Thursday, February 27, 2014

Getting Ready for a Start -- February 27, 2014

From the 07-November-1898 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. 

THE river steamer J. D. Peters, that was wrecked in a collision with the collier Czarinia last week and was afterward beached in Richardsons Bay, is still on the mud fiats. The tugs Rescue and Sea Queen went over to her yesterday afternoon. It was the intention to tow the steamer off the flats and up to Hunters Point dry dock where she was to be overhauled. H. J. Corcoran, superintendent of the California Navigation and Improvement Company, owner of the Peters, and Captain Grey, superintendent of the towboat company, went over on the Rescue, but after several attempts had been made they decided to postpone the matter until to-day. The Rescue got on one side of the wrecked vessel and the Sea Queen on the other, but the difficulty was in finding a place on the hull of the wreck to which to make fast. Superintendent Corcoran thinks there are at least five Chinese in the forward cabin of the J. D. Peters. This place was built up especially for the use of the Chinese employed on the various ranches along the river, and as it was in the eyes of the vessel and below the main deck it must have been flooded very quickly. The Chinese runner for the company is known to have been drowned. He rushed on deck as soon as warned by the chief engineer, but remembering that he had $300 in a bundle on his bunk, he rushed back to secure it and was never seen again. It is thought that four others who were smoking opium when the collision occurred were also drowned. The Chinese Consul and the chairmen of the six companies have written to the navigation company, informing the management that five Chinese are missing and asking that the bodies be cared for when recovered. Quite a number of Chinese went out to the dry-dock to meet the Peters during the fternoon in the hope of learning something about their relatives as soon as the vessel was docked, but they were disappointed.  Another attempt will be made to get the Peters on the dry-dock this morning.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shoreline Marker -- February 26, 2014

Two plaques at Market and Battery Streets mark the San Francisco Bay shoreline when gold was discovered on 24-January-1848.  This one is on the southwest side of the intersection.  It was placed by the Native Sons of the Golden West in 1921. 

I took the photo on 20-February-2014. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Cat #4 -- February 25, 2014

She doesn't look like a kitten anymore.  I took the photo on 10-February-2014. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin 100 Years -- February 24, 2014

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin of Maine died only 100 years ago.  He took a leave of absence from his position as a professor at Bowdoin College to volunteer for the Union Army.  He served well, rising to the rank of Brigadier General, with a brevet to Major General.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Chamberlin was wounded six times during the war. 

When the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomatox Courthouse, Chamberlin led the Union Troops as the defeated Confederates passed in review.  Chamberlin ordered his men to stand at attention and carry arms (a form of salute) as a sign of respect. 

After the war, Chamberlin served as Republican Governor of Maine.  After he left office, Chamberlin returned to Bowdoin College and taught until the effects of his wounds forced him to resign.  He volunteered to serve in the Spanish-American War but was turned down because of his health.  When he died in 1914, he was considered to be the last veteran of the US Civil War to die of his wounds. 

A lot of people became aware of Chamberlin when he was prominently featured in Ken Burns' 1990 series The Civil War

Chamberlin's Medal of Honor citation:
"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 2 July 1863, while serving with 20th Maine Infantry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

1954 Dodge Firearrow II -- February 22, 2014

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June to drool over their collection of classic autos.  The 1954 Dodge Firearrow II is a concept car designed by Virgil Exner, with a body built by Ghia.  The sign mentions that the car has "no windshield frame, no windshield wipers, side windows, top or exterior door handles."  This car and the red Firearrow IV ( visited many 1954 auto shows together. 

Today is George Washington's birthday.  Happy birthday, President Washington. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Study in Scarlet Review -- February 21, 2014

Here is a review of A Study in Scarlet and another detective novel from the 31-March-1890 Pittsburg Dispatch.  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was trying to drop the "h" at the time.  A Study in Scarlet was the first Sherlock Holmes novel, but was the second published in America, after The Sign of the Four.  Edgar Allan Poe wrote about amateur French detective C Auguste Dupin in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and two other stories. Émile Gaboriau wrote about Monsieur Lecoq, a Sûreté detective, in several novels. I know nothing about William C Hudson's Jack Gordon, Knight Errant, but I will say that is a good title.

