S. Mariani & Sons at 23rd and Columbia (now Florida).  See the children playing out front?  One could be Vera!            Photo used with permission of Carl Pisaturo-  http://carlpisaturo.com/Carlovision_MAIN.html

When Vera Mariani was a young girl, she lived on the corner of 23rd and Columbia (now Florida) in San Francisco.  Below her house at street level was her father’s hardware store, S. Mariani & Sons.  The “S” stood for Stefano.  The sons were Helvetio, Walter, Arnold, Stephen and Eugene, although Arnold did not make it to adulthood.  Vera used to play around the house and hardware store, exploring and making up games.  The siblings closest to her age were her brothers Steve and Gene.  Once when my brother was terrorizing playing with me, I remember Vera telling me that her brothers played too rough for her, too, and that she often played alone.  

 It was during one of these alone playing day that Vera opened the deep cupboard in the kitchen that housed the ironing board.  I remember this cupboard.  If you opened the door, you could fold down the ironing board and reveal shelves.  As she opened this one day, she saw something on the top shelf.  What was it?  She retrieved the step stool and climbed up.  Grasping the edge, she pulled it and then saw the well-recognized logo of Maskey’s Candies—a mask and a key. 

San Francisco was and still is known worldwide for its candy.  From the 2000 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form requesting that the Haas Candy Factory at 54 Mint Street in San Francisco:

San Francisco possessed many favorable characteristics for the success of the candy industry: the cool summer climate is favorable for dipping chocolates. The deep water port facilitated importation of cocoa beans and sugar cane. Sugar was refined locally as early as 1857. The large population provided a good market for the product, which included not only chocolates, but candy sticks, licorice, sugar plums, lollipops, Turkish delight, ribbon candy, and taffy.

In the 1887 Langley’sSan Francisco City Directory, Maskey’s was first listed as a “manufacturer of fine candies.”  (From http://archive.org/details/crockerlangleysa1897sanf)They are no longer in business, but the location of the factory and store still stands at 48-52 Kearny Street. 

When seeing that mask and key logo, young Vera must have had a jolt of excitement, a Pavlovian response.  Candy!  Right there!  She opened the carton and found that it was, in fact, a box full of chocolates.  Of course no one would miss one tiny small piece.  She plopped it in her mouth, savoring the delicious chocolate while she put the step stool and ironing board away.  A week or so later, she wondered if the box was still there.  She repeated her adventure and found it was the same box with the one missing chocolate.  Surely it had been forgotten.  But if she were to point it out, she’d have to share with her siblings.  Best to keep this to herself, she likely thought, as she popped another chocolate.  This continued a few times, each visit emptying the box by one chocolate.

On another note, outings with Father were very treasured.  He was a busy hardware man and had sons to teach the business to and customers to care for.  So one day, when Stefano asked Vera to come along with him for a visit with his very best customer, she was excited.  They rode the buggy over and upon reaching the door, Stefano pulled out a box of Maskey’s chocolates for presentation to the customer.  “How lovely of you to bring such fine chocolates,” said the customer.  Stefano bowed slightly in deference and with a touch of pride.  Meanwhile, little Vera stood next to him, shivering in horror and fear.  It was THE box.  The half emptied box of Maskey’s chocolates!  She feared a whipping when she confessed to Father, but instead just got lectured all the way home.

The part of this story that Louise told me that makes me the saddest is that I will never get to taste a Maskey’s chocolate.  If I did, I know I’d taste it with the taste buds and excitement of the eyes of young Vera.  I might even sneak them from my own cabinet, just to experience that moment of hers.  I tried to find a picture of the Maskey’s logo online, but couldn’t locate it.  If anyone has it to share, I’d love to see!

Note: The Mariani family is not my blood family, but there are not many left of the Marianis.  I have deep roots with the Marianis with my great grandfather and father both being caretakers on their ranch in Portola Valley, as well as a house in Portola Valley much later as I attended junior high and high school.  Because of my love for my “Auntie Vera,” the genealogist in me didn’t want to leave them untraced.  So I have been researching them blindly (i.e. only records, no ancestral stories) for about 3 years.  Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Louise, the 99-year-old granddaughter of the immigrant Mariani, cousin to my Vera, who I remember well from my childhood.  She supplied me with wonderful stories (including this one) and genealogy that I will be sharing both here and in the book I’m writing. 


