Monday, January 30, 2012

Benny Bufano #14 -- January 30, 2012

Benny Bufano liked to sculpt penguin mothers with their chicks.  This one has stood next to Lake Merced since 1979.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Steamer Coptic, Just Getting in From the Orient -- January 29, 2012

The Coptic was a British liner.  Angel Island was the immigration station which held many immigrants from Asia.  I left in an additional paragraph about the Farallon Islands.  

From the 08-January-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image to see a larger version.


So Say All the Passengers on the Steamer Coptic.
Nevertheless Chinese Steerage Passengers and the Mail Were Quarantined.
There was considerable excitement along the water front yesterday when the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company's Coptic was sighted. Rumors of cholera in China had preceded the vessel and both the quarantine boats were out to meet her. The company's tug Millen Griffith was laid up for repairs, so the Spreckels tug Active was pressed into the service, and she also went speeding down the bay to meet the incoming liner. Off Black Point the vessel was intercepted and Dr. Blue and Dr. Chalmers made a thorough examination of every person aboard. From Hongkong, Yokohama and Honolulu the Coptic had a clean bill of health and was therefore entitled to dock. The medical men, however, came to the conclusion that it was better to be sure than sorry, so they ordered ail the mail matter, 102 Chinese and six Japanese to be sent ashore for fumigation at the quarantine station on Angel Island. In consequence it will be late this afternoon before any Chinese, Japanese or Hawaiian mail will be delivered.

Among the cabin passengers on the Coptic were Mr. and Mrs. Newhall, who returned from their honeymoon trip to Japan. Both say they had a splendid time.

The tug Vigilant went out to the Farallones yesterday. Captain Silovich says that his lady passenger was terribly seasick when crossing the bar and that many a time she wished she had not accepted the position of teacher to the lighthouse keeper's children. The pigeons sent out by the hydrographic office were safely landed and today two of them may be expected, bringing with them the news of the wind and weather in the vicinity of the island.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catholic Schools Week #5 -- January 28, 2012

Today is the start of Catholic Schools Week.

I'm grateful that my parents put me in Catholic schools for 12 years.

Good Shepherd gave our daughter a great education and continues to do the same for many other children. They are having an open house this afternoon from 3 to 4:30pm.  The school is worth considering if you live in or near Pacifica:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ghost Sign #3 -- January 27, 2012

In March, 2008, they tore down the building at Howard and Hawthorne Streets, exposing this sign.It has since been covered up by a new building.  Jobbers are wholesalers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Hard Work Being a Cat #55 -- January 24, 2012

I took the photo on 24-January-2012.

I was sad to learn that Bill Drake, founding editor of the Pacifica Tribune, has died.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nickname #10 -- January 24, 2012

Nonpareil Jack Dempsey was a Nineteenth Century boxer who mostly fought as a middleweight. He started out fighting bare knuckle and later wore gloves.  He earned the nickname Nonpareil because we won something like 50 fights before his first defeat.  His original family name was Kelly.  He was a smart boxer with a good punch using either hand.  He won the world middleweight title in 1890 in San Francisco against Professor Billy McCarthy, and lost it the next year in New Orleans to Bob Fitzsimmons, who was later heavyweight champion.

The Twentieth Century heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey took his name from the Nonpareil.

Nonpareil Jack Dempsey died of tuberculosis in 1895.  He was 33 years old.  The image above shows him with his children.  It is from the 02-November-1895 San Francisco Call.

I enjoyed President Obama's State of the Union address tonight: "This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we work as a team. This nation is great because we get each other's back."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Door #18 -- January 23, 2012

I took this photo in Tabor Alley near Third Street on 11-January-2012.

It rained a lot this morning.

Many are sad because the 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the Nation Conference championship game.  I think this is the second time I have mentioned football in this blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Jail House -- January 21, 2012

We took a drive down to Half Moon Bay today.  We had lunch at the Flying Fish Cafe, which is in a new location.  The crab melt was good.  We went for a walk around downtown and my wife practiced with her new camera. I took the photo of the old jail with ominous clouds in the background.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Johnny Otis and Etta James, RIP -- January 20, 2012

We have had two great losses.  Johnny Otis was a Greek American from Vallejo who decided to identify as an African American.  We can thank that decision for a lot of good music.  Etta James made her first records with Johnny Otis.  She had a wonderful voice.

