The Coastal Post - May, 1996

Moo Town News


Born of a dream

"It started with a vision,

An impossible belief,

That a man could span the waters far below,

Then they took that dream and they molded it,

Into reality,

Now here it stands a monument,

For all the world to see.

We built a golden dream,

Across an angry sea,

'Til those castles in the air,

Were given form,

And we opened up the way,

Into a better day,

And the Golden Gate was tamed,

The Bridge was born."

These words are the partial lyrics to a song titled "The Bridge," recorded by friend Tony Marty for the Golden Gate Bridge and its 50th birthday back in May, 1987.

Back-tracking to March of 1987, a very close friend of mine, artist George Sumner, was chosen as the honorary artist for the painting of the Golden Gate Bridge. As I was watching him complete his masterful work, it dawned on me that we had both at that time had been born and raised in San Francisco for 22 years, and we both had lived in Marin County at that time for 22 years. The Bridge had totally spanned our lives from one side to the other.

We reminisced about our teenage years in Eureka Valley (lower Twin Peaks), swimming at Aquatic Park, fishing off of Fort Mason and sailing over to Tiburon in those sunny, carefree days of yesteryear.

I recalled how my grandfather John P. Nolan worked 50 years for the Municipal Railway and was superintendent of the cable cars, timing their routes, sending out crews to fix underground cables, and one of his fondest jobs was judging the cable car bell ringing contest. He rigged up one of those bells on a post in the basement and when he wanted help with chopping wood or capping his homemade beer, he would ring it loud and clear and my sister Pat and I would come a'scrambling.

His men referred to him as "Cable Car Johnny" and I spent many a day playing in the old cable car barns or hitching a ride on them while Gramps checked out a new driver.

My uncle Ralph Spargo (Sparky) would tell stories about working on the Golden Gate Bridge when it was being built, and that he saw men fall to their deaths even with the security nets in check far below them.

My late husband Bob Borello recalled that his father had a large cleaning plant in Visitation Valley and the opening day of the Golden Gate Bridge, May 1937, he at seven years old sat with his mother in a stagecoach that said, "Borello's Cleaning and Drying" and crossed the span in style. It was a memory he never forgot, and would still get excited when he'd talk about it.

Recounting all of these incidents to George Sumner, my batteries were getting more and more charged. I went home high on an adrenaline rush, and the creative juices flowed as I sat on my bed and composed the poem "The Glorious Golden Gate." When I finished it, I was still jacked and called Sumner at home. After reciting the poem to him, I got the bright idea that San Francisco was raging hot over the Bridge's 50th birthday, but where was Marin County in all of this?

So I called our Supervisor Gary Giacomini and told him that we three Marinites (George Sumner, Tony Marty and myself) had pooled our talents in honor of the Bridge's half-a-century birthday, and how would he like us at the Board of Supes meeting on Tuesday? I'd recite the poem, Tony would sing The Bridge," and Sumner would unveil the painting before San Francisco even saw it.

Gary like the idea, and away we went! After we did our presentation, Gary came over to us and asked if we could be at the Golden Gate Bridge District meeting in two weeks and do it again. At that time Gary was a bridge director and quite concerned over the flack to not close the Bridge for its 50th birthday, and he and the other directors were fighting to get it closed. The trio again performed its talents undauntingly, and the news media loved it, and the vote favored closing the Bridge. Gary Giacomini was happy, and so were we!

Sumner's painting went into the Golden Gate Bridge Museum, Tony Marty's song "The Bridge" was played on many radio stations around the Bay due to Gary's help and love of creative talent, especially from his own district and county. And thanks to Bob Borello's idea that my poem should be put on Vista Point, Marin County's side of the great span, I asked Gary if he could obtain permission from the Board of Supes to do so. Gary got an unanimous decision and told me to get ahold of the late Bill Filante, our assemblyman, because he could help work it out with CalTrans, who had some jurisdiction over Vista Point. Bill, the noble gentlemen that he was, loved the idea and nursemaided the project through the State for years, and we finally got the permit. The bronze (3 ft. by 4 ft.) was finally cast in March of this year. My good friends, Marty Medoni and Bobby Wilson installed it April 9th, and the dedication was April 25th.

The glorious Golden Gate

Born and raised in San Francisco

The pride of "The Bear Flag State,"

My heart knows its coming home,

When I cross the Golden Gate.

Greeting Marin County,

She spans the ocean's roar,

Connecting to the headlands,

Rolling hills and rocky shore.

Born of a dream:

"It can't be done!" they cried,

But gallantly she stands,

A monument to man,

His aspirations and his pride.

Lofty spires reaching for the sky,

Royal arches beckon you,

She's the Nugget of the West Coast,

Queen of the Pacific Blue.

Circling her towers,

Are crowns of silver mist,

Peeking through the fog banks,

Mister sun blows her a kiss.

Smiling a sunny welcome,

To strangers out at sea,

Feeling her outstretched arms,

Is coming home to me!

We love our Marin County,

Our emerald by the bay,

And to the glorious Golden Gate

Happy 50th birthday!

P.S. The Golden Gate was an incredible dream that happened and for me this project of my poem now completed is also a dream come true. It could not have happened without three key people: George Sumner, my talented and lovable friend; Gary Giacomini, a believer in dreams and the primary mover and shaker of that belief; and the late Bill Filante, who graciously accepted the task and got the job done.

I would also like to thank Marty Medoni, Bobby Wilson and Logan Wilson for your talented masonry job.

And to three ladies: Donna Lei Sumner, for her sweet inspirational support, Elizabeth Ptak, the precise, eagle-eyed proofreader, and Nancy Crivelli, who printed copies of the poem in her talented and calligraphical style.

Also, without the support of my family and friends, this would not have happened.

I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart!