I already know about SF's rivalry with LA, but what about intra-city conflict? Are there schools or neighborhoods that hate each other that newcomers should be aware of? I just moved here a few months ago in search of a teaching position, and don't want to accidentally offend any locals as I start to interview!
Switzerland, I swear
I went to three public schools growing up in San Francisco: Douglas Elementary, Everett Middle School, and J. Eugene McAteer High School. (Well, technically, it's actually five, as I had a brief stint at what I think was then called Patrick Henry Elementary School — it's now Downtown High — because I was having such a horrible time being bullied at Douglas that I decided to switch, and since Patrick Henry was literally across the street from our apartment, it was the logical choice. But after a semester there I decided it was better to be at a school where I had a lot of friends and a few bullies than to be somewhere where I had no friends at all. And I also went to Mission High School for a week before deciding I'd rather go anywhere else, and ended up at McAteer.)
I was not filled with what I'd call "demonstrative" school pride for any of my schools, so never felt any real "Our School Rules, Your School Drools" rivalries with any other school in the city. I was too young for it during grammar school, too enmeshed in my own friend squad in junior high, so bored with high school in general, and never into sports for any of it, that I really can't even name a school that was supposed to be a rival to any of mine.
As for neighborhoods, since I went to schools outside of my district, most of my friends didn't live where I lived, so I never got a real feel for Potrero Hill's rivalries. WPOD graffiti would pop up in the our local parks and schoolyards in the 1970's and early 80's, but that clearly came from people outside of Potrero Hill since the WPODs were based heavily in the Sunset. And from what I remember, those WPODs, or "White Punks On Dope," weren't actually punks (they preferred Zeppelin over the Sex Pistols), were pretty racist, most often dressed in Derby jackets, Ben Davies pants and steel-toed boots, and were usually itching to fight. If they had a Potrero Hill-based rival, I don't know what they were actually called. Chime in if you do!
Since I'm obviously kind of useless in identifying the classic school age rivalries of San Francisco's past, I thought I'd seek out some responses from some other locals who grew up in the city's schools. Here's what they said.
SFist Senior Editor Eve Batey's husband, Tim Ehhalt, went to Aptos Middle School and School of the Arts (which was based at McAteer High). He said "HOOVER IS BULLSHIT," before adding, "I don't think I was cool enough to be involved in any. Although, I think SOTA's rival was Urban. How sad. The other artsy school."
SF native Jeff Chiu, a McAteer alum who actually was involved in sports, said:
For some reason I think McAteer's sports rivals were Lincoln, Galileo, Balboa and Washington. I don't recall Wilson, O'Connell or Mission being considered rivals. Actually I think we had to play Mission at neutral locations for basketball because of fights so that might count.
Lowell was considered nerdy and all-Chinese so losing to them at the meathead sports like football was unheard of until they beat us my senior year. [Saint Ignatius], Sacred Heart and Lick Wilmerding were the rich kids and played in the private school league. But the few times we wrestled SI they killed us.
Sorry, growing up in Miraloma means I'm no help in neighborhood rivalries.
And Marin native and my fellow SFist contrib Beth Spotswood, who attended SI, rather cryptically says that the main rivalry she recalled was "St. Ignatius vs. the bad news bears at Sacred Heart," specifically when the two vied for "the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy, which is a BFD."
So, either San Francisco in general was just too cool for rivalries, or everyone I know was too lame to know about most of them. Either way, if you know of any school or neighborhood rivalries from years past, or even current ones (and let's leave it at rivalries and not full on gang wars), let us know in the comments!
Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!