The other town I love.

I love Castro Valley almost as much as San Francisco. About thirty miles southeast of San Francisco, it’s my home town. When my folks left North Dakota we moved to Castro Valley when I was eight, and I met most of the people who would become important in my life here. It was the town where all those dreams I had in life that never came true originated. Castro Valley was never an unfriendly town like it was in a weird dream I had not long ago, but it’s a lonelier place now because most of the people I came to know from here have moved away, and some of them are dead. These might be of interest to people who have fond memories of Castro Valley.

cvcastrovillageredo The original Castro Village Shopping Center that opened in 1948 is still here.

cvvalleyinnuse Castro Valley Blvd. in the 1950’s: 7up, “You like it, it likes you!”

cvkfcuse Castro Valley had a KFC (then called ‘Colonel Sanders Chicken) claim to fame in 1969.

cvvillagefilmopenuse Last month, a Castro Valley History Exhibit presented by Lucille Lorge and Randy Vanderbilt at the old Castro Valley Adobe Building featured a film of a drive along Castro Valley Blvd. circa 1956. This was before my family moved here, but much of the street was the same as it was when I grew up here, except there were more sidewalks by the time we got here.

cvwinchellsuse Auctions were held in this building when we were kids, (No, not like the one in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!) but we were more interested in Winchell’s Donuts next door.

cvpetesuse Pete’s Hardware, dating back to the 1920’s, might be the oldest surviving business in Castro Valley.

cvdelluse Ah, the old Dell Café. Who doesn’t have a memory here that grew up in Castro Valley?

cvchabotuse Chabot Theater that opened in 1949 was showing ‘Miracle in the Rain’ with Jane Wyman: This was released in 1956; that’s where I’m dating this film from. The second feature ‘Ten Tall Men’ with Burt Lancaster was released in 1951 and was probably a more enjoyable movie.

cvdaughterysuse Where Daughtrey’s Department store was located before they moved down near Castro Village.

cvsanmigueluse San Miguel Avenue: Sprouse-Reitz and the Louis Store have been replaced by a savings and loan, and H&R Block. And they call that progress! Lucca’s Delicatessen is still there though.

cvlibraryredouseThe small, peaceful, and comfortable main library on Redwood Road was built in the 1960’s to replace an old wooden structure that served as the library before this one. It was a great place to study and sleep during high school. It’s closed and fenced off now since it was replaced by the new library on the south side of town.

The dream I had was a different one
than any I’ve had, to date.
A day was ending that just begun,
and everyone seemed to be late.

A street I have known for a long time
had become an uncomfortable place.
Downhill became such a long climb.
Behind me, was something to face.

The bank, and the shops, and the theater
weren’t on the same side as before.
A girl waits for no one to meet her.
My greetings, the people ignore.

Then the dream changes course in a vapor
to another place that I know,
where students are writing a paper,
and everyone’s talking quite low.

A library book I’m returning,
that I checked out when I was young.
But the people are not here for learning
that the dream has now put me among.

Now there’s yelling, and pointing, and staring,
in a place you’re supposed to be mute.
But I walk out without really caring.
The girl I left waiting was cute.

She’s gone now. I’m back at that corner.
This can’t be the same street I took!
There’s a strange, but familiar mourner
telling me to go back for the book.

This street was always a friendly one.
I’m disturbed by the people I see.
No one seemed to be anyone.
Or everyone seemed to be me.

Vintage cars in the City:

These started out to be a collection of pictures of old cars around town, but San Francisco scenery always steals the show.

autoferrybuilduse Two olds Oldmobiles, I mean, two old Oldsmobiles on the north side of the Ferry Building:

automontcalifuse I would have liked to have taken a better lineup on this vintage picture from the Shorpy Collection on California Street near Montgomery, but when you’re double parked in a valet parking zone with your car door open (Yeah, that was me) you only have time for one shot before a parking attendant drives away with your car!

autocaliforniastuse California Street just down from Powell on Nob Hill:


Jefferson and Taylor Streets: Fisherman’s Wharf was really pretty yesterday, and more crowed than normal for February.

automaritimeuse The Maritime Museum in the 1970’s: I don’t know if these are “vintage” cars, but at least they’re older than the one I drive!

autovannessuse At the foot of Van Ness: This is as close of a match up as I could get on this one, most of the hill here that used to be called Black Point is over grown and closed off now. You can hardly see the Maritime Museum, but two things still visible are Coit Tower and you can still make out the circular snack bar and restrooms building, long closed, through the trees. Clint Eastwood ran out of the old train tunnel across the street, also closed now, to answer a telephone call from the psycho “Scorpio” at this building in 1971’s ‘Dirty Harry’.

autostreetcarmarketuse I was riding in the back of an old streetcar on Market Street, relaxing after a long day of relaxing, when I took this picture. When I got back, I thought it lined up pretty good with an old slide I took while riding on a street car on Market Street in 1984. It shows three things; Market Street hasn’t changed an awful lot in 33 years, I still have the same habits that I had back then, and I was a better photographer in 1984. The old 1984 photo was taken with a Canon camera with a telephoto lens that was great for zooming in on girls and other wildlife. I still have it, but it’s not computer compatible.