Everybody who read "The Sign of the Four" in Lippincot's, a month or two ago, will turn with interest to A Study in Scarlet (J. B. Lippincott Co. J. R. Weldin & Co. 50 cents), another detective story by the same author. In point of time "A Study in Scarlet" precedes "The Sign of the Four," being noticed in that brilliant little story and having the same hero. Mr. Sherlock Holmes is the best detective we know of in any of the detective stories.  He has good reason for having a poor opinion of Edgar A. Poe's "Dupin," and even of Gaboriau's "Lecoq." As for Miss Green's "Mr. Brice" or Mr. Hawthorne's real Inspector Byrnes, Sherlock Holmes is still 'way ahead.  He has a genius for detecting. He has a happy faculty of seeing everything and knowing immediately what everything means. A man Is found dead in a deserted house. Mr. Sherlock Holmes is summoned in his capacity of "consulting detective." He looks about the yard and house and room, and comes to the conclusion that "there has been murder done and the murderer was a man. He was more than six feet high, was in the prime of life, had small feet for his height, wore coarse, square toed boots, and smoked a trichinopoly cigar.  He came here with his victim in a four-wheeled cab, which was drawn by a horse with three old shoes and one new one on his off fore leg.  In all probability the murderer bad a florid face, and the finger nails of his right hand were remarkably long." This was certainly pretty well for a brief inspection of an empty room. 

The plot breaks in two in the middle, after Gaboriau's fashion, and traveling from England to Utah begins over again until the second thread gets long enough to be tied to the first. Somehow, we will read detective stories. Probably they feed some mental hunger of the human race. Mr. A. Conan Doyle, with his "Sherlock Holmes," knows how to construct a most ingenious plot. The publishers have printed the story on such good paper and in such good type that an added pleasure is given to the reading. It is the most attractive and interesting paper-covered novel which has appeared on The Critic's table for several months. A capital book for the vacation satchel.

Another story of the detective order, which suffers a good deal for being read immediately after "A Study in Scarlet," but which if read before and by itself is a capital piece of work, is Jack Gordon, Knight Errant (Cassoll Publishing Co.: J. R. Weldin & Co., 50 cents.) The plot is very well done, gradually developed, arousing no suspicion, and coming to a fine climax. There is a murder at the beginning, and as in "A Study in Scarlet," the fellow who is murdered richly deserves his fate. The novelist in such a case is in a quandary. The murderer must be hunted down. That is the thread of the plot. But discovered murderers are either hung or imprisoned, and that is no way at all to dispose of a worthy hero. It is true that the remarkable story "For the Right" ends in that way. But that was altogether an exceptional case. Mr. Doyle and Mr. Hudson could not let the law have its course. It gets perilously near to it in both cases. But there is an escape. It seems to The Critic, even after a long experience in the reading of good, bad and indifferent novels, that the love business is a little hurried up in this case. Jack and Lucy have hardly been introduced before they are betrothed. Still, of course, circumstances alter cases, and in this case there was no lack of very astonishing circumstances. "Jack Gordon" teaches unobtrusively a very good moral.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Frankie Frisch -- February 20, 2014

Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash, played for the New York Giants and the Saint Louis Cardinals.  He was a flashy (hence the nickname) second baseman.  John McGraw made him captain of the Giants.  He later managed the Cardinals and other teams. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1893 on the Embarcadero -- February 19, 2014

Car 1893 belongs to the Vent'Otto class of trams from Milan, Italy.  They have proved to be work horses for the San Francisco Municipal Railway's F-Line.  Here we see the Peter Witt car on the storage tracks on Embarcadero.  The old State Agricultural Building is in the background.  1893 is in the orange livery worn by Milan cars since the early 1970s.  When I visited in 1977, most of the trams were orange, but some were still in the older green livery.  I took the photo on 23-January-2014. "Vent'Otto" means 28, the year the class debuted in Milan.  The plural is "Vent'Otti." 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Golden Gate International Exposition Opens -- February 18, 2014

