“Please don’t make me go, please don’t make me go.” It is Valentine’s Day. I have on a bright red blouse to match the red purse my husband Frank gave me this morning. My eight year old son is in the back seat of our Mazda. We are arriving at the Croatian Cultural Center on Onondaga Avenue just at the corner of Alemany Boulevard in San Francisco.
This neighborhood is old San Francisco. It is a neighborhood filled with small, compact, single family homes. The living rooms perch on top of the garages, peering out at the street through their wide windows. The driveways divide up the street inefficiently, not leaving enough room for street parking between the dipped curbs. The colors of the house looks like a crayon box on Easter, pastel blue, peach and pink. An outlier has painted one house bright blue like the dome roofs of Santorini. This neighborhood remains untouched by San Francisco’s tech explosion. There are no throngs of twenty somethings, beer gardens, overpriced lattes or fishbowl condos. In this untouched corner lies the heart of San Francisco’s Croatian culture. Today is the Tamburitza Festival at the Croatian Cultural Center.