The Women

From the ongoing series, Diary of Helen Hussey – Golden Gate International Exposition Years, 1939 – 1940.

Polytech Football Player

Photo is from Jeanne’s 10th Grade, Fall 1939 Year Book, The Polytechnic. “Athletes of Polytechnic.”

Tuesday, September 26, 1939. “Lovely day. Walked to the beach + back. Sam home early. Nite to the library.

Wednesday, September 27, 1939. “Perfect day – walked in the Park with Bijou. Met young man with a dog. Nite read and listened to the radio. Torry stopped in for a few minutes.

Thursday, September 28, 1939. “Lovely day. Walked to the beach and back. Quiet evening of radio. Wrote to Irene and Carola. Jeanne to the first football game of the season. Marc and Rosses over for gin.”

Packard 40_darrin_ad_1
The 1940 Packards began to appear in August of 1939

Friday September 29, 1939. “Hangover. Took Bijou to the park -Saw a Packard! Nite, Sam, Jeanne + I to dinner in Chinatown. Window shopped + Sam made a deposit on a bracelet for my birthday present. Got a card from Zella.”

San Francisco Day at GGIE 9_30_39 SFgatedotcom

The parade for San Francisco Day at Golden Gate International Exposition, September 30, 1939. Image source (Photo published 10/1/39).

Saturday, Sepetember 30, 1939. “To the Fair with Tony + Sam. Did a lot of trekking around. Met Jeanne at Brazil – saw the San Francisco Day parade. It poured at nite. Cabbed over to the car. Bought sherry. Home about 9.”

Sunday October 1, 1939. “Took Sam to Union meeting. Scott, Ricco and another man came back with him – drank martinis. Nite Rosses came over – more gin.”

Monday October 2, 1939 “Hangover. Nite to dinner at Salad Bowl. Cold nite. Saw airplane and lights from Presidio. Kathleen phoned.

Tuesday October 3, 1939 “Cold worse. Felt rotten. Cleaned the flat, and man came for the vacuum. Paid some bills and to the bank. To bed early.”

Paramount SF 1939Paramount SF
Paramount Theatre 1066 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Photo source

Wednesday October 4, 1939 “To town. Paid on the car. To the Paramount to see “The Women.” Missed first game of the World Series. Yanks 2 Cincy 1. Nite Tony + Phil over. Then Sam and I to the library. News – the Fair closes October 29 instead of December 2. Duke called Jeanne and made date for Saturday.

Screenshot 2014-05-19 08.40.24

Just a nondescript plug a building fills the void of where the beautiful Mission Revival Paramount Theatre once stood. The magnificent theatre held 2,656 seats.

The_Women Poster
1939 World Series Yankee Stadium

Thursday October 5, 1939. “Listened to the series. Yanks 4 – Cincy 0. Took cat to pet hospital for operation – $10. Check from Ruth. Nite – Marc to supper + then went to Kathleens’s. Had gingerbread and drinks. Stopped at Jacopetti’s for cafe diablo. Marc here all night – pouring rain!”

Colonel Andrews Diamond Palace

Colonel Andrews Diamond Palace at 50 Kearny Street – “Most beautiful jewelry store in the world”. 

Friday October 6, 1939 “Rather weary today. Nite-with Jeanne to meet Sam for dinner in Chinatown. Picked up bracelet + bought bamboo table mats. Home + bed early.”

Drove To Rockaway Beach

Nicks_Rockaway_Beach_sign as Smart Object-1

Friday September 22, 1939 “Hotter than ever. Jeanne and I drove to Rockaway Beach (Pacifica). At nite surprised by Cy and B. calling. Later Amy and S. Ross over for Tom Collins. Bed at 1:40.”

Vanessi'sDiamondMatchCover  Vanessis_logo as Smart Object-1Vanessi'sMatchCover

Saturday September 23, 1939 “Another hot day. Sam, Tony, and I to Vanessi’s late…”


“After went to the Fair – Coffee at Brazil…”

Stokowski_AOM_1939 as Smart Object-1

Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1939

“…And then to Stokowski’s concert. Marvelous! Home about midnite. B came in later and spent the nite.”

Gay Way Color

Sunday September 24, 1939. “Cool again. B., J., & I to the Fair. A lot of walking. Jeanne came home early. B.& I did the Gay Way.”


Monday September 25, 1939. ” Showers today. Took B. to the 11:50 bus. Registered at the Emporium. Then went shopping at Crystal Market. Picked Jeanne up after school. Picked Sam up at 6:30 or 7.”

