San Francisco

  I got to San Francisco the time of the Peopleís Park riots in Berkley. The riots at San Francisco State University also occurred in that time frame. My boss Dr. James Johnson got beat up by the SFPD in those riots. He said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the cops just beat him up.

It was a pretty cool place. My official guardian was my aunt. She lived on Mason Street I think between Post and Sutter or Geary Streets. I lived by myself at the YMCA in Chinatown on Sacramento and Grant Street.

I heard that Chinatown had dangerous Chinese gangs there but nobody ever bothered me. And I hung out there all hours of the day and night. That was back when I refused to eat Chinese food. In those days my view of food was that if you couldnít pronounce it, then the food was not worth eating. How wrong I was. Now I love hot spicy Chinese food.

Back in those days my food of choice was hamburgers. At the south entrance to Chinatown on Grant Street there was a good burger joint I ate at. I think it was named something like Burger Town, and with the huge sign it had it looked like you were entering Burger Town instead of Chinatown. And since I could afford to eat there it was not yuppie food.

I ended up getting a job at Eloyís, Elios, or Elies Hancock or something like that a gas station which was over in the Mission District. It was on Mission Street near maybe 20th Street. The last time I went to San Francisco I walked by it and it seemed to have been condemned and converted into a BART station. Mission Street starts out and runs parallel to Market Street at about around Van Ness Mission makes a turn and goes south.

I pumped gas and was the peon there.

My boss was a gambler and when he was gone and his bookie came by I would place his bets. I never even heard of bookies before that. My boss claimed to have won a lot of money thru gambling. He said that he won the money to buy the gas station thru gambling.

The gas station had Master Lock which had the key number of 2003. That surprised me because I had a key that opened Master Locks which were numbered 2003. But since there are millions of Master Locks in use in the United States that should not be surprising that the same key will fit two of them.

I hung out in several areas. One was the famous Haight Ashbury area where all hippies from all over the USA went. Haight Ashbury was and still is a lot like Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. It is near San Francisco State University. Haight Street runs into Golden Gate Park. I got my royal navy pea coat from a military surplus shop on Haight Street.

The thing that amazed me was that dope dealers would stand on the street selling their wares yelling acid, pot, speed as you walked by. Also in all the stores in the area they would post photos of the local narks. Something I had never seen in Phoenix.

I also hung out in North Beach on Grant Street. On Grant Street just north of Broadway and Columbus it is a hippie area that is a lot like the Haight Ashbury area. I got a really cool coat from North Beach Leathers. This area in another era was where all the beatniks hung out.

In the North Beach area Columbus and Broadway Streets are where a large number of the topless joints in San Francisco are. But I was not old enough to drink so I never went to any of them although I did hang out in the area for something to do at night.

I hung out in Berkley on Telegraph Street too. It was also pretty much a clone of Haight Street. Telegraph Street is right next to the University of California at Berkley, the university everybody calls Berkley for short.

Last was the famous The Fillmore West that Billy Graham owned. It is a basketball court on the corner of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. Haight Street also intersects the corner. Six days a week they used to have concerts in the Fillmore. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday there would be 3 big name bands, and then on Thursday, Friday and Saturday there would be 3 more big name brand bands. I think they had basketball games on Sundays. Bands that played there were the Beatles, Chicago, Jethro Tull and all the other big bands of the era. And NO that is not the Billy Graham that is the Christian preacher.

Out side of the Fillmore West there was always a big crowd of dope dealers selling there wares. They would yell acid, pot, speed or whatever they were selling to everyone that passed by. Every 15 minutes or so a cop from the SFPD could chase them off, but they would quickly return.

They always gave you a cool poster of the bands when you went into the Fillmore. They also had cool light shows which where displayed on the band as it played. It looked like they had some type of oil and water mixture with colors in it that they projected a light thru to create the light show. Kind of like a lava lamp with a light projector hooked up to it.

The whole place reeked with the smell of marijuana. People openly smoked weed during the concerts. And in those days a large number of people used LSD when they attended the concerts.

There is a Fillmore East and I though it was in Berkley. I was wrong on that. The Fillmore East is in New York City.

I would also go into the Tenderloin area of San Francisco a lot. It is north of Market Street, maybe between Van Ness and Mason Streets. It has been a long time since I have been there so I may have given the location slightly wrong.

The Tenderloin is a bad area. Low class bars and dumpy low class topless bars. Lots of crime.

One other place I remember hanging out at is Union Square. It is between Powell and Stockton Street on the west and east. And between Post and Geary Streets on the north and south. A lot of hippies used to hang out there. The guy I remember is Methamphetamine Jack. A speed freak that used to hang out in the park. But donít get me wrong. I have never taken Methamphetamine. I just knew the guy.

Also I would hang out on Market Street. It is the main drag in San Francisco and people are always on it. Because I was very young and I am very small a number of times I was mistaken as a male prostitute when I hung out on Market Street. Before I went to San Francisco I didnít even know what a male prostitute was. And I would be embarrassed and tell them that I am not into that stuff and quickly leave.

Golden Gate Park was another place to hang out. It is in the Haight Ashbury area. The Grateful Dead occasionally gave free concerts in Golden Gate Park.

I went to the Cow Palace once. I didnít go in side. It is a sports arena on the San Francisco Daley City border. They had concerts there.

One other place I used to hang out was Ghirardelli Square. That is also up in North Beach. But it is closer to the Golden Gate Bridge. We would take the cable cars from there down to Market Street. A lot of times you could ride them for free.

The first huge anti-war protest I was in was when Nixon came to San Francisco. I think he stayed at the Fairmont Hotel which is next to Union Square. There were police lines around the hotel. Union Square was full of protesters. I remember people throwing rocks and bottles over the crowd at the police line. For a little kid from the tiny city of Phoenix it was a very interesting experience.

At the time I was there I probably looked like I was twelve or thirteen years old. Despite that I still stayed all night in San Francisco and not once did the San Francisco PD stop me and demand my ID or even ask me why I was breaking curfew. I know if it had been in Phoenix and I was out at 3 in the morning the Phoenix cops would have stopped me.

San Francisco was very cold. It was in the middle of the summer and a bought a coat to keep warm when I went to work and went out at night. But the days were warm. Also on the East Bay over in Berkley it is much warmer. But still it was much colder then the hot, hot, hot 100 degree plus weather I am used to in Phoenix

I was robbed twice when I was in San Francisco. I donít remember if it was when I lived there or one of the times I later visited the city.

The first time I was with someone else and we were robbed by a French Canadian guy with a knife. The guy didnít steal anything from me but he stole some stuff from my friend. I think this was when I lived in the city. We were in the Tenderloin.

The second time I was down on Market Street or maybe near Market Street in the Tenderloin and some guy stole my watch. I think I had hitchhiked to the city from Los Angeles this time.

Drug prices were different. Acid sold in Phoenix on the street for $10 a hit while in San Francisco it cost one fifth of that price and it sold for $2 a hit. Phoenix pot cost $100 a kilo while pot in San Francisco cost twice that and was $200 a kilo