More talking to celebrities around San Francisco (Thumbnail Images)

“Joan Crawford and Jack Palance up here on Russian Hill! What are you looking for with the binoculars, Ms. Crawford?”

“I’m looking for my daughter. She gives me more trouble.”

“I guess so, but after you’re gone, she’ll remember you fondly.”

“I hope so!”

(Vintage picture,

“Grouch Marx, here in front of the St. Francis Hotel! Are those your, mmmm, daughters?”

“No, they’re not my daughters, young man, and I’ll thank you to keep your innuendos to yourself. Speaking of innuendos, when I left my daughter in her hotel room earlier, I told her that when I went out through her door, I didn’t want any gentlemen visitors sneaking innuendo! Get it, innuendo, in your window?”

“I get it, but that might not be one of your funnier routines, Groucho.”

(SF Chronicle)


“Wow, Alfred Hitchcock and Herb Caen here in Union Square! Hello, you guys!”

“Good evening!”

“No, Mr. Hitchcock, it’s daytime. Say, you two look like you really have a struggle on your hands! You both must be pooped.”

“Puns like that aren’t going to make it into my column, fellow”

“Sorry, that wasn’t intentional, Mr. Caen.”


“Robert Vaughn! It looks like you’re filming a movie scene up here on Nob Hill in front of Grace Cathedral”

“Yes, and all of these extras and technicians are getting in my way. I’d rather go it Solo……. “Solo”, you’re not laughing!”

“Sorry, Mr. Vaughn, I didn’t get it at first.”



“Abbott and Costello, here on Powell Street across from Union Square! What are you guys up to?”

“We were thinking of checking into the St. Francis Hotel. Who’s the manager?”

“I don’t know!”

“No, he’s on third base.”

“Boy, I stepped right into that, didn’t I?”

(San Francisco Remembered Facebook page)


“Willie Mays! Welcome to San Francisco!”

“Say hey!”

“Hey! I hope that your baseball career will be as exciting in San Francisco as it was when you were in New York.”

“Say hey!”

“Hey! Why do you keep asking me to say that?”



“Mime artists, Lorene Yarnell and Robert Shields! Nice to see you two! How are you?”

“They’re doing fine!”

“Oh, well thank you, but I was talking to them. What are you two doing here in Union Square?”

“They’re getting married.”

“Thank you again, but I was talking to them! Congratulations! I hope you’ll both be very happy!”

“Thank you! They will be.”

“Excuse me, but can’t they speak for themselves?”

(SF Chronicle)








Want to see some watercolor paintings?

A gentleman named Thomas Little posted a series of terrific pictures on the San Francisco Remembered Facebook page of old watercolor paintings that are on the wall of the Fairmont Hotel lower lobby. When I went to the Fairmont last Saturday to check them out, a pretty receptionist at the door informed me that only people with reservations at the hotel were being allowed in at this time. I think I could have bribed my way past her, but she also said that there were no watercolor paintings in the Fairmont Hotel Lobby. One of us is goofy, Thomas, the pretty receptionist, or me; I’ll give the nod to the pretty receptionist who may be new on the job, and try again when things settle down. The artist identified in most of the watercolors is James March Phillips, but I don’t know if he painted all of them. James March Phillips died in 1981, and the paintings appear to be from the 1950s. Here are real life updates of some of the paintings that Mr. Little posted. (Thumbnail pictures)

Looking into the heart of Chinatown from the corner of Grant Avenue and Pine Street:

The view from Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower: Can’t see too much from here anymore.


San Francisco Bay looking toward Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands: My ship’s bigger!

I can’t leave out the Cliff House, seen from Sutro Heights. The view from the actual spot where the painting was made is blocked by trees now.

Looking down Hyde Street toward Alcatraz and Angel Islands:


Looking down Market Street from Stockton Street on the left, and 4th Street on the right: Many of the buildings in the painting are still around, the small white building on the corner of Stockton Street, the Phelan Building behind it, the old gothic looking Mutual Savings Bank Building, and across Market Street are the Call Building and the old Humboldt Building, just peeking out between two newer buildings.


