Letting go of November

I like November almost as much as October. It’s the second full month of autumn, the weather hasn’t gotten too cold yet, and there’s still plenty of college football to watch. Like many people who think of August as the end of summer, November always seems like the end of fall to me. The problem with November is that on the days that aren’t cloudy the earth seems to move around the sun at an angle so that much of the city is in shadows. Anyway, on this brisk November 29th I thought I’d close out the month with a walk around Downtown San Francisco; and for the record, yesterday’s ridiculous verdict is NOT what San Francisco is all about!

NovemberKearnyuseMaiden Lane where it ends at Kearny in the 1940s: “BOND TWO TROUSER SUITS”. You know, it’s probably just me, but I hate the word “trousers”, it sounds so old fashioned to me. I bought my very first suit at age twenty two at a Bond Clothing Store shortly before the company folded, but not the one on Kearny. Street. I bought mine at the one on Broadway in Oakland, and I didn’t get two pairs of “trousers”.

NovemberChronicleuseMint Street behind the old San Francisco Mint Building at 5th and Mission Street: Across the street is the San Francisco Chronicle Building, built in 1924. I subscribed to the Chronicle for many years and had a number of letters printed on their editorial page from the 1980s to the New Millennium. Then the internet came along and you didn’t have to write letters to the newspapers anymore, you could just voice your opinion on Facebook. But to me the San Francisco Chronicle Building means “Mr. San Francisco” Herb Caen who spent most of his career here. I was proud to have met him once. His love of San Francisco will never be matched by anyone, and his sense of humor had a lot to do with shaping mine, only his jokes were funny. This is also ‘Maltese Falcon’ territory. That building in the shadow on the right is where the old Remedial Loan Company was, and still is. In the novel, Sam Spade makes Brigid O’Shaughnessy hock her jewelry here to come up with money for his retainer. “You’ll have to hock them.” Spade says to her. “The Remedial’s the best – Fifth and Mission.” Also, across 5th from the Mint Building is the old Pickwick Hotel where Sam Spade stashes the Maltese Falcon after it comes into his possession. (San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate)

NovemberMontgomery1910useMontgomery Street near Sutter Street around 1915: Three of the Buildings in the old photo are still around. In the center is the Palace Hotel, built in 1909. President Warren G. Harding died in office at this hotel in 1923. Just to the left of the Palace is the old Metropolis Savings and Trust Building, built in 1907. For many years a Bank of America has been located here. The building just to the right of the Palace has been demolished, but the one next to that is the old Crocker Bank Building, built in 1908. It’s now a Wells Fargo Bank and the top floors were removed at the end of the 1970s.

NovemberSpriteuseOne of the little Dancing Sprites from the statue at Huntington Park on Nob Hill with the north tower of Grace Cathedral in the background, probably the early 1960s: They’ve been moved around with remodeling so I couldn’t get an exact lineup. The building between Huntington Park and Grace Cathedral in the old picture has been torn down. (John Whinham Doss)

CathayredoNow, do you see what I mean about the November shadows? This might have been a good picture otherwise! Well, you still have Chinatown, Old St. Mary’s, and the Transamerica Pyramid Building. You also have the Cathay House on the corner of Grant Avenue and California Street. That restaurant goes back a long way! In fact, it can be seen in the 1947 Bob Hope movie ‘My Favorite Brunette’. (Vintage Everyday)

NovemberStMarySquareuseAn old postcard of St. Mary’s Square in the heart of Chinatown, and a perfect place to relax and enjoy a little “sweater weather” at the end of November: The statue on the left is of Sun Yat-sen, sculpted by Beniamino Bufano and erected in 1938.

NovemberFolliesuseThe old Turk Street Follies in the Tenderloin:


I wonder if they were talking about a debate! Seen here in 1971, the Turk Street Follies was in the building just below the Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way sign. (Foundsf.org)

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