As most of you know, I have been working diligently on a book about the Mariani family. A few weeks ago, in researching Daniel Mariani, the youngest son of the Swiss immigrant, it dawned on me that the Marianis tended to live very long lives. And that just because Daniel's daughter would be 99 years old, didn't, in the Mariani world, mean she wasn't still living.

I turned to the tools and websites learned in Finding the Living genealogy classes and found a street name associated with her. I recognized that street from the 1940 census research I did. Which had the street number. What are the odds that she'd be in the same house as over 70 years ago?  But I wrote a letter.

And got a phone call less than a week later from an extremely coherent and wonderful Louise!  We had lunch Saturday at her lovely home.

Giuseppe Mariani
I shared with her what I know of her immigrant grandfather and she let me COPY HIS PICTURE! And the genealogy work her sister did in the 1950s on the thin typewriter paper neatly bound in a binder. She told me stories told to her and filled in a number of gaps.  Her information  changed more than one dot-to-dot picture that records had given me about a person.

She complained a bit about the things she can't do any longer, like walking her 40 blocks each day, but for 99---heck, for someone even 79-- she is amazing. I can't wait to go see her again.

We’ve planned our first semester for the school year for this year with a little more classes and a little less planning. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing:

Language Arts will consist of reading, writing, and grammar.  I’m not sure where public speaking fits in, so I put it with Language Arts. We found some great books at their levels and they will read one or two of those each month.  August’s books were Series of Unfortunate Events (Book 1) for Signa and Frannie K. Stein for Will.  September for Signa is Diary of a Young Girl (did you know that that is the real name of Diary of Anne Frank?  I didn’t…).  William will read Captain Underpants.  For writing, each day they will add to a story and each month they will write a paper of some theme.  They will also be part of a writing club where all writing is tracked and they learn new writing techniques and ideas.  For grammar, they will continue learning (and re-learning the Latin and Greek roots, as well as work through Warner’s grammar with me.  Signa needs to finish her grammar book from last year and Will can work on Study Island’s language arts for practice and filler.  For public speaking, they will do their book club report (first one was today) and take the presentation project for 4-H (Will is technically too young for it, but I’m going to have him secretly accidentally learn from it).  They will both give 4-H presentations at Presentation Day.

Math will be online programs this year for the children.  They are self-correcting and let you move on when you are done or slow down when you need more help.  That was an issue with the books we used last year--- too much repetition when they already “got it.”  So Aleks math for Signa for this year and William will do 2nd grade math in August and September (he got halfway through most of 2nd grade math last year) and start Aleks math for 3rd grade in October (or earlier if I find he’s ready).

Science is chemistry this year with Jenny, our homeschooling hero.  Jenny has a lot on the agenda:  Matter, Properties of Matter, Physical and Chemical Properties, Pure Substances & Mixtures, States of Matter and Changes of State, Intro to Energy, Temperature, Thermal Energy and Heat, Atom, Periodic Table, Electron and Chemical Bonding, Bonding, Chemical Reactions, Organic Chemistry, Nuclear Reactions, Solutions, Acids, Bases and Salts, and pH.  For science they will also be in small animals class and Signa will be teaching a class about insects.

History will continue Story of the World, but Marc is going to take the topic and go with items about that, rather than reading the text.  So if the topic is Cleopatra, for instance, they will watch Brainpop, movies, and explore that topic, rather than reading the (boring at times) text.  They will also do family history which will introduce timelines of history and other events in history to learn about. 

Art is different this year as, for the first time in over 5 years, they will not go to Angela’s art class.  We decided that William really needs to be in karate.  He’s watched it all these years and loves it.  The expense, though, was just too much.  So this year we decided to stop art and give karate to William.  To make up for this, we will do a lot of crafts and also introduce the production of art cards, especially for the reading they do.  They made them for book club today and I think we can have fun with these.  They will also continue with guitar lessons (Signa) and piano lessons (Will).  Signa will be taking a movie making class on Saturday mornings and both kids are taking an introduction to theater class.  So hopefully they won’t miss art class too much.

Physical Education is easy this year.  Karate for both and swimming for both.  William also wants to do Little League this year, so we’ll try to squeeze that in!

