|Long since demolished Pergolas on Geneva Ave. at the border between the Excelsior and Crocker-Amazon Districts.|
I thought she was asking how much we'd charge in rent if we were landlords. Don't ask me why I thought this. Anyway, what she really meant was: Is the illegal unit that our landlord built in the back of the garage open for renting. How she knew about the illegal unit is beyond me.
As it turns out, she's been living with her friend in the house two houses down from mine for the past few weeks. She was evicted from her last place because of a disagreement with her landlord (I don't think this is legal, btw). The woman said she's been living in San Francisco since the 1950s and that she'd arrived here from Sicily when she was just 17 years old. I think it's amazing how her accent is still wonderfully pronounced. Her friend with an even thicker accent, a woman from Northern Italy, came out briefly to ask if she were coming back soon. I made a joke about how it's a wonder they get along considering that they are from opposite ends of the country. She said: 'Oh, no. We have known each other fifty years. We never fight.' I told her it was good they had each other. She then told me that she liked me. I shook her hand before watching her make her way back up the block to her friend's place. Just before going inside she turned around and waved at me. I waved back. It felt as if I were in another San Francisco. A place that was of my grandparent's time.
I may have mentioned in a previous post that this part of San Francisco, the Excelsior, was home to a large Italian immigrant group that held strong for much of the 20th century. My father's high school yearbook was positively filled with Italian surnames. The woman I chatted with and her friend, my neighbor, are remnants of that once robust community.
She (I neglected to ask her name) told me that after she'd lost her previous rental, she'd gone to stay with her brother in Pacifica, but that she didn't want to stay there because she 'don't like-a Pacifica'. I laughed and told her that I was from Pacifica. Her eyebrows raised and she pursed her lips.
Our district supervisor, Ahsha Safai, has supposedly pledged to help her find accommodation. I've emailed his office a few times about various things, nothing as dire as needing immediate housing, and have never received a response. One would hope that her case would receive better attention and it sounds as if she's at least had some contact from the man, so fingers are crossed.