Top: Josephine Firpo Alioto and Rose Marie Sicoli-Ostler, 2014, Photo by Peter Linenthal. Bottom Left: Goat Hilda de Anchovy hoove-prints. PHOTOGRAPH BY DON NOLTE 1979; Bottom Right: Goat Hilda de Anchovy, 1979, Photo by Stephen Fotter 1979; at

May 2014

View from the Past

Abigail Johnston

One day, in 1998 or thereabouts, the Department of Public Works rolled into the 600 block of Carolina Street and began jackhammering the pavement, heaving chunks of cement on to the back of trucks. Rose Marie Sicoli-Ostler took one look at the proceedings right outside her window, and dashed downstairs to make what she thought might be an odd request.

“I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but could I possibly have that chunk there; the one with the goat hoof prints in it?” 

“Hey, lady, that’s not as crazy as some things we get asked for. Sure you can have it, but get help lugging it home.”

Thanking him profusely, Rose Marie rounded up the needed help and for the next 15 years had custody of a slab of pavement, poured in 1924, upon which a goat had daintily trod before it was dry.

In 2011, feeling it was time for somebody else to take over this piece of Potrero Hill history, Rose Marie asked Peter Linenthal, of the Potrero Hill Archives Project, for advice. They agreed that Goat Hill Pizza was the chunk’s logical new home. So, assisted by Frank Gilson — disguised as a goat — they made a surprise presentation to Goat Hill’s Phil DeAndrade on stage at Hill History Night that October.

Phil was not the only one surprised that evening. Also on stage was Josephine Firpo Alioto, a Potrero Hill native, with whom Phil was about to engage in conversation. She gasped: that’s my goat!

As a little girl in the 1920s and ‘30s, Jo Firpo lived with her family just a half block away from the original site of the embedded hoof prints. Her family had a goat; the only goat in the immediate neighborhood. The Firpo’s goat was accustomed to grazing in the verdant lot next door. In due course, young Jo was responsible for leading the goat there in the morning, on her way to school, and for bringing it back home in the afternoon. It all kinda falls into place now, doesn’t it?

On March 4, Goat Hill Pizza celebrated Shrove Tuesday by serving up Phil’s handmade Portuguese malasadas and unveiling the Sacred Slab, newly installed in the sidewalk outside the restaurant on Connecticut and 18th streets. Rose Marie and Jo did the honors in front of a delighted crowd of friends, neighbors, school kids passing by at just the right moment, and two young goats rented for the occasion. Also unveiled: a commemorative plaque, dedicated to the memory of Goat Hill’s onetime mascot Goat Hilda de Anchovy, who lived in the restaurant’s back yard before expansion took place. The plaque tells a bit of the story; this tells the rest, as best we know it.

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