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Under the Chinaberry Tree

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Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
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Thursday, April 11
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Friday, April 12
Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

One of the benefits of being out of high school for a while is you get to go back to reunions. Our class is closer than ever and has get-togethers twice a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

At one of our reunions a couple of years ago I got re-acquainted with Ed Phillips. He's a city planner who lives in Oakland, California.

His hobby is historical architecture. When I told him I had a son in San Francisco, he said 'Call me sometime and I'll take you on a walking tour of some interesting residential neighborhoods.'

I called Ed a couple of times on various visits to see our son, but we never got to do the tour. After all, my son BZ and his wife Margaret have two little boys: 3-year-old Max and 4-month-old Aiden and they have their hands full. Before the youngsters came, we used to do all sorts of running around in the bay area, but we enjoy being with the babies more than we enjoy sightseeing.

In March Susan and I headed for the city by the bay. We took our 15-year-old grandson Jackson with us. Our daughter-in-law Margaret was going to be out of town for 3 days on a business trip and was taking Aiden with her (she's nursing), so we decided to take up Ed on his offer. We loaded everybody in BZ's van and headed for downtown San Francisco. We met Ed around 10 AM. It was a perfect day; warm, clear and sunny with practically no wind. He got in the van with us and we took off, Ed navigating and BZ driving.

Ed told BZ to go up a steep driveway that drivers would miss unless they were familiar with the territory. It led to an overlook with a fantastic view of the city and the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge looked stunning. Small sidewalks took people to homes tucked away in unique hideaways covered over with sculptured trees, bushes and ground covers. Ivy was everywhere.

Our second stop was near a restaurant in a castle-like building that offers diners a super view of the water. We parked and headed up small wooden staircases that took us uphill to Coit Tower. Walking up the steep stairs we passed flora that looked like a jungle. At a couple of landings, sidewalks appeared with street signs on them. These are real streets, but only foot traffic can get on them. There are street signs and fire hydrants, but no vehicles.

After climbing the steps to the base of Coit Tower, we took the elevator 21 stories to the top. The clear day gave us perfect 360-degree views of the beautiful city.

We toured some more neighborhoods with unique homes. Everywhere we went we saw people with notebooks and guide sheets taking architectural tours. We did see some interesting neighborhoods, which we certainly would have missed had Ed not been with us. We finished the tour with a visit to the de Young museum, a world-class museum that rivals any museum anywhere. Thanks, Ed

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