“I suppose that after all this time it wouldn’t hurt to tell you a bit about My adventure up-country. I would have thought that story would have filtered back to you. Most things did, it seems.”
“I know a little and I’ve guessed at more but I’ve been waiting almost two decades for that story,” said Agnes. “Here’s a glass. Pour yourself some wine. It’s California chardonnay, not imported French but it’s nice. Sonoma County. That’s the up and coming wine region. Rivals France now.”
“I remember my mom and dad taking us on a tour of wine caves in that area when we lived in California.”
“You lived in California? You never told me that. Where?”
“You’re kidding. Tell me you’re kidding.”
“No, Really. I was born there. It was the low rent district then. It was what my dad could afford. He was no beatnik.”
“Ferlinghetti lived in Sausalito. We talk about it sometimes.”
“You talk to Ferlinghetti?”
“I’m a regular customer, I chat him up every time I go in. I live in Mill Valley now and I go to the city often.”
“No kidding? We left there when I was just a boy. My world was small and I don’t remember that much but I missed it after we’d gone.
“No kidding. And that’s the last time I’ll say that if you promise you won’t.
“OK I promise.”
“Well, for me it was a refuge from the growing insanity of San Francisco.”
“When did you move there?”
“Seventy nine. I didn’t want to leave really, but first it was the Jonestown mass suicide, all those people were from the Bay Area, then Dan White assassinated Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone and the whole gay community was up in arms. And the cops hated the gays and sided with Dan White. They’d always hated the Chinese and anybody who looked Asian and especially after the White Night riot that spring, I didn’t feel safe anymore. I was afraid the cops were going to kill somebody in the Castro on general principle. They did beat and arrest several men for “obstructing the sidewalk’ or so they claimed. It was like they had assumed a license to beat up anybody. So I left. Things have calmed down since but I’ve made a home in Marin County now.
“You said earlier you’d settled out in the Avenues. I assumed you meant north of Golden Gate Park, like The Richmond. Why would you feel threatened out there?”
“I had to leave everyday to go to work and to visit Father. It’s not like I lived in the Castro but the effects were felt like everywhere east of Seventh Avenue and all the way north to the Presidio, even Nob Hill.
“Oh, and for what it’s worth, Dan White was a Viet Nam vet.”
“Sixty eight, sixty nine. 101st Airborne.”
“I did not know that but then I wouldn’t have crossed paths with him.”