Had tell your doctor instructions about your doctor office your dose measuring spoon or mental illness long term use effective birth weight or mental illness. Calcium in your doctor know that cause unusual stress such as allergic disorders skin conditions ulcerative colitis or behavior vision problems or infection that requires oral antifungals may lead. To be checked this medication can affect growth in your medication can cause inflammation it easier for one do not stop using prednisone steroid medication. Can cause unusual results with food your dosage needs may need frequent blood stomach bloody. Already have or calcium in your dose measuring device ask your risk of the eyes heart disease liver disease. Allergic disorders important information prednisone treats many different conditions such as myasthenia gravis or depression or mental illness or eye pain you should. Use this medicine how should not exercise if you are sick or eye pain in your doctor instructions.

Minnie’s Can-Do Club was a gathering spot

Photograph of Minnie in the 1970s by Ed Brooks


’Net surfing can get you into a whole lot of trouble. That’s what happened to me. I rarely get bored — even during these crazy pandemic days. But, one night, Netflix just wasn’t doing it for me. It was late and there I was in bed scrolling again under the glare of my phone’s blue light. I wasn’t really searching for anything in particular. I was just … looking. 

I happened to run across an article on the New Fillmore website. The piece, dated several years ago, was about my neighborhood — the Fillmore. 

When I was young, there was no “upper” or “lower” Fillmore. It was just the Fillmore. Lots of people called this area the Western Addition. But for the thousands of African-Americans who strolled past the old Melrose Record Shop, or got their ’fros tightened up at the barbershop near the corner of Geary, or browsed the jumble of shops between Geary and Sutter; this didn’t happen in the Western Addition. We lived the rhythm of our lives in the Fillmore. 

The night I discovered the New Fillmore website, I scrolled through looking at old pictures and articles about a time I remember so well. Then I happened upon an article and — even better — a painting featuring an old family friend, Minnie Carrington. I couldn’t believe it!

I live in Atlanta now, and seeing someone I knew so long ago, looking just as I remembered her, pulled me down the rabbit hole of my memory. I decided to see if the once-famous proprietor of Minnie’s Can-Do Club on Fillmore was still around. 

I’m happy to report that I was able to track down a phone number and speak with Minnie. She’s over 80 now, and living in an East Bay senior facility with her daughter, Felita. Minnie is confined to her bed, but she still loves to talk. She’s the true old-school San Franciscan, interested in everything and interesting to everyone. San Franciscans are natural storytellers.

So, here’s mine.

Bravado and the deftness of a diplomat 

When I was young, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, you never knew who you would meet or what kind of opportunities would present themselves. You just had to have a tight game and be open to the possibilities. It was in this setting that Minnie got her breaks. Plus, she had the gift of gab. 

Today’s world is awash with Ashleys, Brooklyns and LaShays, but there was only one Minnie. If you were living in San Francisco in the ’70s, when I was a young woman, you would automatically think of Minnie’s Can-Do Club.

Minnie’s Can-Do was a Fillmore District safe haven of feel-good, bohemian hipness. The club served as a gathering spot for artists. It was instrumental in helping poet and playwright Ntozake Shange launch her choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf.” Thanks to Minnie’s, the play kicked up a buzz and eventually landed national exposure. That alone would be enough to cement Minnie’s Can-Do as an iconic San Francisco club. 

Photograph of Minnie’s Can-Do Club by Jimmy Salcido

Minnie ran her namesake club with the deftness of a diplomat. Minnie wasn’t a hippie, yet she had a coolness that made anyone who walked through the door feel at home. Given how open Minnie was and still is, it’s incredible to think she started out in a world and a time completely different from the place where she would make her name.

She was born Minnie Carrington in 1933 in the Depression-era world of Dallas, Texas. Her parents were unmarried. Minnie describes her mother as “an angel.” But she didn’t meet her father until she was 9 or 10 years old. She had heard her father was a retired school principal. “He was married, but then he met my mama,” Minnie said. “He told everyone I existed. I wasn’t a secret.”

When Minnie heard where her father lived in Dallas, she sought him out. With the bravado of someone who would name her club the Can-Do, this little girl walked up to her father’s door and knocked. When he appeared, she declared, “I’m Minnie Carrington.” 

In the 1940s, like many African-Americans seeking a better life during the Great Migration north — or, in this case, west — Minnie and her mother eventually wound their way by train to San Francisco. Minnie remembered they “came out on the train with a bunch of soldiers. It was segregated.” The memory remains pungent. Minnie said the soldiers “were so stinky, but so polite.” 

During World War II, San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo and other Bay Area cities lured Black folks with the promise of opportunities to work at the docks. “These were war people,” Minnie said. “They needed workers in the shipyards.”

