When it’s all too obvious

ObviousMFalconuse The opening scenes of ‘The Maltese Falcon’, (1941): The film makers identified the location, but most people wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing where the action will take place from this shot. Below, is a YouTube link to the opening scenes of the movie.

ObviousWharf1use Kelly Sherwood, (Lee Remick) must call “Red” Lynch, (Ross Martin) from a phone booth in Fisherman’s Wharf to find out where to deliver ransom money to free her kidnapped sister, Toby Sherwood, (Stefanie Powers)in the 1962 film, ‘Experiment in Terror’. Obviously, she doesn’t have a nickel, or maybe it was a dime by then. Behind her is the Fishermen’s Grotto #9 Restaurant. I’ve posted the YouTube link below before on my blog, but I enjoy watching it. It’s a neat recap of one of my favorite San Francisco movies packaged into the Henry Mancini theme from the opening credits.

Exper5use    When Kelly is told to cross the street and get into a cab, she is handed a ticket to a Giants, Dodgers game at Candlestick Park. $2.50! Obviously, when you’re a kidnapper springing for a baseball ticket for a relative of your victim, you buy one of the cheaper seats.  obviouszooislanduse “Benjamin, what are you doing here?”

“Here, in Berkeley?”

“No, Benjamin, we’re in San Francisco!”

Elaine Robinson, (Katherine Ross) didn’t, actually, say that last line to Benjamin Braddock, (Dustin Hoffman) in the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’, but she should have. They were at Monkey Island in the San Francisco Zoo, then known as Fleishhacker’s Zoo. Benjamin, obviously, needs the Google Maps App. Even the monkeys aren’t too sure about this guy! The link below is the YouTube video to the theatrical trailer for the film, although, the zoo scene isn’t shown.

Obviouszooisland2use Monkey Island is gone now, but the last time I visited the zoo, I asked one of the long time workers there where Monkey Island had once been and he was kind enough to show me this area here where it had once been located.  Phallicuse “Coitus interruptus.”

“I beg your pardon”

“Oh, Coit Tower. Slightly phallic, don’t you think?”

This is her impression of Coit Tower Police Officer, Kate Moore (Tyne Daly) imparts to Harry Callahan, (Clint Eastwood) as they walk through Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower in the 1976 film ‘The Enforcer’. Later, she tells him when referring to the power of his .44 Magnum,

“I see. So, it’s for the penetration?”

She, obviously, has something on her mind! Below, is a YouTube link of the scene.

obviousGGBrideuseA YouTube link below to a colorized version, (The film was shot in black and white) of the giant octopus destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1955 move ‘It Came from Beneath the Sea’: Obviously, this was not a good day to take a drive to Marin.


The Alameda County Fair – 2016

Parkinguse The parking lot in the 1950’s: Well, the price has only gone up three thousand percent!  (Vintage picture Alameda County Fair Association Archives)Entranceuse Heading in: The parking lot in the 1950’s is now the Midway.  (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  HobbyPavilionuse The old horse racing grandstand was rebuilt in the 1960’s. On the right is the Arts and Crafts Building; I think they call it the Hobby Building now. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Jaimeuse Lots of cool things to see in the Hobby Building, like the Mushroom Display.  Midwayuse The Midway with all the Audrey Hepburn wannabes in the 1950’s: This was only the second day so the crowds were light, which makes it more fun. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Merrygorounduse They still have a Merry-go-round. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  kiddieridesuse Ah, the kiddie rides! You know, the ones I can handle. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Cokeorangebeeruse The old and new grandstand from the fair’s central park: (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Horseraceuse I probably didn’t do as well as F. Miller did in 1952, but I won $19.86 on this race! (Sammy DiLaura)  Stageuse The old Court of Four Season Stage, for years the main entertainment area, is gone now. This is where it was. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  MissCVuse The Court of Four Seasons from where the stage was: (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Garden Partyuse  The Flower and Gardens Building:

“If you’re going to a garden party, I wish you a lot of luck!”