It started raining yesterday.  It continued today.  There were Occupy demonstrations around the Financial District.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Treasures 5: The West #3 -- January 19, 2012

One of my Christmas presents was the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West.

Disc three starts with The Lady of the Dugout, which stars and was produced by former bank and train robber Al Jennings, allegedly based on true events in his life.  Jennings, who once shared a prison cell with O. Henry, was known for telling stretchers, so I wouldn't accept the movie as a documentary, but it does have a very realistic feel to it.  The only parts that didn't feel real were the Mojave Desert standing in for Oklahoma and Tehachapi with its huge mountains representing a Texas town.  Jennings and his brother Frank were good, understated performers.

The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaw was made in 1915 by a group of lawmen as a response to and earlier, now lost, Al Jennings movie.  Marshal Bill Tilghman and two others produced the movie and appeared in it, along with other peace officers and at least one real bandit, Arkansas Tom Jones.  Tilghman and his partners felt that other movies glamorized bad men.  This one, which unfortunately exists only in parts, takes a different approach.  It includes bits about the original Wild Bunch and Cattle Annie and Little Breeches.  I liked the subtitle "Outlaws do what they do because they are what they are."  That would be a good line for a film noir.  The image above is an ad from the 09-June-1920 Tulsa Daily World, announcing a showing of The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws (an alternate title) with a personal appearance by Marshal Bill Tilghman. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

"The Girl Ranchers" is a 1914 Nestor one-reeler, which was distributed by Universal.  It was silly, but fun.

"Legal Advice" was a 1916 Selig Polyscope one-reeler written by, produced by, directed by and starring Tom Mix.  It may have been the first entire Mix Selig movie that I have seen.  It was a funny story about a pretty female lawyer who came to a western town.  My wife enjoyed the powerful wind blowing through the interiors.  The lawyer had to hold down her dress during one scene.  The end was disturbing.

Womanhandled was a 1925 Paramount feature, directed by Woody van Dyke and starring Richard Dix and Esther Ralston.  It was a comedy, making fun of western movie cliches.  The movie includes scenes shot on location in Central Park and Houston, Texas.  The scenes by the Houston train depot include lots of streetcars.  Richard Dix was actually funny in this movie.

"Beauty Spots in America: Castle Hot Springs, Arizona" is a 1916 Essanay split reel which shows life around the elegant resort.

"The Romance of Water" is a 1931 one-reeler produced by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to justify their stealing water from the Owens Valley.  It doesn't mention the water war and the dynamiting of the acqueduct.

"A New Miracle in the Desert" is an item from a Hearst Metrotone newsreel which tells about the Colorado River acqueduct, which allowed Los Angeles to steal water that it didn't even need.

"The West in Promotional Travelogues" is a group of excerpts from various travel movies, including Edison's 1898 "Sunset Limited," a view of the Georgetown Loop, and tours in Yosemite and Yellowstone.

I enjoyed the whole set.  I'm grateful to my family for the gift.  I recommend it highly.

Disc one:

Disc two:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

His Lordship's Dilemma -- January 15, 2012

WC Fields' second movie, "His Lordship's Dilemma," is lost.  It was produced in 1915 by Gaumont.  "John T. Rocks and the Flivver" was a Thanhouser production.  "The Great Question," not to be confused with DW Griffith's The Greatest Question, was an American Film Manufacturing Company production.

The ad is from the Omaha Daily Bee, 24-October-1915.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Golden Gate Express Railway #4 -- January 14, 2012

Today we went to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. For the fourth year, in the special exhibit room at the west end was the Golden Gate Express Railway, a garden scale layout designed by by members of the Bay Area Garden Railway Society. The famous San Francisco structures were made from recycled materials.  This year they had a theme based on Playland-at-the-Beach, Sutro Baths and the Cliff House.  The only electric trains were a Third Avenue Railway streetcar, a cable car, and two PCCs that went back and forth.  There was a bumper car, a Laughing Sal that laughed but did not move, and a few games.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Alley #27 -- January 13, 2012

Looking south across Jackson Street at Marcy Place and the back of the Cable Car Barn.

