Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 -- December 31, 2011

2011 has been an exciting year, and it went by very quickly.  A family member has been ill, but he has remained fairly stable.  The Giants did not win the World Series this year.  They struggled all year with a lack of hitting and a terrible injury to Buster Posey.  The pitchers, starting and relieving, did very well considering the lack of run support.  The Cardinals beat Texas in the World Series.  Game six was one of the most exciting World Series games I have seen, with the lead going back and forth, even in extra innings.  Tony Larussa retired after the Series.

The Occupy movement sprang up this year and did some good, making people aware of the dangers of income disparity and the way the middle class has been under attack.  The Arab Spring movement has overthrown dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  The people are still fighting in Syria.  Results in Yemen were inconclusive.

This is the 360th post in this blog for the year, the 1200th overall. I had an interesting year. I have enjoyed the regular monthly series. In the aviators series, I found some interesting people and newspaper articles. I started the year with a January, 1911 article about the deaths of two airmen on the last day of 1910.  It included a list of aviators who had died in that year.  In the train stations series, I took a side track to publish some images of Oakland train stations from an old PG and E magazine. I have posted several train station images from our trip to Nevada.  I have gotten more nice comments on the William Coulter series. In writing about the remarkable Van der Weyde (Vander Weyde, Van der Weyden, Vanderweyde) family, I found articles about Doctor Peter Henri, his son Henry, Henry's son painter Harry Faulkner Van der Weyden, and their possible ancestor, painter Rogier van der Weyden.

In January, I started a couple of new series, including one about stage magicians and one about comic books.  I posted more photos of the East Bay Terminal being demolished.

In February, we went to the first San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. I contributed one article and some cash to the second annual For the Love of Film film preservation blogathon. This year's theme was film noir. We raised about $5,697, which will be used to restore and preserve The Sound of Fury.  I wrote about the passing of Corporal Frank Buckles, the last surviving US Doughboy from World War One.

In March I wrote about a giant release of red balloons, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and the Saint Ignatius Downtown Busiiness Lunch, which marked the founding of the Admiral Daniel J Callaghan Society. I got to meet some survivors of Pearl Harbor. and Guadalcanal.

In April, at the suggestion of a fellow blogger, I started a new series on nicknames.  I wrote about the 150th anniversary of the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  I tried to start a new series on baseball cards, but it went nowhere.  We stood in the window of our office and saw President Obama drive by.  I started a short series on classic autos from last year's International Auto Show.

In May, US special forces killed Osama bin Laden.  We attended a Giant's game on Willie Mays' 80th birthday.  There was a big celebration.  We went to mass and a dinner at my old parish, Saint Monica's, celebrating its 100th anniversary.  I started a series on a group of San Francisco history posters called "Once Upon a Time."  The world did not come to an end on 21-May-2011.  I wrote about the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

In June I wrote about the day of the funeral of two San Francisco firefighters.

In July, Atlantis flew the last Space Shuttle mission.  On our way to Disneyland, I got to ride Angels Flight, the funicular in downtown Los Angeles that had just reopened after mechanical issues.  Our time at Disneyland went by too quickly.  We drove up I-5 all the way from Disneyland to Reno.  It was a very long day.  We stayed at Harrahs.  We had not visited Nevada for many years.  We rode on the newly extended Virginia and Truckee Railway from Eastgate to Virginia City.  We visited the Nevada State Railroad Museum and saw the restored McKeen car.  Our pastor at Good Shepherd, Father Piers Lahey, left at the end of the month.

In August I wrote about some new features in San Francisco, including the Powell Street Promenade and the parkmobiles. We finally got to visit the Porziuncola at the Shrine of Saint Francis.

In September, we observed the 10th anniversary of 09/11.  I talked to groups of schoolkids about cable cars and the War of 1812.  We moved to a different floor at work.  Jason Schmidt and Marvin Benard were added to the Giants Wall of Fame.

In October, we observed the 10th anniversary of the Afghan War.  I took my mother to a big mass at Saint Monica's, celebrating the 100th anniversary.  The world did not end on the revised date of 21-October-2011.

