653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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noon to six


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Sunday, March 10th – 11:00 am -1:00 pm
Blanche Bebb Memorial Party

Born September 27, 1934, Blanche Bebb passed away on March 10, 2018 at the age of 83. She lived for years on Chenery Street, near the corner of Diamond, with her daughter Karen and granddaughter Jenna, and was a constant presence at the bookshop from the day it opened until a stroke made it impossible for her to stay in her apartment. Even then, she came back to visit whenever she could.

But while she lived in Glen Park, she was well known and loved by the friends she made among the neighborhood’s residents and denizens, shopkeepers and clerks, waitresses and bartenders, restaurateurs and service workers– not to mention the vast number of individuals she encountered across the City drawn together by their shared passions for culture and social justice. Her profound feelings for literature, music, art, the theater and the people she respected and cared about were completely intertwined, and influenced all who loved her. She was a marvel and an inspiration, funny, spirited and passionate in defense of what she knew mattered, of what she knew makes us worthwhile as people.

Blanche was born and grew up in New York City on the Lower West Side, the only child of Irving Broadwin, of Russian Jewish heritage, and Ruth Elton. of British and French heritage. Her mother was lost to mental illness while Blanche was still in just her first year of life. Her father had a hat shop on Fifth Ave catering to the wealthy ladies who walked the Easter Parade and dined out in the high-end places, and also made costume hats for Broadway shows. Irving had been on Broadway as a youth in the musical, “Gus Edwards’ Song Revue.” He cared for her as well as he possibly could, and during his work days he found a loving Italian family, the Corries of West 14th Street, to feed her and keep her till around seven each night. Blanche worked hard and thrived. While still a youth, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, she was drawn to the theater world that permeated lower Manhattan and studied acting there with great ardor.

Blanche found herself in Las Vegas while still in her early twenties; she hoped to make money and go back to New York to have her own theater. She and first husband, Hewing Brunson, had three daughters, but his gambling addiction made the relationship impossible and they divorced, making Blanche a single mother for a few years. She fell in love Douglas Bebb, also a casino worker (she was a cocktail waitress), and had a son with him once they moved to San Francisco in the ’60s, drawn by this city where they could protest the Vietnam war and have a better life by the ocean in a more progressive city.

(L-R) Activists Essie Mormen, Blanche Bebb, Margaret Block, Shirley Enomoto

From early on, in the ferment of the 1960s and on through the next several decades, Blanche was a union and social justice activist and advocate. She put herself through night school to become an xray technician and started working at Kaiser SF. She soon became an SEIU union representative and helped many people get their jobs back and led many a strike. She was on the committee to get safer needles and helped start the first AIDS ward at Kaiser. She also joined the Fort Point Gang, a union leaders group, and became a proud member of Grandmothers for Peace, protesting with Martin Sheen and others to stop The School of the Americas and more. She was a member fighting on the South Africa divestment campaign, went to South Africa and heard Nelson Mandela speak. She was there for the first black vote.

Madame Blanche’s embrace of art and the struggle for social justice, plus her deep love for her family and close friends, made her instantly recognizable and unforgettable to countless like-minded individuals that encountered her along the way. San Francisco lost a crucial part of its soul when we lost Blanche.

Her 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 2 great grand babies miss and remember her love very deeply. Please join us Sunday late morning, 11 – 1 PM, March 10th, the anniversary of her passing, at Bird & Beckett Books and Records, 653 Chenery Street.

We will swap a few stories, share some food and hear Andre Custodio’s jazz band, Consensual Bop, play some of Blanche’s favorite tunes in her honor.



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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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The Independent Musicians Alliance

Gigging musicians! You have nothing to lose but your lack of a collective voice to achieve fair wages for your work!
The IMA can be a conduit for you, if you join in to make it work.


Read more here - Andy Gilbert's Feb 25 article about the IMA from KQED's site

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