I am a third generation native San Franciscan. My Grandparents moved here in the 20’s and my family has never left. Unfortunately my family has been collecting lots of junk since the 20’s that my wife and I have been uncovering since we moved into the house.
My Grandfather was born in 1887 and my Grandmother in 1906. Apparently while I knew my Mom was a pack rat, I didn’t realize that my Grandparents were even worse. As Wife and I have been going through all the nooks and crannies of the house discovering things there are of course something we want to keep, but other things that have no value except to someone who knew my Grandparents which are few and far between in the 21st century.
I’ve decided to start a chronicle of the stuff we’ve found in the house because it’s kind of fun to look back on parts of San Francisco history through the eyes of people other than yourself. In a lot of ways I wish I had spent more time talking with my Grandmother about some the things I found that I wish we had found while she was still alive, but at least I still have my 98 year old Auntie Gert who remembers some of these things to help me out.
The first thing I came across was a collection of brochures from San Francisco’s 1939/1940 World’s Fair. My Mom was 10 years old and I’m pretty sure she collected most of these. It’s kind of interesting to look back to the earlier part of the 20th Century, pre-WWII and see what was on everyone’s mind. Apparently, electricity wasn’t everywhere in the United States and that was a big thing to talk about back then. Just take a look at some of the pictures and enjoy. Keep checking back as I’ll be archiving more photos for this gallery…
I’ve had to do some research on this one because San Francisco isn’t known for it’s hot dogs like New York, but I remember growing up my Mom always used to buy Treasure Island Hot Dogs at the butcher shop [she was a bit too snooty for Oscar Meyer]. All I can remember about them was they were about a foot long when you rarely found a hot dog that long. I don’t remember anything about the taste being special, but I do remember the name so as I said, it was time to do some research.
The first thing I discovered was that we, San Francisco, don’t have the only Treasure Island. Apparently there is also one in Florida that also has a lot of hot dog stands. I don’t know where it is, but I certainly don’t associate Florida with hot dogs. The closest association with Treasure Island and the Hot Dog goes back to the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco held on Treasure Island. The interesting part about this story is that the hot dog and hamburger held a rather interesting place there. Because you could buy one and walk away and not have to sit down restaurant style they were not subject to taxation because they weren’t considered meals, but snacks.
That would answer the question why the hot dogs were a foot long. It was just a big snack that you could dump relish, onions, mustard and or ketchup on [these are the typical condiments for hot dogs in San Francisco, no sauerkraut.] So the people who originally came up with the Treasure Island hot dog were kind of trying to make a run around having to pay taxes. Now THAT sounds like old time San Francisco to me. There are apparently hot dog stands on Treasure Island, but I don’t know if they even serve the supposed Treasure Island Hot Dog.
All in all to me a hot dog is a hot dog. It’s a tubular meat delivery device that is more flavored by what you put on in that by itself. If you want to find Treasure Island Hot Dogs for sale you’ll have to go to some old school or high end butcher shops in San Francisco. When I’ve gone into one that has them and asked them why they’re called a Treasure Island Hot Dog no one can tell me. If one of you out there has some more info to share on this let me know. I get a bit OCD at times when I can’t get the answer to my questions.
A while ago it was suggested that I write about each of the spots on the 49 mile drive of San Francisco. Today I decided to write about the next spot, Chinatown only to realize that I had written about it already. So I started to skim through the list and discovered something…I’ve pretty much covered all the spots on this list.
For those of you not in the know, here’s the list of all the current stops [source: Wikipedia]:
As you can see there are few places listed that weren’t in the original 1938 version because they weren’t built yet. It turns out that the route hasn’t changed much, but more over that the stops along the route have changed. While I kind of scratch my head at a few of the places, does anyone really need to stop at the Federal Reserve Bank? I think they’ve covered a good amount of the places to see in San Francisco.
As I look over the list there are a few places I haven’t yet written about. I’ll tackle those shortly along with some of my favorite haunts around the city that I may or may not have revealed yet.
In my last post I talked about the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. Well, there’s a kind of cooler, in a different way place just across the street that you’d miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is the Musee Mechanique. It is an odd mix of things that used to underneath the Cliff House before it’s remodeling so the Musee moved down to Pier 45 at the wharf.
Oh, did I mention it’s free to get in? What the Musee Mechanique is, is a collection of old sideshow arcade entertainment products mixed in with todays regular video arcade games with a few pinball machines mixed in. Most of these will cost you about 50¢ each, but you’ll find that people don’t mind letting you look when they drop a couple of quarters in a machine.
[mappress mapid=”17″]Some of these date back to the 1915 Pan-Pacific exposition and the owner, Ed Zelinsky has been working hard to keep these all running in tip top condition. I couldn’t find an opening date, but it looks like Ed probably opened the place in 1946. The one thing I didn’t get a picture of was the history Laffing Sal of the old Playland at the beach. She’s a big fat creepy kind of clown who has a maniacal laugh and she’s still right inside the front door just like she was at the Cliff House.
So below is a gallery of some of the pics I was able to get the other day. All the old photo galleries are under the photo gallery tab at the top of the page.