My love affair with California began when I was 19–true puppy love. In
1953 I spent a great 3 weeks with aunts, uncles and cousins in Los
Angeles. I loved the weather; I loved the sights; I loved the
celebrities I almost met; I loved all the special treatment I got as a
guest. That was the beginning. My honeymoon, in 1955, was a five week
road trip to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and brief stops in
other fantastic places. Again a wonderful experience. Although I loved
San Francisco I found it somewhat uncomfortable; women were still
wearing hats and white gloves in public. Inspired by all that love and
sunshine we moved to Sunnyvale, 40 miles south of San Francisco, in
1957; slowly, as with most love affairs, reality began to set in.
Sunnyvale was not San Francisco, which continued to have great appeal
for me, even though I felt moderately inadequate because the hat and
white glove thing was still de rigueur. We moved back
to Chicago 2 years later, and I’ve returned to San Francisco many times. I
enjoy visiting here, but I must confess the love affair ended years ago
— only a bit of nostalgia remains.
Robin has a meeting here in May, every year. I came with her two
years ago after an absence of many years. When we came to SF in the
past I always felt the entire city was on an endless holiday, even
people who lived and worked here. Two years ago I realized that was no
longer the case. Non-tourist people here seem just as tense and
stressed as they do in New York, but without the amazing energy that
typifies New Yorkers. Maybe I was naive years ago, but this was before
the area south of Market Street was cleaned up and gentrified, and
before the homeless people were all over the tourist areas of the city, and before the cost of living was so astronomical.
But enough complaining. I’m having a good time — it’s just not the
We flew out here late Sunday and were blown over by the hotel: talk
about over-the-top decor. The first thing was this fountain with the
The hotel is just outside the Chinatown gate. I went into Chinatown
Monday morning looking for dim sum breakfast and finally found one
place just opening that advertised "all you can eat" dim sum for $5.99.
The best way to have dim sum is to share with at least three other
people; dishes always come with three or four pieces. This time I was
able to choose just one or two of each kind, so I had a nice selection.
The proprietor was very nice; kept urging me to have more. When I
begged off he told me to come back and it would be free — I obviously
didn’t eat enough.
Then I went out to the Mission District. Somehow, I had gotten the
impression, probably from the internet, there would be a Cinco de Mayo
celebration, this being the fifth of May. No celebration, but an
interesting place to walk around.
Mission Dolores is a beautiful place.
I was amazed to find a Lutheran church and a synagogue on opposite
corners — a sacred intersection.
For lunch I had a Guatemalan taco
from a street vendor at 16th and Mission. Good stuff: I should have had
two of them. Also found a great fabric shop. Maybe people here still
sew; they don’t seem to in Pittsburgh.
I took 178 photos in my week in San Francisco. Be prepared for lots more to come.