Fort Mason and the USS Hornet (For Willie of the Hornet crew)

While London and the rest of the world are fighting a new war, I was thinking about an older war this weekend. The scope and enormity of World War Two still staggers me! I once read where an author described it as, “The largest collective human endeavor in the history of mankind” yet most people living today know very little about it. On Saturday and Sunday, I visited a few key places historically involved in what the British call the Second World War.

Hornetopenuse Today, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, I visited the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CV-12 in Alameda. CV-12 was commissioned in November of 1943, nearly a year and a half after the battle of Midway, but she saw plenty of action from World War Two through the Viet Nam War. It was also CV-12 that picked up the astronauts Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins after their historic first trip to the moon in July of 1969. The previous Hornet CV-8 which was at the Battle of Midway was lost in November of 1942. It was at this same spot that Hornet CV-8 sailed out from Alameda with the Doolittle Raiders when they bombed Japan in April of 1942.

Hornetislanduse The command center of the aircraft carrier is called “the island”, seen in the top photo in April of 1945. I was able to take a tour of the island on Sunday.

Hornetaftviewuse World War Two fighter planes on the aft or rear section of the flight deck in 1945 and the aft of the flight deck with San Francisco in the background from the control section of the island:

Hornetforeaftuse A plane lands on the aft of the flight deck during World War Two: Notice another plane in the upper right preparing to land. The bottom picture is the fore or forward section of the flight deck seen from the island.

Masonopenuse Fort Mason from the air during the 1920’s and Fort Mason on Saturday: Fort Mason was a major embarkation point for the Pacific Theater of the Second World War, and the scope of activity that took place here during the war is hard to comprehend. (Vintage photo from

Masonentranceuse The entry gate to Fort Mason in 1953: (

Masontunneluse It was here at the old Fort Mason Train Tunnel that Clint Eastwood encounters three hoods while trying to deliver ransom money in one of my favorite scenes from 1971’s ‘Dirty Harry’. The bottom photo is where Harry entered the tunnel today. There has been much talk about reopening the tunnel for bicyclists or an extension of the F Line of streetcars, but nothing has come about yet.

Masonstoneuse The unveiling of the Fort Mason stone marker in 1925: The wording is different today and I’m not even sure it’s the same stone, but it’s still impressive.


Bestiesbakerstuse Besties in the 1950’s on the Baker Street steps in Pacific Heights:

BestieKearnybloguse An interesting picture showing the filming of a scene with sisters Katrin and Christine Hanson (Barbara Bel Geddes and Peggy McIntyre) walking down Kearny Street on Telegraph Hill for the 1948 movie ‘I Remember Mama’. I’m guessing that the guy looking out the window was just somebody living there at the time. (Vintage photo from Vienna’s Classic Hollywood)

BestiesCHouseuse Victorian besties above the old gingerbread Cliff House:

Bestiesteahouseuse 1940’s besties at the tea house in the Japanese Tea Garden. Period pictures like this are historical today; after Pearl Harbor the name of the Japanese Tea Garden was changed to the Oriental Tea Garden and all Japanese cultural artifacts were removed. The lady waiting on the two “besties” was probably Chinese. The teahouse is still inside the garden today.

BestiestopMarkuse Besties at the Top of the Mark:

Disneyland 2017

Frontierbloguse No, these ladies at the entrance to Frontierland aren’t part of the show, that’s how people dressed in the 1950’s. Boy, people sure were funny looking in THOSE days, huh? (You can see where this is going)

Carteruse President Jimmy Carter jogging through Frontierland: This picture was taken in 1982, after his tenure as Commander in Chief.

Matterhornuse The old Skyway to Fantasyland through the Matterhorn, and the People Mover: It’s hard to believe that two people died from falling off the People Mover; It was always the slowest ride in the park! You can still see the People Mover track today.

Openinguse A parade advertising the different lands to visit on Disneyland’s opening day, July 17th 1955: (Vintage photo from Omg Cute Things)

MainStblog1981 Those aren’t characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean in the top photo. That’s my mom and dad, my brother Pat, my sister Julie’s kids, Beverly, Carrie Ann, Stacy, and me on Main Street in 1981.

Yosemite 2017 (Special thanks to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center)

This one is for England. My grandmother was born in Liverpool. My visit to England years ago was one of the highlights of my life. After the United States, I get more visitors to my blog from England than any other country. I’m thinking about the people over there today.

