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From 1934 through 1976, several generations of San Franciscans grew up with what amounted to a second mother, 'The Laughing Lady' (sometime called 'Laughing Sal' by outsiders) who used to live in comfortable residence in the Funhouse at Playland at the Beach. Playland, and its half-century of memories, of course, now lies buried under tons of concrete and stucco called condos that replaced it after it was demolished in 1972. ( )

The Laughing Lady, however, suffered another fate. She was kidnapped, passed around like so much laughing trash and finally sold at a slave auction in 2002 (or 2004, depending on who you read) to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, where she is daily humiliated and put to the thankless task of greeting foreigners (to S.F. that is) in a forlorn window display of the most tawdry design and under the most garish lighting imaginable. A degrading and servile end for a great lady.

                                        END ICON-TRAFFIKING

If there ever was a clear-cut case of icon abuse, this one takes the cake. Laughing Lady needs to be returned to her home, to those who love and know her. Most of all to our children and grandchildren and those who ought to know why their parents and grandparents are so loving, kind, brilliant, sensitive, tolerant, diverse and welcoming - as all native San Franciscans are. All because of the unstinting nurture and love lavished on us by our second mother, It was because of the undending devotion of the Laughing Lady, that we all turned out as fine and beautiful as we did.

Our kids and grands- need to know this, and Our Laughing Lady, needs to be ransomed and brought home, at long last, to a dignified and fitting place in the history and heart of the City by the Bay. This is an icon rights issue, this is basic human decency.  Yes, we know there are other Laughing Sals around the country and even one at the Mechanique Musee in San Francisco. But none are our own true and original Playland Laughing Lady. What, you think we can't tell our own mother?  Do pelicans catch fish?

There is only one of those in the world, and we know the difference - we can smell the difference. That one is being held captive in Santa Cruz and it is high time we mounted a rescue mission (Could we use Navy Seals?) and get her home. For the sake of ourselves, for the sake of our kids; for the respect we owe to the Laughing Lady and, most of all, for her sake.

Clear evidence of the atrocities being committed on Laughing Lady as you read this can be seen at Waterboarding would be kinder and gentler (she's made of paper mache, and would only suffer a quick and merciful death.)

[ps: We've no axe to grind with Santa Cruz. I lived there for several years and can vouche that the people of Santa Cruz are among the kindest, smartest and most enlightened in the Country.  Still, even the best of us can miss from time to time.  And, in this case, they did - big time.]

For a more detailed background on the kidnap of our Laughing Lady see  (Warning: contains intense scenes of icon abuse)