Thursday, September 21, 2006

Making the Kansas Connection in SF

On the left, Shawnee Mission East ’69 graduate Don the Camera Guy Mayberger, on the right SM West ‘71’s Ron Hengelaar.  We came to see Ron’s incredible collection of San Francisco memorabilia at his giant old Victorian home on Fulton Avenue.  He lives at the top of it, with a stunning “round room” view of the city, which as he pointed out, was where you could have watched it all burn back in 1906.

Debris from the quake, old bricks and chains, and countless pieces of settlements dating back to the Gold Rush and Civil War days somehow find their way into Ron’s collection.  Then he puts them on his walls in assemblages, onto a huge tower in the yard, or in many cases, into the hundreds of one gallon olive and maraschino cherry jars that he brings home from his job as a waiter.  He makes headdresses for those jars, and then they take up residence in the attic or wherever he can find a place to store them.  Wow!

Ron’s an incredible fount of knowledge about this place (he has 3400 books on the city) and a fine photographer too.  We reminisced about his KU days and concerts in Volcker Park, then tried to leave without one of our tripods.  Ron may have been tempted to “preserve” it, but his good midwestern manners won out, and we left with all the gear we brought in.

After a few navigational mishaps, we found our way to Cayuga Park, a small greenspace on the city’s southern edge.  The BART  runs above one corner of it, and in the rest, a city worker named Demi Braceros has fashioned a whole ‘nother world of lush plantings, whimsical carvings he makes from downed trees, and jungle-like nature trails that wind in and around the perimeter.  He wanted to show people that good things can happen, and took it upon himself to make the park a showplace.  It shows!  We only wish that whatever strange electrical impulses were flying around down there would take a rest.  Our mikes were fritzing right and left, but Demi was a good sport, and let us try every trick we knew.  Finally, we decided that the pictures tell the tale pretty well.  Cayuga is a very cool place.

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