Heart of the City Archives

Conventional wisdom and the quest for "The Bruce"
by Hank Donat

"Less coverage of the conventions than Al Jeezera." That's how comedian Will Durst described the three major television networks' barely-there broadcasts of the Democratic Convention in Boston.

PBS aired the historic speeches of former President Bill Clinton, Senate candidate Barack Obama of Illinois, and of course Senator John Kerry. I was relieved that in them the party had found a palatable, non-shrill tone in which to cloak its arguments against the current administration. Pundits and pollsters have said that Bush bashing turns off voters. Personally, I always thought Howard Dean wasn't outraged enough, including in his infamous yelling speech earlier this year.

In 1990, the committee that runs the gay parade in San Francisco offered its members two choices for that year's theme: "Hand in Hand Together" or "In Your Face." They went with the nicer slogan and look how far gays have come.

But, no matter how hard you try, you can't serve all lords. A couple of weeks ago I lamented here that a Walgreen's now marks the spot where an art gallery used to be at the corner of Sutter and Powell streets. A lower Nob Hill resident wrote me to stick up for Walgreen's. "I get around with the help of a walker," she said, "and the Walgreen's that's three blocks away is too far." This reader got no argument from me!

San Franciscans are a famously sentimental lot. My mailbag frequently contains kind words and enthusiastic recommendations for local joints. These are the folks that warm my in-box between miscellaneous rebukes and out-of-town novelists looking for free research.

Rox Marie wondered whether I visit Quetzal on Polk near Bush. It's Rox's favorite coffeehouse in Polk Gulch and mine, too. Quetzal has the triple threat - delicious coffee, cheap internet time, and good art on the walls.

Brendan Jackson writes, "One of my local favs for years has been the Route 101 bar on Van Ness between Bush and Sutter. They have one of the best jukeboxes in the city - everything from Howlin' Wolf to Frank Sinatra to the Clash." Route 101 also has $2 hot dogs.

Others write with memories of favorite pit stops of the past. William Katz wanted to remind me of Frank's Extra Bar which closed in the 1980s. Katz says the bar, at Stockton Street and Columbus Avenue, was part of a vanishing scene in the City. He remembers "older Italian guys enjoying a smoke at the tables on the outdoor patio, young Chinese guys playing pool, younger Italians coming in to watch soccer on the tube."

Martina Klingenfuss remembers the Oasis nightclub at 11th & Folsom. "I was a regular at the Oasis during its heyday from 1988 to about 1991," says Klingenfuss. "My girlfriends and I used to dance on top of the pool on their see-through disco dance floor to Madonna, INXS, Alison Moyet, Duran Duran and all the best dance hits of the day until 4 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night. The roof would open up on warm nights for a really tropical summer experience in the heart of SF."

Jim Hanratty wrote with an update on one of the great athletic rivalries of San Francisco, the annual contest between Saint Ignatius College Preparatory and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory for the Bruce-Mahoney trophy, aka The Bruce.

The schools face off in basketball, football, and baseball in the quest for The Bruce. This year, St. Ignatius won the trophy for the sixth straight time, winning in football (28-14) and basketball (60-56). With two out of three in the bag for St. Ignatius, the baseball game was played as a formality. St. Ignatius has won the trophy 39 times; Sacred Heart 18 times.

The Bruce-Mahoney Trophy is named in honor of Bill Bruce, who graduated from St. Ignatius in 1935, and Jerry Mahoney, a 1944 graduate of Sacred Heart. Both men died in World War II.

At St. Ignatius, Bruce was student body president and a star of the football team. He joined the Navy at the start of the war and was killed in an airplane crash at the Naval Air Station at Pasco, Washington, in 1943.

Mahoney was a football and basketball star at Sacred Heart. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation and was aboard the U.S.S. Denny B. Plant when the ship was destroyed by a German submarine.

The Bruce recognizes the team spirit and good sportsmanship that have been passed down from generation to generation of Wildcats and Irish. The rivalry between the two schools is as vibrant today as it was in 1893, when it all started with a rugby game.

Hanratty is a native San Franciscan who grew up in Glen Park and attended Saint Ignatius in the Sunset.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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