I was happier about the results of this year's November elections. The Bay Bridge celebrated the 75th anniversary of its opening.  I attended a fundraiser for the restoration of the only surviving Ocean Shore Railroad passenger car.  I led my first Market Street walking tour, for the community support campaign at work.  The Occupy Movement grew, but police in several places tried to shut it down.  In one particularly egregious case, an office at UC Davis pepper sprayed a line of seated, unresisting students.  I started a new series on ghost signs.  With the beginning of Advent, we began using a new revision of the Roman Missal.  People were confused.  Crab season was delayed because of a price dispute between the fishermen and the wholesalers.

In December, most of our troops came home from Iraq.  I started an irregular series of photos of Odd Fellows' Halls.

I was sad about the passing of some good people: Tommy Bermejo of Tommy's Mexican Restaurant; Canadian politician Jack Layton; Barbara Kent, perhaps the last surviving person to star in a silent movie as an adult; Smokin' Joe Frazier; philanthropist Warren Hellman; actor Harry Morgan; writer and unlikely politician Václav Havel.

I reviewed several DVDs and DVD sets, including Gaumont Treasures, M Hulot's Holiday, The Adventures of Captain Marvel, The Miracle Rider.

My cable car website ( turned 15 years old in November.  This means it has been in operation longer than about half the cable car lines that were ever built.

The image shows actress Ruth Hall, whose best-known part was Zeppo Marx's love interest in Monkey Business. She appeared in many B Westerns.  I comes from the wonderful site LucyWho (

Friday, December 30, 2011

Benny Bufano #13 -- December 30, 2011

Hillsdale Mall developer David Bohannon commissioned sculptor Benny Bufano to provide sculptures to decorate the new mall in San Mateo. Bufano opened a studio on the mall site in 1955 and created ten of his famous animal sculptures. This sculpture, "Golden Bear," represents a bear and a Native American. I took the photo on 12-November-2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

IOOF #1 -- December 29, 2011

The Odd Fellows' Hall in Half Moon Bay.  I took the photo on 27-June-2011.

It was very foggy this morning.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Schooner George E Billings -- December 28, 2011

Five-masted schooner George E Billings was built on Puget Sound by the Hall Brothers in 1902. She was a fast ship. She sailed until 1924. She became a fishing barge in San Pedro in 1926 and may have burned in 1941.

 From the 21-April-1904 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day #1 -- December 26, 2011

We had a nice Christmas weekend.  Saturday morning we headed to Mazetti's Bakery in Pacifica to pick up a large order.  There was a long line, but the wait was worth it.  We went to 5pm mass at Good Shepherd.  There was a good crowd.

On Christmas morning, we got up and opened presents.  I got an O-gauge Lionel train to run under the tree.  We had to leave fairly early.  We had lunch with my in-laws and went to my mother's house for dinner.  All very nice.  I managed to have a slice of San Honoré cake for dessert at each meal. I should be ashamed of myself -- but I am not.

Today we went for a drive down the coast so my wife could practice with her new camera.  We bought some artichoke bread at Archangeli's in Pescadero and ate it for lunch.  We walked around and took some photos there and in Half Moon Bay.

When we got home, my daughter used her new cupcake maker.  Very good.  I set up my new train.  It was much easier to set up the O-gauge track and get the train on the rails.  HO was hard.  I took the photo of the train under the tree today.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas #5 -- December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men (women, and children).

Santa heads to bed for "A Well-Earned Rest" in a Rube Goldberg cartoon from the 25-December-1911 Washington Times.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve -- December 24, 2011

Actress Terry Moore has all of her Christmas presents wrapped -- do you?  Mighty Joe Young is my favorite Terry Moore movie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

3 Good Guys, 1 Bad Guy, RIP -- December 23, 2011

I have been remiss in writing about people who have passed on recently. I still don't understand how Václav Havel, a wonderful writer and a good human being, wound up as president of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. Warren Hellmann, San Francisco philanthropist and founder of the Strictly Bluegrass/Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, was a good person, too, although I don't think the city should have changed the name of Speedway Meadow in his honor. Harry Morgan was a great actor who was never showy.

