Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clara Bow #4 -- April 30, 2013

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford. This charming image is from the April, 1929 Photoplay. The caption describes how "The Brooklyn Bonfire" made her radio debut on KNX, a station which is still on the air.  I rely on KNX for traffic news when I'm in the LA area.  Perhaps the photo also helped to dispel the rumor that she suffered from mike fright. 

 The October, 1929 Radio Digest has an article, "Esther Ralston Broadcasts to Millions," by Herbert Moulton, about Paramount's efforts in radio.

"Every Monday night from 8 to 9 o'clock, Pacific Standard Time, KNX broadcasts the Paramount Hour, which has become one of the most popular programs on the air ... Public response to these broadcasts has been tremendous. Clara Bow's initial appearance at KNX was an event of national proportions, for it came at a time when the 'It' girl's admirers were wondering how her voice would sound in talking pictures. KNX provided these fans with a 'pre-audition,' so to speak, and convinced them that Miss Bow's voice would register on the screen in the same red-hot vivacious manner that she herself does."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Port of San Francisco 150 -- April 29, 2013

On 24-April-2013, the Port of San Francisco celebrated its 150th anniversary, the anniversary of Governor Leland Stanford signing legislation to create the Board of State Harbor Commissioners.  The state operated the port until 1969.

A celebration Sunday included the fireboat Guardian.  On 20-February-2013, I took a photo of Guardian as she nudged up to the wharf behind the Ferry Building. A fireman stood at the bow and handed out plastic fire helmets to a class of pre-schoolers. That was pretty cool.

Lee Frayer in Frayer-Miller Vanderbilt Racer -- April 29, 2013

In this image from the 20-September-1906 Motor Way, driver Lee Frayer sits in the the Frayer-Miller racer.  Frayer, William Miller and John Lear designed an air-cooled engine and built cars with it. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Steamship General Frisbie -- April 28, 2013

From the 11-May-1901 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. 

The Hatch Brothers, originally from Monticello, New York, founded the Monticello Steamship Company to operate ferries from Vallejo to San Francisco. Learn more about it on my ferryboat site: http://www.cable-car-guy.com/ferry/

New Steamship for Vallejo Trade.

The new steamer General Frisbie, built for the Vallejo trade by Hatch Bros., will have her trial trip in a day or two and will go into commission in time to take part in the launching of the battleship Ohio. The new boat is 170 feet long, 26 feet beam and 14 feet deep. She is expected to average eighteen knots an. hour. She will be licensed to carry 500 passengers, but will have accommodations for twice that number of people. The new steamer is named after the founder of Vallejo.  Old General Frisbie is now in Mexico and a few months ago celebrated his golden wedding. He married a daughter of the late General Vallejo.

The General Frisbie will be commanded by Captain George Wheeler of the Monticello.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fort Gunnybags -- April 27, 2013

This plaque, on Sacramento near Davis, marks the site of Fort Gunnybags, a warehouse barricaded with sandbags, that served as headquarters of the Vigilance Committee of 1856.  James Casey and Charles Cora were hanged here on 22-May-1856. 

Blackpool Boat Tram -- April 27, 2013

Blackpool Boat Tram 228, built in 1934, pauses at the Ferry Building stop on its way to Fisherman's Wharf on a cloudy day.  I had been trying to catch a photo of the car for a while before I caught up with it on 25-April-2013. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

1933 Lincoln Custom Dietrich Convertible Sedan -- April 26, 2013

San Francisco's Academy of Art University has a fine collection of classic cars available for study by its design students. They shared the collection at the 2010 San Francisco International Auto Show.

The 12 cylinder  1933 Lincoln Convertible Sedan has a custom body by Dietrich.  

The Great Gatsby -- April 26, 2013

In two weeks, on 10-May-2013, the latest movie adaption of F Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby will open in theaters.  The first film adaption was a 1927 silent starring Warner Baxter as Jay Gatsby. The caption for this image from the September, 1926 Moving Picture Magazine says "The Great Gatsby has been a successful character.  He was a best seller when he made his first public appearance between the covers of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.  Then he made his stage debut and there was a continual line at the Broadway box-office.  And now he is to try his fortune on the screen.  Warner Baxter, judging from this photograph, will do well by Gatsby."  The movie is lost, but all accounts say that Baxter did not do well by Gatsby.

Neil Hamilton, who later played Commissioner Gordon on the Batman television show, played Nick Carraway.  Lois Wilson played Daisy Buchanan.  Hale Hamilton played Tom Buchanan, Georgia Hale played Myrtle Wilson and William Powell played George Wilson. I find the latter hard to picture. 

 I need to read the book again.