Yosemiteinsidetunneluse “Don’t try this at home!” Anybody who has driven into Yosemite National Park by way of Route 120 knows about the long tunnel you pass through shortly after entering the park. If you stop your car after exiting the tunnel and walk back about half way, there’s a side tunnel running off of the main tunnel that you can walk through to get a great view of Yosemite Valley. The bottom picture is the view from the side tunnel. Cars passing by you when you’re walking in the tunnel sound like airplanes taking off!

Yosemitepooluse The Yosemite Lodge swimming pool in the 1940’s with Yosemite Falls in the background: I couldn’t get a good line up with the falls from the pool area now so I took my picture from the parking lot of the lodge. When we showed the old photo to a nice guy who works near the swimming pool area, he informed us that the old pool used to be where the parking lot is now. So there! The bottom photo is the pool today. (Period photo from Vintage Everyday)

Yosemiterapidsuse Taking a break near some rapids along the Merced River with my brother, Kevin:

“Okay, Kevin, let me get a picture of you in this spot now. Just ooooooone more step back!”

yosemiteinspirationuse Inspiration Point from the tunnel; looks like the early 1960’s. (Vintage Everyday)

Yosemite140use It wasn’t as busy at the Route 140 entrance to Yosemite last week as it was on this Memorial Day in the 1940’s. (L.A. Times)

Yosemiterockbridgeuse The rock tunnel along Highway 140 in 1949:

Yosemitesadieuse “Denial is a river in Egypt.” Face it, guys, she drowned! On July 7th 1901, Sadie Schaeffer, Sadie Young, and Johnnie Van Campen went rafting down the Merced River in a small boat built by Van Campen. When they got near where El Capitan is, Sadie Young left the boat because she was nervous about the water. Shortly after, the boat overturned. Van Campen made it to shore but Sadie Schaeffer drowned in the river and her body was never found. Since she was never located, her friends put an epitaph on her grave marker in the Yosemite Cemetery that sounds a little optimistic, if not morbid! It reads, AH, THAT BEAUTEOUS HEAD, IF IT DID GO DOWN, IT CARRIED SUNSHINE INTO THE RAPIDS.

Yosemiteledgeuse I didn’t make it up to Glacier Point this year; this was a picture from last summer. I was wondering about the girl on the ledge; might even be Sadie Schaeffer! Below, is the link to a post I did on Yosemite National Park last summer.

A cruise on the Jeremiah O’Brien

Avast, there! Sail along with me, landlubbers, (well, at least I am) on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien for the 2017 Veterans Memorial Cruise.

vetcruiseembarcuse We requested permission to come aboard, and logged in at 6 bells. (I think that’s 11:00 AM)

Vetcruisetugboatsuse Our little astrological tugboats, ‘Taurus’ and ‘Sagittarian’ pulled us away from Pier 45.

vetcruisemingleuse We headed out to sea and the passengers began to mingle about. That’s my brother Kevin mingling with his telephone.

vetcruisesteamuse I headed down into the engine room for a steam bath.

Vetcruiseholduse A painting on board shows what the hold of the ship where war supplies were loaded would have looked like during World War Two, and what the hold looks like today.

vetcruisefoguse Our original charted course was to take us around Alcatraz, and then out past the Golden Gate Bridge for a wreath laying ceremony in honor of veterans lost. Many friends and relatives of veterans gone had brought flowers, wreaths, and ashes to place in the ocean during the ceremony. However, when we rounded Alcatraz Island and headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge the captain announced that the fog was too heavy for safe navigation, and we changed our course for China Basin, just below the Bay Bridge for the ceremony.

Vetcruisestalleduse Things got a little tricky as we headed back toward China Basin. I was standing on deck next to one of the crew members when I heard an announcement on his communication radio, “We have an emergency!” and the Jeremiah O’Brien came to a stop in the water. That’s never a good sign! The captain announced that our engines had stalled. Don’t get too far ahead of us, tugboats!

