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THE WINDOW SEAT
10 November 2017
We went to a play at the university last night. It was called Gibraltar and is a study of a new widow adjusting to the death of her husband, and learning about grief (a real "upper" of a show!)
The set was designed by John Iacovelli, an Emmy award winning artist who teaches MFA design at UC Davis. John was my very first interview when I started writing for the Davis Enterprise and my memory of him was that his hair was much wilder and I found him scary (mostly, I suspect, because it was my very first interview).
He has designed everything -- more than 200 stage productions and often when you look at credits for movies or TV shows, John is the designer. He's won all sorts of awards in addition to the Emmy (for his production of A&E's Peter Pan).
I particularly liked the design for this show because it is set in an apartment in San Francisco and it took me a little bit to realize that the apartment had a window seat. Maybe it was because the stage of the little Wyatt Theater is so oddly shaped that a window seat is the most logical thing.
But as a native San Franciscan, I appreciated that little touch, because one of my favorite things about San Francisco is that it seems to be the showplace of bay windows. Drive around the City and everywhere you look, houses have bay windows, many with window seats. In fact, it's only lately that I am noticing buildings built with flat fronts.
When we were growing up, we didn't live in a fancy Victorian like these famous ones, but our house had a bay window with a window seat.
(When we lived there, there were no trees on the street and no garage under the window seat.) It seems that every house existing in the city when I was growing up in the 50s had a bay window somewhere in the house.
Our window seat was in the living room and looks most closely like this:
Though it was about twice as wide as this one and it was probably higher than this one is.
When we got our TV set, a giant Muntz TV, the logical place to put it was in the center of the window seat, which made it a great place to sit with your back against the TV and read or watch the world outside. Our street was one of the steepest in the city, so it was a "show" to watch tourists try to drive up to the next street. There was a stop sign at the top of the hill, so you had to be balanced on this steep street and then try to start up again without sliding back down--and when I was growing up, automatic transmissions were not commonplace. In fact, in one of his very early bits, Bill Cosby had a whole thing about trying to drive in San Francisco and encountering a street like ours.
We watched many people get to the top of the hill and then slowly back down again to find a better way to get to Union Street. Especially in the rain!
My mother always sat on the window seat and watched me run up the hill on my way to school. I remember her laughing the morning I put my head down and ran headlong into a ladder I didn't see resting against the building!
I loved to sit on the window seat in December and watch for the mailman. Our house was the third house on his route and he took the bus from Rincon Annex and got off at our street early in the morning. It was best on days when he delivered mail more than once a day (can you believe they used to do that?)
When I think of our little flat in San Francisco, my two strongest memories are the floor heater, which I loved to stand over when it was cold, the warm air blowing up my skirt. I could stay there for hours too. And the window seat. I still have fond memories of the window seat and wonder that now that the place is all yuppified what it looks like today.
So I'm going to give John Iacovelli a good
review for his set design 'cause it made me feel all warm inside, even if I
had difficulty understanding the play.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
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