‘Samuel and the Magic Tree’ Inspired by Richmond District Writer’s Grandchildren – Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon


By Jonathan Farrel

With news of people leaving town, a Richmond District native is determined to come back and pick up where she left off.

Some reports claim that since the outbreak of COVID-19, the city has seen an exodus of up to 7%. Denise Webster, who grew up in the Richmond district, considers this unfortunate for San Francisco and the neighborhood.

“As I return to the Richmond and the Sunset to visit family and friends, I see the need to appreciate the balance between past and present,” she said.

After living in Colorado to spend time with his grandchildren, Webster wrote a book called “Samuel and the Magic Tree.” The book tells the adventures of a grandmother and her two grandchildren during their daily walks.

Author Denise Webster. with his grandchildren, the inspiration for his new book “Samuel and the Magic Tree”. Courtesy picture.

Delighted to have been able to be with her grandchildren Samuel and Gigi during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Webster wrote the book as a Christmas present.

While she enjoyed spending time with her Colorado family, she realized her heart was in San Francisco.

“Arvada, Colorado, where my daughter lives, is about a 25-minute drive northwest of Denver,” Webster said. “With mountains, hills, hiking trails and the Majestic View Nature Center, Arvada is charming.”

She said the Natural Center helped inspire the book.

“But I’m a city girl,” Webster said. “San Francisco attracts me.”

Of Portuguese descent, Webster and his parents immigrated from Hong Kong to San Francisco when he was 4 years old.

“I consider myself a San Franciscan native, as we settled in the Richmond district,” Webster said. “We were really part of the community.”

She attended Star of the Sea Elementary School from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then Star of the Sea Academy for all four years of high school.

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

“Women in those days were expected to be housewives and raise families,” Webster said. “I was the only one in my graduating class going to college at UC Berkeley. As much as I loved my parents and my grandparents and the life we ​​had in the neighborhood, I just felt it there was more there, and San Francisco didn’t disappoint me,” Webster said.

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

“The bus on Geary opened up the whole city for me because it took me right downtown. And from there I could go anywhere,” Webster said.

Webster sees the book as an opportunity to build something.

“There is a need to embrace the heritage of younger and newer communities,” she said. “Furthermore, the older community, grounded in their personal past, needs to recognize the changes instead of just reminiscing. I think there must be a double awareness to create a rich and committed city.

Michael Pulizzano, Webster’s longtime high school friend, thinks highly of her.

“We were in games together. Denise had talent,” Pulizzano said. “At the time, all the Catholic high schools in the city worked together to put on plays and musicals. Denise and I go back a little further since I went to Star of the Sea Elementary School. We separated when she got married after Cal Berkeley and moved to East Bay to start a family. His move to Colorado was a culture shock; it’s a landlocked place compared to SF. I’m so happy she’s back!

Cheryl Boyes has been a co-worker and friend of Webster for 30 years.

“Denise is phenomenal; he’s someone to emulate,” Boyes said. “Denise is always involved in the community. Relationships mean a lot to her,”

Webster shares on her website how important her time with her grandchildren was.

“The backdrop of nature provided a wealth of opportunities to not only learn about our environment, but also to create a special connection,” she wrote. “We sang, invented stories and shared feelings. Sure, time with the grandkids is precious, but I was amazingly overwhelmed with the love our time together created.

When her grandchildren went to preschool, Webster moved back to California.

“I kept a copy of the gift book and each time I read it I found so much love and remembrance in such a happy, sweet and precious time,” she said. “My heart was bursting with love, and yes, sometimes there were tears. Tears of joy, longing and gratitude.

“My friends noticed this and encouraged me to post this story. Not just for my grandchildren, but in honor of that special bond that all grandparents and grandchildren have; it uniquely defines the “The Magic Tree” is indeed a metaphor for generations. It is a symbol of inheritance.

To find out more, visit samuelandthemagictree.com.