They removed the old wishing well, and rain forest from inside here this year! (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)  Trainsuse The model train display has come a long way since its debut in the 1940’s. (Alameda County Fair Association Archives)


Just because

Powellcableuse The Powell Street cable car turnaround: I put this one in just because I thought it was a interesting picture, and not, necessarily, because this is an election year and we may have another President Clinton by the end of the year. The Owl Drug Store on the right would eventually become the Woolworth’s Department Store, a landmark on this corner until the 1980’s.  Pier48use Pier 48 on the other side of McCovey Cove in the 1930’s: I framed my shot a little more to the left just because I didn’t want to leave the Bay Bridge out. (San Francisco History Center)  Sloatblvduse 47th and Sloat Blvd. in 1940: I put this one in just because whatever they’re building on this corner now is not going to be better than a ten cent hot dog or hamburger! I don’t think that old fire hydrant on the corner is going to survive this ordeal. That’s the old WPA Sloat Blvd. entrance to the zoo, now closed off to the public. Click on the link below for a close up of the old Sloat entrance from a series I did in July of 2015.


Paintinguse “San Francisco”, a painting by Emil Kosa Jr. looking down Montgomery Street from Telegraph Hill in 1942: I put this one in just because I can’t remember if the expression is, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” or “Art imitates Life far more than Life imitates Art.” but one of them applies. (Hilbert Museum of California Art)  Chinatownuse Chinatown in the 1960’s: I put this one in just because I’ve seen that old Shanghai Low sign in dozens of Chinatown pictures as far back as the 1930’s, and never realized before that it is still there.  CableCarBarnuse Washington Street near Taylor just up from the Cable Car Barn on the left: I put this one in just because I may have posted it already, but I don’t remember, and I’m too lazy to go back in the archives and check. Click on the link below for a view at the bottom of the hill looking up toward where we are from a picture I posted in July of 2015.


Charlie Chaplin Days in Niles, California, 2016

Chaplindaysopenuse Niles California displays its understanding and appreciation that one of the most iconic comic figures in motion picture history was created in Niles by hosting a Chaplin Days Festival every June. It can be argued that Chaplin’s similar tramp character appeared in several films before the five movies he made in Niles, but this sleepy town near Fremont put him on the map, and his little tramp walking down a lonely road in Niles Canyon is folklore. At the top is a flickr.com image of Chaplin in Niles. Below, is a collection of Charlie Chaplins and leading ladies gathered for the Sunday’s second day of the festival. The girl in the black dress third from the left was a Paulette Goddard, Chaplin’s leading lady in ‘Modern Times’. The girl in the red hat was Edna Purviance, Charlie’s leading lady in the five movies he made in Niles.

Essaneyuse The Essanay Studio where Chaplin worked: Notice the houses behind the studio, those were bungalows build for the actors and actresses working at the studio, and although some are remodeled, they are still there today and can be seen in the bottom picture. The studio was demolished in the 1930’s and a fire station occupies the spot today.

Edna'splaceuse Charlie didn’t stay in the bungalows while in Niles. He spent his time at the main Niles hotel, and at this house where his leading lady Edna Purviance was staying. I ran this old picture before, but it’s worth a look at again. That’s Chaplin third from the left next to Edna Purviance, and the house they’re standing in front of today. The building on the right is the old Edison Studio where Chaplin originally premier his films in 1915. The theater has been restored, and Charlie’s films are shown in the same building during the festival and throughout the year.

Flaguse The flag in Niles today on this Sunday when I was out there: “The show must go on.” seems fitting for the Chaplin performers.

San Francisco in the 1960’s

Aquaticcableuse I love this picture! Taken at Aquatic Park across from the Cannery Building in 1960’s, it has elements of a 1930’s or 1940’s scene, such as the stop light or the sailor on the cable car. However, the star of the picture is the grip man with the cigarette in his mouth turning the car. Passengers are not allowed to climb aboard the cable cars as they turn on turntable anymore, but I can remember doing that.  (Glenn Christiansen)

GHighwayuse I never get tired of pictures of Playland-at-the-Beach from Sutro Heights. However most pictures I’ve seen or have in my collection are from the 1920’s, 1930’s or 1940’s; I haven’t seen many from the 1960’s during the amusement park’s decline. Playland had gotten pretty old and tired by the time the top photo was taken.  (Vintage picture buzzfeed.com)

Grottouse Sailors running in out of the rain at #9 Fishermen’s Grotto:  (Vintage picture buzzfeed.com)

Haightashburyuse The corner of Haight and Ashbury in 1967: Wow, even the camera was on drugs!  (Vintage picture buzzfeed.com)

franciscopowelluse Francisco and Powell Streets: (flickr)

reagancablecaruse California Governor Ronald Reagan, and Mrs. Nancy Reagan on a Powell Street cable car heading up Nob Hill just north of Post Street in 1966: The building the Roos/Atkins store was in behind the cable was demolished in the 1980’s and the Saks Fifth Avenue Building is there now.  (Vintage picture buzzfeed.com)