Vetcruiseportstarboarduse I want to point out, though, that there was never any emergency. Our little tugboat companions on the port and starboard side of the ship kept us from drifting to or away from San Francisco. Nobody on the ship got nervous and the band playing music on deck did not start playing ‘Nearer, My God to Thee’. If you’re going to be stranded on the sea, try to have it be on an historic ship serving free and unlimited coffee, doughnuts, hot dogs, and beer!

vetcruiseceremonyuse It was decided to hold the memorial service where we were stopped. In a touching ceremony, people remembered or said goodbye to the friends and loved ones they have lost.

vetcruiseportuse Afterwards, our little sidekicks stayed with us us back to port.

vetcruisequeenuse The Jeremiah O’Brien was at Normandy Beach during the D-Day Landings delivering supplies. In 1994, she sailed on her own steam through the Panama Canal to Europe to be part of the 50th Anniversary ceremonies. Of the thousands of ships that were part of the D-Day landings, the Jeremiah O’Brien was the only one to make it back! That’s quite a feat! In this photo aboard the ship, the crew tips their hats to a passing ship carrying the Queen of England during the anniversary ceremonies.


“Mellow as the month of May”

“Mellow as the month of May”

Carole King could have been in San Francisco on a day like yesterday when she wrote that line. I spend more time in San Francisco during the month of May than any other month.  In May, the weather in San Francisco is always “mellow”, (except, when it isn’t). On Friday I took a springtime walk around Nob Hill, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf. May is a good time to fall in love in San Francisco and I fell in love with every girl who smiled at me when I passed by, and even those who didn’t.

MayCalifStuse California Street looking toward Chinatown and Old St. Mary’s in the early 1950’s: You have to get a little farther out in the street to see the Bay Bridge from this spot now. (

MayInternaltionaluse The International Settlement in North Beach in 1955: This was where all of the bawdy nightclubs and their “fallen angels” use to be located. (

MayFresnouse North Beach in the early 1970’s: They’re always protesting something in San Francisco. What do they have against Fresno? Pause for laughter…….. Still waiting. (Bolditalic)

Maycameluse Grant Avenue and Green Street in North Beach in the early 1970’s: I used to hang out a lot at Grant & Green in the 80’s and 90’s; they had some great bands playing here. (Bolditalic)

MayBrautiganuse Writer Richard Brautigan and his ten year old daughter, Ianthe, on Telegraph Hill at Filbert Street in 1970: Brautigan killed himself in 1984; Ianthe is now a writer and poet, as well. (Vernon Merritt)

MayDimaggio'sUse “Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.” This was the spot where Joe DiMaggio’s Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, seen here in 1954, was located. Joe opened the restaurant in 1937. (

MayWharfuse DiMaggio’s Restaurant from the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon in a snapshot my teenage mom took in the summer of 1939: You can still see four of the buildings that were in my mom’s photo.

The chase scene from ‘Daydreams’

DDreamsopeneruse   In 1922 Buster Keaton filmed what was probably the first chase scene to use San Francisco locations, if you don’t count Charlie Chaplin’s drive along the Great Highway in his 1915 short film ‘Jitney Elopement’. Chase scenes would later be a highlight in many movies set in San Francisco such as ‘Impact’ from 1949, ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ in 1972, and, of course, ‘Bullitt’ from 1968. In ‘Daydreams’, Buster goes to San Francisco to find a job so that he can marry the girl he loves and because of his clumsiness gets into trouble with San Francisco police who chase him from North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf to the south of Market Street. The movie is available on DVD, but the clearest images that I’ve seen of the film are on the website Film in America. To be fair, also identifies the locations from John Bengston’s book ‘Silent Echoes’ which saved me a lot of detective work.

DDreamslombard westuse The chase starts out with Buster running east on Lombard Street and turning north onto Taylor Street. The “Crookedest Street in the World”, seen in the far back of my picture opened the same year as ‘Daydreams’ but had not been completed yet when this scene was filmed.

DDreamsLombardeastuse With the same film continuity as ‘Bullitt’, the next scene has Buster turning onto Lombard from Mason Street, running west to Columbus Avenue and hopping onto a north bound cable car.

DDreamsccarcatchuse   Now, that’s how you catch a cable car!

DDreamsBayStuse This scene is of particular interest to me; it’s at the cable car turn around at Bay and Taylor Streets looking east on Bay. The cable car turntable, in the middle of the intersection then, was eventually moved farther south on Taylor to avoid traffic. You can see a cable car turning around at the far right in my photo.

DDreamsrelaxinguse  Buster is unaware that the cable car has turned around and is heading back south toward the pursuing police.

