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Brautigan’s library finds a home

The Presidio Branch Library, now under renovation.

The Presidio Branch Library on Sacramento Street, now undergoing renovation, became legendary in literary circles after author Richard Brautigan used it as the setting for his imaginary library of unpublished manuscripts in the novel, The Abortion.

In Brautigan’s novel, published in 1970, the library was always open for authors to personally deposit their manuscripts. Through the years, quite a few writers took the story literally and submitted manuscripts or asked if the library really existed.

The Presidio library maintained a small display about Brautigan’s novel, but never actually accepted manuscripts. But in 1990 one of the author’s fans opened the Brautigan Library in Burlington, Vermont, and accepted several hundred manuscripts. That arrangement ended in 2005 when negotiations were announced to bring the manuscripts to the Presidio Branch Library. But it never happened.

Now the manuscripts have found a new home. The Brautigan Library will become a permanent collection in the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington. Brautigan was a Washington native.

Local aficionados, including library volunteer Marcia Popper, continue to push for an expanded display about the Brautigan connection when the renovated Presidio Branch Library reopens in late 2011.

NY Times: A homecoming for Richard Brautigan

Celebrating 70 years together

The couple operated Stewart's Market at 2498 Sutter.

A taste of the old Fillmore will be on display today at a special celebration being held at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church honoring local residents Norman and Mable Stewart on their 70th anniversary.

“We are so proud of their accomplishments in business and marriage and we want to share it with everyone,” says granddaughter Anassa “Kandee” Stewart, who helped organize a lunch to honor the couple after the Sunday morning service at Jones Memorial. The Stewarts have been members of the church for more than 55 years.

They were married in 1940 in Texarkana, Arkansas, where they ran a grocery, cafe and service station. After they moved to San Francisco, they owned and operated a neighborhood market for more than 30 years. Although they retired in 1976, Stewart’s Market at 2498 Sutter Street still bears their name.

When films were modern art

By Jerome Tarshis

By way of calling public attention to its 75th anniversary this year, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is making a major advertising push all over town. The lion’s share of advertising mentions “The Anniversary Show,” a survey of seven and a half decades of painting, sculpture, and photography in the museum’s permanent collection. Almost lost in the hoopla is the museum’s recognition of its on-again, off-again commitment to having a film program, which included an early experimental filmmaker from the neighborhood.
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Uncovering a red brick beauty

At Pine and Steiner, the new home of the California Pacific Medical Center Foundation.

After a year behind scaffolding and decades under paint, the red brick beauty of a building at Steiner and Pine was unveiled Wednesday afternoon when the scaffolding came down.

Inside it houses the California Pacific Medical Center Foundation. But it’s the outside that commands attention, now returned to its original appearance in 1897 when the building was built for the telephone company. It’s been sitting empty for years, and at one point hospital leaders considered selling it to nearby St. Dominic’s Church. Instead they decided to create a home for the foundation and other administrative offices. When rebuilding began early last year, it was unclear how extensive the restoration would be, and the plans assumed the brick building would be painted once again.

“It was a good surprise,” says Eric Stein, the hospital’s director of space and property management. “It’s beautiful brick. It was meant to be exposed.”

At Vivande’s auction, timeless treasures

At auction: Vivande's equipment and furnishings.

At 9 this morning, Vivande opened its doors to the public for the first time in three weeks. At 11, an auctioneer began selling the furnishings and equipment.

Most of the two dozen people milling around seemed to be dealers in used restaurant supplies, although there were a few neighbors, too. Back in the kitchen was owner Carlo Middione, who had a story to tell about nearly everything he’d amassed during 29 years in business.

Carlo Middione at the auction.

Over his shoulder was a cello, lot number 107. It was a prop at a party he catered honoring the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He’d baked 800 sugar cookies shaped like cellos — which he decided must have strings piped on. “Not one string, but four,” he recalled, shaking his head. “After about 100, I wondered, ‘Whose idea was this anyway?’ ”

There was a huge whisk leaning against the brick wall. “That’s a damn good whisk,” Carlo said. It came from Paoli’s at Montgomery and Bush and was used for stirring a huge pot of polenta. A neighbor mused: “Now we won’t have anyone who likes to ‘stir shit the Sicilian way,’ as Carlo always said.”

Three hours later nearly everything had sold. Some of the choicest items — including the big whisk and the lighted cafe sign in the front window — went to Joan O’Connor, proprietor of Timeless Treasures on Sutter Street.

Stanford medical school started here

Cooper Medical College, at Sacramento and Webster,
became Stanford's medical school in 1908.

In 1881, San Franciscans watched the construction of the imposing red brick and stone building at the corner of Sacramento and Webster Streets, but none knew the purpose of the five-story building going up in one of the most fashionable areas of the city.
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