Moving Picture Magazine Review of the 1927 Version

Photoplay Magazine Review of the 1927 Version

1949 Version (Alan Ladd as Gatsby)

1974 Version (Robert Redford as Gatsby) 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome the Return of Sherlock Holmes -- April 24, 2013

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce played Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson in a series of movies, first for 20th Century-Fox and then for Universal, and also played them on the radio. This item is from the November, 1939 Radio and Television Mirror.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ghost Sign #18 -- April 23, 2013

A ghost sign for the Brannan House, a former hotel, in Old Sacramento.  I took the photo when we visited the California State Railroad Museum in July, 2012. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Comic Book #22 -- April 22, 2013

On 18-April-2013 we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the publication of Action Comics Number 1, which introduced Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman to the world.  The popularity of Superman revolutionized the comic book business and led to the creation of hundreds of other costumed super heroes. I was always more of a fan of Batman, who was a self-made man.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Good Shepherd Auction -- April 21, 2013

At 5 o'clock mass yesterday, Father Jess said that we should do something to celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, as other masses celebrate their patrons.  Good idea. 

After, we went to the Good Shepherd School auction dinner/dance. The theme this year was Havana Nights. The food was good and the people were nice.There was an excellent band.  We got a generous donation for our San Francisco History walking tour. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Transbay Terminal -- April 20, 2013

Looking down towards Fremont and Mission, where the new Transbay Terminal is under construction.  The lighter sidewalk on Fremont marks the tunnel under the street.  I took the photo yesterday. 

Today the weather was beautiful.  We went downtown and walked up to Macy's.  We had lunch at Boudin's. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tough Week -- April 19, 2013

Two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured almost 200.  Last night the two accused bombers killed one policeman and seriously wounded another.  One suspect died yesterday and his brother was captured alive today. 

A fertilizer plant blew up in West, Texas.  We won't know for a while how many people, including volunteer firefighters, are dead.  Thanks to the lack of zoning laws in Texas, there was a nursing home within a few hundred feet of the plant.  There were also homes and schools nearby.  If Texas allowed unions, perhaps the plant would have been safer. 

There was a massive earthquake in China.  Recent reports say at least 100 dead. 

Corrupt Senators filibustered a plan to require more background checks for gun purchasers.  The NRA and the firearms industries are hurting America. 

The image is a view of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr that was projected on the Brooklyn Academy of Music to show support for Boston after the bombing. 

Tonight we had a nice dinner at the Moose Lodge. 

Grauman's Chinese #25 -- April 19, 2013

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater.  Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Humphrey Bogart left his hand and  foot prints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese on 21(?)-August-1946. "Sid, may you never die till I kill you."  I love The Maltese Falcon and Dark Passage

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fire and Earthquake Anniversary #6 -- April 18, 2013

Today is the 107th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

Someone spotted a suspicious package at Third and Market.  Considering the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon, authorities decided to move the ceremony to Union Square.  

Today for the first time there were no survivors at the ceremony.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Recession is Over Learn the Guitar -- April 17, 2013

I saw this sign on a pole at Bush and Montgomery on 29-March-2013. 

Pulp #42 -- April 17, 2013

The Spicy pulps from Culture Publications, Spicy Mystery , Spicy Detective, Spicy Adventure and Spicy Western, were too intellectual for some people, but they remained popular for several years. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'll Be Back in Philly Soon -- April 16, 2013

After he left Mack Sennett, Harry Langdon's first feature on a lucrative First National contract was Tramp Tramp Tramp, the story of cross-country walking race.  This ad is from the 03-March-1926 Film Daily. It is the beginning of a series of cross-country ads to parallel the race.  Jules Mastbaum was a Philadelphia entrepreneur and philanthropist who had founded a chain of movie theaters.  His collection of Rodin sculptures was the basis of the city's Rodin Museum.  A sign points to Harry's next stop, in Pittsburgh. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nickname #25 -- April 15, 2013

Frank Baker was a great third baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees.  He hit for a good average in a time when home runs were not common, but he earned the nickname Home Run Baker by hitting two key home runs against the New York Giants, against Rube Marquard and Christy Mathewson, in the 1911 World Series. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Marvelous Illusions -- April 14, 2013

The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, located in Los Angeles, was formed in 1914 to produce movies based on stories by L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wizard of Oz.  The company made some movies, but was not a financial success. The ad is from the 15-August-1914 edition of Moving Picture World.It says the movies is "Now completed and ready for exhibition." 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

162 on the Embarcadero -- April 13, 2013

Municipal Railway Streetcar 162 was built in 1914 to carry people to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. It served San Francisco for 44 years, then went to the Orange Empire Museum in Perris, CA for the next 44 years. Now, after a thorough renovation, it is running again in San Francisco. I took this photo of 162 by the State Agricultural Building on the Embarcadero on 12-April-2013. 

Ferry Real McCoy -- April 13, 2013

In February, 2004, I took this photo of The Real McCoy, built in 1945, as it crossed Cache Slough from a point near Rio Vista to Ryer Island. The Real McCoy was a free running Diesel-powered boat that made the short trip on demand.

