San Francisco doesn't like it when its institutions fall on hard times. We have a tendency to take it personally.
As much as those iconic watering holes are part of the city's very fabric, so are Marian and Vivian Brown.
The 85-year old twin socialites have been an indelible part of the city for decades. So when a San Francisco Chronicle report revealed the pair had fallen on hard times, it hit home for a lot of locals. Imagining a city without the identically dressed sisters cheerfully traipsing around side-by-side (and dining together at Uncle Vito Pizzeria every night) is just as difficult as picturing a city without sourdough bread.
The Chronicle reports:
"My sister has Alzheimer's, so she has to have 24-hour care, because they're afraid she will go out and get run over or something," says Marian, offering a straight answer to the question everybody who sees her on the streets stops to ask. "Where's your sister?"
"We don't look much alike anymore," Marian says, in a taxicab en route to visit Vivian at California Pacific Medical Center's Davies Campus. Her memory has been going for a year now, says Marian, who has been caring for her sister in the one-bedroom apartment on Nob Hill where they sleep in twin beds. But a slipping mind led to a slip and fall about a month ago. Vivian went to a doctor, who referred her straight to the hospital, where she has been ever since.
The Browns moved from Michigan over 40 years ago and quickly became fixtures on the San Francisco social scene--so much so that they were hired to appear in more than two dozen television commercials for companies like Reebok, Apple and Virgin Atlantic.
But now, due to Vivian's medical situation, they're struggling to pay for rent, transportation and medical bills.
Since word got out about the twins' plight, they've been deluged with offers to help.
People have been showing up on a near daily basis at Uncle Vito's to help Marian and Vivian pay for their daily dinner. "The outpouring of concern has been overwhelming," David Dubiner, owner of Uncle Vito's told the Chronicle. "I never realized how dear the twins were to San Francisco."
A benefit for the sisters is scheduled for Thursday, August 30 at San Francisco's Red Devil Lounge featuring jazz singer Kim Nalley. Proceeds from the show will go toward Jewish Family and Children Services, which will in turn give a helping hand to the Brown twins.
If you're interested in sponsoring the event, please contact Jenn Bergeron.