Happy Friday the 13th.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Treasures 5: The West #2 -- January 12, 2012

One of my Christmas presents was the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West.

Disc two starts with "Over Silent Paths: A Story of the American Desert," a 1910 one-reeler directed by DW Griffith for the American Biograph Company.  A wanderer in the California desert accidentally kills a prospector while robbing him.  The wanderer runs away, overcome by grief.  The prospector's daughter finds her father.  She buries him and swears vengeance over his grave.  As she drives their wagon towards town, San Fernando, she finds the wanderer lying unconscious.  She gives him water and takes him to town.  She reports the murder to the sheriff.  Rather quickly, this being a one-reeler, the daughter and the wanderer become attracted to each other.  There is a brief romantic scene by Mission San Fernando Rey de España. When the Wanderer proposes marriage, he pulls out a sack of gold. The daughter recognizes the sack as her father's. She pretends to accept his proposal, but snatches the pistol from his belt and marches him to the sheriff. Griffith could fit a lot of story into 16 minutes.

"Life on the Circle Ranch in California" was shot in 1912 in Santa Monica.  It is a documentary of ranch life, but the commentary by Donald W Reeves is careful to point out where scenes are staged, like the setting up of the camp and the fiesta after the roundup.  He is sarcastic about the scenes where people who are not cowboys try to brand a calf.

"Broncho Billy and the Schoolmistress" is a 1912 Essanay produced during the company's stay in San Rafael.  A new school marm arrives in town and all the men are interested, including Gilbert M Anderson, Broncho Billy, Augustus Carney, who played Alkali Ike in the Snakeville comedy series, and a character named Jack.  Men warn the new teacher not to go out at night to visit her students, but she pulls out a revolver and shows it to them.  They think it is too small.  The men decide for some reason to scare her by faking a robbery and they persuade Broncho Billy to be the robber.  Jack shoots him and then things are confusing and then Broncho Billy marries the teacher.  The image above shows "Broncho Bill" and Alkali Ike. It is from the 13-November-1911 Chicago Day Book.

"How the Cowboy Makes His Lariat" is part of a 1917 movie in which wild west show star Pedro León demonstrates collecting horse hair, twisting it into rope, and making a cinch.  He does not make a lariat in the surviving footage.

"Mexican Filibusters: An Incident in the Recent Uprising" is a 1911 Kalem film about Mexican Americans who are smuggling arms to revolutionaries in Mexico.  The smugglers are the heroes and the female smuggler saves the day.  There are some nice railroad scenes.

"The Better Man" is a 1912 Vitagraph one-reeler, shot in Santa Monica, about a no-good father who leaves the house to gamble while his daughter is dangerously ill.  A Mexican American horse thief breaks into the house and demands food.  The mother wants him to go for a doctor.  He tries to ignore her, but the daughter takes his hand and the mother points to an image of Mary and Jesus.  The father leaves the saloon and sees a wanted poster for the thief.  He decides to collect the reward.  The thief runs towards town and the father tries to catch him, but falls over a cliff.  The thief winds up on the father's horse.  He gets the doctor and they ride back towards the house.  The ride is intercut with the father running towards the house.  The doctor treats the little girl and the father tries to capture the thief.  The mother tells the father to let him go.  This was the other movie we raised money to preserve in the 2010 For the Love of Film Blogathon (  

"Ammunition Smuggling on the Mexican Border" is a unique three-reeler produced in Texas in 1914 by a former sheriff, Eugene Buck.  It tells the true story of the capture of Buck and a deputy, Candelario Ortiz, by gun runners.  Ortiz is killed by the smugglers as two posses search for them.  There are two commentaries.  One, by Martin Marks, explains the background of the movie and speculates that Buck may have made the movie to tell his side of the story because he was the star witness in the trial of the surviving smugglers, who included an American IWW member.  The other commentary talks about the musical accompaniment.  My favorite line:  "It doesn't matter where the music comes from, it matters where it is going."

