Happy Birthday Fannie Biderman!

Posted on 17 Comments

Today marks the 96th year of my grandmother, Fannie Biderman. I was sad to note that when googling her name, very little comes up. So in celebration of her 96th I’ll start a quick list of amazing moments I’ve had with Fannie, so we can get her on the world wide web for her birthday!

1. Cooking in the kitchen with Grandma, I was two years old and not wearing pants.
2. Dressed in red and riding in her boat.
3. Every SF house she lived in always had a fantastic view.
4. Spending the night at Fannie’s usually meant sleeping in a single bed. Real fun with a significant other! Or better yet with 4 people!
5. The Matriarch of the Biderman/Kuller family.
6. Biking through Golden Gate Park to Grandma’s house.
7. The Grey Panthers.
8. Her wardrobe inspired the White Stripes: black, white, and red.
9. Gallery hopping.
10. Museum shopping
11. Gin
12. More Gin
13. Listening to her “Ohhhhhhhhhhh, your really should…”
14. Riding Public Transportation, as taxis were a waste of money, even at 95!
15. Marching in Protest until she was 90ish.
16. Making Salads in the huge wooden bowl.
17. Through the park, over the hills, to grandmother’s house we go.
18. Watching Nancy and Fannie walk ahead of the Biderherd in Paris and Amsterdam, 1997.
19. Slurping down oysters at the Pacific Heights Bar and Grill.
20. Shopping for clothes in the Castro with the Bartlett sisters.
21. Our fabulous Indonesian dinner in Amsterdam
22. Museum D’Orsay in the rain.
23. Her 5:30am exercises.
24. Barhopping in Amsterdam and San Fran.
25. Seeing her blush as a handsome stranger helped put on her coat in a cafe in Amsterdam.
26. Marching in Protest until she was 90ish.
27. The Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream that always seemed to be in the freezer.
28 Chinese food at Yet Wah’s famous spinning table.
29. Fannie mixing up everyone’s names.
30. Her hands.
31. A four hour photoshoot with Noel Snow ~ the 2nd photo featured here.
32. Politics and Fannie.
33. She could eat a burrito faster than me until 5 years ago.
34. Always welcoming all my friends to SF.
35. The Grandmothers meeting again, 11 years ago.
36. Fannie’s 86th Birthday Party at Buca di Beppo.
37. And the 90th with Rochelle, Barbara, and Hans.
38. What?! I can’t hear you!
39. Shopping at Trader Joe’s.
40. Life is a Party with Fannie.
41. The many other photoshoots I put her through ~ anything for art!
42. The hand made birthday cards she would always send.
43. The hearing aid battery sculpture in her living room.
44. Letting me be her roommate when I was 29.
45. Kevin’s interview of Fannie….where is that Kev?
46. She was so cool to show off.
47. The Budweiser cardboard Holiday tree that she let me hang in her house.
48. The family and friends gatherings that we’ve had on her 12th floor.
49 Making old new again.
50. Happy Inauguration Day Fannie, I know you voted.

There’s the first 50! Please share your Fannie experience on this blog as we celebrate her Life at 96!

17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Fannie Biderman!

  1. you are the best you really are such a compassionate person.. I am glad you are my son love you

  2. No one in the Biderman brood need ever feel bad about being the last one to reply or to show up at the party as long as I’m around. I’ll be late to my own funeral (no, really). I missed out on hearing about this beautiful and fitting tribute until just a few weeks ago.

    Ah Fanny. I’m the one with the ammo in the photo above, “Rebirth”. Since Anja was born, the hours, days and months fly by. Fannie and I hardly ever see one another and I miss her terribly… She gifted one of her paintings to me a few years ago. I cried. I feel so humbled by having (Fannie’s) great art in my home. I will take a photo and make sure that Bob gets a copy.

    75. Being able to ring Fannie up for boy advice. She was the only one I’d trust to call about these things…
    76. The first time we went to MoMA together (2001); a monumental trip to see art for me. She dusted me, racing almost a floor ahead of me. And insisted on taking Muni home at dusk.
    77. The view from Fannie’s Park Merced apartment at night, with the soft lights of the city coming thru the fog. All was so quiet, except for Fannie’s subdued snores, and it was a peaceful place for contemplation.
    78. “Spending the night at Fannie’s in a single bed. Real fun with a significant other!” – YEP!!
    79. The way she can tear up a plate full of Chinese food.
    80. Listening to “Ohhhhhhhhhhh, you’ll find your way…” and, “You’re going to be late to work! (even on Saturday)”
    81. Marching in Protest and attending the Folsom Street Fair with me in 2004.
    82. Her 5:30am exercises: “Sit and Get Fit”.
    83. Fannie never remembering Rick’s name. He loves that about her.
    84. Always welcoming me to SF, and making it possible for me to root myself here.
    85. Having your ear pulled down to her lips, and the tickle of her words
    86. Letting me be her roommate when I was 35! Good times. She liked the sake I’d bring home.
    87. Remembering how she’d deal with the campaign callers. Something like, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying. Good luck!! I know you’ll vote for the right person…”
    88. A true, blue friend. A spirited and girlish dancer. Keeps rolling along with things. Tells it like it is!