So there you have it.  Mascot Manor Academy for the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year. I’m going to try to keep better tabs for you all here on Mascot Manor of what we do each week.  We have to document it all for the charter school we work through so may as well document for all of us! 


The first I remember of Macduff is walking him in Palo Alto, California through a street fair in a park with my Aunt Sue, who proceeded to buy me a Kermit the Frog puppet.  At three and a half years old, I was a big Sesame Street fan and I loved Kermit, which is likely why I remember this walk so much.  However, during this walk I believe it was more likely that the two-year-old big yellow Labrador-Retriever was walking usthrough a street fair, than us walking him.

When I was four we moved to a ranch in Portola Valley, California and Macduff came with us. He was the leader of dogs at the ranch-- always guiding them, calming them, and punishing them when necessary. He was a soft gentle soul, training the new pups what was right and what was not right.

One year we inherited a puppy named Fluffy. Fluffy was a small, black puff of a pup and Duff was his hero. He would follow Duff everywhere.  As they lounged on the front porch together, he would chew on the scruff of Duff’s neck below his bottom jaw. If Duff got up to chase after a deer or some other critter, Fluffy would hang on, wagging in the wind while Duff performed his critter chasing duties.

Duff moved with us from ranch to ranch to house.  When I was a teen, we moved to a house in Portola Valley.  Duff slept in my room.  He was older then and no longer an outside dog, preferring to spend most of his time inside with his human family.  Since most of our family time was around the kitchen table, Duff spent most of his time under the table.  At bedtime, he’d get up and make the torturous trek across the hardwood floor of the hallway and round the corner to my room.  My door didn’t close all the way, so he’d bang his head against it to open it.  Then he’d curl up on the carpeted floor of my room to guard me while I slept.

One summer, when I was 16 and Duff was 17, I went traveling with my best friend’s family.  Duff chose that time to depart our world.  My brother, Todd, shared these words about that evening:

The night Duff died I spent about an hour with him in the kitchen.  I rubbed each paw and his arthritis was not as bad as normal. I was very superstitious and gave each paw equal amounts of attention.   When I got done with Duff I got up and he licked me.  This never happened.  As you know, Duff did not lick anyone ever.  I remember thinking it was odd but did not read into it.  Dad was in the den and Mom went to bed to read.  As I walked to my room Duff followed me, again he never did this before.  He slept under the kitchen table.  I walked him back to his spot.  He laid down and I retreated to my bed.  Less than one minute later he was thrashing about in his spot. I ran to him and yelled for Dad, but Duff was gone before he got to him.   Dad took him outside and buried him next to the chicken shed.  We stayed up for awhile at the table in silence.  I was grateful to have had his last moments spent with me and I will remember every detail of that night forever.

In collecting old pictures of S. Mariani & Sons Hardware at 23rdand Florida Streets in San Francisco, I noticed an old fountain that was once out front.  In many of these pictures, the S of S. Mariani & Sons himself, Stephen, was standing next to it proudly. 

Photo used with permission of Carl Pisaturo, http://carlpisaturo.com

I’ve many times visited the home of the Mariani family at this location.  Stephen Mariani opened two hardware stores in 1875.  When the stores closed in the 1950s, they literally just closed.  The store was left downstairs of the home and just all closed up.  We used to go into the hardware store and play with the old cash register and tools.  My dad even had some items I inherited when he died—business cards, a brush, and a pencil.

Throughout my lifetime of visits, there was no fountain out front on the sidewalk.  So what happened to it?  When I was combing through items at the California Historical Society in San Francisco in March I found this newspaper clipping (newspaper not named or dated):

New Park Gets an Old Fountain

An unusual antique fountain of broad multi-purpose design—it was made to serve horses, humans and dogs alike-- has been presented to the State for inclusion in the new Victorian Park at the foot of Hyde street. 

The fluted cast-iron fountain has stood since 1881 in front of the old Mariani hardware store at 23rd and Florida streets.

It was donated for the State Park by the sons and daughters of Stephen and Victoria Mariani, who came to San Francisco in 1862 and established their store in 1875.

One of the daughters, Mrs. Stella Bryant, who still lives at 23rd and Florida, said the fountain was cast in Oakland in 1872 and acquired by her father nine years later.

Charles DeTurk, State Director of Parks and Recreation, said the fountain “reflects all the ornate grandeur of its period.”

