Grab Bag #031

Batteries at the Bridge, the bay bombers, and banning the long hairs.

Grab Bag #031
Batteries at the Bridge, the bay bombers, and banning the long hairs.

I remember my childhood friend Gabriel Gonzalez saying to me that if we had grown up in a different place, say the American South, we would probably have different personalities.

This was horror-story-at-the-campfire talk, since even as boys we were smug San Franciscans. Any alternate universe had to be inhabited by lesser, inferior versions of LaBounty and Gonzalez.

But Gabriel’s thought experiment put kid-me to thinking deeply about my city in the 1970s. Even then, I knew it offered more than any suburbia or country town, more than a boy’s imagination could hold.

There was not only what I understood and loved (the Giants, Mountain Lake Park, Dr. Donald D. Rose on KFRC), but mysteries that I had yet to decipher—like what was the deal with psychedelic art? I only knew it from advertising but sensed it signified some intriguing aspect of adulthood that had nothing to do with my parents.

psychedelic ad
I had been to Marine World and it didn't look like that. (Psychedelic ad on the back of the Sentinel Tower Building on Columbus Avenue and Kearny Street, 1974. Judith Lynch photo, OpenSFHistory/wnp25.11412)

 There were so many places I glimpsed through backseat windows that I still needed to visit—the blue tower in the Excelsior, Alcatraz, wherever those faded green streetcars on Market Street went— and things I still needed to do, like go to a Bay Bombers roller derby at Kezar Stadium.

(Sadly, I never would.)

Included on my eight-year-old boy’s bucket list were the secret “forts” around the Golden Gate Bridge, concrete bunkers behind chain-link fences and overgrown poison oak, visible when my Dad took the scenic route home through the Presidio.

Hmmm... that's a not a natural formation. (Harbor defense command post overlooking Lincoln Boulevard at Battery Dynamite in the Presidio.)

I learned my history from Hogan’s Heroes, so I assumed that the Presidio’s hillside gun emplacements dated from World War II. Turns out almost all of them predate World War I.