Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco

image of Fleishhacker ZooFleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco was named after its founder, Herbert Fleishhacker, who was a banker and Park Commission president.  Construction began in 1929 on the site adjacent to the largest outdoor pool in the world (Fleishhacker Pool) and soon thereafter the first tiger cubs had their paws and noses fingerprinted.  Thousands remember riding the Fleishhacker Playfield Limited affectionately known as “Little Puffer”.  You’d never guess that this fully functional steam train is pushing one hundred years.  Little Puffer is one of only three 22-inch gauge engines remaining in the world today.

The zoo is the birthplace of Koko the gorilla who can be seen in the photo cradling a kitten.  Visitors remember what a ham Koko was, often times seen holding binoculars and gawking back at them or drinking a cup of coffee or lifting the T-shirt of a trainer and tickling him. (more…)

Capp’s Corner and Caesar’s in San Francisco

Two of my favorite restaurants that are no longer with us are Capp’s Corner and Caesar’s in San Francisco.  Capp’s was established in 1963 and closed in 2015. Formerly at 1600 Powell Street, it sat next to Beach Blanket Babylon.  The Italian restaurant was a favorite of not only tourists but cops, barmen, retirees and locals.

No one could greet you better than Seamus Coyle with his Irish way. The dinners were healthy portions with reasonable prices.  Remember the tasty tureen of homemade minestrone followed by the kidney bean house salad?  Nice way to start a meal.  Apparently the long-time Ginella owners were one of the latest victims of the City’s eviction frenzy.  Even the praises of Governor Jerry Brown and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti couldn’t sway the landlord.  Sad!


W.W.II in San Francisco, Ch. 10

image of Sally RandW.W. II in San Francisco took on many different faces as told through various tales.  This is a continuation of one of those stories.  Chapter 10:  My mother was chosen a princess for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island. It was this “risque” publicity photo on the top left, which ran in the S.F. Chronicle, that divorced her from several family members.    The experience, however, did give her the opportunity to meet film star and renowned dancer, Sally Rand, who managed “Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch” during the fair.   Mom and Sally Rand would later hook up in dance classes held at Sally Stanford’s bordello on Nob Hill. 

When my mother could no longer perform ballet due to the W.W.II closure of the Opera House, she took advantage of her earlier contacts and landed a job at Sally Rand’s Music Box.  The theater on O’Farrell Street in the Tenderloin is still standing but under the name of the Great American Music Hall. (more…)

W.W.II in San Francisco, Ch. 9

image of Sally StanfordW.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.  (more…)

W.W.II in San Francisco

image of WWII batteriesTales of W.W.II in San Francisco have been passed down through the generations.  This is a continuation of one of those stories.  Chapter 8: My grandfather is pictured here posting a National Guardsman at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  One of his duties was to deter saboteurs.  Supposedly he stopped an enemy infiltrator from dropping a grenade down the stack of the U.S.S. Hornet, which was heading out to sea with Doolittle’s Raiders.  At the time it was suspected that this person was most likely a member of the Black Dragon Society, a covert Japanese spy organization.

There was another rumor of a mini sub (which is nothing more than a hollowed out torpedo outfitted with navigational apparatus) from the Japanese I25 vessel maneuvering through the maze of minefields and past the anti-sub net to enter the

San Francisco Bay. (more…)

W.W.II & Civil Defense along the West Coast

image of block wardenW.W.II along the West Coast put a different face on the conflict.  This is a continuation of that story.  Chapter 8:  On Dec. 8, 1941, immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mayor Angelo Rossi of San Francisco declared a state of emergency.  Civil Defense made blackout shades mandatory with block wardens patrolling neighborhoods.  This inconvenience more than outweighed the fear of an impending Japanese invasion along our western shores.  But don’t tell that to Jeannette Thompson who had trouble finding her way across a blackened Golden Gate Park in her white gown only to be two hours late for her own wedding.

Santa Rosa and rural Sonoma County experienced its own blackout in early December of 1941 when the local Naval base reported that “A large number of mysterious planes were spotted flying over San Francisco before heading north…” (more…)

The Great Los Angeles Air Raid

Image of Los Angeles Air RaidThe Great Los Angeles Air Raid put a different face on W.W.II.  This is a continuation of that story.  Chapter 7:  On Feb. 23, 1942 a Japanese submarine lofted several shells from its deck gun onto the city of Santa Barbara, initiating new fears of an all out attack along the West Coast.  Two days later several citizens reported seeing a large object near the towns of Santa Monica and Culver City.   Air raid sirens blew.  Searchlights combed the skies.  Over 1400 rounds were fired at the orange, glowing object to no apparent effect until it drifted south and out of range. 

While no enemy bombs were dropped, the Battle of Los Angeles did claim six lives.  Three people were killed by friendly fire while another trio suffered fatal heart attacks during the hour-long siege.  A number of buildings also suffered damage from U.S. anti-aircraft guns. (more…)

W.W.II in San Francisco, Ch.6

image of submersible aircraft carrierW.W.II in San Francisco took on many different descriptions and tales.  This is a continuation of one of those stories.  Chapter 6:   The Japanese Imperial Navy during World War Two developed a secret weapon, a submersible aircraft carrier.  Eventually, the sub grew to 400′ in length and double the width, capable of carrying three bombers.  There were rumors that our enemy was experimenting with atomic weapons off of Korea, but a more likely scenario involves these airplanes unloading anthrax bombs on American cities.  Anthrax had been thoroughly tested against China early on.  This particular strategy, however, was abandoned by the Japanese high command as being too immoral (little did they know what was coming to their own shores).  Also, they had witness the ineffectiveness of the German aerial bombing of London. (more…)

W.W.II in San Francisco, Ch.4

images of Japanese minisub, Red Cross equestrian unit and Sally RandW.W.II in San Francisco took on many different descriptions and tales.  This is a continuation of one of those stories.  Chapter 4:

In 1942 my mother, Anne Klausen, in an effort to please her father, Elmer Klausen, quit the S.F. Ballet and Opera Company and joined the equestrian unit of the Red Cross, riding Spencer Tracy’s polo pony.  Her days were filled with routine excursions out in the Sunset and Richmond dunes, reminding the hobo “towns” to not start any fires at night.  One day she discovered an abandoned minisub on Ocean Beach.  It was later identified as belonging to the I-25, a Japanese submarine aircraft carrier.  But where did its operators go?  Records did not list them as being captured.  Did they hook up with San Francisco’s Japantown?  Or was it with the Black Dragon Society of espionage insurgents? (more…)

W.W.II in San Francisco, ch. 3

Image of California Gray and JapantownW.W.II in San Francisco came in the form of many different descriptions and tales.  This is the continuation of one of those stories.   Chapter Three:  

My mother, Anne Klausen, was photographed in the 1937 issue of Life magazine as the youngest member of the S.F. Ballet and Opera Company at age fifteen.  By the time Pearl Harbor came around, she was a bold and sassy nineteen-year-old and out of work.  The Opera House had closed down and Anne was looking to further her career.  Her father, Elmer Klausen (my grandfather), argued with her to do something patriotic for her country rather than standing around on her tiptoes.

Brash and independent, she would lash back saying that his participation in the California Grays was nothing more than the work of a bunch of vigilantes.  History would prove her right.  One night in the early part of 1942, before the Japanese internment camps had been OK’d by the boys in Washington, the Grays assembled at the unofficial request of Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, commander of the Fourth Army at the Presidio. (more…)