The Emporium, 835 Market Street, operated from 1896 – 1995. The site became a reconstruction project with much of the original “bones and fabric” of the building demolished, save the facade and iconic dome.
emporiuminteriorrotunda620x504 as Smart Object-1

The Emporium Rotunda in 1905. The building was gutted by the 1906 Earthquake, but reopened 2 1/2 years later including the rebuilt dome.
Photo source

Emporium dome as Smart Object-1

The enormously delicate operation of saving the historic facade and dome during the modern day reconstruction.
Emporium Today
Emporium facade today. The cast-iron window system, sandstone walls, columns, historic wood windows and glazing were completely restored. The revived street level features extensive display windows, bronze doors and copper piping, all elements of its 1908 appearance, as well as charming concealed entries and windows. Balustrades removed in years past are again prominent at the building’s cornice and over the main entry of the fourth floor. At night, lighting highlights the facade’s remarkable architecture. The Market Street facade serves as a main entrance to the centre preserving the old world charm of historic Union Square and Market Street. Image source:

crystal_palace_market_1920s as Smart Object-1

The Crystal Palace Public Market on Market Street at 8th Street in the 1920s. – Photo Source: Jack Tillmany via
On August 1, 1959, the Crystal Palace Market closed its doors and was demolished to make room for an $8 million, 400-room Del Webb TowneHouse luxury motel.
Crystal Market site after 1959

“The complex was originally built in the 1960s as a motor hotel known as Del Webb’s Towne House. Webb may be better known for building a Japanese internment camp during WWII, and later The Flamingo Hotel & Casino for famed mobster Bugsy Siegel. Webb built the Towne House as part of a national chain. The motel was unsuccessful from the start, and later converted to apartments.” —
Trinity Ph 3 - View 1

Replaced by 1,900-unit Trinity Place apartment project. Looking hard to see just what part of this architecture says anything uniquely positive about San Francisco.

Heat Wave

Friday September 15, 1939. “Very hot today. To town in a.m. + bought gold belt. Nite: to Marc’s birthday party dinner at House That Jack Built. Had Manhattans + a swell dinner.”
2014 Grant Ave

“San Francisco in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City by the Bay” lists the House That Jack Built as a Costa Rican restaurant located at 2014 Grant Avenue. No indication of that historic time and place today here at the end of Grant Avenue.

King's Koffee KupKing's Koffee Kup Napkin

“Then to the Press Club – African Dancer. Stopt at Will King’s Koffee Kup. Home about 12.”
Kings Koffee Kup Rumpus RoomKoffeeKup1929Alexandria-
They made the space look a lot more spacious and dramatic than the boring treatment of the same view today.


Former Koffee Kup, now two store fronts. One selling comics. The other an ice cream parlor.

Towers Of The East And Temple Compound From Lakes of the Nations

Image courtesy of Bjorn Palenius

Saturday September 16, 1939. “Beastly hot! To the Fair with Tony – Saw Harry Owens Show…”

Harry Owens Voice Of The Trade Winds

Selection from Harry Owens and his Royal Canadians Voice of The Trade Winds.

Owens was the band leader who organized The Royal Hawaiians orchestra at the hotel of the same name in Waikiki in 1933.

But he was most renown as the composer of “Sweet Leilani,” a song he wrote for his daughter 0n the day she was born in 1934. It won an Academy Award for Owens when sung by Bing Crosby in the picture “Waikiki Wedding” in 1937. More than 20 million recordings of the song have been sold, with Crosby’s alone accounting for 5 million copies.


“Went to Brazil. Saw Mayor Bowron of Los Angeles…”

Los Angeles Mayor Bowron

From the Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1938.

Sally Rand+nude+ranch+girls as Smart Object-1

“Nite: To Sally Rand’s new show – home about 9:30.”

Lake Merced 2 Lake Merced1

Lake Merced 1939

Sunday September 17, 1939. “Sam to Union meeting. Tony, Jeanne and I to the beach for several hours. Another hot day. In the evening took sandwiches etc. + ate by Lake Merced. ”

Old Maid

Monday September 18, 1939. “Hotter today – Went downtown – got iron with coupons – book left at Penney’s. Bought ticket for the Fair. Met + talked to Vic, Carlos + Ted on Market Street. Nite: went to see Old Maid while Sam worked. Home about 11.”

Tuesday September 19, 1939. “Hot morning – cooler in the afternoon with showers but hot again later. Evening to Tony’s + got a grape jacket.”


