Brian Tuohy and Regina Jenkins

Recorded November 12, 2013 Archived November 15, 2013 00:00 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SCL000159


Brian (53) talks with his daughter, Regina (30), about his experiences growing up in San Francisco in the 1960's and about his relationship with his father.


  • Brian Tuohy
  • Regina Jenkins

Recording Location

San Francisco Public Library, Main Library

Partnership Type



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00:02 North Bay Facebook. Yeah. Yeah, that's it. That's the commute man. That's a tough commute time to get to Oakland then to get to the financial district.

00:18 I just turned up from the

00:20 Cool

00:24 Right on.

00:28 Good for you, man.

00:36 My name is Regina Jenkins and 30 years old. It is November 12th 2013 at where in San Francisco California at the main library and my relationship to my partner is daughter.

00:49 My name is Brian. Tuohy age is 53 today's dates November 12th. 2013 location is San Francisco, California at the main library relationship to partner is father.

01:06 So you have come back to San Francisco for the full circle from when you were a little kid and you just bought a house down at the beach and I'm curious how it makes you feel to sort of husband lived in DC and Los Angeles and Sacramento for a long time and be moving back into your old neighborhood.

01:33 I

01:35 When you were a kid, we moved out of San Francisco on when we were living at 28th and Judah about 10 houses out where you live now.

01:48 With your family and we moved to Petaluma and we bought 120 year old Victorian in Petaluma. And I pretty much was done with the city back. Then I was the San Francisco city Gardener and you know, I was removed to Petaluma and I commuted into the City and I drove back to this beautiful Victorian house in Petaluma, and I thought that we ride that's where I thought we would be forever and with the circumstances, you know, I ended up moving to Sacramento and living there for 13 years or so and then moving back to DC and living there for a short time and in Washington DC it became very clear to me that I wanted to move back to San Francisco, but the house prices just you know, it just seemed almost impossible to

02:41 Afford to move back to San Francisco at that time and you would move you a bought a house, you know, which is pretty funny on the same block that your mom totally grew up on all of her life. And and now you and your mom and your family live there, which is fantastic. So I

03:05 You know, I didn't think I was going to be able to move back to San Francisco. But you know, my thoughts were I have I love San Francisco and I just remember time. I'm in San Francisco. I feel like it's my town my city. It's I can do anything. I can go anywhere and I have friends in San Francisco that are just lifelong friends. So but I didn't think it was possible and then you know, I decided you know, I sold my house in Sacramento and I decided to move to San Francisco and lo and behold I was in a moving truck driving through the Waldo tunnel kind of scared to death.

03:53 You know moving into a small small apartment in behind. My front best friend's mother's house and looking for a house to buy and you know with your help, you know, we went around San Francisco and looked at a bunch of places and that would just unbelievable amounts of money for nothing and we got so lucky. I got so lucky and

04:20 You know the sunset the Outer Sunset by the beach by the park. I loved I mean that's my ideal and we kept on it and now I own a house by the beach on 48th and Kirkham in and a lot of it was your persistence. I appreciate that. Thank you, but I love it out there. Yeah by the beach and Java Beach the coffee shop out there and just your car in I just love it.

04:48 So your dad died before I was born and he loved San Francisco. I think so. What do you think he loved about San Francisco?

05:03 My Father John William Tuohy

05:07 I love San Francisco so much he was.

05:15 You know born and raised here to he went to reardan high school Saint emidius grammar school and

05:25 He he loved everything about San Francisco. He he loved the peace rallies. He loved the 49ers. He loved North the North Beach area going down there and going to cost plus and just spending all day there. He loves going to the marina greens and and just you know sitting out there on the weekends. He loved walking through the city. He let he got a boat and he was a sailor on the San Francisco Bay. He was a true San Francisco and they love San Francisco History and he got so pissed off when people would call it Frisco. He would get violent he would get viola.

