The Presidio Brat

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Mysterious Building 1331

One of the best things about the Presidio is that it has all of these secret places. Just recently, my daughter and I went walking around Fort Scott, and we came across a stone trail that led into a section of the woods that I had not only never seen before, but could have sworn was supposed to be a residential neighborhood where I used to babysit. Not so. The trail led down to a hidden pair of tennis courts and a small Spanish-style building that seemed to announce itself as a country club, sans placard. 

It was exciting to discover a whole "missing" section on the map of my mind. I conceive of the Presidio like some people understand a messy desk: you know exactly where everything is. There's no organization, but you remember it by feeling. And then you lose things. But this experience of discovering something that was buried - and was right under my nose - is one of the most scrumptious feelings in the world. 

The "country club" is Building 1331. I am still trying to find out more about its history. In the search I came across these amazing photos by Charity Vargas. Click here to see her version of Bldg. 1331. The lighting, and the "shack"-like feel of the building in her photo make me think of the Wizard of Oz.

According to a Presidio historian whom she interviewed, the stone terraces leading down to the tennis center were built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Bratness

I'm a multiple kind of brat. Army brat. Spoiled brat. Artistic brat. Bratwurst. The term "army brat" has always implied somehow that I'm an orphan who was raised by the military. And Wikipedia agrees. In fact, I found their description so amazing that I'm posting it here:
"Although the term is used in other English-speaking countries, it is exclusively in the United States that this term is ascribed to a collectively identifiable demographic (with extensive psychological research done on the group by U.S. Defense Department). Accordingly, this group is shaped by frequent moves, absence of a parent, authoritarian family dynamics, strong patriarchal authority, threat of parental loss in war, and a militarized family unit. While non-military families share many of these same attributes, military culture is unique due to the tightly-knit communities that perceive these traits as normal....

As adults, military brats can share many of the same positive and negative traits developed from their mobile childhoods. Having had the opportunity to live around the world, military brats can have a breadth of experiences unmatched by most teenagers. Regardless of race, religion, nationality, or gender, brats might identify more with other highly mobile children than with non-mobile ones. Some can struggle to develop and maintain deep, lasting relationships, and feel like outsiders to U.S. civilian culture. Their transitory lifestyle can hinder potential for constructing concrete relationships with people and developing emotional attachments to specific places, which may later develop into psychologically developmental disorders (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, etc.) But most assimilate quicky and well as they have to do so with each move."
So...I feel as if my soul has been unveiled and seized by a bunch of greedy, academic hands, but otherwise, how interesting.

I did not know, for example, that extensive research was done on my "demographic." Or that the rest of the world does not perceive "authoritarian family dynamics" as normal. And that sentence about my "transitory lifestyle" hindering the development of "emotional attachment to specific places" ... uh, well ... I'm attached to the Presidio.

Wiki also has a list of famous fictional military brats. Get out! Seriously, Lee Adama's on the list, and Kara Thrace and Dana Scully. (Fabu-LOUS!) We are in good company.

For those who want to take this a step further, check out this site where you, military brats, can register yourself and connect to other, long-lost friends. It doesn't matter how old you are! Although I think it would matter if you were fictional.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The old Presidio PSHS

Actually, we used to call it DLI, but was also a Public Health Service Hospital. I drive past this monstrous building a few times a week, and I've been dying to go inside for a year now, but they've got the whole thing chained up and a very bored-looking security guard constantly standing watch out front. 

Imagine then my delight when I found this site on Flickr. It's the most incredibly awesome collection of photos of the PHSH you've ever seen! Tristan Savatier, you rock. I, too, wonder if the Trust shouldn't get in trouble for destroying so much local art? 

Meanwhile, the old hospital is spooky. 500 merchant seamen are buried in back, their graves asphalted over. 

What happened to the R2-D2 mailbox?

Did someone steal it? Did George take it back?

For those who don't know, this charming variation on the boring blue mailbox was established in front of the Lombard Gate, at the corner of Lombard and Lyon, and just behind the beautiful Letterman Digital Arts Center. There he sat, dear R2, until...?

I have to admit, I really wanted to mail my stuff in R2, but I was totally afraid that someone would nab the whole thing and my bills would never get paid. And you know how life sucks when that happens. 

So if someone did nab it, I want you to know: it's just not in the spirit of R2 to lose a bunch of mail. R2 is the most dependable of characters, ever, and if you respect that, then put it back.