San Francisco native Harry Aleo passed away last year and left behind an estate which included, among other notable relics, a hand-lettered sign which used to hang outside of his realty office proclaiming it (the office) “an island of traditional conservative values in a sea of latte-sipping liberal loonies.”
Since Mr. Aleo’s passing, those same liberal loonies have become strangely interested in preserving his memory as a matter of history. Joel Panzer, of San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood (where he and Mr. Aleo lived), has started to collect and catalog the signs and other pieces of Mr. Aleo’s office memorabilia, which include Ronald Reagan campaign posters and a phonograph, for future inclusion in a museum dedicated to the neighborhood.
Such benign interest wasn’t always the case: Mr. Aleo’s conservative voice was, in a town which hadn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1959, a bit jarring. He received hate mail and his office windows, often displaying his scribbled political signs, were alternately shot out, egged, scratched, broken, spray painted, and spit on. One such attack inspired the next morning’s window sign: “To the sneaky night-crawlers who spray painted ‘Death To Fascists’ on my window… you are the fascists! If you gutless creeps have anything to say to me, come in and say it to my face.”
In his younger days Mr. Aleo was a minor league baseball player scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of The Bulge, and an owner of thoroughbred racehorses. As a Noe Valley real estate investor, he owned and managed 12 rental buildings at the time of his death. He was 88 years old.