06:14 Andy you know

06:17 He bought a house by UC Medical Center that was going to be condemned and it within a year. It was to be condemned but he joined this group called the Inner Sunset action committee. And so it's saved all those houses on 3rd and 4th Avenue heat and he bought the house for a song because the people thought that he was foolish to move into it back in 71. I think it was $41,000. He got the house on 4th Avenue for and he he just worked with this inner sense of action committee and all of a sudden they UC Medical Center said, okay, we'll go build out somewhere else. And so it's saved all those beautiful homes on third and fourth Fourth Avenue.

07:04 But

07:07 My father just love San Francisco. He just loved it at you know, he just ended what what's not to love?

07:16 So I hope nothing's off-limits hear you.

07:24 Are almost two years sober and when you lived in San Francisco before you were a teenager and then up till you're probably 25.

07:34 We moved in 1825.

07:39 Yeah before new development. So you were drinking and probably big party days of your life. How does it feel to be back here? And so is that challenging for your sobriety? It's not challenging for my sobriety. But it does it's giving me a new look at San Francisco. In fact in a look going walking past the bars that I used to you. No drink at in the lot of the exteriors of San Francisco at the DeYoung Museum in the zoo and Sloat Boulevard and Kelly's Cove and you know, all that the Japanese tea garden all these places were drinking places for me, you know, I would we would go and bring a large amount of booze at Stickman Stern Grove concert was all about partying, you know, all of the rock concerts. Everything was about taking drugs and drinking and

08:39 And it was fun. I can't tell you that it wasn't fun. It was a blast. I had being a teenager in the Haight-Ashbury district and being part of that scene back in the late sixties and early seventies. It was probably the funnest time I could ever imagine the freedom. I had it was just like, you know, nothing but now

09:04 You know, I am living my life on on different terms and I'm really enjoying the city now. I'm really enjoying visiting like when we just going out to dinner in discovering some of the restaurants. I went down to the Beach Chalet the other day and had lunch there and when I was here, you know, and when I was a gardener that place was a dump and it was just a bar downstairs and just to go back there and and you know, enjoy that but to answer your question specifically it's not a trigger for me. I don't I don't I don't but but I do remember. Oh, yeah. I remember when we you know when I drank over there and you know, I member that party that we had here and so those memories are there, but it's it's not something that I look at Van Lee anymore. I look at being sober more fondly now.

10:03 Then drinking it's like doing this we're doing this now. I don't think if I was drinking we would be doing this.

10:12 If you so tell you said you had great times in the hate that when you know when you were growing up, do you have any stories you can tell?

10:23 Yeah, I have I have a ton of stories.

10:32 We were when I was 13. I wish we would we would go to rock concerts all over the place. You know, Kezar Kezar Stadium would have rock concerts in the group of guys that I hung out with me never paid to get into any of them. We would always sneak in we would scale the walls or bring down a fence and we wouldn't just get in but we'd allow hundreds of people to get in and that was just that was just who we were we were kind of like a pack of roving animals, but one specific time. I remember I was 13 and we were going to see we're just going to Winter land and we really didn't know who is playing but we stood outside and

11:18 When when you walked in the backlight the black lights were on and so you just glowed all your shirts clode and there was posters on the wall and mind you I was 13 and you know, I was totally you know on drugs. I was you know, they were handing out chocolate a sit outside. And so I totally took some chocolate acid and we had our stash pot and I when I walked in it was Steely Dan playing reeling in the years and I'll never forget that cuz it was like the best song on the planet and they were just playing the song The Net that died at a 13 year old kid that it just doesn't get much better than that.

12:02 But lots of rock concerts on the beach was a the beach even though San Francisco isn't known for their there. They're their son suntanning or whatever a great memory for me is a being down at the marina greens with my parents and back. Then there was tons of sunbathers down there and my sister and I were pretty much free to do whatever we do whatever we want to do, you know why they would give us a few dollars and we could buy a hot dog or do whatever you want, but they were just sunbathing and I don't know if you do know the marina greens, you know where the boats are and you know that little round thing that's you know, it looks like a snack bar there. So that's where we sat. And so my favorite memories were just and I'm tell I'm talking about like from

13:02 7 years old 6 7 years old I would just go out and I would go crabbing. I would get a little fish hook with then I'd go and I cracked some muscles and I use the muscles and I dropped the finish line and a crab would catch on to it. I bring up the crab and put them in a bucket and you know, it was just a a young boy and walking on walking jumping the fence over the piers, you know know they weren't unlocked at jump jump over the fence and the fishermen were cool. They would help me out then they don't ya what you doing that wrong and then show me how to do it and I'd have a bucket of crabs that I'd bring back and we'd bring home and cook and you know, a lot of times I would go and swim in the ocean and there was no PRNDL.