    We love you Fannie. Thanks to you, many of us were able to collect ourselves emotionally & spiritually at your place, in your colorful character, and then come into our own. XO

  3. It’s taken me so long to reply that I’m not sure anyone will see this, but I have to leave a note just in case. I wasn’t savvy enough to realize just what this website was for until I checked today.

    For about five years Fanny has been the only remaining family member of the generation that preceded me and my wife, Ellen. That means that her continued vitality prevents our becoming the older generation, which was one reason we flew out from Santa Fe for her 95th birthday. She was one of three of my aunts who had become Bidermans by marrying my father’s brothers, but she took a very different course than the rest. She shared Ed’s passion for social justice, produced fascinating and beautiful paintings, lived somewhere out west in a place called Cincinatti (well, to a New York kid anything past New Jersey was west), and moved around. She is also the only member of that generation (at least on my side) who lived long enough to see her great grandchildren. I remember fondly the summers I spent as a teenager in Daly City visiting, and enjoyed the contrasting lifestyle and warmth of Fanny and Ed’s household amid the misty coolness of the Bay Area, such a contrast to the sizzling New York streets. Fanny has made a big impact on who I have become, and I wish her many more good years. Paul Biderman, Santa Fe NM

  4. Thanks so much everyone! My dad was just about to print this out for Fannie to read last night and I’m sure that we have all made it the best 96th ever! My uncle, Bob Biderman, has compiled more of Fannie’s Paintings at this website:
    If you do have any of Fannie’s paintings it would be great to take some pictures and send them to Bob so that we can continue to grow the Fannie Biderman gallery!
    Bob’s email is blackapollo@gmail.com

  5. I have heard so much about you, Fannie, and have always hoped to meet you. You are so inspiring…just from these lists! And clearly, you are very, very beloved.

  6. Happy Happy 96th birthday Fannie

    You are my inspiration and my catalyst.
    You embody the creative life . . . your gift to all the Binik girls.
    You will always be a part of who we are and the way we see life.

    65. I still have the bushel basket you painted to hold my toys–and then Justin and Aaron’s toys and next . . .we will see what develops.


    66. your hand painted birthday cards and the hanukah cards

    67. travelling with you on the BART to I don’t know where

    68. exploring museums together

    69. going to the Japanese tea garden

    70. going to the sushi restaurant with the boats

    71 walking along the beach

    72. going to seal rock and finding the wonderful matchstick museum downstairs

    73. the japanese dolls and silk kimonos you and your mother brought to us. This year the white and black one went to Ellie in Chicago.

    74. The car that you and Ed had that talked to us “The door is ajar” and we would laugh and say we thought it was a door.

    Most of all please remember how much we love you!

  7. HAPPY 96TH BIRTHDAY FANNIE! I have so many great memories of you as I grew up and throughout my life. I don’t remember a time where you weren’t a part of my life and our “Binik/Kuhr(Kuller side) family.” I think about you so much…
    54. getting the beautiful hand-made cards for birthdays and Hanukah, you created. They were works of art and I still have them!
    55. you introducing me to sushi, before it was “fashionable.” I don’t remember the name of the place we went to when I visited you in SF. I do remember picking up each one as they floated by on a dish that represented the type of sushi it was (and the cost.)
    56. how you advised my mom to give us pieces of blank newsprint to “draw/color on.” It would teach us creativity and that staying within the lines was not as much fun. (take that any way you want)
    57. the times you came to Cincinnati and stayed at our house. As Rochelle mentioned – mom and dad always had a bottle of “Beefeater” ready for you. And you taught mom the art of creating your famous salad, with your special oil and vinegar dressing, in a special wooden bowl rubbed with garlic.
    58. when you came to Chicago to visit me and Rochelle on your way to? from? NYC. (It wasn’t that long ago. I’ve been here 9 years.) You, like our mom, had more energy than Rochelle and I put together!
    59. how much my mom enjoyed the conversations you had and the times you spent together – no matter where you were. You were like sisters.
    60. when I called to talk with you one time, not THAT long ago. Ed answered the phone and told me you weren’t there. You were marching with the “Gray Panthers.” I remember thinking, with a big smile on my face, “That’s Fannie. She is always there for people.”
    61. talking about my painting teacher, Robert Fabe, and how you went to school with him at the University of Cincinnati. And some other interesting stories…
    62. how you are always open to new adventures and opportunities.
    63. the great talks about almost everything.
    64. you saying, “Honey, the key to living a long life is having young friends!”
    You have always been young at heart and I know you continue to be that way. I wish you much happiness as you celebrate your birthday and the birth of a new chapter in America’s history! HERE’S TO YOU!