75 years ago, on 18-February-1939, the Golden Gate International Exposition opened on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.  The world's fair celebrated the opening of San Francisco's two great bridges and a general theme of unity and peace around the Pacific Rim.  Treasure Island is an artificial island that served as a US Navy base for many years.  My mother attended the fair as a child.  She remembers Mister Peanut, and the great statue of Pacifica.  The city of Pacifica is named after the lost statue.  The Cavalcade of the Pacific featured a Sutter Street cable train which is now on exhibit at the Cable Car Museum and locomotives from the North Pacific Coast and the Nevada Short Line  which are now on display at the California State Railroad Museum. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

H. L. Hunley Sinks the USS Housatonic 150 -- February 16, 2014

I have always been interested in early hand-powered submarines like David Busnhell's Turtle and Robert Fulton's Nautilus. 

150 years ago tomorrow, on 17-February-1864, Confederate boat HL Hunley became the first submarine to sink a ship when she attacked the USS Housatonic, a steam sloop of war, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.  Five men died on the Housatonic and the crew of eight in the Hunley died when the submarine failed to return to base for unknown reasons.  Hunley had already killed five of her first crew and all of her second crew of eight, including inventor Horace Hunley, during trials. 

The submarine was located in 1995 and raised from the bottom in 2000. 

The Union Navy built a hand-powered submarine, the USS Alligator, but it never saw combat.  In 1863, the French had launched Plongeur, which was powered by compressed air. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ferry Building Gate E #2 -- February 15, 2014

I took this photo of Gate E at San Francisco's Ferry Building on 15-January-2014.  Gate E is the destination of the Alameda/Oakland, Alameda Harbor Bay and South San Francisco Oyster Point ferries.  It was also the destination of the experimental Google ferry, which took its tech workers down the Peninsula to the Port of Redwood City during January and part of February.  I like the swooping seagull in the foreground. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Saint Valentine's Day #7 -- February 14, 2014

Happy Saint Valentine's Day, everyone.

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936.  Here is the cover of their 16-February-1922 edition.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

The image comes from (  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are You Going to Buffalo? -- February, 13 2014

I was surprised to find an ad for the Wabash Railroad in the 21-April-1910 San Francisco Call.  The Wabash was a Granger railroad that ran across the Midwest from Omaha and Kansas City to Buffalo.  I assume the ad was for a connection via Southern Pacific and Union Pacific. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln #7 -- February 12, 2014

Today is Abraham Lincoln's 205th birthday. My favorite president.  This year we will observe the sesquicentennials of Ulysses S Grant's Overland Campaign, Phil Sheridan's Valley Campaign, William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea, and President Lincoln's reelection. 

I believe President Lincoln, shown here with his youngest son, Tad, has his elbow on a book. “My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tex Beneke 100 -- February 11, 2014

Gordon "Tex" Beneke was born 100 years ago tomorrow, on 12-February-1914.  He played the saxophone and sang with Glenn Miller's Orchestra.  They had a string of hits featuring Beneke, including "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo."  During World War II, Glenn Miller joined the Army Air Force, formed a service band, and disappeared while flying from Britain to Paris.  After the war, Beneke led a Glenn Miller "ghost band" for many years.  I remember him playing and singing in the 1980s.  I always thought he had a funny-looking smile.  Perhaps he had false teeth as a young man. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beatles on Ed Sullivan 50 Years -- February 9, 2014

I remember watching the Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.   I think my sister was already a fan.  My mother didn't like all the screaming.  I don't remember my father's reaction.  I liked it.  I thought it was interesting that the neck of Paul's instrument pointed the opposite way from George and John's.  Until I read it recently, I didn't remember that they had been signed to make three appearances on the Sullivan show.  I must have seen the other two as well.  Ed Sullivan featured some good music.  And Topo Gigio. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pacifica Sunset -- February 8, 2014

I took this photo after 5 o'clock mass at Good Shepherd Church, last week, 01-February-2014.  Stella Pilgrin's statue of the Good Shepherd is visible by the school. 