Wednesday September 20, 1939 “Hotter than ever. Bought a lite dress. Went to the Fair about 1. Grand Hotel Day. Saw the Cavalcade and Jade Exhibit. Nite with Tony + San Diego man to Sally’s Nude Ranch. Still hot all nite.”

Thursday September 21, 1939 “Up early and to the park. Took Sam downtown. Went to Fort Winfield Scott – cool there. Scorching day. Hottest yet. School let out at 12:30…”

754 Clement Street See's

Today it is See’s at 754 Clement Street. In 1939 it was Ladenheim’s Women’s clothing, as many of the shops on Clement street were clothing stores for men and women.
“Jeanne and I to Clement Street and bought dresses. Nite, Tony over and rode to the beach. Walked along the shore-cool-but…”
4320 Fulton_Real

Front Room at 4320 Fulton

“at 10:10 still 81 degrees in the front room.”

Hope And Colonna On Stage


Bjorn Palenius

Friday September 8, 1939. “Walked in the park with Bijou. Received check and went shopping. Lyle called – party at his place. Tony over – Sam worked.”

Saturday September 9, 1939. “Sam didn’t get home until 6 a.m. Tony and I to the Fair – Swell day. Nite went to party after all. An orgy. I’m getting sick of these affairs. Home about 4 a.m.”

Sunday September 10, 1939. “Felt rotten – Tony over in the afternoon. Got up and took a ride. Bed about 10-”

Monday September 11, 1939 “Didn’t feel so good – a cold. Shopped and paid some bills. Jeanne also feeling bad – a cold. Wrote to Carola + card to Ruth.”

Tuesday September 12, 1939 “Felt slightly better today. Walked in the park. Went to the library and picked up Jeanne. Nice day. Went to Tony’s – gave 10 – on account.

Wednesday September 13, 1939 “Stormy morning – Thunder, lightning, heavy rain but lovely afternoon. Picked up Jeanne and cleaned the flat. Sam not home for regular dinner.”

Jerry_colonna_bob_hope_1940_nbc as Smart Object-1

Bob Hope with long time side kick Jerry Colonna in 1940. As noticed in The Capitol Times “Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna have signed for a personal appearance at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theater, come September 13.”

Thursday September 14, 1939 “Beautiful day. Went to the Golden Gate Theater – saw Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna. Good! Bought Jeanne an umbrella and charm bracelet. Package from Carola – nice black dress – white suit – sweater. Bathed Bijiou. Sam and I walked in the park.”

Jerry Colonna






Schleswig-Holstein bombing Westerplatte.

Thursday August 31, 1939. “Quiet lazy day. Nite: read + listened to the radio – war is more imminent every minute. Up late listening to the news, fighting between Nazis + Poles begun.”

In August of 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty. One week later, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. The first attack of the war took place on September 1, 1939, as German aircraft bombarded the Polish town of Wielun, killing nearly 1,200. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein (above photo) opened fire on a transit depot at Westerplatte in the Free City of Danzig.

bombing Poland

Friday September 1, 1939. “War on between Poland and Germany. Home and listening to the newscasts most of the day. Nite: Harry H. from Beverly + Amy phoned – I called Tony. Letter from B.K.”

Aerial view of bombs exploding during a German bombing run over Poland in September of 1939


Saturday September 2,1939 “To the Fair with Tony. Saw Jack Benny Show. ToBrazil + talked with the boys. Nite: Went to party at Ross’s. Stayed all night. Marc, Palmer and Sam in Uniform. Britain + France declare war on Germany.

Following the huge success of Benny Goodman performing at the Fair, a line up of more big name entertainers followed. Fair goers then saw Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingstone with the Phil Harris Orchestra on stage.


Sunday September 3,1939 “Breakfast at Louis. Sam and R. stopped the cable cars. Went to Doc’s Ranch in a caravan car. Back by train. Ross brought us home.”

world's fair 1939 post card

Monday September 4th, 1939. “Labor Day. Home all day reading and listening to the radio. Jeanne went to the Fair.”

Telenews Theatre

Tuesday September 5, 1939. “Went downtown – paid Sherer. Went to the new Telenews Theatre. Saw the war pictures – horrible. Bought a slip and necklace. Nite: walk in the park. Letter from Carola. Wrote to Carola, Irene, and B.”

Mikado the movie

The Mikado is a 1939 British musical film based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. Directed by Victor Schertzinger. With Kenny Baker, John Barclay, Martyn Green, Sydney Granville.

