The 1930s and Our Little Town Called Parkside

by Mimi Couper Loupe
January 2013

WNP member Mimi Loupe is eighty-one years old, and grew up in one house in the Parkside District. She went to Parkside Grammar School, Aptos Jr. High, Lincoln High School, and graduated from San Francisco State. She has written before about the characters of the Parkside, and here she shares some memories of the years leading to World War II.

Class photo, (first grade?) for Parkside School, 1938. - Courtesy of Mimi Couper Loupe

In 1939-41 San Francisco was slowly coming out of the Depression. A few new faces were settling into our neighborhood. People from other states! You must keep in mind, the children of the Outside Lands in the 1930's were not as sophisticated as today's children. As children, we thought that anyone from anywhere except San Francisco was almost exotic. "You're from Cleveland, Ohio, how exciting! And you came all the way out here! Just imagine!" One of the newcomers in my class lived with her mother in an apartment over a store on 22nd Avenue and Vicente Street. Let me tell you, living with your mom in an apartment spelled glamour to me.

As I said, those of us born in the thirties were brought up in the Depression. We had few luxuries growing up and seldom traveled, and certainly not out of the state. Now don't start feeling sorry for us. We had great childhoods and everyone was in the same boat. We had a universal rule in those days. It was known as "come home from school, change into play clothes, and go outside." If there was anything a mother couldn't stand, it was a kid hanging around the house. There were so many things for us to do, all under the watchful eyes of the 23rd Avenue Police. Oh, you didn't know we had our own police force in the thirties? They were called M-O-T-H-E-R-S. Most women didn't work and they knew all and had eyes everywhere. Their meeting place was the Pinelake Market on Vicente Street. It was here most afternoons that they compared notes. They could be found as far away as the 26th Avenue park (Parkside Square) or the 19th Avenue park (Larsen Park) and as far away as Taraval Street, scanning the area with watchful eyes. They ruled the neighborhood!


Summer vacation matinee schedule for Parkside Theatre, 1962. - Courtesy of Joseph McInerney

One of the best days of the week for us was Saturday. Each Saturday my mother gave me 15 cents ( 10 cents for the matinee and 5 cents for candy), and I would head to the Parkside Theatre on Taraval for the matinee. It was here a whole new world opened up for me. We would see a cartoon, a newsreel, previews, a serial (Flash Gordon, and believe me you never met a villain like Ming the Merciless), a full-length movie and sometimes a double feature. I would sit there with my Jujubes hoping the day would never end. I can prove that Jujubes were my favorite candy. Come over any time and I'll show you a mouthful of teeth with gleaming crowns.

In the years 1939-41 many fathers worked six days a week. So that left only Sunday to cut the little strip of lawn out front and do the other husbandly chores. (That 's why a few had such spotty records at church attendance.) One Sunday morning in December my Dad and some of the other neighborhood men were outside cutting their lawns. I was stuck inside with a cold and could only watch out the living room window. A neighbor pulled up in his car, said a few words, and my father got in. He motioned to another neighbor to join them. They sat in the car and I could see no one was speaking. They were there for some time. Finally my father came up our steps, entered the house and said, "We were listening to the car radio and heard the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor this morning." I was 10 years old and my only thought was, "Where in the world is Pearl Harbor and why would the people there be bombed?"

The events of that day were to take a dramatic toll on the people of our little town called Parkside and of the whole nation. We all grew up that day and became aware that there was a much bigger world than ours and it wasn't always friendly.


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Page launched 3 January 2013.

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