View Full Version : SF in the 60s

08-09-2008, 06:49 PM
Anybody want to share a story about San Francisco in the late-60s? If so, I'm here for you.

08-09-2008, 06:52 PM
I love science fiction in the '60's. Used to watch Time Tunnel every week.


08-09-2008, 07:16 PM
I love science fiction in the '60's. Used to watch Time Tunnel every week.


Darn, I also tought it was about Science Fiction

08-09-2008, 08:06 PM
In the very early 60's I read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. It not only turned me on to SF, but to reading in general.

And who can forget Forbidden Planet and of course the original Star Trek

08-09-2008, 09:15 PM
S/He is asking about San Francisco...

08-09-2008, 09:20 PM
I don't know of any science fiction in the 60's set in San Francisco, but I'll look into it.


Linda Adams
08-10-2008, 02:37 AM
I did think science fiction, too--but I do have some stories about San Francisco. Not sure if they're what you're looking for.

When I was in Los Angeles, we used to travel up to San Francisco to visit my grandparents in San Anselmo. That would have been late sixties, early seventies (my grandparents retired and moved to Morro Bay by the late 70's I believe). I remember being very surprised to see that my grandparents left their door unlocked. Different time, different place. Even at that time, we wouldn't do that in L.A.

Travel was either a plane trip, usually on Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), which was I believe later merged into another airline; or by car. Traffic was always bad in L.A. We'd guarantee hitting stop-start traffic coming and going; never saw much in SF. Now, I think they're on the list for one of the worst traffic areas in the U.S., so times really have changed.

Of course, one of the first things we saw coming into SF was the Golden Gate Bridge. As I recall, I think we had to cross it to get to San Anselmo. Those red gates are enormous! The Oakland Bridge wasn't quite as impressive, but pretty close. Certainly not as colorful!

I remember riding a street car a few times. It was a scary experience because it seemed like it went fast over up and down all those hills. The houses along the road always looked strange to me. In L.A., we had a lot of slab houses and garden apartment buildings. In SF, the houses were all very narrow, and the steep streets would slope up while the houses were straight. Looked strange. Even the garages looked off because of the angle.

My grandfather owned a furniture store called Western Furniture in downtown San Anselmo (when he retired, he sold the business; eventually the building turned into a thrift shop). During Christmas time, the street it was on would be completely lit up with white lights the city put up in the trees. It was always very beautiful. Christmas weather was also often very nice.

My grandparents grew all types of flowers, though mainly roses. The deer would often come in early in the morning and eat the roses. It was still a fairly wooded area, but I'll bet it's not now. Their street was Butterfield Road, a name I later found in my auction research--William Butterfield was an auctioneer around the Gold Rush days and formed an auction house still around today.

Oh, and my grandmother did the crossword puzzles in the SF Chronicle. I remember to this day because that part of the newspaper was pink.

This got me to looking--there's a museum for San Anselmo with some oral histories. They may cover the 1960's: http://www.sananselmohistory.org/oral-histories.html

08-10-2008, 03:02 AM
Oh, and my grandmother did the crossword puzzles in the SF Chronicle. I remember to this day because that part of the newspaper was pink.The Chronicle Sports section is still termed "The Sporting Green" although it's no different than the rest of the paper. But back in the day, the sports section was indeed printed on green paper. (And thus, difficult to read.)

08-10-2008, 03:33 AM
If you're going to San Francisco you should put a flower in your hair... that's all I know.

08-10-2008, 04:12 AM
I moved to SF in the mid-70s. Some very bad times -- Dan White, People's Temple, the onset of AIDs. But before that, there was an explosion of freedom and creativity. That's a bit past the era you mentioned, but if you are interested, also, in the 70s, a wonderful book to read is "Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin. It was originally serialized in the newspaper (like Dickens!) and we all used to eagerly look forward to reading the next installment. It captures the feeling of the time well. PBS made a movie of it, which is good too.

08-10-2008, 04:17 AM
There was an explosion of freedom and creativity.

That's the part I'm interested in, 65 to 70.

08-10-2008, 04:27 AM
By the time I got here (which I think was around '74), the hippie thing was pretty much over. But there were a lot of musicians and artists and writers. Rents were very low then (that's certainly changed!), and people could work part time and do creative stuff the rest of the time. There was also a big explosion of gay culture, pre-AIDs. It was a carefree, almost fairy-tale existence (all of this was taking place against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty), until all the bad things started happening at once.

But again, that's a little later. I don't know about the 65-70 era, at least not from personal experience. I was far, far away (and not yet an adult) at the time.

I did go, last summer, to a Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert in Golden Gate Park, and all the old hippies (wearing their old hippie clothes from the attic, now several sizes too small ;)) were there, trying to recreate the original experience. So in a way, that's the closest I'll ever get to the Summer of 67.

