Some backstories - Flight G (third from bottom)
Editor: This element was created as a memorial for Gregory Seerke, by his widow, Dr. Bella Seerke. Many of his friends and relatives contributed to it.
"There are people who come in to your life and go without being noticed or leaving anything to remember them by. And then there are those who bring light to wherever they appear. Our friend Grisha was one of those people. Wherever he was, there was a feeling that suddenly, the sun shined brighter, the weather warmed up, and people became kinder. Grisha was the person who brought laughter and joy, light and warmth. He could easily talk to people of different intellectual levels and made them feel comfortable and at ease. He was both, smart and funny and it was so much fun to be around him and listen to his jokes. He welcomed people and made them feel at home with his incredible hospitality. Where was Grisha, there was a sun. The memory of Grisha will be with us forever." Vika Dostal & Emil Sadykhov (G88)
The Busy Bees element honors the Steps Planning Committee, that hard-working group who labored throughout the meetings on the first Saturday of each month for four years to bring the Hidden Garden Steps to completion. When you see him or her in the neighborhood or cleaning up in the garden easement or sweeping the steps, thank him or her for this beautiful public art, designed and made painstakingly by the two artists, Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. (G92-94)
"Greetings from the great past. I was born in 1951 and raised in SF. a Sunset girl - went to Lincoln High school. I lived most of my life on the top Hill /Quintara st. of Golden Gate Heights. first as a child and then after I inherited the home.When the first steps - ( my favorite!) the ones on 15th-16th facing the Ocean were created, I had 5 family tiles placed there - for my deceased Mom who died in her forties, father, brother, son and I. I developed a passion for Mosaics about 15 years ago . When the next set of stairs on Kirkham st ( Hidden Garden) were in progress - I worked on a few of the risers. I also decided to get my neighbor Victor, who has lived in Golden Gate Heights for over 40 years, a tile for his birthday. He is Italian and his nickname is "Wise Guy Vic". I retired and moved from San Francisco to Sunny San Diego in 2014. I love it here! but Of Course! my Heart and tiles will always remain in San Francisco." (G81)
"I live on 16th Avenue, between Judah and Kirkham and have enjoyed these steps for years. Now that they are tiled I feel like a work of art exists at the end of my block. I frequently walk up the steps and continue on to walk to the top of Grandview Park where I love to spend time. I feel very lucky to live near this neighborhood project. I am a retired hospice social worker and now do reiki and grief counseling. I have 5 children and 8 grandchildren and spend summers on Flathead Lake in Montana."
"I contributed to the Hidden Steps Project because I had worked on the 16th Ave. steps but could not afford to buy a tile at that time, so was excited to do it with the new stairway. I really enjoyed working on a community project and looked forward to seeing “my” tile.
I found it via your website but was disappointed to see how small and seemingly insignificant it was, in the whole scheme of the project. I would have liked a choice of some sort, although I understand that is not possible. I was and am not in a financial situation to afford a larger tile but was still hoping for something other than a small white flower. Perhaps it is those smaller, “seemingly” insignificant parts of life, which truly matter." (G82)
"The flowers celebrate the lives of Frank and Ellen Ventura who were my parents, born 1908 in Minnesota; they raised four children in Chicago area. Liz was my “big sister” an Air Force flight nurse during the Cuban missile crisis. Viola and Don Fredine, my paternal aunt and uncle, lived in San Carlos and were school teachers. I am Jacqueline Ventura and have resided on 5th Avenue near Kirkham for 30 plus years."
"I was born in San Francisco and grew up in a house near 19th Avenue and Noriega. During the years 1938--1946 I attended St. Anne's Grammar School. Sometimes I walked to school instead of taking a street car, with my route going up Noriega then along 16th Avenue to the staircase. In those days there were far fewer houses and some of the streets were not paved. Near Lomita, there was the site of a red rock quarry which I thought fascinating--a circular rim like the remains of a volcano and a moonscape of rocks within.
The stairs always seemed to be dank and overgrown. There were big banana slugs which I carefully avoided.My family moved away in 1946. I didn't pay much attention to the area until I bought a house at 16th Avenue and Noriega and I began walking the neighborhood again, though not often down the stairs. When the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps began, I helped with the fundraising and other support activities and, of course, bought a pair of tiles. They are stars which are near the top of the stairs, with the names of my husband Bacy and myself. A few months after the completion of the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, my husband passed away and I moved to Los Gatos. When I heard about the Hidden Garden project, I saw another opportunity to support a neighborhood art project and get a tiny bit of immortality. So again it's "Bacy and Rosemary forever"". (G82)
"The names are my husband and me. We first moved to the Bay Area and lived in San Francisco for only a year and a half... 30 years ago. We moved down the peninsula to be closer to our jobs. My husband had recently retired when we decided to sell our home and buy in San Francisco. While I was still working my husband would go out and explore the city. I came home one day to find him so excited about the tiled stairs he had found on Moraga. They quickly became a favorite of ours for exercise. When out walking one day we were approached about the steps project and couldn't wait to sign up for a tile. We are now both retired and love life in "the city." San Francisco is to be the last city we live in and now with the steps project, we feel we will leave a little part of ourselves behind." (G83)
"Plaque 83 commemorates a wonderful year in our lives spent in San Francisco during 1966-67. My husband,Bob, was doing his internship at the US Public Health Service Hospital in the Presidio. I was pregnant and had hoped to find a part time job as a substitute. But, pregnancy was a disqualifier for teachers in SFO back then, so I gratefully enjoyed many interesting adventures around the city, joyous and hilly bike rides, learning spinning and weaving and studying Chinese. Our first child, Ted, was born at Letterman Hospital in February 1967. My spinning wheel celebrated its 50th birthday in 2016 and our son will be 50 in Feb. 2017 and now lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Jen and their daughters, Jess, Becca and Belle (see Plaque H110)." (G83)
"Jim Gettys (12-30-51 to 10-5-12) lived in San Francisco nearly his whole life. He was a cab driver who knew every street in the city by heart. He loved music and sports, especially the Rolling Stones and bay area teams. His favorite place in San Francisco was Land's End. He is survived by two sons, Tim and Greg."
