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Storied: San Francisco

Dec 21, 2021

 Kim Shuck's parents met on Market Street in the late-1950s when her dad wrestled an ocelot away from its grips on her mom.

In this podcast, the San Francisco poet laureate emerita talks about the five generations of San Franciscans on her mom's side. Her dad joined the Navy partly to get out of Oklahoma. He was "career" for a while, but then left that to become an electronics engineer in Silicon Valley.

Her San Francisco grandparents (maternal) met at the Polish Hall in the Mission. Kim spent significant time with both sets of grandparents—both her in The City and in Oklahoma.

When she was young, Kim's mom started working as a special needs para at a school near their home. She was also a founder of Noe Valley Nursery School, one of the first such co-ops in The City and also where Kim went to nursery school. Kim tells stories of the no longer extant Noe Valley Street Fair, which was a fundraiser for the school.

Kim spent most of her years growing up in the Mission, Noe Valley, and the Castro. She lists the different public schools she went to. She reminisces about growing up in the Sixties and Seventies in San Francisco, with an emphasis on the way people used to paint houses in The City in vibrant color and with many hand-painted details (see our episode with Bob "Dr. Color" Buckter--Part 1 / Part 2)

We eventually get around to stories about outdoor music shows and her memories of seeing the San Francisco Mime Troupe when she was young. We also spend a good amount of time talking about her love of roller skating (see our podcasts last week with David Miles, Jr., of the Church of 8 Wheels—Part 1 / Part 2).

Ruth Asawa was a neighbor and (probably) Kim's first art teacher at Alvarado Elementary School. Later in her life, Kim did origami and became friends with Ruth again.

Like so many guests of this show, Kim went to college at SF State. She recounts all the academic and social movements that have origins at the school, including ethnic students, free speech, and the American Indian takeover of Alcatraz.

One theme Kim keeps coming back to is the cyclical nature of things, especially pertaining to creativity and art in San Francisco. "One step forward, one step back. We're cha-cha-ing."

We end Part 1 with Kim going into her Cherokee heritage and then more of the story of her decision to stay in town and go to college at SF State. Check back Thursday for Part 2 and our last podcast of 2021.

​We recorded this podcast at Kim's house in the Sunnyside in December 2021.

Photography by Michelle Kilfeather