13:56 You know, there's no parents and I was like then a couple times. I've got caught in the rip-tide and really was scared. And you know, I didn't think he I didn't think I was going to die, but I was really scared and now, you know, I made it back in but back in those days. I'm sure there was Parental Guidance or whatever put my parents just thought just kind of thought that Pam and I could take care of ourselves. So we got into a lot of fun situations a lot of fun situations. I have so many stories to tell on that, you know, a lot of them. Unfortunately now that I look back I wish that drugs didn't weren't involved in a lot of them cuz I think I wish I would have had more useful experience. I have one more when when a bunch of us would we would like walk along the coast and we would bring our BB guns.

14:56 And we would shoot at things as we are walking but but Daly City and all those places in Pacifica, they were kind of just like not developed. And so you would be walking through sand dunes and up Cliffs and you know, and you could get it you would roll down the really tall Sandy Cliffs to the beach and walk along the beach and you know, maybe five or six young kids just and we sometimes we'd walk all the way to Pacifica and then we'd call my parents and they can come pick us up, but we would just walk and just you know, shoot bottle in and back then and it was a bunch of kids walking around with guns. You know what I mean? It was kind of kind of kind of unique, you know, but that's the freedom that we had. Do you know Hindi?

15:45 You know.

15:47 Just tons of stuff getting things are safer then that you could wander like that or do you think parents were more stupid then or not you no more careless. I don't know if it was safer. But I know that kids were just kind of kicked out of the house a lot like get out go out and play and you know, we'd all gathered big wreck or you know, and then I think that you know parents warned and I don't think that they were as concerned as they are now, but I do believe that some parents were but the friends that I hung out with it was just kind of like it was expected that on a Saturday you you weren't to sit at home you were to go out and play baseball or roam the streets. They didn't realize what we were doing and when we were there was a lot of drugs and alcohol and stuff at an early age with the group of kids that I was with and not all kids did that

16:45 Not all kids work were taking drugs and drinking as much as we were but my group did but I don't know if it was safer in a we used to hitchhike to Stinson Beach up to Russian River. We would do you know as young kids we would, you know, get a nap sack tote over in our back go out to the bridge and put our thumb out and go to Stinson Beach for the day and then and sometimes we go as far as the Russian River Guerneville. I mean, we're talking 13-14 years old and just because we knew people that were going to be up there. You know, the one cool thing was that my father work for United so they would go to Hawaii for two weeks, but Pam and I didn't want to go so we would stay and go to school.

17:35 And we didn't want to go for the full two weeks. Cuz we we like actually like going to school so they would go for the two weeks and we would stay at home and I'd have baseball practice and stuff and the kids with me know the coaches and stuff would say so what are you guys doing for the weekend? And you know, everybody's going on. Oh, no, you know what I said while I'm going to Hawaii and nobody really believe me, but I would just get my stuff, you know pack some underwear and my grandfather or Jackie to Leawood drive me to the airport and I'll jump on a 747 and I would go my dad would always get mad cuz it cost $18 to fly first class and he would go don't fly first class only fly coach cuz if that was for free and so I would always go first class and I would go upstairs and just sit in that, you know 747. I don't know if you've ever seen the upstairs, they're kind of just like

18:32 It's a lounge area and Houston mixed drinks for myself. I was totally drunk by the time I got over there, but that was that was an experience to be able to fly for free.

18:45 We we did a lot of fun stuff.

18:50 So do you think that your dad thought about where you would be when you are holy 53 when you were 53 and what do you think? He thought you'd be doing or the life you'd be living?

19:03 You know.

