Kiss The Boys Goodbye


An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.


Monday May 15, 1939 “Met Tony at 4:30. Had dinner at Veneto.”


“Then to the first night for ‘Kiss The Boys Goodbye.’ Sam worked late. Jeanne went to the Golden Gate Theater with Al.”
Tuesday May 16, 1939. “Took several of loads of stuff over to the new flat. Took Zella Reilly over in the afternoon. Nite: read and radio.”

Wednesday May 17, 1939. “Movers came at 2pm, cost $121.95. Plumber set up the stove. Cost $4.75. Hardly got anything done after. Had dinner at Betty’s. Nite: Hortense called. Went to bed early–tired. Letter from Irene and B.”

Thursday May 18, 1939. “Unpacked dishes, put books away. Ordered phone. Nite: Sam and Harry R. took trunks and pans over. Tony came over and showed her the flat.”

Friday May 19, 1939. “Straightened up the flat. Marc brought Eve and Sam home–crab and prawns for dinner. Marc back later with sherry–quite an evening. Our first nite at 4320 Fulton. Ruth called from Santa Monica.

Street Scene Chinatown

Saturday May 20, 1939. “Bought a lot of odds and ends for the house. Jeanne and I picked up Sam at two and had noodles in Chinatown. Back home then Jeanne and I went to the show. Back home and eats. Then to Reilly’s for one drink.”

Sunday May 21, 1939. “Moved everything today. Was charged for cleaning! Tony and Phil over late afternoon. Carola and Joe came in about 10:30. Sat up for short time drinking sherry.”


Monday May 22, 1939. “Refrigerator works! Had the car greased, oil change, etc $9.15 Jeanne and Carola out. Back with tennys, and out again this evening. Sam home at nearly 9 PM.”


Tuesday May 23, 1939. “Party! Cerwins, Hughes, MacHenry and gal, Harry Lerner and gal. First at Mark Hopkins…”


“To the Blue Fox…”

“La Conga…”

Finocchio3 Finocchios4
“There was a fight at Finocchios…”


“Club 440…”

“Vanessi’s. Met Rena Borzage and brother. Swell time. Home at 2 am.”


Found A Place

4320 Fulton

Tuesday May 9, 1939. “House hunted. Found a place on Fulton that I think we’ll take. Nite at Tony’s.”

Wednesday May 10, 1939 “Rented 4320 Fulton. Will move on the 20th when rent starts. Wrote to Ruth. Picked Jeanne up after school.”

Thursday May 11. “Took Bijou to the park-nice-foggy. To the library. Bought shelf paper-out to the flat after meeting Jeanne. Nite-read+radio.”


Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery south of San Francisco in Colma. The 1909 view after the earthquake, and the view today.

Friday May 12, 1939. “Took Gen to Woodlawn. Met Jeanne after school and went to Foster’s for tea. Took Gen downtown and met Sam. Stopped and got crabs at Fisherman’s wharf. Nite-sherry.

1 Columbus

The 1939 City Directory lists Jacopetti’s Restaurant at 1 Columbus Street. It’s tough to tell for sure this is it. A number 1 appears, but numbers got moved around sometimes in the wake of major redevelopment. This site is across from Transamerica and other huge new buildings.

Saturday May 13, 1939 “With Sam + Marc to Jacopetti’s. To Aquatic Park. To the new flat. At nite Eve joined us, and to Vanessi’s. Then John’s Rendezvous, Izzy’s + William Tell House. At home Jeanne had rolling chair boy there, and we took him home. Bed about 3.


Helen has mentioned the rolling chairs before. I haven’t found much about them–except in movie footage you can see them. You get pushed around the fair in a rolling chair by a rolling chair boy! At 6:20 in this film you can see. The whole film is worth having a look.

Sunday May 14, 1939 “Carola here. We went to Aquatic Park + Fisherman’s Wharf. Furniture for the new flat will be coming on Wednesday. Jeanne gave me a fishnet turban and a giraffe lapel pin.”