Market Street at Powell Street: It’s a nice gesture, but flowers on crooked poles do not a cable car turnaround make without cable cars.

Looking down California Street from near Stockton Street: In fairness to me, and I’m all for that, I’m not always off-angle; sometimes the artist took an artistic license with the paintings; California Street does not veer to the right past Grant Avenue from here.


Also, one doesn’t leave the Ferry Building out. And you thought I was going to!

Updates, of lates, and can’t waits

This is a collection of some comparison pictures I’ve done in the past that I redid, some new ones that I’ve taken of late, and some wishful thinking. (Thumbnail images)


Geary Blvd. at Stockton Street in 1950: The crowds are starting to explore Downtown San Francisco again. I can’t wait for the “Black Friday” shopping crowds again! Wait, did I write that? (


It was a lot more crowded in Maiden Lane in 1955 than it was last weekend. I’m not sure what was going on in Maiden Lane when the vintage picture was taken, but I suspect it was a Godzilla alert. (SF Chronicle)

The above two vintage photos from the San Francisco Theaters Blog are looking down California Street from near Mason. I think the San Francisco Theaters blog may have gotten the one in color from On the left is the old Nob Hill Theater, not to be confused with the Nob Hill Theater on Bush Street that just closed in 2018. The Nob Hill Theater in the Fairmont Hotel opened in 1944 and closed in 1964. I never made it to this one, but I sure do miss going to the movies nowadays. There’s a movie theater in Castro Valley that I’ve been going to since I was 10! I sure hope it survives. I can’t wait to see the new James Bond movie.


Looking back up California Street toward the Nob Hill Theater in another vintage picture from the San Francisco Theaters Blog: ‘KATH HEPBURN’; they needed a bigger marquee, you don’t short-change a lady like that.

They’ve been parking cable cars at the end of some of the boarding locations recently for photo ops. It’s a step in the right direction, but I can’t wait until they start rolling again. It was nice of these two fellows to pose for me at the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market Streets last Saturday. (Vintage photo,

Speaking of cable cars, the above vintage photo is a wonderful picture by Andreas Feininger looking down Jones Street from California Street in 1942. Those are the tracks from the old Jones Street cable car line that was discontinued in the late 1950s.


A few years back, a friend of mine named Nora asked me if I could locate where this picture of her mom and dad in San Francisco in the 1940s had been taken. She remembered her mother telling her the photo was taken in San Francisco, but not where. Nora sent me the picture, and it wasn’t too difficult to identify where they were. The movie theater behind them probably placed them on Market Street, but the Weinstein Department Store sign in the back ground between the two of them nailed it down to Market Street between 6th and 7th Streets. I did a then and now comparison for Nora and she was delighted. Of course, I didn’t let on to her that my quest was easy; I rather intimated that my search to find the location took the skills of a combination of Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes to find the spot, but I don’t think I fooled Nora. I wasn’t happy with the original comparison picture I took for Nora a few years ago, so I did a redo for her last Saturday. Weinstocks was in the blue building left center in the modern picture.


The vintage picture above refers to safety slackers in front to the Ferry Building during the 1918/1919 Spanish Flu epidemic. The fellow on the left has a mask on, so there was probably more going on here than meets the eye. (Redditt)

“I have a mask on! Why am I under arrest?”

“Because you stole this other fellow’s mask!”

“Well, then why is he under arrest?”

“Because he doesn’t have a mask on!”

