One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!

Joanne Weir: Women love tequila, too.

By Joanne Weir

It all started several years ago when an invitation arrived in my mailbox on Pine Street beckoning me to the launch of a spiffy new tequila in a sexy square bottle.

It took place at Tommy’s, the well-known tequila bar out on Geary, and was mostly men who were sniffing and swirling their glasses of tequila. But the few women who were there were just as enthusiastic.

I discovered that night that women love tequila just as much as men. They go out with their girlfriends for margaritas, and they also savor tequila straight-up with meals, drink it slowly from a snifter and enjoy it mixed into new, innovative, seasonal cocktails. I was thrilled by the camaraderie among these women and pleased to learn that I wasn’t the only one out there who liked a beverage that had long been considered the domain of men.
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A lifetime of loving film

Global but local: film critic David Thomson on Fillmore. Photograph by Lucy Gray.

“What should I see?”

It’s the question the eminent film critic and historian David Thomson is asked most often — sometimes even as he walks his dog in Alta Plaza Park or runs errands on Fillmore Street.

Now, more than three decades after he published his landmark Biographical Dictionary of Film, Thomson has responded to the question comprehensively in a new book published in October 2008 titled Have You Seen…? Its subtitle bills it as “A personal introduction to 1,000 films, including masterpieces, oddities, guilty pleasures and classics (with just a few disasters).”
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A merry band of Food Runners

Photograph of Mary Risley by Lucy Gray


By Marjorie Leet Ford

Like Robin Hood and his band of merry men, Mary Risley and her crew of Food Runners take from those who have too much and give to those who don’t have enough.

It all started when she realized she had a problem at Tante Marie, her cooking school: Her student chefs couldn’t eat as much as they cooked. Tante Marie had too much food — really good food — while people all over San Francisco went hungry.

One day Risley found herself with five wedding cakes. She took them to Glide Memorial Church, and Rev. Cecil Williams nearly fainted. Another Sunday she took him seven boned ducks stuffed with veal pate.

Then she got the idea for Food Runners.
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Farewell to the queen of wash and fold

Barbara Conway: retiring after 40 years of laundry.


By H. Lynn Harrison

“Got some new drawers, I see — finally. I don’t see how you keep ’em up.”

“Barbara, didn’t I have a pair of green . . .”

“Threw ’em out. Totally shot. You’ve been needing new ones since God was a baby.”

Barbara Conway retired June 25, 2008, after 40 years of running a no-nonsense wash-and-fold laundry service at Fillmore and California, now the Wash ’n Royal, but for decades the Wash Palace. During all of those years, she found more than a few surprises in the wash — from Halloween novelties to sex toys — alongside more sedate bags of laundry, including mine.
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She made her mark

Marie Cleasby and her graffiti squad.

By Don Langley

While helping to form the Webster Street Historic District in the late ’70s,
Marie Cleasby insisted she wanted to paint her house purple.

Like her neighbors, she wanted to form the district as a hedge against further expansion of the California Pacific Medical Center, which abutted the back of her property. But she was adamant that the district’s restrictions not include color control. When the enabling legislation was passed by the Board of Supervisors in 1981, after an eight-year effort, it said nothing about color. Soon 2373 Washington Street was painted purple, with fuchsia trim.

Throughout many confrontations between neighbors and the hospital’s administrators, Marie was never bothered by the fact that her husband, Gil, was a prominent ophthalmologist affiliated with the hospital.
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‘A force of nature’

Actress Halle Berry was among those who honored Fillmore's Ruth Dewson.

Fillmore milliner Ruth Garland Dewson took a stroll down the red carpet in the heart of Hollywood on April 27, 2008, when she was honored for her ceaseless — and ultimately successful — efforts to free a woman imprisoned for more than two decades.

On an evening of Tinseltown glitter in the grand ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Dewson was honored by the Jenesse Center, an organization that helps women and children hurt by domestic violence.

Earlier this year, Dewson rallied public and political opinion to persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant parole to Flozelle Woodmore, a 39-year-old woman she’d never met who had spent more than half of her life in jail for killing an abusive boyfriend when she was 18. Woodmore had repeatedly been denied parole until Dewson took up her cause.

In presenting the award, state Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas — an ally in the fight to free Flozelle Woodmore — called Dewson “a change maker, a one-woman show and a force of nature.”

“People said to me, ‘You didn’t know Flozelle, how could you help her?’ ” Dewson told a sold-out audience that included actress Halle Berry, talk show host Jay Leno and singer Jennifer Hudson, as well as a contingent from the Fillmore. “I said to them: I know her and you know her. You see her in the eyes of your children and your grandchildren.”

Dewson, the proprietor of Mrs. Dewson’s Hats on Fillmore, also heads the Western Addition Foundation for Girls.

A family name fades away

For 67 years, Deovlet and Sons sold furniture at 1660 Pine Street.

By Joe Beyer

It won’t be long now before the fading neon sign proclaiming Deovlet and Sons Furniture on the shuttered storefront at 1660 Pine Street gives way to the wrecking ball and a pair of condominium towers begins to rise. But for 67 years, Deovlet and Sons — known as “the Friendly Furniture Folks” — served thousands of neighborhood residents from its one and only location between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street.
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