Of Mice And Men

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.GoldenGateExpo5 Courtesy of Bjorn PaleniusGoldenGateExpo4c

Saturday April 29, 1939. “Another bad day! In bed most of the day-got up in late afternoon. Sam and I drove to the beach and Presidio. Jeanne went to the Fair. Ruth sent $100. Nite at Apt. 6. Reilly’s.
200 Market_Reilly's

Reilly’s is listed in the 1939 San Francisco directory under Restaurants at 200 Market Street. The Google Street View indicates whatever was there in 1939 is long gone.


Sunday April 30, 1939. “Drove to the beach and the Presidio and to Fisherman’s Wharf-to Chinatown for dinner Old Chinatown-Magic Kettle. Nite: radio and read.” Couldn’t find anything on the Magic Kettle.


Before and after pictures of the Geary Theater following the 1989 Earthquake.
Monday May 1, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the Golden Gate Theater to see Maureen O’Sullivan picture. Nite to Chinatown for dinner with Sam. Then Jeanne and I went to the Geary to see “Of Mice And Men.” Splendid.

belgian_spring_madness_linen_HP01362_L as Smart Object-1

The English and Belgian version of the Spring Madness poster

Friday May 5, 1939. “Walked in the park early. Picked up Jeanne after school, watch street broadcast. Met Sam and stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf for crabs. Delicious! Nite to the Library.”

Saturday May 6, 1939 “Went to town with Jeanne. In the afternoon to see “Our Town.” Fine! Met Sam and Marc, Skimmy and Eve-To Vanessi’s, John’s Rendezvous, etc. Home at 6 AM.


John’s Rendezvous was at 50 Osgood Place, on the left. It’s a good bet in 1939 it looked a lot more like it is on the right hand side of Osgood Place.

Sunday May 7, 1939 “To The Fair with Tony-met Gert there. To a Fashion Show, the Press Club,  and Dinner at Island Club. Sam went over but couldn’t find me.”


The Press Club Building, right, is listed in the 1939 Directory as 449-453 Powell.

Monday May 8, 1939. “Lazy Day. Over to Reilly’s at nite.”

We Met Juan Mertins

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.Full Map

Monday April 10, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the Fair. Saw an exhibit at the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts. Marvelous!”

Palace Of Fine And Decorative Arts

Palace of Decorative and Fine Arts (N)

“To El Salvador to see ‘the Goats.’ Then to the Guatemala Bldg.”

House of El Salvidor

Latin America Court (8): Mexico, El Salvidor, Panama, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador.

hans-mertins-paintings as Smart Object-1 Ferry Commuters

“We met artist Juan Mertins, most charming. Met him on the ferry and then had scotch with him. It was a grand day, but cold.”
The piece shown has all the characteristics of Juan Mertins early paintings and was exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition. His real name was Hans Mertins but he used to sign his paintings under his artistic name: Juan Mertins. He was a known artist in the San Francisco area during the 1920’s. He also painted backgrounds for Hollywood films. Since Helen had also worked in Hollywood studios, they may have had a lot to talk about. He is mentioned repeatedly in the diary, so clearly they struck up a friendship.

Tuesday April 11, 1939. “Quiet lazy day. At nite met Sam at Marc’s. Went with Palmer, Marion, and Ruth to celebrate Palmer’s birthday. Drinks at the office + then to Izzy’s for dinner. Got a dent in the fender on the way home.”

Thursday April 13, 1939. “Went to the Fair alone. To the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts and the Guatemala building. Saw the Horticulture Palace and then to the Guatemala Building. Juan Mertins gave me a drink: Creme de Menthe. Listened to both Marimbas -Fun! The Berkeley gal and Juan Mertins waited for me, then home. Nice day.”


Florence Cafe was at 1968 Lombard. It’s Thai Cuisine in the Google street photo.