19:06 My dad and I didn't get along that. Well, I know you love me when I was a younger kid. He I don't know. We just never really talk very much and

19:25 You know, whatever. I don't want to paint him as a bad guy cuz he wasn't a bad guy.

19:33 But he had more in common with my sister. They would do a lot of stuff together.

19:46 You know, I have a I have you know this and you've heard this story, but I have a pretty big learning disability and it was even more pronounced when I was a kid and

19:58 My father got really frustrated with that he would he would.

20:08 You know, he would give me these tests and it would be very frustrated with me, but

20:19 I was a really good athlete and so I was I was I was I would think that it's a hard question. You just asked me hard question. This is a hard one cuz I didn't get to know him cuz he died so soon. I was 21 and we weren't speaking for years before that and you know a couple years we hadn't really spoke because it was under when when I was when I turned 18, they threw a party for me and my dad came up to me and he gave me a big hug, and he said I love you. You know. I love you. When are you leaving?

20:56 And so I left about two weeks later and I came back about a week later and he had turned my room into his office and he moved my stuff into the basement and he in it. He he he sort of like I I think I'm getting I'm getting choppy here, but we didn't I don't think he had I don't think he had many hopes or dreams for me. You know, I know you love me, but he just he couldn't tell me, and I don't think his father was able to talk to him either and I I think I kind of started to do that with you kids too. And I think it has to do with drinking. I think it has to do with alcohol.

21:44 But

21:48 I think I when I look back now how he would have loved now because he would have been a great grandfather. You know, he started to when Roy was born we had he had a meeting we had a boat and he designed this chair that would fit and it would tilt wonder if the boat went this way it would right itself. So that Roy was always be in in a in a upright position. So he really you know that I could you know

22:21 That's why I don't want to pay him so negative because he was a really great guy and he really did a lot for people but he just for some reason he just couldn't talk to me and I don't know what it was. You know, it's just he was he was always telling me that if I was all City, you know, I buy was all City athlete and he would say yeah, but there's a million people better than you. You know, I'm so I think in a way he was trying to make me tougher and trying to make me better but

22:57 Got to this is going to go in the history books and I'm talking about my father. So negatively he was such a beautiful man, but for some reason we weren't that close and I wish that we were able to wish she lived a few years longer so that we could have gotten close cuz I think we would have you would have been proud of me and he would have loved me know his grandchildren and great-grandchildren now, I mean, that's just too unreal.

23:21 Time you said that you moved out for two weeks and then moved back in. Are you moved out two weeks later and move back in a week after that. What happened in that week in my room was totally gone. It was his office and my stuff was just in the basement and then I moved to LA and became a produce I managed it was unbelievable. You want me to go to that. Okay. So in 1978, I got a call. I was living up in Santa Rosa going to Santa Rosa JC. That's where I moved. I moved my grant to my grandparents trailer and Grandpa Chet and Grandma Jen. I moved to their trailer and

24:09 But I didn't know they had a trailer in Santa Rosa in Santa Rosa lived in a trailer on a double wide trailer home and

24:20 I moved in with them, but that didn't work out because my grandfather got let you know. I was kind of coming home late and but I was going to Santa Rosa JC and I went to the bank and was going to take out my last $2 out of the bank and the teller who I'd gotten to know she said what don't you have a job, you know, do you need a job and I was like a little upset pissed at her at first, but then I said yeah I kind of do and so her father and mother owned an appaloosa race horse ranch in Santa Rosa. So I started at moved on to the ranch into a trailer and started taking care of Appaloosa horses, which was pretty cool and it was a great opportunity just a great opportunity to live on my own but Michael Bowen called me from LA and he had a job delivering produce in LA. And so I just got on a plane and move down there moved in with him and back then in 1978. I was making about $1,500 a week.

25:19 It was unbelievable amount of money. And cuz we were just going for like three or four months out of the year, but I would you know, I would I would be in a truck and I would just drive to Vons and Safeway and Ralph's and all these different places and unload produce and I would have a team of Latino men that would help me unload this stuff and they would pay me by the truckload and you know what they just send you would work 24 hours a day, but it was just unbelievable amount of money and then to give a 18 year old kid that amount of money and we just Michael and I we we rented Cabanas at The Roosevelt Hotel, you know these by the pool and we just live the high life. It was Unreal giving $100 tips to waitresses.