Daydreanswashpowelluse The cable car turns south onto Powell Street from Washington Street putting Buster right back among the police who are about eleven blocks further south now from where we last saw them! Notice how many buildings in the background remain today. The Rex Apartments building is at the far left, and the green building was put in next to it where the billboard was in the film scene. The building with the fire escape, the one with the double row of arched windows next to it, and the small building are behind the northbound cable car. The building with three rows of arched windows on the northeast corner of Washington and Powell is the brown one with the Chinese lettering.

DDreamscolumbususe Buster jumps off onto Columbus Ave. at Lombard Street and heads south on Columbus followed by the police.

DDreamsMinna1use The chase scene moves to the south of Market Street at the intersection of 2nd Street and Minna Alley. As Keaton approaches the corner from the south, a streetcar filled with policemen pulls up and the cops chase him west along Minna Street.

DDreamsenforceruse Fifty four years later, this intersection can be viewed from the opposite angle in the liquor store hold up scene in the 1976 film ‘The Enforcer’ starring Clint Eastwood.

DDreamsMinna2use The last San Francisco location scene in the movie has Buster running west on Minna Street and turning south onto New Montgomery followed by the police.

Up close and personal

“Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

This collection is a close up look at some of the sites of San Francisco.

Closesealrocksuse No seals on Seal Rocks anymore: Actually, they weren’t seals anyway, they were sea lions. They moved to Pier 39 during the 1990’s, (the sea lions not the rocks) but I’m not sure they are still hanging around there anymore, either.

CloseAlcatrazuse Up close to Alcatraz in 1940 when it was still a federal prison: My picture is from the other side but it’s still “The Rock”.

CloseGGBridgeuse Up close to the G. G. B.: It wasn’t as sunny of a day when I took my picture and I’m not sure that the 1950’s phonychrome color in the older picture was all that accurate.

CloseDrakeuse Up close on Powell Street to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel: It always amazes me that they allowed that building to go up across the street from the hotel  which blocks the northern view from the Starlight Lounge at the top of the Sir Francis Drake.

CloseCTownuse Up close to Chinatown: Actually, most pictures of Chinatown are up close. Nestled among the steel and glass jungle of Downtown San Francisco, about the only way for the public to get a distant view of Chinatown is from Coit Tower or the Top of the Mark.

CloseFlooduse Up close to the Flood Building in 1908: Somebody is writing to “Mamma” saying that he or she missed seeing this building during their San Francisco trip. It’s too bad because it’s one of San Francisco most historic buildings.

closelighthouseuse What Mile Rocks Lighthouse used to look like: They’ve chopped the lighthouse up now, and put a helicopter landing port on top. They made a terrible but thoroughly enjoyable movie in 1942 called ‘Seven Miles from Alcatraz’ about two convicts who escape from the prison and wind up on a light house that was supposed to be Mile Rocks Lighthouse. The cons turn patriotic and end up fighting Nazi spies who have captured the lighthouse and are using it for espionage purposes. Sounds good, huh? The lighthouse in the film was about twice as big as Mile Rocks Lighthouse ever was, and they never actually called it “Mile Rocks Lighthouse” but that’s obviously what it was supposed to be. At the lower left is the Mile Rocks Lighthouse, on the left center of the picture, seen from Lands End. On the lower right is the best close-up I could get with my little digital day-tripper. (Vintage picture from SF Gate)

ClosePier45use The top photo is a scene at Pier 45 in Fisherman’s Wharf from the 1950 film noir movie ‘Woman on the Run’ with Ann Sheridan. The bottom photo is more like something from Hammer Horror Films.

Out Taraval way (For Susana)

My brief visit to Taraval Street last Saturday got me interested in exploring the area a little more. I headed back out there today on the old L Line through the Twin Peaks Tunnel, now known as the Metro L Line.

Taraval24eastuse 24th Avenue and Taraval Street looking east in 1962:

TravalLincolnHighuse What high school girls looked like in 1943 at the old Lincoln High School on 24th Avenue:

Taraval24thwestuse Taraval Street and 24th Avenue looking west in 1949: The old L Line survives.


THE place to see movies on Taraval Street was the old Parkside Theater near 19th Avenue. Although the theater building is still there, (the gray building in the center) it’s now the Parkside Preschool and Kindergarten. Below is the Parkside Theater summer schedule for 1962. (Joseph McInerney Collection)