Friday April 14, 1939. “Met Sam and went to dinner at Florence Cafe. Then to Izzy’s-also Villa Turin. Fun!”


Located at 800 Montgomery Street the building survives and is a Historic Landmark.


The Sherman Bank is part of Jackson Square Historic District.

Saturday April 15, 1939. “I met Sam at noon after taking Jeanne to the ferry. Lunch at Villa Turin. Then to Izzy’s, Chinese cocktail bar, then back to Izzy’s. Then…”
Hang Far Low Site Today

Google view of Hang Far Low site, 723 Grant Avenue.

“…Dinner at Hang Far Lows. Back to Izzy’s again. Met Englishmen…”

Sinaloas as Smart Object-1

“…To Sinaloa. Home about 10:30”

1416 PowellStreet

1416 Powell Street Today

Went to the RKO Golden Gate

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.

Poster - Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, The_02 as Smart Object-1
Wednesday April 5, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the RKO Golden Gate to see Rogers + Astaire in the Castle picture.” The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), would be their final RKO film together, although they would reunite in 1949 for MGM‘s The Barkleys of Broadway. The film was unique for Astaire and Rogers. The characters in it are more realistic than usual in an Astaire-Rogers film, it is the only Astaire-Rogers musical biography, the only one of their musicals with a tragic ending, and the only one in which Astaire’s character dies.


The RKO Golden Gate Theater.

Built in 1920, the Golden Gate Theatre was a movie theater for over 50 years until it closed in the 1970s. By the time it was shuttered, the Golden Gate Theatre had already been converted into a two screen theater in the 1960s, with the balcony theatre known as the Penthouse Theatre. With the twinning it suffered little permanent damage as it was restored to a single auditorium by the Shorenstein Hayes Nederlander group.

When it was finally renovated and reopened in 1979 into a performing arts center, the original detail and look of the theater was restored as well. Although the neighborhood has remained a little seedy, the theater is still very grand, with a marvelous Art Deco vertical sign that is nearly 4 stories high. Today, the Golden Gate Theatre is still a premier venue for travelling broadway shows and a visual journey into San Francisco’s gilded past. Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos. Cinema Treasures. org

Japanese Tea Garden

“Afternoon walk in the park. Jose over and took Jeanne for Tea at Japanese Tea Garden. Nite: Took Sam to the library. Wrote to Irene. It was a beautiful day.”
Mom took me for my first trip to San Francisco in 1967. I remember she made a point of visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. One other note –  Sam Hussey never drove; Helen did all the driving.

39belltelephone2 as Smart Object-1

Friday April 9, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the fair. We won telephone calls. Jeanne phoned Mercedes, but not home. I called Irene + talked to her. We went to listen to the marimba. Home about Ten P.M.”


Friday April 8, 1939. “Met Sam and we all went to the Fair. Saw many exhibits. Drank at Happy Valley. Saw Carlos and met most of the marimba players. Back to Izzy’s-fiesta, etc. Got a ride home with the Italians. Hazy ending to the day.”

Adelphian_Club_House_Central_Avenue_and_Walnut_Streets_Alameda_California_2975 as Smart Object-1

Sunday April 9, 1939. “Easter Sunday. Went to Oakland for dinner with Gen and Jess. Drove to Berkeley and Alameda. Saw an interesting big house, also an old home on Central Avenue. Home about 6:30” Certainly similar interests through the generations in this family!

Interesting San Francisco House Photo

12 Jordan Avenue S.F copy

I’m not sure what my family’s connection with the house is. Whether it belonged to family or family friends. But Helen Martin was there in 1923 to take this picture for her scrapbook.


Surprisingly the house is still there with new infill all around. A large apartment built right up to the side.

12 Jordon at California Street

The other building seen in the historic photo however are gone.

Helen Returns To Santa Rosa

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940. 

