Some backstories - Flight D (fourth from top)
"I put the names of four generations of my family on the steps--my kids and their partners, their kids, their mother and me, and our parents. And I was able to do this as a "tree", following the design of the Shooting Star element, with the great-grandparents on the leaves at the bottom of the stem, their mother and me on the stem, and our kids/partners/their kids on the petals of the flowers at the top.
It made me so happy to do this. As the song would have it (slightly altered), "I left our names in San Francisco."
Then I wanted to think about how to do it. Because Judy Goddess, my wife, was working on the project, I wanted to make a surprise donation and purchase of tiles when she was on duty, at a table set out one Saturday morning at the base of the steps. I also wanted to make the payment that way rather than just going online in order to encourage Judy and the others that the tabling was worthwhile and give them a record of success to point to.
And then there's the huge satisfaction of helping to make a dark and dreary place beautiful. The project and my donation worked for me on so many levels."
Editor: This element spans two flights (C & D), so the backstory is on both flights.
"Although we live in Oregon, we visit San Francisco twice each year for several weeks in the spring and a long week-end in the fall. We had seen the impressive 16th Avenue steps several years ago, and when we were at a Sunday Inner Sunset Farmers' Market where neighborhood organizers were promoting the Hidden Garden project and selling tiles, we decided we wanted to be connected with this awesome project. We eagerly awaited its completion, and last spring we found our tile! It was a surprise for our son and his wife and our two grandchildren, who now have a a tiny piece of their own in San Francisco to appreciate with each visit. Thank you so much for continuing to add imagination, creativity, and beauty to the world." (D37)
"The tile is for my mother (the children call her Meme) and her two San Francisco grandchildren. My mother is a very active grandparent and spends a lot of quality time with my children."
"I've been a San Franciscan for nearly 18 years and have lived on four different Avenues in the Inner Sunset during that time. I remember discovering the 16th Ave Tiled Steps during a walk and thinking how fantastic it was, one of the many treasures and charms of the neighborhood. When I later saw a flyer for the Hidden Garden Steps, I knew I wanted to be part of it! This tile commemorates a wonderful romance that began in 2013. J & E are our initials, and "right in time" is the name of a Lucinda Williams song included on a mix (entitled "Music is Love") that he made for me. Our tile also refers to our compatibility on every level, and how we met one another at the right time. I showed him the steps and surprised him with the tile as a gift on our first anniversary, and it's a pleasure having this celebration of our life together so artfully woven into the streets of the city we love!" (D38)
"Jorge Selaron, who as you probably know was the Chilean artist who created the Escadaria Selaron in Rio de Janeiro and is therefore the single reason that all of this has happened, so his is an important story to include. He died on the steps in January 2013 while we were in full spate on this, so I felt it was very important to honor him." (D38)
For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escadaria_Selarón
Editor: The "I" above is one of two artists who designed the steps and made the tiles.
"Meeting through Match.com, our lives changed forever. Moving into the Inner Sunset together and being married, we couldn't be happier. We use the numbers 333 following our names as a code for love. I love you --> 3. One day we were saying we loved each other so much. Now 333 symbolizes love love love! Because one 3 was not enough. Thanks to this wonderful mosaic, our love is now etched in stone in the neighborhood we adore."
"Many years ago I started selling real estate in SF and Golden Gate Heights was an area I found fascinating. Over the years my family and I have spent a lot of time in the neighborhood, so when the opportunity arrived to participate in this project and give back to the neighborhood, my family and I agreed this would be a wonderful way to support art and the community. Hidden Garden Steps is a wonderful gift to The City and it was an honor and a privilege to work with this fantastic group of people to help facilitate this amazing project." (D39)
Editor's Note: The following tiles are all members of the same Herzfeld family, so I decided to group them all together under the previous backstory.
Parents (D40) Alan (D41) son Laura (D42) married to Andrew Cromb (D43)
"It's simply to acknowledge and celebrate the two most important persons in my life, my wife Aileen and my daughter Maeve. Our tile motif reminds me of the hummingbirds in our garden that I see daily from our kitchen window and of course there is that lovely poem of Raymond Carver.
Suppose I say summer,
write the word 'hummingbird',
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much I love you.
P.S. If I am not mistaken I think our wee hummingbird is the only bird on the steps!" (D40)
"I chose this tile project to celebrate the lives of my daughter and her cousin who passed way too early. As a native San Franciscan I marvel at the grassroots beautification projects throughout the city and wanted to be part of one, the steps are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for making this memorial for Sierra and Francisco so special. Now, when family and friends visit from afar, they have a beautiful place to spend some time with the girls. Thanks again!" (D41)
"When we first moved to San Francisco, over thirty years ago, little knowing that we would fall in love with the city and raise our family here, we lived in the Sunset. Our tile is a small gesture of giving something back to the neighborhood."
