Third Street Stroll …

by Rochelle Metcalfe

Marvin Robinson, Dollar Store and More, 4900 Third St. 112213 by Rochelle Metcalfe, webHO! HO! HO! The holiday season is upon us! Times are good. Folks crowding the malls, spending cash or charging their purchases; some buying on the layaway plan! Where are WE shopping? Are dollars channeled BACK to BLACK businesses on THIRD Street!??? Tough question!

I travel through the corridor every day, not impressed at the options where I can spend my money. There was a time when there were a variety of businesses on 3-street that included LeNora Riley’s creative fashions – many a day bought fabulous outfits to wear during a time I was booking live music at JACK’S, the legendary Fillmore club. LeNORA’s designs were featured in the traveling EBONY fashion shows.

Remember MRS. HUDSON’s florist shop – ah, the lady sold some beautiful flowers for all occasions; after years of running a successful business, closed! There was a furniture store, shoe repair shop, clothing stores – 3-street flourished with pride!

Those days are GONE! There’s a need for BLACK entrepreneurs to open up businesses on the street – rebuild the community like other commercial areas in the city. The street is integrated but WE have to keep a vital presence. BAYVIEW IS THE LAST BASTION FOR BLACK FOLKS!

THE DOLLAR STORE attracted my attention, located on the busy corner of Third and Palou – a MUNI transfer point. The striking store front, glowing in bright lights and decorations that give the corner much needed cheer! and PRIDE! STROLLED in one afternoon, IMPRESSED!

THE DOLLAR STORE and More, owned by MARVIN ROBINSON, former Deejay, radio station KSOL (back in the day often wrote about the brother), who was popular on air for 16 years spinning the latest R&B sounds of the day, moved on in the industry, STILL active in booking events. (Check the back walls of the store, high above large platinum awards grace the area.) BUT also a serious businessman, community activist and TV commentator, often seen on Cable 29 talking about the Bayview community, urging BLACK folks to WAKE UP – HURRY up and get a piece of the pie before it’s ALL GONE!

Robinson previously owned three other businesses on Third – including Wash World Launderette and All Night Market – before opening the Dollar Store. Partnership with JAMES KEITH, took over the empty storefront four years ago – Jan. 9, 2014, will celebrate another year. Fortunate to SURVIVE, as the business was almost destroyed by fire in December of last year, closed for several months. Sadness as well, Mr. KEITH passed earlier this year. CLAUDE CARPENTER, an associate partner, there the day I stopped in waiting on customers.

A MAN OF BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS, Carpenter, owner BMC Construction Co., is concerned about lack of JOBS and economic development of the community and future of Third Street, and so-called representatives not speaking up for the community. A call for action, Carpenter urged: “OUR people need to WAKE up. There is NO limit what we can do!”

Dollar Store interior is FLAWLESS! Layout well planned, neatly stocked shelves with items, at a discount, goods people need – soap powder, toilet tissue, canned goods, stationary, candy, festive balloons. Greeting cards, t-shirts, and more. Sell NO LIQUOR OR CIGARETTES! SMART! It’s the liquor stores that bring down the Black community commercial areas!

CHALLENGES are great for Robinson and Carpenter! A fighting game to succeed! How can you when OUTSIDE ELEMENTS cast a negative environment??? Third and Palou is a busy transfer hub – MUNI lines 22, 23, 24; Of course the T-LINE runs through. Across the street – MENDELL PLAZA – a real mix of lifestyles – loiterers, sitting or standing around – loud noises. Park benches was a bad idea as a place to hang comfortably all day! The gentlemen look at the scene every day, but RESILIENT in holding on!

Robinson is a man of compassion. Thanksgiving eve, an outdoor COMMUNITY Buffet was served on Palou side of the building. Happened to be on the scene. Saw food in large aluminum pans unloaded by a few volunteers, set up on large serving tables, an abundance of food that included roast beef, salmon. Robinson used paper plates and foil and utensils from his stock. Food donated from a downtown hotel Robinson connected with to help in sharing food in the neighborhood. There was a long line – two drummers beat the congo drums to send a message – food is served!

BLACK MIGRATION! An astute gentleman, as is Carpenter, Robinson watches the trend in the Bayview area, know CHANGE is coming – the renaissance will take place BUT NOT with existing residents and community on 3rd – new stake holders are buying up property – many boarded up buildings creating blight! “Five years from now, Third street will be a thing of the past!” Robinson, born in the Bayview, want to keep a Black presence on Third, hear the drumbeat of change, warns his people to get a piece of the pie before it’s too late, “WAKE UP, WAKE UP – the City and county is on the march – the MASTER PLAN doesn’t include us!”

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The BAYVIEW OPERA HOUSE, the pulse of the community, glowing Christmas tree lighting up the grounds. And notice the shining bells above the Bayview Town Center. BARBARA OCKEL, executive director, is doing a great job in bringing the community together. Mark your calendar – Dec. 19, WINTER WONDERLAND on Mendell Plaza, 5-9 p.m.

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My NEW haunt on 3-street is RADIO AFRICA and KITCHEN at the corner of Oakdale – the food is ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS! Chef/Owner ESKENDER ASEGED prepares tasty Ethiopian fare. One Third Thursday evening, delighted to stop in to hear Jazz recording artist, guitarist CALVIN KEYS, a major player in Jazz, was performing in duo with a smooth bass player (sorry, forgot name), presented by Bayview Opera House. Wished there were more LIVE music on the street. For years Keys played with Ahmad Jamal. Leader of his own group. A new CD released in September, entitled “Electric Keys” funk-blues mix. Headline on Monday Night Jazz JAM sessions over in Oakland at the 57th Street Gallery – Telegraph and 57th Street. A real GROOVE!

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CATHY DAVIS, executive director, DR. GEORGE DAVIS Senior Center, staffers SUZIE TYNER and MISS CLASSY and others, beamed with appreciation at the Thanksgiving luncheon that saw members of the OFFICERS FOR JUSTICE and volunteer policemen from WILLIAMS STREET police station serve the lively seniors – Precinct CAPT. SULLIVAN assisted. Noticed he enjoyed a slice of sweet potato pie – watched him devour it, while discussing some concerns about police cars responding to calls, fast moving on Third – MAINLY making left turn off Williams on THIRD! TRICKY!

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The MONTE CARLO RESTAURANT and BAR is definitely missed! STILL not occupied by new owners – ASIAN buyers. Owners GARY and THERESA DEROUN-LYNCH sold the popular, legendary spot mid-July. MOVED to RIO VISTA. The couple comes back to the city quite often – guess LONESOME for old friends!

Theresa tells me several former San Franciscans live there. So, the couple are settling in – both recently celebrated birthdays, inviting special guests, many old friends and customers drove up to celebrate Theresa’s ??? birthday on a Monday. Invited to the mid-afternoon gathering – didn’t make the trip – Mondays are busy for me. Everyone LOVED their home – did HEAR that! I’m sure she served her popular GUMBO!

Gary and Theresa are members of the San Francisco Yacht Club, located on the waterfront near AT&T Park, and where Gary’s party was held … a lot of fun. Well-wishers included: SUZIE TYNER and HER BILL, ERNESTINE BRIGHAM, SHIRLEY AND LIONEL HUNTER, DON JUAN.

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GOOD BYE 49ERS! Last scheduled game of the season will be played at the ‘stick Dec. 23 vs. Atlanta Falcons. SHOW me the way to SANTA CLARA!

HEY, IT’S NICE TO BE NICE AND TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE … LOOK FOR ME … I’LL BE THERE …

E-Mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net.