Helen Martin at 913 Cherry St

Helen in Santa Rosa where she grew up. This photo was taken in 1923. Helen was then married to Val Martin (Jeanne’s father); they lived at 913 Cherry Street, Santa Rosa. Later that year they moved to Southern California to work in the film industry. Mom was born Jeanne Delano Martin on September 22, 1923 in Long Beach, CA.
Today Cherry Street is a Historic District in Santa Rosa.


Sunday April 2, 1939. “Took a grand drive today to Santa Rosa…It has certainly grown.”
guerneville992x625  ArmstrongTreerussian_river_resorts_sign_1936_41sm as Smart Object-1

“Also saw Healdsburg, Guernville, and Armstrong woods. It was a beautiful day, and the country was green and luscious. Arrived home in San Francisco about 5:30.”

Monday April 3, 1939. “First day of Jeanne’s vacation–slept until 8. At 1 P.M. we walked to the beach. Took the tram home. Went shopping on Clement Street. It was a foggy day.”

bell_switchboard as Smart Object-1

Tuesday April 4, 1939. “A lovely day and night. Jeanne and I went to the Fair. Went to the phone exhibit and saw kids there from Los Angeles.”

El Salvidor

“Then went to El Salvidor. We met boys from Guatemala.”


“To Brazil for coffee. We were introduced to various people. Carlos and Jose drove us home.”

Talked On The Radio Twice

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.

London House 25 Trinity Place

The 1939 San Francisco Directory has London House address as 25 Trinity Place at Sutter Street, about a block from Market Street. The Google view today.

Monday March 27, 1939 “Sam and I to the bank, post office, and stores. Lovely Day. Nite: Met Tony and went to dinner with the ladies to London House.”

GearyTheatre EthelBarrymoreWhiteoaksofJalma
Ethel Barrymore
“Went to the Geary Theater to see Ethel Barrymore in Whiteoaks of Jalma. It was Grand!”

Short Wave Radio Broadcast Station

Photo source: Bay Area Radio Museum

Tuesday March 28, 1939. “Went to The Fair. Talked on the radio twice.”

Cesar Romero+Sally Eilers

Photo Source: Bay Area Radio Museum

It’s Cesar Romero and Sally Eilers’ turn to talk on the radio, Treasure Island station W6XBE. It was an International Broadcast Station established by General Electric Company for the fair as an advanced technology exhibit. In August of 1939, the station’s call sign was changed to KGEI (standing for “GE International”).


“Went to the Scottish Village + met a young chap.”


“Then on to the Gayway to see general things.”

Foiles Bergere Poster Folies Bergere

The March 11, 1939 San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed “The Folies Bergere Opens–And Boy, It’s a Show!

“Well, folks it’s happened! The Golden Gate International Exposition has really got something at last. It’s the Folies Bergere, which opened–and how it opened–last night.

“If that isn’t a drawing card of San Francisco’s 1939 World’s Fair then Sally Rand never had a bubble and Stella never had a bit of folk lore.

“It’s risque, of course. ‘The Lace Wedding” and “Wedding Night” will bring you up in your seat. That red-haired witch who shows on the program only as Grace will bring back the memories of the girl you were looking for when you read “Lancelot and Elaine.”

“The music will stir you out of the workaday world of comtomiters and typewriters and such, and it may set you to dreaming of oceans to be flown across and enemies to be shot down for the glory of a lady and the shedding of a vow.

“And if you are old enough to know the old Orpheum on O’Farrell street, where you sat and watched Farrar and Bernhardt, Savoy and Brennan, the Foy Family, the Cyclists, the trained seals, and those others you have missed for such a long time–they’re all there, back at the Folies, and you can meet them again and again until your sides ache with laughter.”

“Saw Folies Bergere, then back to San Francisco and ate. Home after 12.”


Friday March 31, 1939. “It was a lovely hot day in San Francisco. I did cleaning and washing. Then went to the De Young Museum and saw Rembrandt etchings. Sam home fairly early. Tony came over.”

