The Green Room


Green Room in War Memorial Bldg.png
Green Room
War Memorial Bulding SF.png
War Memorial Building facing City Hall
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City Hall

The Green Room at the War Memorial Building in San Francisco,
January 13, 2019
My wife and I have done catering jobs in the Green Room in the War
Memorial Building in San Francisco many times over the years. The
last time was in 2005 I think.
Back then San Francisco was still broke. The tech revolution of
money hadn’t occurred and the War Memorial Building was a mess.
There were still huge cracks in the walls from the World Series
Earthquake of over a decade ago.
I’d drive the catering van down to San Francisco from Santa Rosa,
which took over an hour, but I could still park in the loading space
in front of the War Memorial Building on Van Ness Boulevard. The
City Hall was directly across the street.
Then we’d all unload the van onto carts and take them up to the
third floor and the Green Room where the event was to be held. It
was a pretty crappy room back then. The photo attached is new.
San Francisco has completely remodeled the War Memorial Building
since we worked there.
We took the elevator up to the third floor and unloaded our gear
into a narrow space to the south of the Green Room. There were still
olive drab green lockers from the Spanish American War in the
Philippines on the wall.
And at the end of the hallway, facing south, was a stained glass
window of a naked Filipina girl kneeling in front of a US Marine with
his rifle at the ready.
I’ve always regretted not taking a photo of this stained glass
window, as none exist nowadays as far as I know and of course the
window was put into the cellar after the remodeling of the building.
Isn’t is also odd that the Philippines, named after some Spanish king
has natives in it named “Filipinos”?
The “kitchen” of this Green Room was really bad. The hot water
barely dribbled out of the faucet, so to wash dishes we had to heat
up the water on the gas stove in big aluminum tubs.
It was a crappy job.
The balcony, which you can see in the photo; overlooked Van Ness
Blvd. and the City Hall. I remember one job when we looked across
the street and Mayor Gavin Newsom (who is now Governor of
California) was overseeing Gay marriages for all.
Gays and Lesbians were lined up & down Van Ness awaiting their
nuptial rites in the large City Hall Rotunda.
We did the usual catering duties.
One of the jobs we did there was for the “Little Sisters.” These were
well meaning white and asian girls who wanted to help out the
disadvantaged black women in their community.
The black matrons would dress up like an old 1950’s movie. They
wore the hats and jewelry (lots of brooches) and nice dresses.
And man, those big black women could eat.
“Where you goin’ with my plate you skinny white boy?!”
Oh, that was fun.
But there is more to the War Memorial Building in San Francisco.
Off the back, behind the Green Room there off the hallway is a huge
chamber of high backed chairs on a dais and other seats
surrounding it in a “U” shape. This is the Masonic chamber.
I spent half an hour in there one time trying to calm down our chef
who’d taken his anti-depressants and then drank a quart of cheap
vodka on the way down to the job. The chef damn near set the place
on fire.
An interesting evening.
What are those Masons up to?
Well, it’s all gone now. The mail lockers from the war in the
Philippines which killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos is long
forgotten. So is the stained glass window.
Nothing to see here.
The cracks from the earthquake have been erased. The Green Room
has been brought back to its old glory.
And that is how history disappears.
Tim McGraw

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