"Lake Tahoe, Land of the Sky," is a 1914 documentary by Essanay.  I enjoyed seeing the steamboat and the train arriving at Truckee in a snowstorm.

Mantrap is a 1926 feature starring Clara Bow and directed by Victor Fleming.   It was a wonderful comedy.

"The Golden West" is an excerpt from a 1938 film by an unidentified amateur.  It was shot in Kodachrome and it documents a trip to Los Angeles, probably from Pennsylvania.  It shows many freakish sites, including a gas station built around a Fokker F32 airliner with rotating propellers.

I'll do Disc Three another day.

Disc One:

Disc Three:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Treasures 5: The West #1 -- January 11, 2012

One of my Christmas presents was the fifth Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West.

Disc one starts with a Biograph split reel comedy, "The Tourists," directed by Mack Sennett in 1912.  Mabel Normand and her companions get off a Santa Fe train in Albuquerque and Mabel is very enthusiastic about the crafts sold by Native American women in front of the Fred Harvey Company's Indian Building.  Failing to get back on the train before it leaves, Mabel wanders away from her party and into the area where the Native Americans live.  She flirts with a man called "Big Chief" until his wife and other ladies chase Mabel and her friends onto the next train, which pulls out with a Santa Fe California Limited drum sign clearly visible on the observation platform.

"The Sergeant" is a 1910 Selig Polyscope one reeler that was mostly shot in the Yosemite Valley.  This movie is one of the cache discovered in the New Zealand archive.  It was preserved with funds that we helped raise in the the 2010 For the Love of Film Blogathon (  It stars Hobart Bosworth as a cavalry sergeant who loses his stripes when he goes for a ride with the Colonel's daughter.  Their horses get stolen by a "renegade" and they spend the night out.  Later the cavalrymen and the daughter are trapped by attacking Native Americans.  The former sergeant dives into the river to get help.  The film was by Francis Boggs, an important early director who was shot to death in Los Angeles the next year.

Salomy Jane is the only surviving feature produced by the California Motion Picture Company in San Rafael and at the Russian River.   In his commentary Gary Scharnhorst does a good job of explaining how the movie is related the the Bret Harte story and Paul Armstrong's stage play.  It stars the beautiful Beatriz Michelena, wife of producer George Middleton.  She was good.  The advertisement above is from the 20-January-1915 Bisbee, Arizona Daily Review.  Alco Film Company, the distributor, did a poor job.

"Sunshine Gatherers" is a 1921 Prizmacolor one reeler which promotes the Del Monte company's canned fruits.  It opens with a cheerful history of the missions of California.  The two-color Prizmacolor process gave good results.

"Deschutes Driftwood" is a 1916 documentary shot along the Oregon Trunk Lines, showing the adventures of Weak Kneed Walter, a hobo who keeps getting tossed off of trains.  There are excellent views of the bridges and other features along the line.

"The 'Promised Land' Barred to 'Hoboes'" is a brief segment from a 1936 Hearst Metrotone newsreel, which documents the Los Angeles Police Department's humanitarian project to intercept migrants at the California border and kick them out if they didn't have money or a waiting job.

"Last of the Line" is a 1914 New York Motion Picture Company two-reeler which stars Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa and his wife Tsuru Aoki as Native Americans.  The rest of the tribe was played by actual Native Americans.  Thomas H Ince produced this story of a chief's son, Hayakawa, who returns to the reservation ruined by his education in another world.

"The Indian-detour" is a 1926 one-reeler promoting the Santa Fe and Fred Harvey Company's special excursion which allowed riders on transcontinental trains to get off in Las Vegas, New Mexico or Albuquerque and take a three-day trip by Harveycoach (bus) or Harveycar (auto) to visit various Native American sites.

"Native Americans in Newsreels" includes clips from several newsreels showing Native Americans lobbying in Washington DC and visiting other locations.

"We Can Take It" is a 1935 silent short by the USDA, documenting the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The commentary points out that many of the scenes are staged, and that the camps were actually segregated, but the movie gives a good idea of the good work done by the Corps.  Some of the flood control and fire prevention projects would be considered wrong today, but they were considered the right thing to do at the time.

