“I Heard That:” Black History Month; A Johnny Mathis Homecoming; Sam Jordan’s 52nd Anniversary!

by Rochelle Metcalfe on February 2, 2011

FEBRUARY celebrates Black History Month; a time to shine the spotlight on Black culture! During the month there will be many activities in the Bay Area. Tomorrow, The San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society (SFAAHCS), AL WILLIAMS, Chair, will kick off the month long celebration, 12 noon at the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda, admission free. The observance embrace the theme “African Americans and the Civil War”. Joining Mr. Williams and members of the Society will be Mayor ED LEE, Supervisor MALIA COHEN, and Keynote Speaker BERNARD KINSEY. The Society has been abuzz with the renown collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey’s artistic and historical artifacts in the gallery.

Celebrating its 55th Anniversary, SFAAHCS, located at 762 Fulton Street, is the oldest institution of its kind in the western United States. Its mission is to collect, preserve and present art, artifacts and recorded materials that reflect the history and culture of African Americans in San Francisco and Bay Area.

Legendary JOHNNY MATHIS HOMECOMING at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum, tomorrow evening, 7 p.m. Musical legend and San Francisco native, Mathis grew up listening to Jewish melodies in local synagogues, makes a special appearance in celebration of the current exhibit , “BLACK SABBATH: The Secret Musical History of Black Jewish Relations.” It was Mathis’ 1958 recording of “Kol Nidre,” the Aramaic prayers intoned at the beginning of Yom Kippur that inspired the exhibition.

In partnership with the Idelsohn Society, Mathis will not sing, but reflect on his life in music and receive special awards for his contributions to the musical life of San Francisco. The evening also includes a conversation among exhibition curators about the history of BlacK-Jewish musical collaboration. The Museum is located at 736 Mission Street (between 3rd and 4th streets), San Francisco.

CONGRATULATIONS TO KGO radio Early Morning Talk Show Host RAY TALIAFERRO, INDUCTED into the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK JOURNALIST (NABJ) HALL OF FAME at their annual conference last weekend in Washington, D.C. Ray, a native San Franciscan, raised in Bayview Hunters Point, started working in 1967 at KNEW AM, and has been with KGO since 1986. BY THE WAY, Ray’s birthday is February 7th.

KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON to the family of the late SAM AND RUTH JORDAN, in celebration of the 52nd Anniversary of the legendary club SAM JORDAN’S located in Bayview Hunter’s Point, Third Street corridor, across from the mini shopping Mall. PROUD the family continues to carry on the tradition set forth by their parents who passed several years ago.

Sam’s is the OLDEST standing Black-owned Club in the City, doors opened in 1959 in an undeveloped, unpaved dirt road; pedestrians walked on wooden planks (no sidewalks); area referred to as BUTCHER TOWN because of the stink of livestock. meat packing plants, slaughter houses. Charismatic Sam Jordan was a dire hard community activist! In 1963 FIRST African American candidate for Mayor, UNSUCCESSFUL, And how he became known as THE MAYOR OF BUTCHERTOWN !

Ah, Sam was feisty, handsome, hailed from Diboil, Texas. The former prizefighter found fame and fortune with the help of his beautiful wife RUTH, built the club into a popular joint where the good times rolled, Black folks enjoyed life, jobs, many settled in the area and beyond, to work in the shipyards.

MR. CHARLIE GENERETT, in his 80s, an ORIGINAL customer, retired MUNI driver, still seen fashionably dressed, sipping red wine, there Sunday, January 23, the day Lil’ RUTH JORDAN, brother ALLEN JORDAN and family members celebrated the club’s 52 legendary years. A younger set has made Sam’s their happening place. Party started at 2 p.m. that saw an older crowd packed the club. Clusters of red, white and blue balloons created an arc at the door.

Wonderful to feel the spirit of the club, like old times, listening to the swinging DJ spun old school grooves and current hits. Several TVs beamed the Steeler/Jets Play-off game; there I sat on a front bar stool to watch the game, but on the dance floor as well! Manager LEE THORNTON, a man of wisdom, anointed by the late Ruth Jordan, who passed after her husband to assist the family in running the club.( GOD BLESS You!).

When Sam Jordan was alive, the POLITICALLY ELITE came to the club to partake of his African inspired foods and conversation. The likes of former Examiner newspaper columnist WARREN HINCKLE with his DOG … retired judge QUENTIN KOPP (then San Francisco Supervisor) … former San Francisco Police Chief FRANK JORDAN, rubbed elbows with black patrons. Sam Jordan’s should be designated LANDMARK status, AND RENAMING 3-street in his honor! Definitely a significant part of Bayview Third Street Black History!

E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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