I decided to look into this fountain and, using my best friend, Google, I found this website:http://aboutinthecity.blogspot.com/2010/04/forgotten-fountain.html.  Armed with the newspaper article, directions, and the picture from the About in the City blog, I took a trip to San Francisco on BART last weekend, determined to see if the fountain was indeed still there.

I got off BART at the Embarcadero stop and walked up Embarcadero towards Ghiradelli Square, stopping for a bit at Pier 35, where I walked across the street to the corner of Kearny and Bay.  Why did I stop there? 

That is the spot that the California pioneer Giuseppe (Joseph) Mariani, father to Stephen Mariani, was fatally injured in a blasting accident in 1871. 

May 11, 1871, Daily Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, CA

I walked across to the pier and sat there looking at the boats in the water.  Is that what Giuseppe was doing there?  Watching the boats?  He was a house painter, so I don’t think he was working.  I think he was thinking just like I was.  As I sat there on fancy redwood benches staring into the Bay, I was interrupted by a “vet looking for some lunch money.” 

Giuseppe was there just after the Civil War.  Were there Civil War vets asking for spare change while that dynamite was being set?  Were there children chasing seagulls, couples holding hands?  What was he thinking about those moments before his life was interrupted permanently?

I got a bit sad, so I continued on.  I passed the street performers and foreign families sightseeing at Pier 39.  I passed the smell of crab and sourdough at Fisherman’s Wharf.  I passed the other smells of stagnant water and homelessness of Aquatic Park and there it was.

The Fountain.

I placed my hand on it in reverence.  This fountain was in Oakland and shipped to San Francisco.  This fountain was touched by S. Mariani.  This fountain was touched by Vera and her siblings.  This fountain was touched by shoppers in the hardware store and passersby.  Possibly even my dad.  As I thought of each of them, I imagined seeing them there with me.  Only they all were in black and white like the photos of the fountain in front of 23rdand Florida.  I was in color and so was the fountain.  And so was the sleeping lady on the nearby bench, lying there around MY fountain, as if MY fountain were a stove giving off the heat of 140 years. 

I sat on one of the surrounding benches and just looked at it.  I admired the different drinking spots for horses and dogs.  I wondered how it was filled.  I think through the top, but clearly no water other than that from the skies had been in it for years. Now it was leaves, gum and cigarette butts.  I cleaned out the largest drinking spot of the debris and then wrote down the words from the small plaque at the bottom, silently promising my fountain that I’d be back to clean her again someday soon.

“A gift to the State of California by the pioneer Mariani family.  The grandfather, James Mariani, arrived on these shores in 1852.  Presented in the memory of the father, Stephen Mariani, who purchased the fountain in 1881 to place in front of his establishment at 23rd and Florida.  November 1961.”  The grandfather was Joseph or Giuseppe, not James.  He came in 1862 not 1852.  But the rest is, as they say, history.

Jack was our 17-year-old.  Our cat from Oregon.  We picked him out on Dad’s Mountain one Thanksgiving trip and brought him home as little cat.  He grew into a great big fat cat and amused us for many years.  Jack wasn’t the smartest of cats.  His inbreeding showed through in his slight naiveté and propensity to vomit when he could see the white at the bottom of his food dish.  But he was my Pumpkin, so nicknamed for being my Thanksgiving Kitten.  He was my purring cat who followed me into the bathroom every single morning.  I’d pet him and he’d purr.  He’d sit on the toilet for petting while I brushed my teeth and then he’d join me in the kitchen for his breakfast while I made my coffee. We’d go our separate ways after this, until later when we’d meet back up.

Jack liked to vomit.  Much and often.  Through his life, this was his hobby.  Vomit and purring.  He also liked to lick when getting scratched.  Lick lick lick.  STOP LICKING ME! I’d yell at him in frustration.  And then I’d pet him some more and he’d contain his licking for a bit. 

Jack slept for at least half his night each night with his ass curled into my stomach.  He didn’t like to be held there or cuddled.  Just his ass, my stomach.  And purring and licking. 

Over the past year, Jack lost a lot of his fat. Rather than people laughing at him, they just thought he looked normal. I knew it was old catness, though.  Last weekend, his stomach got big and hard. He acted normal, but he couldn’t be.  His stomach looked like he had a litter of unmoving kittens.  Last night he wandered a lot.  He was with me, with William, with Jones. 

