Our parents have always done a phenomenal job of taking photos and putting them into scrapbooks. Growing up we were always drawn to pictures of ourselves and less interested in the black and white/torn and tattered books. However, now we are thirsty to dig deeper into our parents history and get the story behind some of their pictures. We asked our dad to share some pictures and his thoughts are more priceless than we ever imagined.
These memories are amazing because he has woven in awesome pieces of Americana into every post. Anyone who likes history will also find his perspective fascinating.
This is a picture of my mother and me walking along San Francisco’s Market Street in 1947, the year after I was born. I grew up just across the Bay, and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1963. Later this fall Georgeann and I will be flying back to attend my 50th high school class reunion. Berkeley and the broader Bay Area are where most of my “growing up” memories took place.
I have many “snapshot” memories of those early years. These include (to name just a few) shopping at the Goodwill store in San Francisco to buy old coats that my mother would use as material for the hooked and braided rugs she made; spending time with my mother at the Berkeley Public Library (I still can vividly picture myself sitting in a very specific corner of the children’s room looking at my favorite books); family drives through Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoons; Christmastime in San Francisco, when department stores often had huge and elaborate model train sets running through the toy departments; and a few years later in life my mother taking me to the old Seals Stadium to watch Willy Mays play for the Giants just after they’d moved from New York to San Francisco.
Looking at this picture also reminds me that I became an avid TV watcher at a very young age. My Dad was what we’d now call an “early adopter” of TV. We must have gotten one no later than 1952 because I remember seeing the launching of the Today show with its first host Dave Garroway in 1952. And I remember watching the I Love Lucy show when it wasn’t reruns; it, too, started in 1952. One of my favorite shows was Howdy Doody (I always yearned to be part of the “Peanut Gallery”). But not all my favorite shows were what you’d call children’s shows. On Saturday mornings I would watch films or serial episodes from productions made in in the 1930’s that included my then-favorite film comedy stars Laurel and Hardy, the original Flash Gordon episodes, and the Bowery Boys movies to name a few. It was just this week that I learned you can watch original episodes of these shows on YouTube – and I did (for a just a minute or two!).
Besides prompting memories like these, this picture also gives me an altered sense of how close in time certain historical events actually were to my birth. When I was a young boy, WWII seemed to have occurred long before my lifetime. But in fact, the photo above was taken just two years after WWII ended; I was born just 18 months after the Omaha Beach D-Day landing most famously depicted in film in Saving Private Ryan. And while it seems difficult now to imagine San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge, it only opened ten years before this picture was taken.
One last observation about the Market Street photo above – am I the only one who thinks that the young man walking behind us in the picture has a jacket that looks like something Kramer would wear on Seinfeld?