26:19 After after church, but at that point, they got married and I went up to Tom Ray's wedding and your mom was babysitting somebody and that's where I met your mom. I knew I knew of Molly works, but that's where I met your mom and kind of fell in love with her right then and I gave her my ticket to the 49er game. That was the reception was at the 49er game. I think it was a Browns 49er game. And so we went from the wedding to the in the back of the red van that I had to the football game and that's how I met. That's really how I met your mom.

27:02 The reception was at a 49er game. They bought a section at the 49er game and all of the people after the funeral just went to the 49er game was actually pretty fun, but

27:16 But yeah, I never went back to live at home and then

27:22 You know got married really quickly to your mom and dad Roya and my dad's my day. You know that the one thing was my dad Dorothy your mom's a mother and Gordon your mom's dad died within like 9 months of each other. I may it may be it may be a different. I don't my memories out there, but it was a very short time. So is it was pretty weird experience to have three people three parents die that soon after but

27:58 Anyway, so why didn't you talk to your dad for a couple of years after you left?

28:11 I guess Pride.

28:14 You know it was you know, when I called him to tell him that your mom was pregnant with Roya. He basically said that's your problem and he hung up. So it was like I was calling to say hey Dad, you know, I'm really excited. You know, Molly's pregnant and we're going to have a child and heat the only thing that he said was that's your problem and he hung up the phone. So I just didn't think there was much interest there. So

28:43 I didn't you know, and it's kind of like, you know, once I got married and as you how you know is that you just get really busy.

28:52 You know, so I was you know.

28:55 I would see him at univ Christmases and stuff like that, but we wouldn't have any contact other than that. And when did you?

29:05 What made you get back in contact with him? You got pancreatic cancer and within three months he had gone from a 220 lb guy 240 lb or something like that and you know, I would spend a lot of time with him. And and I actually when I would visit him I could tell that he like me being there but he staying alive I went up to him one time and I had a book and I said I would and I just went up to my said hey, Dad, can you write in this book for me? Can you write out, you know, just some thoughts, you know thoughts about Pam thoughts about me, you know, just and he just looked at me and he goes, I just don't know if I can he was just sad he was very sad and he was sick very sick.

29:57 I mean pancreatic cancer in.

30:03 He went in for surgery and

30:07 When he came out of surgery.

30:10 He couldn't talk you had all sorts of stuff on there. I mean they went in there did major surgery and he grabbed my hand and I heard my voice and he grabbed my hand and he put my thumb up and put my thumb down and he put my thumb up and you put my phone down and I knew he was saying was it successful or wasn't or was it not successful and I couldn't answer my just broke down in tears and walked away. I guess that answered his question, but you know,

30:40 I was there when he died when he took his last breath. I was holding his hand and that meant a lot to me and I think that he was in serious pain and unserious morphine or whatever. They give them in, you know, he was breathing real heavy and it was just me and him and I just I don't know why but I just pulled a chair up and I just put my hand in his hand and within a minute he stopped breathing and

31:13 That was enough for me.

31:16 You know.

31:20 What do you mean it's just

31:23 That's all I really had. You know, I have great memories of my father but

31:31 Being there when he died made it special made it feel special for me with him that I was there when he died.

31:42 No, that's really all I had.

31:44 At the end with m, you know, I just like I said, I wish I had another I wish you was alive. He'd only be like 77 years old now, you know, and I think you would have loved them. I think you would really like them.

31:59 I think you would have you would have had a really good relationship with him.

32:03 Camden

32:06 I just didn't I don't mean to be so morbid about it. I just try to be truthful that I was there when he died.

32:19 Do you think you were closer to your mom? My mom and I were close she was?

32:32 Yeah, I think we were close. You know, the the thing about this is I hope that they're both dead so that they're really not going to hear this. So that's kind of good and they're hearing everything for their hearing everything. Yeah, but

32:52 You know what my parents.