JanisColeuse Janis Joplin on the corner of Cole and Haight Streets in 1967: This one is, kind of, sad. Also, I wonder if back then Janis would have looked at the girl in the cross walk today and thought, “Wow, what’s with that?”  (Vintage picture buzzfeed.com)

Mementos from the Treasure Island International Exposition

TIslandguidebookuse The Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island ran from February of 1939 to September of 1940 with a seven month break from October 1939 to May 1945. The fair closed over seventy five years ago, and the personal memories are fading out. Still, a lot has survived to remember it by. I have a few items myself; at top, is a coaster from the Fair, and below is one of the official guide books.


The guide book has a great fold out map listing the fair’s attractions.

chanuse In the opening scenes of Charlie Chan on Treasure Island, (1939) Chan, played by Sidney Toler, flies in to San Francisco from Hawaii, landing in Clipper Cove next to the island. There are great scenes of views from the air of the exposition. In the middle, is the Sun Tower, and at the bottom is the curved Administration Building, still there today.

Kevinuse Another survivor of the fair is the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts Building, one of three original structures still on the island.

Ferryuse Ferry Boats ran to the island regularly during the fair from the Ferry Building.

TIStatueuseIn August of 1939, my seventeen year old mother took a train from Grand Forks, North Dakota to spend the summer in San Francisco. Here she is on the right next to her cousin Frances at the Court of Honor fountains on Treasure Island. Notice the first statue to the left of them looking at the picture; original statues from the Treasure Island Fair, including that one, are on display in front of the Administration Building. I’m clowning around here, but with respect; this guy, I think it’s a guy, met my mom long before I did!

SallyRanduse One of the Premier attractions of the fair, (My mom better have missed this one!) was the Sally Rand Nude Ranch on the Gayway st the north end of the fair. The Gayway was the section of the fair with carnival rides and attractions.

Blackmaskuse I recently ordered a book of detective stories from the pulp magazines of the 1930’s and 1940’s at Amazon.com. I was delighted to find the story, ‘Murder on the Gayway’ by Dwight Babcock, written in 1939, in the collection. The story begins and ends, at the Treasure Island Fair, in particular, the Sally Rand Nude Ranch. It has vivid descriptions of the attraction, as well as the rest of the fair.

“The Nude Ranch was a long, low building with a rustic Spanish-type front. In the heart of the Gayway and its most popular attraction, the barkers out front were made up like copies of the Lone Ranger and didn’t have to work very hard to lure customers inside at two bits a crack. The exhibit was coining money.”

The last word on the Cliff House, at least, until the next time I go there. (For the Louis’ Restaurant up the street, and the terrific breakfasts they serve)

CliffHouseopeneruse(vintagevacationphotos.com)  Lettersuse I don’t know, maybe if they put those giant letters back on it would help.  CHouseSutrosuse This vintage photo really captures how fun it once was out there.  (The Old Motor Magazine)  BBilluse “Hey, Bungalow Bill! What did you kill?”

Obviously, this was the fellow who inspired the nickname John Lennon gave his villain on the Beatles White Album. Buffalo Bill Cody was an army scout who won the Medal of Honor, a Pony Express rider, an Indian fighter, and a master showman. But he also killed a lot of buffalo, 4282 according to Wikipedia, and he didn’t always kill them for food. Still, he had his day in the City, and was an interesting visitor. Here he is at the entrance to the old gingerbread Cliff House with some of the Indians from his Wild West show.  Click on the link below to see where Danny and I tracked Buffalo Bill down in this area once before.


More Then and THEN – Hawaii

Alahopiersuse A passenger liner pulls up to Pier 10 at the Aloha Tower in Honolulu on a long ago day, and the Constitution at Pier 11 at the Aloha Tower in 1982:  AlohaToweruse Army WACs at a camouflaged Aloha Tower during World War Two, and the Aloha Tower in 1996:  Wakakibeachthisone Waikiki Beach just before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, and in 1996 with my two favorite beachcombers: (Bill McWilliams)  punchbowlmeuse Honolulu from the Punchbowl in the 1920’s, and in 1982: I look like Pinocchio!  (huffingtonpost.com)  Battleshiprowuse Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor from a Japanese attack plane on December 7th 1941, and Battleship Row from the USS Arizona in 1982: The white monuments are where the ships were anchored on that day. That’s Ford Island on the right in my picture. This December will be the 75 anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.  (AP Photo/Japanese Navy)  Arizonause The USS Arizona sinking during the Pearl Harbor attack, and approaching the Arizona from the launch that takes you out to her: Most of her crew are still down there, and oil from the ship still leaks into the harbor today.