The Halloween that won’t be

I love San Francisco during Halloween time. Vampires prowl Nob Hill, witches turn up everywhere around town, and you can find yourself wondering if some of the old houses in San Francisco rumored to be haunted just might be! For many past October 31sts I’ve gone over to San Francisco to get into a Halloween feeling before heading home to deal with the little extortionists knocking on my door after dark. I learn what’s in with kids and what’s not anymore from the costumes they wear each year. Sadly, people who enjoy the Halloween routines in October, like me, will miss that this year. These are few Halloween time photos I’ve posted during past Halloween seasons, complete with ghosts, witches, and a few haunted houses. I’ll also include a few Halloween events I’ve attended, and a few I may not have enjoyed had I have gone. (Thumbnail images)

We’ll start out at the old Armory on Mission Street between 14th and 15th Streets. This “fortress” was constructed just before World War One as an arsenal. The October I did my comparison picture here, a fright show exhibit called ‘Inferno’ ran through October as a Halloween attraction. The young lady who was working for me at the time went to experience it and told that it was horrifying to the point of being repulsive! That was good enough for me to be glad I missed out on that.

Two Halloweens ago, what might have been a similar attraction to the previous one was on display in the old Mint Building on 5th and Mission Streets call the ‘Terror Vault’. I didn’t go to that either; not because I was afraid, I can face anything if I have enough Xanax, I just wasn’t in the mood, and that sounded like something you really had to be in the mood for.

The top comparison pictures are on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Hornet, docked in Alameda,  in April of 1945 and several Octobers ago during Fleet Week. (Fleet Week is another October tradition cancelled this year)

One of the best Halloween parties that I have attended several times is the “Monster’s Ball” on board the Hornet, one of the best public Halloween gatherings in the Bay Area.

Now we’ll get to the witches, and there are plenty of them casting spells around San Francisco during October, like these two at the Embarcadero Center in October of 1989. My comparison picture was in October of 2018.

Also in October of 2018 was a comparison photo I did of a witch with a very long….. something, hanging out on the building where the old San Francisco Academy of Art University on Sutter Street used to be. I couldn’t get a date on the old SF Chronicle picture.

You’ll see plenty of ghosts around town too. This was a picture I took looking through the Pier 43 Arch in 2015. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t see her when I took the picture.

Let’s move on to a few old houses rumored to be haunted. Like this house on the corner of Fulton and Scott Streets at the northwest corner of Alamo Square. I don’t know if it’s haunted or not, but it should be.

The old mansion On California Street once owned by Gertrude Atherton is supposed to be haunted, as well. Hmm, there she is again!


If the old Laguna Mansion at Laguna and Jackson Streets in Pacific Heights is haunted, as is said to be, It would be haunted by the ghosts of old spies. There were many of them lurking around this house when it was the German Consulate just before World War Two broke out.


A spooky looking orange Ferry Building just before Halloween in 2010: The orange fits in good for the occasion, but it was for the San Francisco Giants who were only a few days away from winning their first World Series championship.

The San Francisco Kinetoscope Parlor near 8th and Market St. circa 1900. The kinetoscope arcade attraction invented by either Thomas Edison or Louis Le Prince, depending on which country you’re from, is a one person attraction where the viewer looks down into a glass scope to watch a moving picture. There are still several working kinetoscopes on display at the Musée Mécanique Arcade in Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf, closed at this time because of the COVID 19 Pandemic. However, what I like best when I go there, especially at Halloween, is taking on Uncle Fester from the Addams Family in the 3000 volt challenge, which isn’t as easy as it seems when this thing is operating correctly. (Museum of Modern Art Film Library)

The haunts of a white-collar worker (Thumbnail images)

I’ve been staying in the East Bay Area for the past week or so, and haven’t been able to get over to San Francisco for awhile. Mostly, this is because the October 15th income tax deadline for those who filed an extension in July and who told me that they wouldn’t wait until October to file, are waiting until October to file! There’s nothing wrong with that; I haven’t filed my tax return yet, either. These are comparison photos taken in the two cities that I’ve worked in the most during my life, Oakland and Hayward, California. I’ll start in Oakland.


