Back in December 2021, I’d entered an Instagram contest sponsored by the Alliance Française de San Francisco (AFSF). To my delight, I’d won one of the prizes: a set of four French postage stamps featuring Joséphine Baker, the American-born French superstar.
Well, one fine Friday in May, I took a mental health day, savored an incredible croissant at ONE65 Patisserie and Boutique in San Francisco, and picked up my prize – finally!
Joséphine Baker Stamps
Joséphine Baker (1906-1975) was not only an entertainer. She was also part of the French Resistance during World War II, a civil rights activist, as well as a mother of 12 children that she adopted from around the world.
To commemorate the occasion of Joséphine Baker’s induction to the Panthéon on November 30, 2021, La Poste in France issued these stamps to mark four periods of her life. This was an historic event because Baker is the first Black woman to be inducted into the Panthéon, where many of France’s national heroes are buried.
On the back of the sheet of stamps is a sweet tribute written by Baker’s son, Brian Bouillon Baker.
In part it says, « les photos la représentant ont été choisies par mes soins afin d’illustrer les multiples qualités de cette femme exceptionnelle. Gaité, énergie, engagement, générosité et, bien sûr, universalité… » (“the photos representing her have been chosen by me in order to illustrate the many qualities of this exceptional woman. Gaiety, energy, commitment, generosity and, of course, universality…”).
Bush Street in San Francisco
Having finally collected my beautiful prize, I was in a pretty good mood. Instead of rushing back home, I decided to take a leisurely stroll. I was taking a mental health day after all!
Walking 12 blocks east of the AFSF along Bush Street, I was able to slow down and appreciate some points of interest, like the following:
At Notre Dame des Victoires, the 10:30 am Sunday Mass is held in French.
The plaque reads: “1856-1956: Erected by the Citizens of French Ancestry from the San Francisco Bay Area to Commemorate the Centennial of the Church of Notre Dame des Victoires. Tablet placed by the California Historical Society October 20, 1956.”
Fun fact: Gavin Newsom, the current governor of California, attended the École Notre Dame des Victoires in the early 1970s.
At the French restaurant, Le Central, there’s a sign that announces how long their cassoulet has been cooking! As of May 2022, when this photo was taken, it appears they have been making the hearty stew every day for over 46 years (which would be around 1976). However, their website says they opened in 1974. (Could it be that the pandemic sadly cost them about two years’ worth of cassoulet cooking days?)
The Irish Bank is a popular spot for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and after-work happy hours for people working in the Financial District.
On that note, cheers! 🍻 Thanks for taking a stroll with me along Bush Street in San Francisco!