The spring that wasn’t (For the Institute for Historical Study)

Well, we’re a week away from the summer solstice. Spring, and the things that I look forward to each year; the end of Tax Season, baseball games, Disneyland, the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Chili Cook-Off, and the opening of the Alameda County Fair were just a few of spring traditions I like that were closed or  cancelled starting on March 17th. Even St. Patrick’s Day, which really isn’t in spring but to me represents the arrival of spring, was quiet and depressing. On February 29th 2020 I was invited to the 40th annual meeting of the Institute for Historical Study at the Dimond Branch Library in Oakland. I had recently been approved for membership in the society, and I was proud to be there. They had a number of upcoming events I was looking forward to enjoying, which, of course, have been postponed right now. I don’t think anyone in that room anticipated what was coming or how the world would change in just a few weeks, and spring would slip away a bad memory. These are a collection of pictures I posted during spring seasons of happier years. Many people are suffering heartbreak  to due to COVID-19 at this time, so I don’t want this post to seem like a complaint; it’s just reminiscence.

Mar212016useMarch 21st 2016, the first full day of spring: San Francisco gets lots of rain in the spring. The vintage picture at 1st and Market Streets was taken during the 1930s. (San Francisco Main Library History Room)

Mar212016twouseMarch 21st 2016: The vintage picture from the Shorpy Archives was taken at the old El Capitan Theater on Mission Street between 19th and 20th Streets.

April22017useApril 2nd 2017: The restored Dutch Windmill on the northwest corner of Golden Gate Park.

April232016April 23rd 2016: Ocean Beach and the old gingerbread Cliff House, destroyed in a fire in 1907. (The Cliff House Project website)

April272016useApril 27th 2016: Kids “nipping the fender” on a streetcar at South Van Ness and 26th Street, (mislabeled in the vintage picture as being at 26th and Army Street) in 1943. (Charles Smallwood)

May22017useMay 2nd 2017: Grant Avenue and Sacramento Street in Chinatown in the 1930s.

May62015useMay 6th 2015: Lotta’s Fountain at Kearny and Market Streets in a wonderful vintage photo from the early 1900s.

May132018useMay 13th 2018: The view from Corona Heights in a comparison picture I took on Mother’s Day in May of 2018, back when the word corona wasn’t so scary. The vintage picture was taken in the 1960s. Mother’s Day was another spring tradition lost during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. (Michael Bry)

May132018twouseMay 13th 2018, the Cliff House in the 1950’s: I sure will be glad when that opens up again. (virginiapicks)

May182016useMay 18th 2016: Sleeping Beauty Castle on Disneyland’s opening day, July 17th 1955. I can hardly wait to get back there as well. I don’t think crowds will bother me as much anymore after the lonely emptiness right now at places I enjoy going to, like Disneyland.

May232017useMay 23rd 2017, Yosemite National Park: May and October are my two favorite times to visit Yosemite. In May the waterfalls are spectacular due to the runoff of the melting snows from the mountains. October is the best month to catch the fall colors of Yosemite before it gets too cold. I missed the park in May of this year, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for October.

May302016useMay 30th 2016, at what was then called AT&T Park: To paraphrase Jack Nicholson as McMurphy in the 1975 movie ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, “Somebody give me a hotdog (at the ballpark) before I die!” The vintage picture is of Willie Mays knocking one out of Candlestick Park during the 1960’s. (Barnaby Conrad and Bay Area Photographers Society)

May302016twouseMay 30th 2016: Ah, the Jeremiah O’Brien moored at Pier 45; she’s not there anymore. The pier to the right of where the Liberty Ship was docked at was destroyed in a huge fire, and the ship has moved over to Pier 35 for the time being. The top photo is a Philippine cargo shop on the waterfront in the 1950s. (Phil Palmer)

June12017June 1st 2017: The Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. The vintage picture from the 1940s was when the name of the garden was changed to the Oriental Tea Garden after Pearl Harbor until 1952. The name Oriental Tea Garden would cause a reverse offense from many Asian people nowadays.

June92016useJune 9th 2016: Janis Joplin on the corner of Cole and Haight Streets in 1967.   (

June142016useJune 14th 2016: The cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets, seen in a vintage picture from the late 1930s. And wouldn’t it be nice to go for a ride on a cable car again someday.

June182016useJune 18th 2016: I’ll end my spring look back at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, another cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic. I might be able to go to Disneyland someday in the near future, but for this annual tradition I‘ll have to wait for another year.





3 thoughts on “The spring that wasn’t (For the Institute for Historical Study)

  • Cool pictures outside of San Francisco too! I have not been to a County Fair in many years. I sort of would prefer to remember them like they were in the early 1970s, before people so predictably got stabbed in an argument over a Tweety Bird. I suppose I should go back to the Santa Clara Valley County Fair . . . someday.

    • They’ve toned the crime down a lot now since that crazy incident at the Alameda County Fair, Tony. Now the main things you have to worry about are the crowds and the heat. I’ll miss the Alameda Fair a lot this year. I’ll bet I’ve gone there every year since I was 15. To me, it kept getting bigger and better each year, but all that may change now.

      • It was more than one incident. That was what was so memorable about it. Getting stabbed for a Tweety Bird was weird enough. Three people getting stabbed for a Tweety Bird on three separate occasions is enough to ban Tweety Bird.

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