Saturday, May 12, 2012

Charlotte and George Schultz's Carriage Entrance

Fairy tale horses appeared next to the San Francisco Opera House late Thursday afternoon, and they had nothing to do with a performance inside.

They were there to transport Charlotte and George Schultz, San Francisco's ancient "power couple," to the carriage entrance of the opera house, where the adjoining horseshoe drive was being renamed for them in a public ceremony.

Mayor Ed Lee above gave a speech, and as usual he looked and sounded like a miscast extra player, particularly with former Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. and Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr behind him.

Brown was the emcee of the event, and he made sure to call out notables in the small crowd, including Supervisor Mar, Police Chief Suhr, and Sheriff Hennessey.

The latter name confused me completely before I realized he was referring to Vicky Hennessy, appointed recently by Lee after he ousted the newly elected Sheriff Mirkarimi, not to the previous Sheriff, Mike Hennessey with the extra "e."

A newly installed plaque was unveiled on the side of the San Francisco Opera House...

...while a military band played a congratulatory ditty.

The 78-year-old Charlotte Smith Mailliard Swig Shultz above, Chief of Protocol for San Francisco, the State of California, and possibly the rest of the world, started with a few awkward jokes. "They'd never name a street for Willie Brown or me where we come from in Texas. That's because there's only one street in each of our hometowns, and they're both already called Main Street." Charlotte came to San Francisco after studying fashion design in Arkansas, and married John Ward Mailliard III. After his death in 1986, she married Fairmont hotel owner Mel Swig, and after his death five years later, she married George Schultz in 1997, growing progressively wealthier with each sad passing.

The 91-year-old Schultz above has had a remarkable career in the realms of money and power, jumping between economics academia, appointed government positions, and a stint with Bechtel engineering. Stephen Bechtel, Jr., seated above, was celebrating his 87th birthday at the ceremony, and had donated much of the money for the plaque.

Schultz was Secretary of State under Reagan for two administrations, and he started his remarks with a shout-out to Ronnie, "As the President said to me, in a nonpartisan way, politics is not a spectator sport." Schultz's career is a mixed bag of successes and abject failures. On the plus side, he forced unions in Philadelphia to finally racially integrate, and helped nurture the Reagan-Gorbachev detente which hastened the end of the Cold War. On the other hand, he was also directly responsible for creating and guiding the George W. Bush administration through its bloody follies, and for that disaster there really is no excuse.


Lisa Hirsch said...

Um wow. Whose idea was naming the drive after them, and why?

And how long will it take for that plaque to be defaced?

Civic Center said...

Dear Lisa: Good questions. Charlotte has been in charge of the War Memorial Board forever, so she tends to treat the entire complex as if it belongs to her. As for the plaque being defaced, I don't see it. Most defacing kind of people don't even know who Charlotte and George Schultz are, so it would be completely random.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I think I need a few post-it notes saying War Criminal on them.

AphotoAday said...

How you SF folks keep your Hennesseeeees straight, I'll never know. My personal take on a ceremony like this: FuckingRidiculous! If we want to celebrate ANY Schultz, it should be Charles Shultz, and he didn't even live in SF. (((sorry for the rant)))

Greg said...

a scene worthy of the fictional future nation of Panem in "the Hunger Games."

Civic Center said...

Dear Greg: Good "Hunger Games" analogy.

Dear Donald: Of course it should be Charles Schultz, not the 1980s Latin American war crminal George Schultz.

Dear Lisa: Don't get near that plaque with Post-It Notes or you'll be gosh-knows-what. Plus, we'll all know it was you.

Unknown said...

D'oh! I should have known you would have the answers to my questions about who knew the horseshoe drive at the Opera House had been renamed for Charlotte and George Shultz. Thanks for the info and you keeping me and others informed about Civic Center happenings and the people behind them.