independent wrestling shows. He has been a featured storyteller on the Risk podcast. Dave’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody , Lethe Press, and Sibling Rivalry Press.
Muni is the through line in this week’s podcast story from Simone Herko Felton, a senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco. Simone has lived here all her life and takes the 23-Monterey to go to school daily. She explains what it’s like to be a high school student in San Francisco taking this cross town bus, and why this particular line is symbolic of her multi-ethnic identity.
Listeners who went to high school in the city will especially appreciate Simone’s call out to how to pronounce “Lowell” in the appropriate San Francisco accent.
We’re always looking for great stories from San Franciscans! If you have a story to share on the podcast, pitch your story to us at email@example.com, and as always, add your own diary entry by tagging us @munidiaries on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
I can’t think of how many times I’ve thought of a witty comeback too late, especially when someone behaves badly in public. But have you ever imagined what it would be like if you actually said what you wanted to say in that moment? Storyteller Justina Wu shares a story of an encounter when she spoke her mind in the moment, with some surprising results.