The following vintage pictures of Downtown Oakland are from the Downtown Oakland Property Collection: I spent most of my twenties in life working at this building on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway; the Bank of America Oakland Main Office, ‘OMO’ as it was referred to back then. Although Oakland had its issues then as it does today, I remember this area as being a fun place to be young in, and some of the happiest and romantic days of my life were spent in and around this building. It’s still a bank building today, Comerica Bank, which didn’t have any branches in the area back when I worked there. When I was employed there the building was owned by Robert Lurie, who was at that time the owner of the San Francisco Giants.


This is one block up at 13th and Broadway. The blue building in the center, which was on the corner of 14th and Broadway, was the Bank of California Building once. On the ground floor of the Bank of California Building was Smith’s Men’s Store. I remember buying a stylish suit at Smith’s about the third year after I started working for Bank of America that looked like something Rhett Butler would have worn if he would have around in the 1970s. Shortly after buying the suit, I was passing by Smith’s again while wearing it, and there was a panhandler on the corner who I ignored, as most people did back then. As I walked past him he yelled to me loudly, “Damn! Where’d you cop that bad-ass suit?” That was one the best compliments I’ve ever had in my life! I think I gave him five bucks!


This one is kind of special to me. I bought my very first suit the second year after I started working for the bank here at Bond Clothes. I was dating a teller named Melodie at the time who helped me pick the suit out. In fact, the little rascal insisted on going into the dressing room with me while I tried it on. Hey, I was young once too. After the renovation to the area, I wasn’t able to locate exactly where Bond Clothes used to be until I found this picture. Also, I still have that suit and can still get into it if I hold my breath deep enough. I’ll keep it for the rest of my life.


This is looking back toward 14th Street across Broadway from Bond Clothes at 15th Street. Downtown Oakland didn’t really look a lot different from these vintage pictures two decades later when I started working in the area.


This is looking back toward the Bank of America Building along 12th from Franklin Street. ‘OMO’ was really a fun building to work in. It had a rickety old elevator that ran four floors from the basement to the third floor. You could stop the elevator between floors by sliding open the crisscross metal door to catch a few kisses, if you were riding with the right company, before heading on to your floor.


About ten miles south of Oakland is Hayward. My father started his income tax practice in Downtown Hayward in 1960, and I continued running the business after his death in 1993. Hayward is where I do all of my income tax and bookkeeping work, edit the posts for my San Francisco photography website, and occasionally sleep with my feet up on the desk. The top vintage picture is Foothill Blvd near A Street looking north in the 1950s. This is about two blocks from where my dad’s income tax practice originally opened. This was once a bustling shopping area before the opening of the Southland Mall in the early 1960s, which eventually put all of the department stores in the vintage picture out of business.


This is Foothill Blvd., looking south from the previous picture around the same time. Joseph Magnin, Milens Jewelers, Lewis Carpets, Bond Clothes, Smith’s, and all the rest, were doomed when the Southland Mall opened. (Hayward Area Historical Society)


‘Bullitt’ showing at the old Ritz Theater on Mission Blvd: I’ll bet that that’s where I saw ‘Bullitt’ for the first time. The Ritz Theater would eventually become a porn theater before it was demolished. (


The southeast corner of B Street and Mission Blvd long ago: Scenes were filmed at this corner in 1972 for the 1973 film ‘Steelyard Blues’, starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. (Pinterest / T.J. Soares)


Donald Sutherland chases Jane Fonda along Mission Blvd. to the corner of B Street, seen in the previous picture, past what is now called the Eden Loan Company in 1973’s ‘Steelyard Blues’.


The old City Hall on Mission Blvd. empty for over 40 years:  Too bad they can’t find a way to reuse this fine old building. It’s sitting right on the Hayward Fault and isn’t worth renovating, I guess. One of my older brothers got tossed into jail here overnight for too much partying. He told me that the cell they had in the basement wasn’t any bigger than the one Andy and Barney used to always toss Otis into in ‘Andy of Mayberry’. (Hayward Area Historical Society)


A Hayward landmark, “Big Mike” stood at this location on Mission Blvd. where a car wash used to operate for years. (Wikimedia Commons)