08-10-2008, 04:51 AM
That's the part I'm interested in, 65 to 70.OK.

When I was a teen in 67, I picked up one day and headed out to SF. A girl I knew was a “friend” of Paul Kantner, (Jefferson Airplane, )and since he was out of town she let me stay at his flat for a few days until I could find a place.

His flat was on 17th Street, in the middle of what is now the Castro, but in those days it was a working class neighborhood with mom and pop groceries.

In short order I found a room in a boarding house on Divisadero – it had nine or ten large rooms with a sink basin, bathroom down the hall, and communal kitchen. The building was owned and run by what would now be termed and old hippie –except then it was more like he was an old beatnik. He had lived for years in Morocco, and the story about him (which was probably half true) was that he had met a wealthy woman there and lived off her for years. When the money finally started to run out, he absconded with whatever was left, packed up his two cats, and moved to SF where he bought the building and lived off the rent from boarders. (It was a large building – It now houses a restaurant on the ground floor and expensive apts upstairs –I’d guess it’s worth three million or so today.

Down the hall from me lived a lesbian couple, one of whom wasn’t all that gay, and hooked up with me because her partner (apparently not that gay either) was having an affair with the guy who owned the building, whom she hated. They had violent screaming fights at least once a week.

There was also a young gay man, a black guy, who lived across from me. He would get drunk at night, come to my room, and try to convince me to have sex with him. When I explained I wasn’t gay, he just said “well, I’ll just give you a blow job then. That doesn’t make you gay.” Sadly, he wasn’t particularly attractive, so I wasn’t even flattered by the attention.

This almost ended in tragedy one night. I had neglected to lock the door to my room. He crept in at about 3 in the morning and I woke up to find him bending over me. Now, I was sound asleep, had recently come from Chicago, where I lived in a sketchy neighborhood on the South Side, where a strange black man in your house bending over you in the dark in middle of the night did not mean sex, it meant you were about to be robbed or killed.

So I reached under my pillow where I kept my loaded .22 revolver, (yes, I was young and incredibly stupid) rolled out of bed, and was actually about to squeeze off a round when I recognized who he was and what he wanted. It kind of made for an uncomfortable dynamic between us from that time onward.

Another girl I met there had an in at the Matrix Club, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matrix_(club)) an iconic club on Fillmore where almost all of the SF bands played. She got me a job there, although I was under age. Not a real job, just an unpaid gig running lights for the bands. I had other sources of income at the time. A lot of musicians hung out there, although it was fairly cliquish -- I was just the kid running the lights, so no one paid me much attention. I did get to be a friend/acquaintance of a guy named Jim Cook, who played in the Steve Miller band. I remember one night where a very odd girl took him home. The next day, he told me she had nine cats, was into some weird stuff, and if I saw her again don’t tell her where am. I, of course, was incredibly jealous. I think that’s the moment when I decided I had to learn to play guitar. I have a band now, but I’m still waiting for the groupies.

But I got to see almost everyone close up – the club was a small one, just like any small club today, and the light booth was maybe twenty feet from the stage. Big Brother, Quicksilver, The Sopwith Camel (fairly obscure, but I remember them bringing in a brand new 45 of their latest, Postcard From Jamaica, and raving about the bassline the bass player had come up with. I never saw the Dead there. And out of town bands, Otis Rush (A great Chicago bluesman) The Chambers Brothers (four impressive black dudes with a wimpy looking white kid who looked like a high school or college student playing drums. He looked totally out of place – until he started playing. He was the best soul/rock drummer I’d ever heard.)

But the highlight (although I didn’t realize it at the time) was when an LA band came to play for a few nights. There had been some buzz about them and I’d heard their album, but they weren’t part of the SF music scene, so I wasn’t particularly impressed. Some group called The Doors.

Actually, I thought they were pretty good. Until they played a song called “The End.” I lowered the lights until there was just a dark red spot on the lead singer, and then I forgot I was supposed to be working.

Jim Morrison was the most intense, compelling and charismatic person I’d ever seen. You couldn’t take your eyes off him. When he was singing The End, it scared me half to death. (Remember, I was twenty feet away.) There’s a reason he became a rock god, and it was more about that charisma than anything about music.

After the show, a guy walked right up to him and said. “You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. I want to suck your chock.” Morrison never even acknowledged his existence, just continued walking up to the bar. I have a feeling he got a lot of that.

I just realized this is more about me than about SF. I just hadn't thought about those days for years. But my experiences were not at all atypical, I think. PM me if you have any questions.

08-15-2008, 08:25 AM
Read this semi-fictionalized memoir. It'll answer a lot of your questions, I bet.


08-28-2008, 04:53 PM
Read this semi-fictionalized memoir. It'll answer a lot of your questions, I bet.


Is that about the sister of one of Charles Manson's floozies, Sandra Good?