It has rained a fair amount this week.  Friday at lunch time I went out and watched people walking with umbrellas.  It was nice. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Monster Magic Box -- February 7, 2014

Send 10 cents to the Magic Company and get the Monster Magic Box.   "100 magic tricks and mystic illusions.  10 sensational card tricks.  Big roll of stage money.  20 amusing experiments in magic and sleight-of-hand.  38 valuable formulas and money-making secrets." 

From the January, 1916 Motion Picture Magazine

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lieutenant J Macready -- February 6, 2014

On 28-September-1921, Lieutenant J Macready took off from McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, the US Army Air Service's experimental field, in a Le Pere airplane with a supercharged Packard engine and climbed to 37,800, setting a new altitude record.  He later increased the record to over 40,000 feet. 

Macready served as an Army air instructor during World War One and commanded air groups during World War Two. 

The images are from the 1922 Aircraft Yearbook.   

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Did You Ever Make a Phonograph Record? -- February 5, 2014

This ad, from the 29-January-1911 New York Tribune, touts the ability of the Edison Phonograph to do home recording.  All the statements in the ad are true.  The cylinders could be recycled by shaving off a layer of wax. 

I received a cassette recorder as a birthday present when I was in the Fifth Grade, but I had been reading a lot about early phonographs, so I wanted to reproduce one.  The Scout manual had an activity for making a phonograph out of a cone of paper and a toothpick.  I found it didn't work very well and was awfully hard on the records.  Based on my reading, I used a balloon to make a diagram and stuck a needle through it so the needle projected below the bottom of the tube.  That worked better.  It inspired me to try to make records using paraffin or other waxes.  I couldn't get enough energy into the diaphragm and needle to carve a good groove. 

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Brunch at the Garden Court -- February 3, 2014

Yesterday when we woke up it was raining hard.  We had not heard that sound for a year.  We drove to Fifth and Mission to park, then walked down Mission and up New Montgomery to the Palace Hotel.  We were 15 minutes early for our 11am reservation, so we sat on a couch.  The concierge immediately asked if we were ok. 

At 11, we were shown to a nice table near the large plant visible under the clock.  The service was good.  We had orange juice and champagne.  My wife tried the sushi, the dim sum and the paella.  I went more traditional, with a crepe and small pancakes and waffles.  All was good.  Then my wife had chicken and risotto.  I had scrambled eggs and bacon.  We each picked a pastry.  I don't get scrambled eggs and bacon very often, so I enjoyed them thoroughly.  Then we went to the dessert table.  We both had crème brûlée and tiramisu. I also had a really good macaroon.

The server was surprised when we said we thought we had eaten enough.  We never got to the seafood table with the oysters. 

We walked up Market and Geary to Macys where my wife did some shopping.  We had something to drink at the Starbucks on the fourth floor. 

Walking down Stockton, we passed an air vent.  We could hear the machine boring the Central Subway tube. 

We got in the car and took a drive out to the Presidio.  They now charge for parking all around the Main Post.  That is terrible. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Groundhog Day #5 -- February 2, 2014

Happy Groundhog Day to all.

"Groundhog in Lincoln Park" reads the caption from a 1925 Chicago Daily News photo. The Groundhog is posing at the zoo, in front of a painted background. I hope it is not a stuffed groundhog.
The photo comes from the Library of Congress' wonderful American Memory site ( DN-0078555, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Today is also the 100th anniversary of the release of Charlie Chaplin's first movie, "Making a Living."  Read more about it on my movies-mostly blog, The Big V Riot Squad: 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Schroeder's -- February 1, 2014

Schroeder's German Restaurant on Front Street closed on January 1.  Fortunately, it is going to reopen this Spring under new ownership.  I hope it will continue to look like a German beer hall.  I took the photo on 30-January-2014.