 Then there was North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, who was often treated in the US as a figure of fun, but who practiced much evil in his life. I hope no one starts a war.

 The poster is from Strictly Bluegrass 2 in 2002.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ghost Sign #2 -- December 22, 2011

"The Old Reliable."  I took this photo near the Ferry Building on 29-May-2010.  Note that it advertises Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco, rather than their more-famous chewing tobacco.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Comic Book #12 -- December 21, 2011

After debuting in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman shared his time with another book, under his own name.  He went on to appear in many other books.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pulp #31 -- December 20, 2011

The cover of the January, 1932 issue of Battle Birds features a story by Arthur Guy Empey, who was a prolific writer for the pulps.  His most popular character was Terrence X O'Leary, a soldier who became a soldier of fortune, and a flier.  Later he starred in science fiction stories.  Empey was a member of the US Cavalry who resigned to volunteer for the British Army during World War One.  He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme.  When the US entered the war, he tried to rejoin the Army, but was rejected because of his wounds and possibly because of some disparaging comments about American draftees.  He wrote a book, Over the Top, about the war.

I have to read some of his work.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day Off -- December 19, 2011

I took the day off so we went downtown.  We parked at Fifth and Mission and walked up to Macy's.  We looked at the cats and dogs in the windows, then went upstairs so the family could do some shopping.  We stopped at Neiman Marcus to look at the tree and the City of Paris rotunda.  We went on down Geary to the Palace and looked at the decorations in the Garden Court and a collection of gingerbread houses designed by media people.  We went to Bucca de Beppo on Howard and had a nice lunch.

I took the photo of the tree in Union Square on 19-November-2011.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) -- December 17, 2011

The Iraq War was officially over on 15-December-2011.  Most of our troops have left or are leaving.  Welcome home to all of them.

Was it worth it?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Slapstick #16 -- December 16, 2011

The Philadelphia Academy of Music is America's oldest active opera house.  This ad, from the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, 24-December-1921, describes a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Richard Strauss, a Metropolitan Opera performance of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin, starring soprano Maria Jeritza, and a program of three Charlie Chaplin shorts, "Shanghaied," "A Dog's Life," and "Shoulder Arms."  I like the prices, 11, 22 and 33 cents in the morning and 11, 22, 33, and 44 cents in the afternoon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Door #17 -- December 15, 2011

The Wells Fargo Branch at Market and Montgomery was built by First National Bank.  Then it was the main branch of Crocker Bank.  The interior is beautiful.

It was very cold today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Conquest of the South Pole -- December 14, 2011

1000 years ago Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his team became the first people to reach the South Pole.  Making good use of dogs, both to pull sleds and to eat, and of skis, they made it safely there and back, unlike British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who arrived in January and who died with his team trying to return to his base.

I wrote about Amundsen in an earlier post:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nickname #9 -- December 13, 2011

General, later Marshal of France, Louis Franchet d'Espèrey was an energetic commander during World War One. He was defeated in the Battle of the Chemin des Dames, but went on to lead an army that conquered most of the Balkans. British soldiers, probably having pronouncing his name, nicknamed him "Desperate Frankie." In later years, he was elected to the Académie française.  He was a staunch Roman Catholic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alley #26 -- December 12, 2011

Cushman Street runs from Sacramento Street to California Street, between Mason and Taylor streets. The Flood Mansion, housing the Pacific Union Club, is on the left. Huntington Park is on the right. The Huntington Hotel is the red building across California.

 I took this photo looking across Sacramento Street on 14-September-2011.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Musical Odditites -- December 11, 2011

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name. This excerpt of an article, from the 24-June-1897 Sacramento Daily Union, talks about some of his theories on sound and vision. I like the bit about creating musical banisters for his children.

Professor Van der Weyde ... devoted considerable time to the subject some years ago, and delivered a course of lectures before the American Institute and the Brooklyn Philosophical Club.

