Pack the cats?
January 12, 2012 9:45 PM   Subscribe

In the late '70s the phrase "PACK THE CATS" was painted in big letters on a retaining wall on Laguna Honda Blvd in San Francisco. I've been wondering about it ever since. Can you explain it?
posted by moonmilk to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure of the phrasing? Around that time, I attended the UofA in Tucson and remember the bumper sticker "Back the Cats WAC to PAC" which was meant to show support for moving the University of Arizona Wildcats from the Western Athletic Conference to the Pacific Athletic Conference.
posted by kbar1 at 10:05 PM on January 12, 2012

If any SF-area college teams were rivals against the said Univ. of Ariz. Wildcats in the 70s, this could have just been an expression of school spirit smack talk.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:52 PM on January 12, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm sure of the phrasing. I agree it's probably a team rivalry thing, though it would make me happy if it turned out to be something weirder.
posted by moonmilk at 10:57 PM on January 12, 2012

Well... it could be a play on the phrase "pack the courts" from FDR's presidency. But to what end, I have no idea.
posted by Spacelegoman at 6:00 AM on January 13, 2012

It's Back the Cats - the painted letter B was likely confused as a 'P' due to texture of wall and paint.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:50 AM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: If it's Back the Cats, what did it mean? Were the Arizona Wildcats really that important to people in San Francisco?
posted by moonmilk at 8:43 AM on January 13, 2012

Wouldn't it just have to be that important to one person in San Francisco?
posted by vitabellosi at 9:49 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Good point, vitabellosi!
posted by moonmilk at 10:11 AM on January 13, 2012

Rightly so, vitabellosi. Heck, back in the day i would not hesitate painting an entire highway sign with "Kruger loves his girl" and dang, I'm pretty sure even that mattered to just one person really.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2012

You're thinking too big, friends, much too big. Moonmilk's mystery retaining wall is just three short miles from St. Ignatius College Preparatory, home of the Wildcats.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:49 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Ah, now we're getting somewhere! I still think those cat were to be packed, not backed, though. I wonder if St Ignatius has a rival school near Laguna Honda? Somehow San Francisco School of the Arts doesn't seem like a big sports school, but they might be really into painting walls. Actually, it probably wasn't an art magnet back then.
posted by moonmilk at 12:59 PM on January 13, 2012

You don't paint graffiti mocking a rival school near your school, you paint it near their school! If Snarl Furillo is correct, I suspect St. Ignatius was using the "Back the Cats" slogan and someone thought that "pack the cats" was am excellent comeback. If you went back in time to San Francisco of the late 70's be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...

OK, who's been screwing with the time machine!?!?!

Er, anyhow, I suspect that you'd find the phrase "Pack the Cats" scrawled on a number of walls for a few miles around St. Ignatius. That'll show 'em!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:46 PM on January 13, 2012

My money for the rival is on Sacred Heart or Archbishop Riordan.

Now if only a late 50s-ish former SF-area prep basketball player would wander through this question and put all our minds at ease.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:21 PM on January 13, 2012

SOTA was MacAteer before it was SOTA, maybe something else in the 70s, but I agree with SnarlFurillo that it was more likely Riordan or Sacred Heart students making a reference to SI. I'll ask some SF natives and see if they know.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the theories and research, y'all! We'll figure this out, by gum.
posted by moonmilk at 4:59 PM on January 14, 2012

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