This boat was replaced in early 2011 by  The Real McCoy II, built by Nicholas Brothers.  The new boat had dependability problems early in her life. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters, RIP -- April 12, 2013

I was sad to learn that Jonathan Winters had died.  He always made me laugh, except when he didn't want to.   

In his honor, I thought I would post a photo of the square rigger Balclutha.  On 12-May-1959, he was arrested by Harbor Police at Pier 43, where Balclutha was moored.  The ticket seller didn't know who he was and was disturbed by his comments.  Winters, who had been troubled by spending too much time on the road, wound up spending two weeks in a psychiatric hospital.  He denied stories that he had climbed the ship's rigging. 

I took the photo of Balclutha on 19-October-2010.

Solano City Special -- April 12, 2013

This ad, from the 08-September-1913 San Francisco Call, features an electric train of the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railroad, which was a predecessor of the Sacramento Northern.  Special trains from San Francisco hauled potential farmers to Solano County to look at real estate.  The photo appears to have been taken on the Key System's pier.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The City on Film -- So I Married an Ax Murderer -- April 11, 2013

The San Francisco Arts Commission (http://www.sfartscommission.org/) has set up a series of posters by artist Christina Empedocles honoring "the City’s rich history as an iconic cinematic backdrop."  This one depicts a poster for So I Married an Ax Murderer.  I have never seen the entire movie. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4 Star Theater -- April 10, 2013

When I went to Saint Monica's School up the street, they used to block off 23rd Avenue so we could play there at recess time because there were too many kids to fit in the yard.  I liked to look at the marquee of the 4-Star Theater.  At the time I did not know it had opened in 1912 as the La Bonita.  It has been threatened many times over the years, but it still survives. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Annette Funicello, Rogert Ebert, Les Blank, Margaret Thatcher -- April 9, 2013

A bunch of people died in the last week or so.

Annette Funicello was known for being nice, onscreen and in real life.  When she came down with Multiple Sclerosis, she did much to teach people about the disease.  I could never sit through a Beach movie, but that wasn't her fault.

Roger Ebert was known for being generous to fellow film lovers.  I remember when he and Gene Siskel started reviewing films on the PBS show Sneak Preview. He kindly supported the three For the Love of Film blogathons that I have participated in. 

I have enjoyed every Les Blank film that I have seen. 

Margaret Thatcher?  Not generous.  Not nice.  I have not enjoyed her work.  She destroyed unions.  She hurt the needy.  She beat up on Argentina.  She did not oppose apartheid enough to try to do anything about it. I suppose conservatives will try to make her a saint, they way they did her friend, the mediocre actor, mediocre governor, and mediocre president Ronald Reagan.  

Nitrous Oxide Testimonial -- April 9, 2013

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name. This excerpt from an ad for dentistry using laughing gas, including a testimonial from Doctor Van Der Weyde, is from the 17-May-1866 Philadelphia Evening Telegraph.  Gardner Quincy Colton was a pioneer in using laughing gas as an anesthetic. 

Doctor Van Der Weyde also wrote about the use of nitrous oxide in dentistry in the 26-March-1864 New-York Times:

The image comes from the February, 1893 issue of Manufacturer and Builder.




Colton Dental Association,


No. 19, Cooper Institute, New York.


There is nothing which people dread more than pain, and there is no pain more excruciating than that of having a tooth extracted.

When I first introduced the NITROUS OXIDE or LAUGHING GAS as a substitute for chloroform and ether in dental operations, I met with sneers and ridicule.  But the now agent made a steady aud constant progress. The Gas has now had trial of three years, and has come out triumphantly!

Many of the leading Dentists of New York and Philadelphia, who have given up the use of chloroform and ether, send all their patients to me who require to take an anesthetic. I make a specialty in the use of the Gas and have business enough to justify me in making it fresh every day.

I now use about 300 gallons per day.


From a large number of Testimonials, I select the following extract from a letter addressed to me by Professor P. H. Vander Weyde, Professor of Chemistry in Girard College, formerly of New York Medical College --

"I am satisfied that nitrous oxide can be used in all cases where ether and chloroform cannot be safely administered.  In many cases the use of the two last named anasthetics is by judicious physicians considered unsafe: notwithstanding this, there are too many cases on record where the counter indications were overlooked, and fatal results have followed the use of ether and chloroform. I know no case in which I would consider nitrous oxide gas unadvisable, except in a case of consumption so far gone that the excitement attending the extraction of a tooth would be unsafe without any anesthetic

