Living While Boarded Up

There was dancing in the streets all over San Francisco on November 7th. I was walking in the Presidio, trying not to get wiped out by flying cyclists whizzing downhill shouting Biden/Harriss!!! It’s been pretty much party mode ever since.

But downtown — and in a few other areas — preparations had long been made for the mayhem that wasn’t. It would be hard not to agree with business owners who boarded up. Protests following the George Floyd killing and racial unrest at other times in recent months brought out the bad guys along with the earnest. There was widespread, costly looting. I live not far from a BevMo store that looked as if someone had tossed a large bomb through the front door. So if I owned a business I would have boarded up too.

Eyes on the passers-by

Following the election of Joe Biden which was finally declared on Saturday, November 7th, though, there was only dancing. And since then, it’s fascinating to see signs of how life goes on around (and behind and in front of) the plywood. This is a quick Plywood City tour.

High end social distancing

Some businesses behind the plywood have gone under and won’t be back. But others are bravely carrying on. At Louis Vuitton — there are people out there still buying $3,000 handbags? — a polite security guard at the door carefully limited the number of shoppers entering. And inside (the polite security guard let me peek) shoppers and staff kept their masks on and distances measured.

Local billboard creativity has definitely peaked. On some of the plywood sheets there were phone numbers to call or — frequently — “We’re Open!” messages pointing to the plywood door.

Finding shelter from the storms

At some locations, the irony was painful. One nonprofit (not that far from the Louis Vuitton store, actually) which was created to help the homeless covered its plywood with optimistic messaging. But it managed to offer a likely spot for one down-on-his-luck guy to construct a resting place at the same time.

Still, high above the boarded-up storefronts and sheltered-in-place citizenry, somebody remembered to hoist the flag.

Long may it wave


  1. What’s this Fran… another old lady wandering the streets of your fair city?? Love it! You go girl! You rock!

  2. Thanks, Fran, for your comment and photos. Lots of us are glad that the preparations for lawless demonstrations didn’t occur. Now if we can just handle the Covid-19 dilemma then the U. S. can get back to a degree of normality. The sooner the better!

    Norman Vickers
    Jazz Pensacola

    1. I do yearn for that degree of normality, not to mention a glimpse of the kids I haven’t seen in over a year. But I’m not expecting it any time soon. Now that at least we have a plan to combat the virus I wish we weren’t going to have to wait another 69 days before putting it in place. Lucky you, with visible family! Stay safe & sane.

  3. Next best thing to being back in The City is to read your blogs about how it looks and feels these days. Just stay safe my beloved reporter friend.


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