Celebrating 95 Years of SF history (Part 2)

The continuation of a Very Special Episode of Crosswalk Confidential celebrating the   history of woman who has lived here more than twice as long as I have. (And making a little history in our own way.) You can read Part 1 here.

Thanks to the thoughtful planning of the North Beach stops we weren’t really racing the clock to get to our next stop—the steps of City Hall. But as any one who drives in the city these days knows, traffic is just so much worse with more cars, more people and more and more construction. Even on a Sunday, travel along Van Ness was slow-going that it’s down to two lanes for the BRT construction.  But the weekend did allow for more rock star parking right out front of City Hall. Regular readers may remember that my first high school job brought me to City Hall  on a weekly basis, but that had been to secure signatures from judges, not impersonate them.

judges on steps of City Hall

The honorable judges approach the cable car.

For this next vignette, F. and I shed our green and red graduation robes and donned solemn black ones, along with wigs in the traditional British barrister style. The morning fog chill had vanished and the sun was in full force, tough going for bewigged judges in black garb. But we didn’t have long to wait before we spied the rolling cable car in the distance. We got into solemn character and proceeded down the steps. This time F. did the honors as the head judge in charge of reading the official honorary proclamation for her extensive work as an educator and administrator for the school system and for her support of the San Francisco opera and ballet. We presented the official honorary certificate to Fortunata  and then hustled off the bus giving solemn judge-like waves. As the bus pulled away, someone called out “We’ll see you later!” But this pair of quick-change artists were done for the day— though there was another scheduled stop at the former Seals Stadium site with two additional surprise guests. (You can watch the video for the full experience.)

Fortunata Oliva

Fortunata Oliva recounts how her school gave her a top-notch retirement party even though the district heads couldn’t be bothered.

While both F. and I were honored and elated to have been a part of Fortunata’s special celebration there was another element to the story that made this extra-special. The night before the mobile birthday celebration, I’d called my own aunt and told her about this unique and fun experience I’d be participating in. When I told her the name of C.’s great-aunt, she gasped “That was the name of my best friend in grade-school’s aunt!” After gathering more information, we confirmed, that yes, this was the same Fortunata Oliva, the aunt of my aunt’s best friend who she met when starting grade school at Convent of the Sacred Heart after moving to San Francisco. Forty-something years later I became friends with someone from the same family—thanks to shared interests in punk rock and krav maga. It gladdens my heart that there still enough of us born n’ raised in the 7×7  to make stories of surprising connection happen.


Judicial air guitaring on the steps of City Hall.



  1. Carmela Thompson · · Reply

    I love the pic of the air guitar wielding judges!

    1. Bill and Ted meets Monty Python!

  2. GUILTY!

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