More ‘Our San Francisco’

Another collection of San Francisco Chronicle pictures from ‘Our San Francisco’:

ourpressuse The Press Coffee Shop at 5th and Jessie Streets next to the old Mint Building in the 1920’s: It looked like it was a cozy little place.

ourfloodquakeuse The Winged Victory Statue at the intersections of Turk, Mason, and Market Streets after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire: The statue stood about where the pedestrian island is today. A survivor of the disaster, the Flood Building, is on the right. The Winged Victory Statue survived too and is now at Montgomery and Market Streets.

ourhitchherebuse “Hitch” and Herb in Union Square in 1963: Alfred Hitchcock with Herb Caen promoting his new movie, ‘The Birds’. Although most of the buildings behind them on Post Street are gone now, the one that Williams-Sonoma occupies is still there.

ourj2p2use PJP2 at the G.G.B.: Pope John Paul the 2nd blessing the Golden Gate Bridge in 1987.

motor10_mcqueen_bullitt_PHb1 SFGate is a fine website that has many San Francisco Chronicle pictures from ‘Our San Francisco’. Here is their collection of some of the best San Francisco movies. It’s not a bad list, but it doesn’t have ‘Experiment in Terror’ in it. Below, is the link to the article on their selections. Click on the arrow at the right of the images or slide them if on your smart phone to advance the pictures. If you don’t know what the first picture is from, I’m not going to tell you.

For St. Valentine’s Day

I’ve had a few sweethearts in my time, but for some reason Valentine’s Day reminds me most of Al Capone, the engineer of gangland’s most notorious rub out on February 14th 1929; forever known as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”. I think it’s the romantic in me. This was the crime that eventually put Capone in prison. These are a few Alcatraz pictures I have posted previously concerning Al Capone’s stay on “The Rock”

redoopener By far, the most notorious inmate on Alcatraz was Al Capone. Yeah, Al wasn’t a nice guy, and he had a weird perception of what a Valentine’s Day gift should be, but he was a part of San Francisco history.

valoneuse The landing dock on Alcatraz Island, used when it was a penitentiary is the same landing dock used by visitor’s today. All of the buildings up by the lighthouse were gutted by fire. They still line you up and give you instructions when you get off the boats today, but they’re a little nicer, and they don’t strip search you. Notice the train at the lower right. Some prisoners were considered so dangerous, the train they arrived in was driven right on to a barge and docked on the island before the prisoners left the heavily guarded train

redoreport Al’s report card: Well, he was trying! I like the part about his “suggestions as to when and how things ought to be done.” He, certainly, got results with his “suggestions” when he was running things in Chicago! 433 is one of the two cells Capone was held in on Alcatraz.

redolibrary Capone worked in the library as an inmate, and these are some of the books he checked out. Below is the library today.

redohospitalA report on a stabbing incident involving Al, and the hospital room he was treated in today. Capone spent most of his remaining years on the island in the hospital when his STD began to destroy his mind.

valvisiroruse “The kids are doing fine, Al, all good grades in school. We’re taking care of the business for you until you get out. Your lawyer says he thinks he can get a couple of years cut off your sentence, and, oh yeah, your wife is fooling around with somebody else now.”

Actually, the vintage picture of the Visitor’s Room was taken in 1960, long after Capone had died.

valcell2 Lights out on Capone’s aisle. This was the row where Capone’s second cell was. The inmates waited for the guard to throw the switch that allowed all the cell doors to open at once before going in. Capone’s 181 cell was on the left side, fourth from the back on the top row.

valhaircutuse “Shave and a haircut, two bits!”

“Look Al, you sing that one more time and we’ll put you in solitary confinement!”

The Barber Shop at the north end of Cellblock A, near the spiral staircase: Because of the possibility of missing razors, scissors, or other sharp instruments used in cutting hair, haircuts were given right out in the open in front of inmates and guards.

redosupplies Inmates loading supplies into the prison under armed guard.

valkidsuse “Okay kids, have a good time, and remember, stay away from Al Capone’s cell.”

Children of the guards stationed on the island lived, played, and went to school on the Alcatraz. Here, four of them ride their bikes around the Residential Family Quarters. The ruins of this area are below.