"Aaron & Ariana Bennett" are the names of our two older grandchildren (the third, Abigail, was born after the steps were done). I wanted to depict an anise swallowtail butterfly on their tile because it's a Bay Area native just like they are. They live in the East Bay with our son Reed, born & raised in San Francisco, and his wife Ilana, an East Bay native like the kids. We, the grandparents, still live in Potrero Hill, on the other side of SF from the steps. So my connection to the steps is not geographic. It's that Colette is a very dear friend of mine, and I wanted to support her gorgeous project. As a fellow artist I was honored to be invited by Colette and Aileen to create my own tile in their studio. Great fun!" (G85)
Ilan and Carwyn are the names of our sons. They were both born here in San Francisco, but we will be moving back to Maryland. We wanted to contribute to the tiled stairs because we love the idea and we live right across the street. We thought it would be nice to have their names on the stairs. When we return to SF for visits, we'll be able to take them to the stairs and see their names. We hope this will give them a concrete connection to the place of their birth.
"I used my name on the tile - I was the photographer for the Sunset Beacon when the original tile steps were built & covered the story 3 times for the newspaper. I always regretted not buying a tile when I saw how beautiful the steps turned out. I didn't want to miss my opportunity a second time, so I bought a tile on the Kirkham steps. It looks beautiful."
"My Aunt Linda Kaiser was loved by many. Friends and family. She was the oldest of 4 sisters and very popular and social. She was a caring loving devoted mom, grandma, sister, daughter, aunt and friend. When I was a little girl she would have me at her lake front home in the summer. She was a good cook and a hairdresser and even cut my hair. She would send me care packages every year growing up with hand me down clothes from my older cousin Lisa. When she had cancer we became closer, communicating regularly via email even though she was in Seattle and I in SF. Family was very important to her and she always had time to wish everyone happy birthday." (G93)
"We, Betsy & Ralph, have lived in SF since the early '70s and mostly in the Sunset. We have owned our home on the Great Highway since 1986. I have commuted to UCSF for years and so pass by the steps often and now that I am retired and go to Bija yoga 4X/ week , Kirkham is my favorite route. The pair of steps you and the other artist and crew have built in the area made me so proud to be part of the long effort to see its completion. Thank you for the beauty and creativity of the stairs."
"My mother, Adah Bakalinsky, is the author of San Francisco Stairway Walks. ... (There is a memorial tile for my father on the other [Moraga] tiled stairway). ... I am very proud of my mother. She has been an inspiration to me as to others in many ways. She didn't begin writing the book until she was in her 50s. She is now 91 and recently turned over the book to another writer.
This is to honor my mother and her contribution to San Francisco and its many stairways with her book, San Francisco Stairway Walks. After having a stairway named in her honor, I thought having a tile in her name was a perfect jewel of a gift." (G95)
"A group of my friends would meet after work once a month and go on stairway walks around San Francisco. Some are great when the sun is still out and other stairways are better when it is dark and foggy. We walked many of them over the course of a year. We would always end the walks with dinner at a restaurant we found on the way.
The Hidden Garden Steps project had been going for a while when one of the friends told me she was pregnant. I knew right away what I wanted to get her for her baby shower - a tile on the new stairway. The timing worked out just right. I bought the tile before she delivered her boy but had enough time after to get his name and birth date added. I hope it will be something he enjoys going to as he grows up here in San Francisco." (G96)
"This was my sister's tile: Niki and Tom, 1-11-13 the wedding day of my nephew & his wife Nicolette."
Editor: The sister in question is the sister of Colette Crutcher, one of the two artists who created the steps. She gave me the backstory.
"What a lovely idea. I lived in the Sunset for about 10 years, first in Outer and then Inner Sunset. From both apartments I loved to hike up the Moraga steps with my roommate or by myself on a regular basis. It was a place to check in with myself and get a new perspective on the city and on life. Whenever a friend visited from out of town, I took them there too. The collective "We (Heart) SF" is a simple statement. The "we" representing me and my roommates and friends who loved that hill and loved the view of SF that it shared with us...as well as the collective "we" of the people who came together to create the new magical Hidden Garden Steps. I have recently moved to another city, but part of my heart will forever be in San Francisco." (G101)