My Claim to San Francisco

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October 15th 2006
Published: October 15th 2006
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I have a claim to San Francisco. My mother's Danish grandfather worked as a carpenter at the Palace Hotel, I think right after the earthquake. I don't know much about him, but I have a desk and a mirror that he made.

My father's mother moved there during WWII after her husband died of a heart attack while my dad was overseas in the Navy. She lived in a little studio apartment on the corner of Sutter and Jones until she died in 1974. Although she lived on a meager pension, she was one of those ladies that would never be seen in public without white gloves and a hat with netting over her face.

My dad was stationed there for a while during the war. Once he took me to Original Joes, and told me how he used to eat there regularly during the war. That's why it is still a favorite of mine.

Two childhood memories I have of San Francisco: one was going to Chinatown with my family, and I got separated from them and got lost. A cop found me and helped me find my family again. My mother was hysterical. Other memory I have is driving down Broadway... and my dad pointing out a 'Bohemian' sprawled out on some steps playing a flute. I can still point out the exact location.

That last memory had a profound effect upon me. I never forgot that scene. I don't know if that had something to do with the fact that after hearing about the scene in Haight Ashbury of the '60's that it became my destiny to run away from home in 1966. For 3 1/2 years, I bummed around from San Francisco to Seattle, to Vancouver BC, to Cape Cod... the back country of Yosemite, Hollywood, Santa Cruz and up and down Hwy 1, and then to San Francisco again. Every time, I found myself returning to The City. Years later, it still has an allure to me.


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