Wednesday September 6, 1939. “Up at 9:20. To picture matinee of Mikado. Nite to library after walk in the park. Bought sugar which is going up on account of war.

Thursday September 7, 1939. “Shopped on Clement Street. Walked in the park with Bijou. Nite to Tony’s, got a Jacket and skirt. 9 pm Marc, Palmer, and Frank G came over and we drove to Sausalito. Interesting saloon – Marc + Palmer stayed all nite.”

Swing Makado

swing makado

Wednesday August 23rd, 1939. “Jeanne and I to matinee of Swing Mikado. Grand show!! Nite: to the library with Sam. To bed early.”

More about Swing Mikado

Thursday August 24, 1939 “Jeanne and I to the matinee at the Coliseum…”

Coliseum Theater

JUAREZ+-+William+Dieterle+argentina as Smart Object-1

“Saw Juarez. Rotten! Nite: To Bessie’s birthday party at Izzie’s. Rather boring. Same gang there + Jack Allen of “Life” more pictures.”

Friday August 25, 1939 “Jeanne and I to matinee at the Golden Gate Theatre. Window shopped a bit, then home. Nite: short walk in the park.”

Saturday August 26, 1939. “Jeanne and I with Tony to the Fair. Saw the Eddy Duchins show – Rufe Davis – Larry Adler…”

eddy duchin

Eddy Duchin was exceptionally popular as a pianist and showman bandleader in the 1930’s and 1940’s. His style was rooted in classical music – some saw him as a forerunner of Libarace. He was one of the earliest pianists to lead a commercially successful large band. Here is a 1935 clip with the Eddy Duchin Orchestra playing How Do I Rate With You. It features the dancing of Johnny Downs and Betty Burgess.

Gauchos+of+El+Dorado_LC as Smart Object-1

Rufe Davis is the lavender clad cowboy on the left. He sang, played guitar, was a voice contortionist and impressionist. He was in over 30 movies and eventually played on television as conductor Floyd Smoot (Petticoat Junction). Gauchos Of El Dorado with The Three Mesquiteers perhaps inspired the 1986 John Landis film with Steve Martin, Martin Short & Chevy Chase called Three Amigos. Here is a clip showcasing the talents of Rufe Davis.

larry adler

The extraordinary Larry Adler

“…Went to the Yerba Buena Club…”

yeba buena club

“…To the Press and Island Clubs – Saw Guy Streets, an old paperboy from Santa Monica. Home about 9:10”

press building

From the fair guidebook it appears the Press Club was open only for members of the Press and related printing, publishing, and newspaper trades. Perhaps Helen, Jeanne, and Sam Hussey gained access through Hussey’s Printer’s Union card. Or as a writer Hussey may have had a Press Pass. The fair guide says the facility was not a public exhibit space.

August 23,1939 Stalin+German pact

Sunday August 27, 1939. “Very quiet day Sam and I took Bijou for a nice long walk in the park. Rest of the day read and listened to the radio – European news. Nite: Marc, Bessie, and Ross in for a minute.”

The European News on this date would have been all about Poland, which was increasingly at risk. The beleaguered country had mobilized the best it could. In the photo Soviet premier Josef Stalin (second from right), smiles while Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (seated), signs the non-aggression pact with German Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (third from right), in Moscow, on August 23, 1939. The man at left is Soviet Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov. The nonaggression pact included a secret protocol dividing eastern Europe into spheres of influence in the event of a conflict. The pact now guaranteed that Hitler’s troops would face no resistance from the Soviets if they invaded Poland, bringing the war one step closer to reality. (AP Photo/File)

Alvin Steinkopfbroadcasting from Danzig

Monday August 28,1939. “Hot day. Walked in the park with Bijou. Jeanne and I to Clement Street and shopped. Napped. Nite: Lots of news from Europe – no war yet. Letter from Irene.”

Above Photo: Alvin Steinkopf broadcasting from Danzig. (AP Photo).

Jeanne Polytech 1939

The 1939 Polytechnic L-10 class photo. “Class of June 1942.” Sounds like tenth grade.

Tuesday August 29, 1939. “Cleaned today – walked in the park. Jeanne started school today. Home at noon – read, listened to the news reports. To bed early.

Wednesday August 30, 1939. “Grand fall day. Walked to the beach. Nite: Jeanne and I to the show. Home a few minutes after 9:00. Sam at a Union Meeting – not home until after 12:00. Tony left two black blouses.”

Off To See The Wizard


Monday August 7, 1939. “Cleaned house. Sent money to Jeanne. Sammy Peabody, Rene phoned. To bed early.

