San Francisco Native Leaves Colorado to Come Back Home with new book ‘Samuel & The Magic Tree’

San Francisco native Denise Webster has written a book, entitled "Samuel & The Magic Tree." Photo courtesy of Denise Webster.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, according to some reports San Francisco had an exodus of as much as almost 7 percent. Denise Webster who just released a book, entitled ‘Samuel and The Magic Tree.’ was raised in the Richmond District on the Westside of ‘The City.’ She considers the departure as a loss for San Francisco and the neighborhood.

After living in Colorado to spend time with her grandchildren, it was a surprise to her that the book ‘Samuel and The Magic Tree,’ would emerge unexpectedly.
The story tells of the adventures of a grandmother and her two little grandchildren during their daily walks. The book came about from the joy of having time to be with her grandchildren, Samuel and Gigi. The initial onset of COVID-19 was the unusual opportunity that brought her to Colorado. Webster wrote the book as a Christmas gift.
As beautiful as Colorado is and as joyous as the time was being with her grandchildren, Webster became restless, almost anxious. As she explained.
“Arvada, Colorado where my daughter lives is about a 25 minute drive northwest of Denver,” said Webster. “With mountains and hills, hiking trails and the Majestic View Nature Center, Arvada is lovely.” The Natural Center helped to inspire the book.
“But I’m a city girl, Webster exclaimed! And, “San Francisco just beckons to me. It’s where my heart is.” Regardless of the obstacles, she was determined to return and in essence “pick up where I left off,” said Webster.

“As I return to the Richmond and Sunset District (which are adjacent to Golden Gate Park) to visit relatives and friends, said Webster, I see the need to appreciate the balance between the past and present.”

Coming from a Portuguese background, Webster and her parents immigrated to San Francisco from Hong Kong when she was four.

“I consider myself a native San Franciscan,” said Webster. And, that’s because we settled in the Richmond District. We were very much a part of the community;” so much so Webster described it as being “entrenched in community.”

Theatre artist, actor, photographer & now a author, Denise Webster has many happy memories growing up in San Francisco’s Richmond District. Star of the Sea Church and School was an important part of her life and the community then. Photo courtesy of Star of the Sea, SF, CA.

Speaking with this reporter while on assignment for The Richmond ReView, Webster reminisced of her years growing up.

She attended Star of The Sea Elementary School from Kindergarten through 8th Grade and then Star of The Sea Academy, all four years of high school.

“It was very different back then,” she said. “Star of the Sea Academy was an all-girls Catholic High School,” she said. Looking back, she noted. “It was a good place to be and grow up. But the expectations were different, especially for women,” she said.

The 1950s and ‘60s were a time of unparalleled prosperity in San Francisco, especially compared to The Great Depression and World War II. Everything seemed to have promise and optimism. “Most of the families I knew growing up had lots of kids,” said Webster. “In San Francisco at that time the predominant groups were those of Irish, Italian or Scandinavian descent. “I was not Sandra Dee,” said Webster. “And, as much as I loved going to the movies, I just knew there was more to life out there.”

Mentioning specific memories she cherishes, Webster said. “I was so fortunate to be able to work and go to college. “I worked at Gump’s. And being at Union Square – downtown, that was so exciting; I met so many people,” she said.

“Women in those days were expected to be housewives and raise a family,” said Webster. “I was the only one in my graduating class at Star of The Sea Academy that was going off to college at UC Berkeley.”

“As much as I loved my parents and grandparents and the life we had in the neighborhood, I just sensed there was more out there and San Francisco didn’t disappoint me,” said Webster.

While Webster loved going to Golden Gate Park with her grandparents or to the movies at neighborhood cinemas like the Col on 9th Ave and the 4-Star on Clement Street, she was very grateful for busy Geary Boulevard.

“The bus on Geary opened up the entire City to me because it took me directly downtown. And from there I could go anywhere,” said Webster.

Longtime friend from high school days, Michael Pulizzano remembers. “Yes, the Geary bus would be the way to leave the neighborhood and get around town,” he said.

“We were in plays together; Denise was talented,” Pulizzano added. “I always felt she could have pursued a career on the stage professionally,” he said.

“Back then, Pulizzano went on to say, all of the Catholic high schools in the City would work together to put on plays and musicals. It was work for us high schoolers, and it was fun.”

“Yet, as he explained, Denise and I go back a bit further as I went to Star of the Sea Elementary School. The Richmond District was our village, so to speak. We drifted apart when she got married after Cal Berkeley and moved to the East Bay to raise a family,” said Pulizzano. “That was a different time and phase of her life.”

“Denise moving to Colorado, said Pulizzano, now that was a ‘cultural shock,’ it’s a landlocked spot compared to SF.”

“Denise is about cosmopolitan places, Pulizzano added, like New York, London, Paris, but Colorado? I am so happy she’s back!”

Cover illustration of Denise Webster’s new book. Photo/image courtesy of Denise Webster.

Agreeing with Pulizzano, one of Webster’s colleagues from work, Cheryl Boyes said. “Denise and I have been friends for about 30 years. She is phenomenal!“ “Denise is a person to emulate.” (The completion of the book) it’s a new chapter or rather a new venture in life for Denise,” said Boyes. “She is always involved with community; relationships mean a lot to her,” Boyes added.

Looking upon the book as an opportunity to build something, especially after all the work she put into it, Webster said.

“There is a need to embrace legacy by the younger, newer communities. As well, the older community, entrenched in their personal past, needs to acknowledge the changes instead of simply reminiscing. I think there must be a dual awareness in order to create a rich and committed city.” To learn more about Denise Webster and her book, visit her website.