I'll do Disc Two another day.

Disc Two:

Disc Three:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nicholas J Vander Weyde -- January 9, 2012

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name.  This article from the 19-December-1899 New York World is the obituary of his son Nicholas.  In light of Nicholas' long service on the Department of Docks, here is a postcard showing the East River, with the Fulton Ferry house and the Brooklyn Bridge.  


Nicholas J. Vander Weyde died at his home,  No. 173 West Eighty-third-st., on Saturday, after an illness of two weeks. Mr. Vander Weyde was the youngest son of the late Professor P. H. Vander Weyde, the scientist.  He was born in Zierekzee, Holland, in 1845, and came to this country a child with his parents.  He was a graduate of Columbia and achieved reputation as a  civil engineer and mathematician.  For the last fourteen years and up to the time of his death he was connected with the Department of Docks, of this city.  He was a member of Altair Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons,  of Brooklyn, and the author of a book of Masonic odes.  Mr. Vander Weyde leaves a widow and one son.  Masonic funeral services were held at his home last evening, and this morning the body will be incinerated at the crematory, Fresh Pond, Long Island.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Right Lion -- January 8, 2012

Two lions have guarded the entrance to Sutro Heights since the 1880s.  This is the right lion.  The originals were made by Belgian sculptor Guillaume Geefs. The GGNRA replaced them with copies about 100 years later.

Yesterday my daughter took a test at George Washington High School.  I drove up to the San Francisco monument and took some photos.  Then I parked at the lot which replace Merrie Way.  The new visitor center is making progress.  I walked up to Sutro Heights and walked around.  Then I went down the road and took photos of Sutro Baths and the Cliff House.

After the test, we had lunch at Bill's Place.  We both had the Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins Burger.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Charles Addams 100 -- January 7, 2012

Happy 100th birthday to one of my favorite cartoonists, Charles Addams.  When I was young, I enjoyed The Addams Family television show.  Later on I saw his cartoons in The New Yorker and then discovered books of them at the library.  I realized later that the Addams Family was not like other families on television.  The parents loved each other and showed it.  They spent time with their children and encouraged their curiosity.  The children respected their parents.  Very strange.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Train Station #42 -- January 6, 2012

The Southern Pacific built this depot in 1926. The Virginia and Truckee shared the depot until 1950. In the late 1970s, my family took the California Zephyr from Oakland 16th Street to Reno. We arrived at this station. A few years ago, the ReTRAC project eliminated grade crossings by putting the tracks into a trench. At the same time, the station was expanded. The new Amtrak addition has many relics that archaeologists dug up during the project.

I took the photo in July, 2011, but the sign over the door advertises National Train Day in May.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Firehouse #51 -- January 5, 2012

The former home of Chemical Company 2, built is 1898, is on Tenth Avenue between Lincoln and Irving. I took the photo on 10-January-2011.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Conjurer, Illusionist and Pianist -- January 3, 2011

Robert Heller was a British-born American magician who had a successful career performing magic and playing the piano.  He retired from magic in 1875 but continued working as a musician until he died in 1878.  Heinrich Keller changed his name to Harry Kellar to reduce the chance of confusion with Heller.

This program, from Heller's 23-May-1867 appearance in Salt Lake City, was reproduced in The Old and the New Magic by Henry Ridgely Evans, 1906.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Street Car Paces Plane -- January 2, 2012

From the November, 1930 issue of Flying Magazine. Car 126 of the Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad was a lightweight Red Devil built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1929.  The Red Devils maintained high speed service, but the line had no block signals, so they were involved in several head-on collisions.  

Here is a plane which has to travel at its hight speed in order to keep up with a street car.

The fault is not with the plane. The electric car is traveling 90 m.p.h. and the "Pathe News" camera is trying to keep up with it in the plane overhead.

This electric car is reported to be the fastest in the world and is being used for interurban service near Dayton, Ohio.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year #5 -- January 1, 2012

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

 The cartoon by Rube Goldberg shows a man making lots of New Year's resolutions which he may not keep. It is from the 01-January-1912 San Francisco Call.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.