This morning, I asked Marc to take him to the vet.  Marc thought he was constipated (he also has a propensity for this), but I knew it wasn’t.  I knew it was bad.  This was my living link to Dad’s Mountain and I knew it was over and that it was time to say goodbye.  Which I did last night while we listened to the thunder and this morning in the bathroom during our morning time together.

Rest in Peace, Jack.  Grampa has a lap and a pain-free petting hand waiting for you. 

My local genealogical society, Livermore-Amador GenealogicalSociety, asked two of us to be speakers for the May meeting.  The topic was Self-Publication Process.  Jane Southwick and I both have books that we wrote, but we both went about publishing two different ways.  The gist of our presentation was showing the audience two different routes to get to the same end result (although Jane’s was much nicer looking!).

I enjoyed speaking and I have to say that I felt like I was in my living room talking to family.  It’s such a warm, loving, supportive group and I love sharing with them.  Jane did a terrific job sharing how she worked with Stories to Tell Books.  What most impressed me about Jane was her speaking style.  She used a full written speech, but didn’t read it.  She was just wonderful with eye contact and clear speaking.  I was very proud and in awe.  Top that off with the amazing book she wrote and all I can say is that she is my hero.

The editor of our newsletter, Roots Tracer, asked Jane and I to write an article of our speeches for those that don’t attend.  Once I do that, I will link to it here.

Here are Jane and I speaking:

Memorial Day is to honor those who have died in war.  I’m lucky that many of my ancestors seem to have either missed serving or survived.  But in the past couple of years I have learned about my grandfather’s cousin, Howard Albert Conner, who died in World War II in a plane crash in Panama. 

Howard was born on August 23, 1918 in Huron County, South Dakota, just six months younger than my grandfather.  While he was in high school in Huron, South Dakota, he worked at the theater and in the shoe store. 

There is a write-up about Howard in the South Dakota World War II Memorial site.  The site is, “…dedicated to the tens of thousands of South Dakota men and women who contributed to the victory in World War II. Today, we know them as our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.”

It is my goal in this post to make sure that even though Howard has no descendents of his own to remember him, he has many of us, both in and out of the Conner family,  who remember and thank him.  He was and always will be important.

Front (left to right):Harriet Conner, Fern Conner (Grampa’s sisters)
Middle (left to right):Pierre Conner (GRAMPA!), Howard Conner
Back (left to right): Lucille Conner, Irene Conner (Howard’s sisters)

Left to right:Pierre Conner, Howard Conner

Left to right:William Conner (grandfather to Pierre Conner), Howard Conner, Lucille Conner, Hattie Price (grandmother to Pierre Conner)

In Memory of
2nd Lieutenant
Howard Albert Conner
Huron, South Dakota
Beadle County
August 23, 1918 – March 26, 1944
Killed in Plane Crash near Cape Pacora, Republic of Panama
Howard Albert Conner was born August 23, 1918 in Huron, South Dakota.  Howard was the third child of Albert and Mary Jane Conner.  Howard had two sisters, Mrs. Marvin R. Murphy and Mrs. Loran R. Blackford.  Howard grew up in Huron, South Dakota, attending Huron High School, graduating  in 1937.  While he was in school, he worked at the Huron theatre and as a clerk at Tunnell’s Shoe Store for one year.

He entered the Army in February 1941 taking his training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota and transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington and in August 1942 to Camp Gerber, Oklahoma.  He served with a tank destroyer battalion until January 1943 when he transferred to the Army Air Force.  On November 3, 1943, he graduated at Aloe Army Air Field, Victoria, Texas receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.  From there he went to Panama where he completed a transitional course at Sixth Air Force Fighter Command School.  He was assigned to a fighter squadron in the Caribbean area.

2ndLieutenant Howard Conner perished in the Republic of Panama on March 26, 1944.  His plane crashed near Cape Pacora, Republic of Panama, which is in the Panama Canal Zone.  He is buried at the Riverside Cemetery, Huron, South Dakota.  His name is also inscribed on a granite obelisk in front of the Huron Public Library. This memorial remembers “those who served and those who died.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Brandi Levtzow, 9th Grade, Redfield High School, Redfield, South Dakota, May 17, 2002. Among the sources of information for this entry were an application for a SD veteran’s bonus payment and newspaper clippings.