In these he called attention to the fact that the vibrations of the normal (C), (E) and (G) bore the same relation to one another as those in the colors (red), (yellow) and (blue); for this reason, he said, most war songs were written in (C), because they were red music; songs of the ocean and the sky were written In (G), because they were blue music; a few pieces of composition which described green forests and green meadows were written, as might be expected, in (F), the green key, which was a combination or a uniting link between the yellow and blue. The Professor constructed xylophones from broomsticks by sawing off the ends. He sharpened the note given by the stick when struck by a hammer, and by planing and sandpapering the sides he made it flatter or deeper.

In one lecture he produced a very delightful instrument, which was made up of sixteen brooms, suspended from a frame, on which he played many lively airs with a couple of wooden mallets. At home the Professor planed a number of banisters on his stairs, so that the children could play tunes and run the scales on rainy days when they were kept in the house.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Tree is Up #2 -- December 10, 2011

We put up our Christmas tree today.  The whole process went quickly, but I miss going out and cutting down a tree.  It was very cold today.  We went to mass and someone had lit the wrong candles in the Advent wreath.  The pink candle finally got lit.  We went to Goodfella's for a pizza.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Train Station #41 -- December 9, 2011

The Southern Pacific's former Wabuska depot now sits on the grounds of the Nevada State Railroad Museum ( in Carson City.  It serves as ticket office and waiting room for the steam train and motor car rides around the grounds. Here is the platform with Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend motor car 401. I took the photo during our visit in July.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Georges Méliès 150 - December 8, 2011

Today is the 150th birthday of the original film auteur, Georges Méliès. Méliès was a magician who also managed the Theatre Robert-Houdin in Paris.  He was a pioneer in creating special effects.  This image is from one of this most famous films, the 1902 production "L'homme à la tête de Caoutchouc" (The Man With the India Rubber Head").

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day #2 -- December 7, 2011

70 years ago a sneak attack by forces of the Japanese Empire sank much of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the territory of Hawaii. The Japanese Empire came to regret doing this.

Heavy cruiser USS San Francisco, CA-38, was fortunate to survive the attack, as she waited to have her bottom scraped and new anti-aircraft guns installed. By December 16, she was ready to sail with a task force which attempted to relieve Wake Island. In October, 1942, under the command of Admiral Daniel J Callaghan, she was the flagship at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Callaghan knew that his task force was vastly outnumbered and outgunned, but he did his duty. He died on the bridge and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

In March, I was honored to meet three men who served at Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal with Callaghan on the San Francisco.

San Francisco survived the battle and was repaired at Mare Island. She served throughout the war. Her shell-torn bridge is preserved as a monument at Land's End in San Francisco.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And Company of 14 Orientals -- December 6, 2011

Ching Ling Foo (Chee Ling Qua) was a Chinese-born magician who toured the United States in vaudeville and the Ziegfeld Follies. His fellow performers in this edition of the Follies included Australian Leon Errol, who later starred in short films and B features for RKO, Elizabeth (not Fanny) Brice, and, listed last, great African-American comedian Bert Williams. From the 11-May-1913 Washington Herald.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seabiscuit Pursues a Giant Reindeer #2 -- December 5, 2011

I took a day off today so my daughter and I went to Tanforan and did some Christmas shopping. We had lunch at Panda Express. Santa was not busy, so I had a nice chat with him and shook his hand. I took the photo today.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Zazpiak Bat -- December 4, 2011

We went to dinner at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. The food was excellent, as was the service. The image shows the coat of arms, which combines the symbols of the seven Basque provinces in Spain and France, with the motto "Zazpiak Bat," "Seven are One."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Firehouse #50 -- December 3, 2011

Station One, on Howard near Third, decorated for Christmas. This station will get torn down soon for an extension of the Museum of Modern Art. I took the photo on 02-December-2011.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Standard's Wings of War -- December 2, 2011

The Standard Aircraft Corporation built many aircraft for the US Army during WWI. This ad is from the 02-March-1919 New York Tribune.