The Best Place In The Fair

Thursday March 16, 1939 “Walked to the beach and back. Took a nap. Then met Jeanne after school and rode to the beach and got cones. Came back and shopped and had a good dinner. Sam called on E. Hurt, the Russian artist. It was very hot today.”

Sunday March 19, 1939 “A quiet day. Walked to the beach. Took streetcar home. Went to look at apartments of various kinds.”

Monday March 20, 1939 “It was a grand day of interest. I went to The Fair alone. Saw Eleanor Roosevelt arrive. In the afternoon I heard her speak–most charming. Went to several exhibits. El Salvidor-coffee and marimbas. To Greenwich Village. Home about 9.

ElseArgal+IreneRich_Broom For The BrideCurran-Theatre_San-Francisco_1922-1 as Smart Object-1
Elsa Argal, left with Irene Rich, right in Broom For The Bride.

Thursday March 23, 1939 “Sam came home in the afternoon. Feeling sick. He went to bed early. Nite: I went to Tony’s, and with eight women went to dinner at Vagabond House. Then to the Curran Theater to see Irene Rich in ‘Broom for the Bride.’ Enjoyed it.”

Jeanne's Fair Page2

A page from Mom’s crumbling scrapbook. I’m in the process of moving photos from it to archival pages. She indicates the Brazil Pavilion is “the best place in the fair” (lower right). Brazilian flag upper left. A partially used ticket book from 1940, And the El Salvador Pavilion napkin. And Duke. I don’t know what happened to him. Maybe got tossed after she got married.

Saturday March 25, 1939 “Sam feeling much better. The Doctor was here. Says he can get up Monday. Then go to work on Tuesday. Today was Rainy. Jeanne went to the fair.”

Brazil Pavilion

“Best Place in The Fair.” The photo caption reads “Pavilion of the United States of Brazil. It occupies 10,000 of its 25,000 square feet of the ground. The products displayed are representative of the country’s ever increasing potentiality and includes coffee, rubber, matte, vegetables fibers and oils, timbó, guaraná, etc. and manufactured products. Visit the CAFE BRAZIL with its tropical patio and try a cup of PURE Brazilian coffee.”


A name that begins to appear in Helen’s diary is Carlos. He became a constant friend in both San Francisco and Los Angeles for years to come. Apparently they met at the Brazil Pavilion where he sang. The Photo shows him in the rotunda of that pavilion–silhouette of  The Exposition Tower “Spire to the Sun” in the background.

The Car Went Blewey

Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts

The already mentioned Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts

Sunday March 12, 1939 “Jeanne, Sam, and I with Paul, Ruth Marc + Nancy to the Fair. Marc, Ruth, + Nancy left early but we stayed”


The Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts is one of the few surviving buildings from The Fair. This is a Historic American Buildings Survey photo done in 2003.

The building predated the fair itself, and was constructed in 1938 as an aircraft hangar for Pan American World Airways and their trans-Pacific Clipper services. It was later modified for the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition.

The building retains its George W. Kelham and William Peyton Day designed Art Deco Streamline Moderne features.

The interior was adapted for the exposition by adding curving temporary plaster walls to house a $20 million collection of artwork, designed by Dorothy Wright Liebes and Shepard Vogelsang. The space was extensively subdivided into small galleries.

07 Dorothy Liebes who illustrates the optimistic modernism of the American designer post WWII as Smart Object-1

Dorothy Wright Liebes worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright. She talks about her relationship with the Wrights in her papers.

“After The Fair we had dinner in Chinatown. Then the car went blewey. Stuck for a long time. Paul stayed over again.”

Monday March 13, 1939 “Didn’t get up until after 11 a.m. The car started OK. Later Jeanne and I rode through the Presidio. Shopped. Then home to clean up the mess. To bed early.”