  8. Happy birthday Fannie, You are beautiful…from a pinhole photographer

  9. Our dear Fannie! Happy Birthday. We love you so much and wish we could bring Sidney and Ellie to meet you. They see all your paintings in our home, even though the one I love, you said it was not your favorite. Thanks so much for sharing our wedding, you are the closest to being my mom since my mom, Edith is gone. You have filled my life and now Hans with love, gin, laughing, gin, great food and more drinks. I remember the conga dance line at your 90th with party hats and all. I have shared many “art walks” in Chicago and SF with you and my sister and we loved every minute even thought you kicked our butts on energy.
    When I was a young girl Fannie stayed with us in Cincinnati sometimes when Ed was “busy” and I remember her making a big salad also in a wooden bowl along with gin. My mom and dad always kept your favorite on hand. I could go on for a long time with all the great things we have shared. Hans and I are toasting you right now, all our love.

  10. Fannie has always brought the Biderman and beyond family together more! Sharing Hans and Rochelle’s Wedding in Chicago was an amazing time. Fannie and her sister Helen were the toast of the town!

  11. Fannie, you are one of my best friends and I always feel blessed a million times over, not just to have found Gabriel, but to have become part of your family! So many laughs, so many miles walked and yes, so many glasses raised! You inspire me to live better and to love as many and as much as possible.

    51. Sandy and I bringing home Johnny and Lizzie’s wedding favors – 6 gold fish in 2 vases and not until the next day, realizing we would probably have some issues bringing them back to NYC on an airplane(even before the 2 oz liquid laws) You immediately adopted them and kept them alive for over 3 years.

    52. Your look of pure joy and surprise when you looked around at your 90th birthday party at a roomful of people there to celebrate you – to see all those people, of all ages, that you mean so much to, is a testimony to the life you lead each day –

    53. Wandering in galleries and museums together in Paris, Amsterdam, San Francisco and Chicago – lucky me to have my very own Art Historian to hold hands with!!

    Thank you for being YOU! It is so fitting to celebrate your Birthday and America’s new day since you have lived your life helping to change it for the better!! Love you my dearest Fannie –

  12. Happy Birthday Fannie! Great idea Gabe. I would add that memorable moments for me include the honour bestowed on both of us when we were named her drinking partners and her asking me if I had clean underwear on during rush hour on the M car. I still have my interview with her can send you an copy on DVD. My favourite quote from that was when she said her secret to old age was not taking medication… except of course the medicinal gin and that ham that Dick based in marijuana back in the ’70’s

    Here’s to you Fannie, your incredible passion for life, your life long struggle for justice and your unflinching belief in humanity. We’ll all raise a glass here to you tonight… and of course to that other guy… whathisname… Obama

    Here’s how I’ll always remember you – http://germinalproductions.com/Kevin/sf06.htm

  13. Ahhh yes, how could I forget the Anchor Steam Tours with Fannie! Weren’t we trying to hook her up with the owner Fritz Maytag?
    Sandy, did we send Fannie off to the protest with a boa? Always stylish!

  14. Ha, This is great, Gabe. I remember Fannie fishing ice cubes out of a drink, before they could water it down. And Fannie joining us on a tour of Anchor Steam, drinking with us at the tap room, and taking herself home on the bus, a wee bit tipsy. Something about pet goldfish? Her voice- I love listening to her talk.

    She is a treasure and a joy.

    Love To Fannie,

  15. Happy Birthday, Fannie!!!
    Although I haven’t met you yet… I feel I know you through all the stories that Gabriel and Nancy have shared with me. To many more!
    Thanks Gabe for sharing and posting this (I like your party hat).

  16. Yes, I was one of the Bartlett sisters that shopped with Fanny in the Castro in September of 2001 until she had to leave us to attend a protest – we kept shopping.
    Happy Birthday, dear Fanny, you made so many events in SF extra special.

  17. Happy Birthday Fannie!!!!!
    I only got to meet you a couple of times, but I felt like I was part of your family whenever I did. Always happy and full of energy! You’re beautiful baby!

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