“Did ya ever get the feeling that ya was being watched?”

Subopeneruse In January of 1951, a World War Two era submarine slipped into San Francisco Bay underwater, and took these pictures of San Francisco through their periscope. It was some kind of authorized mission to see if they could sneak up on a city without being detected by the citizens. I’m glad they were on our side! On the left, they begin their “secret mission’ by following a ship under the Golden Gate Bridge into the Bay. On the right, is the inevitable greeting by pretty girls when they dock after the mission. I wonder who got the puppy!  (Vintages pictures from sfchronicle.com)

subpalaceuse There’s the Palace of Fine Arts on the right.

subMarinause That’s the St Francis Yacht Club Building.    subaquaticuse There’s the Maritime Museum and Ghirardelli Square.

Subalcatrazuse The Catfish circled around Alcatraz to take some close up photos. There was still some pretty bad boys out there when they took this picture, such as, “Machine Gun” Kelly, who wasn’t sent back to Leavenworth until later on in 1951, Alvin Karpis, who rode with “Ma” Barker’s gang, and served more time on Alcatraz than any other prisoner, (twenty six years) and Robert Stroud, “The Birdman of Alcatraz”.    SubTHillBloguse Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower:

Relaxin’ awhile

RelaxMechanicsuse San Franciscans relaxing at the Mechanics Monument on Market Street in 1960: The two buildings in the background are the Southern Pacific Building, with the largest advertising sign in San Francisco at the time, and the PG&E Building. The statue has been shifted from it’s location in the vintage picture, so you have to stand across Battery Street to get those two buildings and the monument in the same picture today. Dedicated in 1901, the city was destroyed around Mechanics Monument in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech here in 1911, Ten people were killed when a bomb exploded several blocks away in 1916 in an unsolved crime that is the worst terrorist attack in San Francisco to date, and an abundance of parades have passed by it on Market Street.  (Phil Palmer)

relaxunionsquareuse People relaxing on Union Square lawn in the 1950’s: There is little lawn left on Union Square today. Most of the buildings on Post street in the background are gone today, but you can still see two, the one on the far right, and the Williams-Sonoma Building in the center (sfchronicle.com)

relaxunionsquare2use (sfchronicle.com)

Relaxzellabrachuse How they relaxed in the 1970’s

“What do you think about this Watergate investigation stuff?”

“It’s copacetic, dude!” It’s copacetic!”

“Yeah, that’s what I think too. What does that mean?”

This was at the Crown-Zellerbach Plaza.  (Paul C Johnson and Richard Reinhardt)

RelaxWharfuse No artists painting the boats in the Fisherman’s Wharf Lagoon today when I was there:  (Barnaby Conrad and Bay Area Photographers Society)

Cargouse Don’t let the locals tell you that the Red and White Fleet boat rides on the Bay are for tourists; it’s a great way to relax, and the scenery is stunning! Here, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship makes a nice comparison to the old Philippine Transport cargo ship at dock in the 1950’s when passing by. The Jeremiah O’Brien is a true landmark. She was at Normandy Beach on June 6th 1944 for D Day, and sailed back to Normandy in 1994 from San Francisco for the 50th anniversary of the invasion. She was the only ship of hundreds and hundreds off Normandy that day to make it back on June 6th 1994. Even the Queen of England came aboard to show her respects. (Phil Palmer)

Relaxsayheyuse I’ve been lucky enough to relax at many San Francisco Giants games, going back to seeing the “Say Hey Kid” at Candlestick Park as a boy to today’s AT&T Park.  (Barnaby Conrad and Bay Area Photographers Society)

relaxBARTuse If you don’t go during rush hour, BART is a very relaxing way to travel to and from San Francisco, and you never know who you’ll run into. Wow, President and First Lady Richard and Patricia Nixon! Actually this was a visit from the First Couple to inaugurate the opening of BART in 1972. They traveled from the San Leandro station to the Lake Merritt station in Oakland.

“And one of these days, Mr. President, we’ll get these trains to stop where they’re supposed to!”