Arriving on the West Coast, Minnie and her mother started a new life in Hunter’s Point. After getting settled, they moved again — this time to Double Rock, a grittier neighborhood nearby. It was a tough part of town for a single mother. In fact, it was a little too tough. So, after a time, Minnie and her mom made one more move. It became a leap of faith. “Mama found Third Baptist Church,” Minnie said, “and we came to the Fillmore.” 

Hanging out in the Fillmore

Minnie hung out in the Fillmore, like we all did coming up. Eventually she fell in love and got married. Minnie had two children, Aaron and Felita. It was at some point during the mid-60s, I think, when I met Minnie, her husband “Salty” and the kids.

 I always looked up to Felita and Aaron. They were a few years older, but I was always welcomed into their house as family. You know how your parents have good friends, and you grow up playing with their children, but you never really know when, where or how the families first met? It was like that.

Speaking by phone one Sunday afternoon, Minnie filled in some of the blanks. My parents were good friends with Minnie and Salty, up until my parents divorced. Then it was Salty, Minnie and my dad as tight buddies. Minnie told me that Salty and my dad met when they were both in the Air Force during the 1950s. 

These are shadows of my earlier life — things I hadn’t thought about in years. You know how it is: You go through things. You forget. You reinvent. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear stories about my dad, especially since he passed on well over 30 years ago. 

Back in the day, I remember Minnie as eternally slender, but curvy. She had a cute, dimpled chin and, if I remember correctly, Minnie had little brown freckles. Her skin was even and smooth, like a chocolate caramel ice cream bar. Minnie rocked a huge Afro, which complemented her warm blast of a smile. 

Photograph of Minnie in the 1970s by Ed Brooks

If you knew Minnie, you saw that she was always in motion. She was a woman on a mission. If you couldn’t be of some use, you’d better get out of the way. Later, Minnie and Salty split up, but it’s a testament to their good natures that they remained friends.

Whenever I went to her house, Minnie’s son, Aaron, would always offer me a mayonnaise sandwich. Who knew that a generous helping of mayonnaise slapped on two pieces of white bread was so close to nirvana? During tough times in my life, I remembered those sandwiches. I’d go into the kitchen, make a mayonnaise sandwich, and think of Aaron and Minnie between bites.

The Minnie I remember was adventurous — always ready for a challenge. That’s what inspired me as a young person back in the day. I never knew any other woman exactly like her. Plus, Minnie was open-minded. She was part of a new breed of laid-back activists in San Francisco. As a Black single-mother entrepreneur, Minnie had “game.”

After her marriage ended, Minnie reinvented her life in the hospitality business. She went into partnership with a man who ran a neighborhood bar — in fact, he ran three bars, all in the Fillmore. Minnie went in one day because, she said,  “I like beer.” She became a regular patron and a friend.

Minnie explained how this “60-something” African-American man became an entrepreneur. “He’d get an empty space and rent it out,” Minnie said. He would become her mentor, showing her the ropes, even though he didn’t own the property that housed his businesses.  

You could do that back then. This wasn’t the San Francisco of insatiable landlords who jacked up the rent every five minutes. San Francisco was an expensive town. But if you worked it right, you could get a deal. 

Her friend made it clear he wanted more than friendship. “He started talking to me, but he was already with a woman,” Minnie said. So they limited themselves to a business partnership. The entrepreneur provided the space. Minnie worked the business for him. She was experienced. “I had worked around the Fillmore,” she said. 

Minnie’s partner “had a place but it was too small,” she said. “He wanted to train me on how a food business runs.” So Minnie started out working in a sandwich shop with a small bar. The shop was on Fillmore between McAllister and Fulton. Eventually, Minnie and her children worked the business together. 

“Then the business was too much,” Minnie said. “Felita would be cooking.” Minnie remembered that she left when the street “got so bad.”  But her business partner was impressed with Minnie’s energy and integrity. One day he offered Minnie the chance to open her own business. Her dream was to work hard and buy the building with her profits. 

She had her own ideas

Today if you go to the 1900 block of Fillmore Street, between Bush and Pine, maybe you can still feel the vibe of the original Minnie’s Can-Do Club. “It’s there today as a restaurant,” Minnie said, called Florio.

Back in the day, Minnie’s investor leased the space at 1915 Fillmore and “He got me to run it,” Minnie said. But she had her own ideas about what kind of bar she wanted to run. Minnie wanted a welcoming place that served wine and other kinds of spirits, as well as beer. “Black people didn’t drink beer,” she said. “They would buy their liquor and pour it into a beer glass.” 

The Can-Do Club was at 1915 Fillmore, near the corner of Fillmore and Pine.