A tale of two parades

ourgayparade1972use The first Gay Freedom Day Parade, seen here on Polk Street in front of the City Hall Building in 1972, is now known as the San Francisco Pride Parade. Held each year in June, it draws visitors from all over the world, and is the second largest annual parade in San Francisco. But not the largest! (Vintage photo from the San Francisco Chronicle)

ourchinatownparadeuse “Far from the Madding Crowd”……. NOT! Every time I tell myself I’m not going to get stuck in another one of these big San Francisco crowds…….. By far, the largest parade held in San Francisco and one of the largest in the country is the Chinese New Year Parade each February. The top photo of the parade is from the 1940’s on Grant Avenue at Sacramento Street. Old Saint Mary’s Church can be seen in the background. The bottom picture is from today’s parade showing the crowd, (along with me) waiting for the dragon. “Tell Ma I won’t be home for supper!” (Vintage photo from the San Francisco Chronicle)

My other job

The 2017 tax filing season is upon us so I’ll, probably, be posting less than I’d like to during the next few months. Still, I’ll be sneaking into town as often as I can.

untouchablesuse If you call the Internal Revenue Service anymore, you will not reach anybody; those days are gone. If you send the Internal Revenue Service a letter anymore, they will no longer respond; those days are over, as well. Eliot Ness worked for the United States Treasury just as the IRS does, and he was “Untouchable”. Well, now the IRS is too!

‘This Was San Francisco’

In the 1950’s, THE SAN FRANCISCO NEWS ran a series of cartoons created by Albert Tolf. They depicted various historical San Francisco moments and locations throughout the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, and are fun to look at look at. I recently found a collection of the cartoons at the San Francisco Main Library.

thisferrybuildinguseThe streetcar loop at the foot of the Ferry Building:

this-greenwichuse The stretch up Greenwich Street between Powell and Kearny isn’t as steep as the cartoon suggests, but it’s an interesting piece of San Francisco trivia.

thisnumber5use The old Number 5 still runs out to Ocean Beach, but you can’t climb on top of it anymore.

thiscallbuildinguse The historic Call Bulletin Building at Third and Market Streets has gone through many name changes and much remodeling, but it’s still there.

thischouseuse  Ocean Beach, Sutro Heights, and the gingerbread Cliff House:

thischouseburnuse The old Cliff House survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire only to burn down the following year.

thispalaceuse The Palace of Fine Arts:

thisbususe The old granddaddy (or grandmommy, depending on your point of view) of the Hop On, Hop Off tour buses:

thisbuffalouse Buffalo Bill did indeed visit San Francisco with his famous Wild West Show in the early Twentieth Century, and my dog Danny may have picked up his long ago scent on one of our Ocean Beach trips!

thisparadeuse “The greatest street gathering of all time in San Francisco.”: This may have been true in 1910, but I was on Market Street in 2010 when over one million people gathered to watch the first San Francisco Giants World Series victory parade.

thispacificuse Pacific “Terrific” Street: This WAS the Barbary Coast. The building Spider Kelly’s was located in still exists behind the trees on the left, and “Baby Face” Nelson of the John Dillinger gang visited there on a trip from Chicago during his crime spree.

‘Our San Francisco’

I think the Our San Francisco editorials in the weekend San Francisco Chronicle are the best thing the paper has been publishing since the Chronicle lost Herb Caen. Here are a few of their vintage pictures.

oursfgrantmarketuse San Francisco Police Department’s first K9 Unit at Market Street and Grant Avenue in 1962:

oursfchouseuse Always the Cliff House: I think I’ll write a poem about it one day if I can think of a word that rhymes with Cliff House besides “titmouse”. Actually, I haven’t seen many pictures of the 1863 Cliff House from what is now called Sutro Heights, and few this clear.

oursfmontmarketuse The 1982 Super Bowl Victory Parade looking north up Montgomery Street from Market Street in 1982: Eddie DeBartolo, Dianne Feinstein, and Bill Walsh are in the middle of the crowd. Compare these photos with the bottom one looking in the same direction from a little higher up in the Palace Hotel for the San Francisco Giants welcome parade in 1958. The two north corner Buildings have been demolished.

oursfbushmontuse Speaking of the Giants, here’s a closer look at their welcoming parade at Montgomery and Bush.

oursftykesuse Tykes on bikes! A rally for bicycle safety lanes in front of City Hall in 1972:

oursfwarriorsuse A welcome parade for Wilt Chamberlain and the Warriors past City Hall in 1962: Judging from the crowd turnout, basketball wasn’t all that popular in San Francisco yet.

oursfbartuse Not quite the way they envisioned it on the drawing board in the early 1960’s, but BART turned out okay. They look like Stepford Wives!