"Our tile says "Khoa and Phuong 4-3-10" which signifies the day my husband and I got married. We chose to have a tile placed on the hidden steps because we love San Francisco and the community of people living there that have made a difference in our lives. It's where my husband went to medical school and completed his training at UCSF. It's where we spent the very first years of our marriage living happily in the Inner Sunset. It's where we met wonderful neighbors who became our lifelong friends and attended Bible Studies where we were blessed with a friendships that have touched our lives. Before my husband and I moved away to Southern California, I just wished we could have a tile so that we would feel that somewhere in San Francisco there's a way to feel that a part of us is still within this beautiful city. I sometimes tell people that I left my heart in San Francisco. However, it's wonderful to know that a part of us is sitting somewhere on a beautifully tiled stairway within the community that we once called home." (D41)
"I chose this tile inscription a few months before I graduated from UCSF Dental School. It was a way to celebrate that milestone in my career. Here's my connection to the steps: I love Turtle/Grandview Hill. I walk up there every week, rock climb at Rocky Outcrop park, and always take out of town visitors up. The new mosaic mural has become my regular ascent route!"
"We formed a very close friendship at the beginning of our legal and medical studies in London, having met through participation in student activism and campaigning for environmental justice and human rights. Well-known as a hub for liberal activism, San Francisco was always a city we wanted to travel to together. In 2012 we did so, and could not have received a better or friendlier welcome than that given to us by Tom, Liz and their resident 'hummers'. What better way to commemorate our amazing trip?" (D42)
"Our brother Manuel died of a Glioblastoma (malignant brain tumor) at the age of 58 on May 24, 2008. Our family immigrated from Panama and settled in San Francisco in 1958. We grew up in Noe Valley and then in the Sunset district. He went to school and graduated from Univ. of San Francisco. He then was accepted into UCSF medical school and became a well respected and loved resident, fellow and board certified anesthesiologist, who later practiced in his home town of Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. This area of San Francisco, where the steps are located, was our neighborhood where we grew up and we're proud that his name will be part of the legacy of this beautiful project and to memorialize and celebrate his life!" (D43)
"I met my husband in San Francisco. I flew out to begin our life together in San Francisco on Halloween night. The heart represents our love for each other."
Editor's Note: Marlene is one of the Early Christians (backstory on Flight A), and is a very close friend of the editor.
"There is a Navajo prayer:
In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully joyful birds.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
That is the prayer I have for my family, the Mows. That is the wish I have for all those who walk and for all those who cannot but wish that they can walk. Thank you." (D45)
"One of the artists, Colette Crutcher, is my mother's youngest sister. I have always admired her mosaics and her public art work. I was happy to have an opportunity to support this project. I was born in San Francisco as was my husband's grandmother. Neither my husband nor I grew up there but we both have family connections in the city and have spent a lot of time there over the years. I was living in Washington, DC and my husband was living at 15th & Dolores when we met on New Year's Eve 2005 in New York. I moved back to San Francisco so we could get to know each other better and we ended up getting married the following New Year's Eve. My husband's parents divide their time between San Francisco and elsewhere and they still own the house in Presidio Heights where my mother-in-law grew up. Her mother, who was born in the city, spent some of her early married life in exile in Pennsylvania but she always considered San Francisco to be the best city in the world. Our tiles are on the lizard's tail and are for these 3 couples: Hilary & Mike Benson, myself & my husband; Pam & David Benson, my husband's parents; Bernice & Donald Joseph, my husband's grandparents." (D45 & 46; E47)
Editor: The last tile is on Flight E, but I've grouped them here.
Editor: The elderly woman who donated this tile has died, but she really wanted Madalyn O'Hair's name on the steps. (D46)
This is taken from Wikipedia: Madalyn Murray O'Hair (April 13, 1919 – September 29, 1995) was an American atheist activist, founder of the American Atheists and its president from 1963 to 1986. She created the first issues of American Atheist Magazine. One of her sons, Jon Garth Murray, was the president of the organization from 1986 to 1995. She is best known for the lawsuit, which led to a Supreme Court ruling ending official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963. This came just one year after the Supreme Court prohibited officially sponsored prayer in schools in Engel v. Vitale. In 1995 she was kidnapped, murdered and mutilated, along with her son Jon Garth Murray and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair, by David Roland Waters, a paroled felon who used to work on the American Atheist Magazine.