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Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay: From the Greatest to Latest

Catherine Bigelow

Within days, San Francisco and beyond mourned the loss of two of our finest citizens, card-carrying members of the Greatest Generation: John Moylan and former Secretary of State George Shultz.
Moylan was a pillar of the City’s Westside Irish community and founding member of the United Irish Cultural Center.

Born in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Moylan left his family farm and 11 siblings in 1950, journeying to Canada, where he learned the plastering trade. In 1951, he landed in SF and joined the Plasterers Local 66, which recently honored Moylan’s exemplary 70-year career.

Even at 92, Moylan remained an active participant in civic life, relishing his role as co-founder of the San Francisco–Cork Sister City Committee and a St. Patrick’s Day Parade grand marshal. Two weeks before his death, Mayor London Breed reappointed Moylan to the board of the Golden Gate Bridge District, where he’d served for 20 years. As board president, Moylan was instrumental in advocating for the bridge’s suicide barrier. He is also remembered for his dedication to his family: his wife, Phyllis, their seven children, 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Though Moylan and Shultz occupied opposite aisles of the political spectrum — Moylan, a dedicated Democrat; Shultz, a staunch Reagan-era Republican — both were mentors to immigrants and budding politicians. They also traveled in the same social circles, united by Shultz’s spouse, protocol chief Charlotte Shultz.

Born in Manhattan in 1920, George Pratt Shultz lived up to his initials: G.P.S. He traveled the world spreading diplomacy and geopolitical reforms as a presidential Cabinet appointee and former president of Bechtel.

Shultz’s towering brilliance, political acumen and academic knowledge remained sharp as a tack. But Shultz was also a gracious gentleman, natty dresser and delightful dinner partner. Though his 100th birthday celebration in December was a party of two, spent with Charlotte at their Stanford residence, he celebrated by gifting friends with a handwritten note, his latest book, A Hinge of History, and a challenge coin emblazoned with Shultz’s motto: “Trust Is the Coin of the Realm.”

In 2015, I wrote a 95th birthday tribute in the Chronicle, encapsulating Shultz’s full, well-lived life in five questions. High-minded thoughts on the state of our world aside, Shultz charmingly revealed his favorite pastime: “I love spending time with Charlotte!” I also wondered, if not world statesman, what career might Shultz have pursued: “I’d like to be a musician and play piano in a band.”

V(i)P digs: When this column drops, it may have already sold. But real estate whisperers are abuzz over a SoMa condo listing at 260 Clara Street. More specifically, Apt. 6. This chic “fun aunt” cave, owned by Kamala Harris, is where our new VP once hung her power pantsuits and pearls when she was fighting crime as the City’s district attorney — unlike that office’s current seat-warmer.

Purchased in 2004 by Harris for $489K, the condo — represented by Anne Herrera of Sotheby’s International Realty and exquisitely staged by designer Ken Fulk — will definitely attract more than its $799K asking price.

Dine11: Amid the death knell for pandemic-pummeled restaurants, a bright light beckons this month on Baker Street in Cow Hollow. The former Baker Street Bistro, founded by chef Jacques Manuera, was purchased by Laurent Monchicourt and Martin Sarrailh.

The menu, executed by Sarrailh, former executive chef at Le Garage, will retain its French-California bistro fare with a twist of Basque. “Even without a pandemic,” admits Monchicourt, “opening a restaurant in San Francisco is challenging and stressful.” And loyalists, stay calm: The duo, who hail from the west coast of France — Monchicourt, from Quimper; Sarrailh, from Bayonne — rechristened the bistro as Côte Ouest.

The Gallic history at Baker Street is strong: Monchicourt and Sarrailh bought the lease from chef Danel de Betelu, now manning his swanky Maison Danel patisserie on Polk Street. And Monchicourt is a veteran server-manager of numerous EssEff French restaurants: Chapeau!, L’Ardoise and even Baker Street Bistro. “It’s full circle, owning a place where I was a server,” he says. “I’ve always loved the ambience, outdoor patio and awesome location — the neighbors are excited, too, and very welcoming.”

SFUSD shenanigans: Weary of too many apps and password overwhelm, I’m done with downloads. But for the November 5 election, I googled Board of Education candidates to determine which were proponents of the purge to rename — aided by exhaustive Wikipedia “research” — 44 San Francisco public schools.

Meanwhile 57,000 students haven’t been inside a classroom for an entire year. This board is a notorious springboard for community activists and “former aides of,” launching themselves into higher government gigs — and fatter city pensions.

But I digress. Searching for candidates sincere about actual education, I tumbled down a Reddit rabbit hole, rewarded by laugh-out-loud threads: linechargell suggested that every name of SFUSD’s 125 schools be supplanted by New York’s system: PS1, PS2, etc. “Then, decades later, numbers are determined to cause bias. SF1 inherently causes its students to feel superior to students at SF2 because 1 is before 2.”

User szyy admitted Mayor Breed was growing on them: “First she called out the Board of Supervisors’ performative progressivism. Next she’s telling the school board to do their job instead of virtue signaling. By SF standards, she’s a Republican now.”

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