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tom Mix #4 -- April 8, 2013

Tom Mix and Jane Novak in an ad for the Fox picture The Rough Diamond.  "A thrill production that will make your spine tingle and your blood run faster.  Tom Mix as a chaperon is a trained mule!  It's the biggest laugh that Mix has ever handed out.  A whale of a comedy!"  That film is probably lost, but Larry Semon's short "The Bell Hop" is still available. From the 19-January-1922 Albuquerque Herald.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Train Station #58 -- April 7, 2013

Looking down at the Muni Metro level of the Embarcadero Station, we see an inbound Breda LRV as it arrives. I took the photo on 11-March-2013.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mittens -- April 6, 2013

Our dear little cat Mittens died today at very near the age of 20. She was a blessing to our family. We miss her.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bessie Love #4 -- April 5, 2013

I have always been fascinated by the career of actress Bessie Love.  She was born in Texas.  Her name was Juanita Horton.  Her family moved to Los Angeles and she went to Los Angeles High School.  Looking for work, she met director  DW Griffith and got a small part in Intolerance.  She appeared in movies with William S Hart and Douglas Fairbanks.  She was a 1922 WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Baby Star.  She played many leading roles, most famously in The Lost World, but never broke through until the talkies came, when she starred in The Broadway Melody.  Her career was hot for a few years, but then tailed off.  She continued to appear in small parts in movies until the early 1980s. 

This item, from the July, 1929 Moving Picture Magazine shows Bessie and Ukulele Ike, Cliff Edwards, "in an interval between scenes of a new revue they both appear in."  The movie would be The Hollywood Revue of 1929.  Jack Benny and Conrad Nagel were the emcees, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in a skit, and Norma Shearer and John Gilbert did the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.  Buster Keaton and everyone else at the studio appeared in "Singing in the Rain." 

The Giants won their home opener against the Saint Louis Cardinals.  Barry Zito pitched well.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tunnel Open -- April 4, 2013

Today we took our first ride over the new Devil's Slide Bypass.  My wife drove south, kindly allowing me to take pictures.  We went up the hill on One, and found that the road made a slight curve on to the twin bridges, which led to the twin tunnels.  Here we see the approach from the bridge to the north portal of the south-bound tunnel.  Two of the many traffic lights are visible.  There were at least two sets of two fans each at the top of the tunnel.  There were many emergency phones and exit doors.  The shoulder was nice and wide.  After we left the tunnel, there was a short bridge, then a smooth transition back onto the old highway. 

It was raining lightly as we went to Half Moon Bay and parked on Main Street.  We had a nice lunch at the Main Street Grill.  We took a little walk and visited the Cunha Country Store, which had signs in the window proclaiming new ownership. 

We went to the Strawflower Center and visited the pharmacy and the pet store.  The cat has been ill and needed some supplies. 

I drove north on One.  The transitions off the old road and back on were very smooth going that way. 

Firehouse #66 -- April 4, 2013

I worked across the street from Station One on Howard Street for almost 20 years.  During that time it became the busiest firehouse in San Francisco, and one of the busiest in the country.  The Museum of Modern Art wants to expand, so they built a new firehouse for Station One on Folsom between Fifth and Sixth Streets.  The Alley Cats moved in March.  I walked by Monday and the old station was closed, with all exterior signs removed.  A truck left the new station right after I walked by. 

Last night the Giants beat the Dodgers, taking two of the three games at Dodger Stadium.  Lincecum managed to go five innings and got the win.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transmitting Thoughts by Radio -- April 3, 2013

Joseph Dunninger was a famous mentalist.  He performed in vaudeville and was a pioneer in performing mentalism on radio and television.  In this photo from the November, 1929 Radio Digest, he is "shown ... in the act of transmitting thoughts by Radio for a recent test through the NBC.  He projected one of three thoughts to 55 per cent of his audience."  I had his book Dunninger's Complete Encyclopedia of Magic.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beat LA -- April 2, 2013

Yesterday the Giants lost their first game in Los Angeles 4-0.  Matt Cain started and pitched well, but the  it.  Tonight Madison Bumgarner shut out the Dodgers and the Giants won. 

Find the Twin Airplanes -- April 2, 2013

From the May, 1929 issue of Motion Picture Magazine. "Here are ten pictures of the 1929 90 h.p. Waco Airplane..."  I think I know which two are the twins.  Would anyone like to offer an opinion?  I can't offer an airplane or cash if you get the right answer.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Third Carnival Cruise Ship Having Trouble at Sea -- April 1, 2013

Passengers are making their return home from sea as mechanical problems crippled three different Carnival Cruise liners, cutting guests' vacations short.

Two thousand passengers aboard the Carnival Honolulu are on their way back to San Pedro, California, after a technical problem with a poolside barbecue caused ventilation issues.

A Carnival spokesman said "Technical issues will occur from time to time. We take each one seriously."

The Carnival spokesman went on to insist that potential vacation goers should still choose the company, saying, "We provide enjoyable vacations to 4.5 million people each year. It is important to remember that in most instances guest and crew safety was not compromised."