W.W.II in San Francisco took on many different faces as told thru many different tales. This is a continuation of one of those stories. Chapter 9: By the time Sally Stanford landed in the City at the ripe old age of 21, she had already done a stretch in prison for forging checks, been a bootlegger, and had run a speakeasy. She opened a couple of brothels in the Tenderloin before realizing her dream atop Nob Hill at 1144 Pine Street. It was considered the swankiest bordello in town of which Herb Caen later said: “The U.N. was founded at Stanford’s whorehouse.”
Sally Stanford was very fond of burlesque and a regular at Sally Rand’s Music Box (same building where Great America Music Hall is today on O’Farrell St. in the Tenderloin). Sally Rand rented out a portion of Miss Stanford’s Nob Hill residence for dance lessons. My mother, Anne DeGraf, took this same class. Their instructor was a Japanese man by the name of Ito.
When the FBI raided Sally Stanford’s place, they were not there for the famous madam but rather for Mr. Ito. But he was not to be found. The Japanese man had used dancing and Stanford’s studio on Nob Hill as a front. In reality, he was believed to be a member of the Black Dragon Society who had infiltrated the West Coast to continue covert spy activities. Mr. Ito was not found and believed to have escaped back to Japan. My mother, after she lost her position as a ballerina at the Opera House due to its closure, went on to dance at the Music Box for Sally Rand.
Next time: More on Sally Stanford, Sally Rand and my mother during W.W.II. To catch up on the previous eight chapters of W.W.II in San Francisco, go to www.johnmccarty.org and click on “W.W.II” at the bottom of any page.