32:58 Were young they were 17 when they had my sister and so they were just kids you know and

33:06 It was a it was a volatile kind of loving Italian Irish upbringing. I mean, it was crazy drinking and

33:17 In the sixties and seventies in San Francisco. I mean they were

33:22 Parting is hard as I was if not more and so it was just crazy. You know when I look back on it it it almost doesn't seem real.

33:34 But my mom I love my mom. She's like a little girl and I took I've taken can I took care of my mom from when I can from the first time I can remember I would I be the shoulder that she would cry on and you know, but I love her to death. I love her to death. I wish you was was able to enjoy her grandkids and her great-grandkids a little bit more. I think I think she you have good memories of of Grandma, right?

34:10 I can appreciate her for who she was. She was a pretty negative voice in my head for most of my life pretty condescending. Condescending pretty critical telling me I needed to lose weight and I wasn't dressed nice enough and all that kind of stuff. So she wasn't thinking I was a little kid. I love going to see her cuz she would buy us crap to eat and she beats it up smoking sick. I didn't say she would smoke cigarettes and we drink mochas and that was really cool. But

34:40 Give me the time I was like twelve I realized I'd sort of dysfunctional the voices, but she created in my head. You know, they she comes from a family know the

34:55 Her mom and my grandfather, you know the depression error type thing, you know, they weren't well off and she can't she was she had a pretty tough tough tough go of it her mom. You don't remember Jen right Grandma Jen yet.

35:15 So you can you can imagine going up with with her but you know, so

35:22 She was needing my mom was needy you know, and

35:30 But I love her I love her. I wish you was around.

35:35 I do do you think your parents would be proud of you where you are right now? She told me that all the time too proud of me.

35:45 My father I think would be I think that he would we would have we would have it's interesting with my sobriety. If if if if either my mom or my father would at what how they would react to that or if they would maybe like I think that my mom would like the AA program. It's like so much fun. And I think my mom would be like the queen of AA she would if she really knew what a a was about all you have to do is stop drinking and then you have the most fun on the planet. You know, you have a great time so

36:28 I think my father was proud of me, but he couldn't tell me you know, I think that's just the males and his family. It's like Uncle Denny.

36:38 You know.

36:40 You know, you can't tell you and that's my dad and brother.

36:45 I think it's cool though. Is that like I have said over and over again that you could only tell me that you love me when you were drunk. And that was the only time that you got overly affectionate until now you got sober and so, you know, I wonder if your dad would have

37:04 You know had he been able to get sober if you would have gotten what you wanted cuz I you know as you're talking about I never really knew him and all that I know.

37:13 I thought I knew you until you got sober and then I had no idea who you were and I really really like who I who I know now, but I had no idea who you were underestimated you for my whole life. So I just wonder if your if your dad had that opportunity if you would have

37:31 You know.

37:33 You guys would have been able to get close so, you know.

37:36 I wish I wish that would happen to

37:45 When I turn 41 it was amazing how young I felt and my dad died at 41 and it at UNO 41g on.

37:55 Henna

37:59 So what else we got?

38:08 Are you are you where you thought you would be a 53?

38:15 When you are 18 and marrying mom and 9 months pregnant and

38:21 Yeah, yeah. I'm I'm way past but I thought I was going to cheat. I thought I was going to be a warehouseman and and now I look back and it's like I kind of wish I was still a city Gardner. I kind of wish I was still just a San Francisco Gardner. I love the experiences. I've had in, you know in media and television and stuff like that and video games. I mean it's been totally great and I wouldn't change it for anything but

38:49 I was a dick text Lexa kid that couldn't tell the difference between red and blue. I mean I seriously was I couldn't tell you the difference between red and blue and so I become a I got a great life.

39:05 I got you and your brother and sister and I got four grandchildren and you know, I'm fairly healthy. I couldn't two ex-wives.

39:16 And and a house a house on the beach in San Francisco. I'm doing great.

39:24 Fantastically great

39:30 I love you Regina, and this is like the total treat for me that you set this up for us to do this. And I don't think we would have done it if I was drinking. I really don't we would not have cool. I'm I'm really glad you did it to I love you. I love you.