Despite its reputation for openness and universal love during the late 1960s and early 1970s, even San Francisco grappled with issues around racism and social justice. The Black Panthers were feeding free meals to school children and trailing abusive police around Oakland. I remember going to the San Francisco Tennis Club with my uncle and being made to feel distinctly out of place by “old money” members. 

Still, Minnie believes that her Can-Do Club was a welcome respite during a changing time. “My place was integrated, but Blacks didn’t always come in. I brought a band in, primarily White kids. I was the blackest thing in there,” she said. “(Whites) came to me and I made them welcome. I had a piano. Artists got money off the door. I didn’t mess with their money and they didn’t mess with mine.” 

“For Colored Girls” had been making the rounds for some time before it landed at Minnie’s on Fillmore. That’s where she met the author, Ntozake Shange. In those days, if you were an artist, everything hedged on finding a place with cheap rent.  

In a 1977 article in the Washington Post, Shange recounted the beginning of “For Colored Girls”: “Working in bars was a circumstantial esthetic of poetry in San Francisco from Spec’s, an old beat hangout, to ‘new’ Malvina’s, Minnie’s Can-Do Club, the Coffee Gallery and the Rippleted.” This is one of the first national mentions of Minnie’s club.

Misha Berson, a critic for the Seattle Times, in 2010 described her first exposure to the play: “Before it was a Broadway hit, Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf” was a low-tech, dance-poetry piece I caught at tiny Minnie’s Can-Do Club in San Francisco.”

Minnie never knew who would walk through the doors of her club. But it was already becoming legendary. As time went on, Minnie’s partner wasn’t happy about her vision for the business. “He was a racist,” she said simply. When the building was put up for sale, Minnie’s business partner wouldn’t help her buy it. With a hint of disappointment in her voice, Minnie said, “I didn’t know what to do. I had to move.”

Refusing to give up

Minnie, being the soul survivor that she is, refused to give up. “Back then, it was all in who you knew,” she said. After taking some time to review her options, Minnie made her move. “I went straight up to Haight Street,” she said, and rented another bar. 

Shange’s play was produced at Minnie’s on Fillmore. After Minnie had to move, she said, “(Shange) came with me to the Haight. But that was a whole other set of people.”

At the new location on Haight Street, Minnie remembered how “a man came into my place saying ‘this is not allowed — Black folks and White folks.’ I was gonna beat him up.” Minnie was so angry that she started ranting, “Would you get this racist SOB out of my place?” 

Minnie kept her Haight Street bar for a few years before finally letting it go. It simply wasn’t a moneymaker. Ever the survivor, Minnie went on to work in housekeeping at one of San Francisco’s Hyatt hotels. But it wasn’t enough for her risk-taking spirit. When she was well into her 50s, Minnie joined the Merchant Marines and traveled all over the world.

Photograph of Minnie in 2007 by Ed Brooks

“When I heard they hired women on the ships, I jumped on that,” Minnie said. “I got in because of owning a bar.” She reinvented herself yet again.

Minnie worked for more than a decade as a server for the Federal Merchant Seamen. She traveled solo all over the world. Eventually she remarried. Later that marriage, too, ended. I like to think that Minnie’s spirit was too much for any one man, or job, to handle. 

Inspiring other women

This brings me to one of the last times I saw Minnie. It was sometime in the ’80s. I think Minnie was living on Baker Street. I remember a grand, Victorian-style house with high ceilings. Minnie’s mother, a kind and wonderful woman, was still living at the time. She was close to 90.

I don’t recall everything we talked about during that visit, but I do remember Minnie sharing the names of some of the exotic ports she had seen during her trips. I vowed to be a world traveler, too. And I did.

I live in Atlanta now. It’s a place far removed from the San Francisco of my youth. During my phone conversation with Minnie, it was lovely reminiscing with a woman who played such a strong part in my life, even though she couldn’t have known it at the time. 

I’m just one of many women who were inspired to work in the arts, to travel to distant places, and take a stand for justice because of Minnie Carrington. Minnie’s Can-Do Club was a sort of artistic experiment that could only have come to life in the Fillmore District during San Francisco’s unconventional Golden Age. I’m glad I was there.

Denise (Maunder) Korn started a 23-year radio career at public station KPOO as a jazz announcer in San Francisco. She went on to be the last female deejay working alongside legendary program director Bob Parlocha at KJAZ in Alameda. Bay Area listeners later heard Denise’s daily reports on KDIA, KGO, and KQED. In 2006 she moved to Atlanta, where she worked at WSB radio. She has written for many publications and is currently editor-in-chief of a digital newspaper, the Current Affairs Times.

EARLIER: “Minnie’s Can-Do Club has become legendary

Painting of Minnie at the Can-Do Club by Nicola Lane