I’m currently working on revisions to my next book for Harlequin American Romance—Firefighter Daddy—and of course that leads to a little extra research. The story was inspired by William R. de Avila Elementary School on Haight Street, just a few blocks from the famous Haight-Ashbury intersection, in San Francisco. As far as I know, it’s no longer an elementary school and has most recently served as a satellite campus for a community college.

When I first saw the school, my initial thought was, what would it have been like to to be a student (and the product of hippie parents) at that school back in the ’60s and ’70s?

The answer to that question became Rory and Mitch’s story in Firefighter Daddy.

I loved a couple of things about the school, including the absolutely gorgeous tile mosaic on the front of the building facing Haight Street, and the hopscotch courts and other play areas painted on the paved schoolyard. Believe it or not, hopscotch plays a significant role in the storyline. The playground is visible from the sidewalk on Waller Street and can also be seen in this satellite image from Google.

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Although I don’t live anywhere near San Francisco, it sure is fun to zoom in and check out the neighborhood where Firefighter Daddy is set.

Click on “View Larger Map” to see the entire schoolyard. Can you recognize any of the other painted game courts in this playground?

Until next time,

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The circle with the two wedge-shaped outlines is tetherball. I loved that game when I was in elementary school – it was fun and the only sport I was any good at!


Thanks, Rachel! None of my elementary schools – I attended several – had tetherball. Since then, I have seen it played but have no idea what the rules are.



Beautiful school! Can't wait to read your book and learn more about the school and the area.

A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09)


Thanks, Marin! It's great that you stopped by. Getting to incorporate interesting neighborhoods and communities is one of many great aspects of writing for American Romance.


I think I see the "square ball" court. Remember that? There were 4 squares with an A in one square, a B in another, a C in another and a D in the last square. Although I don't see the letters in the photo. The balls were really neat because they bounced so well. You started in at square D and worked your way up to A square. There was always line ups at our square ball courts at Willows School here in Victoria. Everytime someone missed the ball or hit a line, you were disqualified and left the court; everyone in the court moved up a square and the first person in line came in on square D. The person in square A had advantage and always got to serve. Thanks Lee for bringing these wonderful memories back! Take care.

diane st jacques


Hi, Diane! Thanks for sharing your playground memories!

I found rules for a game called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_square“ rel=”nofollow”>Four Square on Wikipedia. Sounds like fun!

I attended a rural school that had grades one to eight (no kindergarten) in five classrooms. We had a large playground but no pavement for painted game courts, and no gymnasium, but I remember things like skipping in the fall and spring, and playing marbles in the wintertime.

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