Tuesday August 8, 1939 “Lunched downtown with Sammie, her friend Lorraine and Sammie’s daughter–shopped with them, and then I bought shoes, bag, + gloves. Dinner at Log Cabin. Walter I. out in the evening. To bed at 12.

Wednesday August 9, 1939. “Got check from bank. Returned papers to Hickson – sent money for Jeanne’s return. Nice walk in the park with Bijou. Nice dinner – to library tonight – home, read, and bed early.

Wednesday August 10, 1939 “Downtown with Zella – Bought hat, comb, sweater, costum jewelry which is to be delivered tomorrow – nite nice walk in the park. Later Tony + Phil over – Rene phoned.”


Friday August 11, 1939 “Met Sam and had dinner at the Green Lantern. Went the rounds – went to Xochmilca – Circus performer there.

Saturday August 12, 1939 “Met Sam in day – later met Marc. Dinner at Canary Den and the rounds again with a very hazy ending – lost my hat.”

Vanessi's lunch counter_tatteredandlost

Sunday August 13, 1939. “Met Jeanne at 8:25 a.m. Breakfast at Vanessi’s. Went to Scotts + downtown – later Nick + Indai over and we all had dinner with the Filipinos.”

Monday August 14, 1939 “A horrible day – spent in bed mostly.”

Tuesday August 15, 1939 “Slightly better today. Short walk in the park – to the bank. Drew some money and sent check to personal. Rene out at nite. Sam and I read. To bed by 10 p.m.”

Wednesday August 16, 1939 “Nice walk in the park. Zella phoned and I went over there. She leaves on the 7 p.m. train for Louisiana. Nite Sam and I walked in the park. ”


Thursday August 17, 1939. “Hot day! Downtown with Jeanne. Bought her some new clothes. Nite: spaghetti feed. To bed early.”

Friday August 18, 1939. “Cleaned house after a nice early walk in the park. Rene called – gets an audition Tuesday afternoon. To Clement Street, bank and shop. Nite: Marc out  with Ann. Bought  Sherry.”

Saturday August 19, 1939. “Picked Bessie up and then all over to Alameda for Palmer’s party – Grand party – Murphy took lots of pictures.”

Piedmont Fire House And City Hall

Sunday August 20, 1939. “All up and Palmer cleaned the house up. Then we all went to Lyle’s home in Piedmont and continued the party – Sam back to S.F. for a Union Meeting. Marc brought Jeanne and I home. No Sam.

Monday August 21, 1939. Sam, Eddie J. showed up this morning. Drunk. Left again and didn’t see them until evening when Jeanne and I picked Sam up at Tony’s saloon!!! Disgusting. Jeanne and I went to the show.

the_wizard_of_oz_movie_poster-2402 as Smart Object-1

Tuesday August 22, 1939. “Jeanne and I went downtown to see Wizard of Oz and shopped. Bought hat and bag. Nite picked up Sam and to Murphy’s studio – party gang there – drinks. On to the Green Lantern and to Louis Fashion for dinner…”

Louis Fashion Restaurant Directory Listing 1941

“Is Everybody Happy?”


Monday July 24, 1939. “Irene M. called and said she can’t take Jeanne so Jeanne and I to town and bought her a bus ticket. She leaves Wednesday. Saw Zella. Fog here, sun downtown.”

Tuesday July 25, 1939. “Had cable put in the car. Shopped on Clement Street. Jeanne packed. Tony and Phil over for a few minutes. Nite: Leo and Irene over – sherry – bed 1 a.m.”

Wednesday July 26, 1939. “Up at 4:45 – took Jeanne down to the bus station – Sam and I then to Fisherman’s Wharf and then home. Took Sam to work. Nite: Sam and I to the Grotto for a good dinner. Sam back to work. Marc by for a few minutes with 1/2 gallon of sherry. Picking up Sam at 11 PM.”

CliffHouse1939PostCardCliff House 1939 Postcard Back

Thursday July 27, 1939. “Telephoned Jeanne. She arrived OK. Took Bijou for a walk along the cliffs. Warm and foggy.”

Friday July 28, 1939 “Sam at Jacopetti’s. Picked Sam up later and then to Izzy’s with Eddie J. and girl. Met several people. Closed the place up.

BennyGoodmanSFExpo1939-d as Smart Object-1 BennyGoodmanSFExpo1939_Preview

Saturday July 29, 1939. “To the Fair with Tony. Saw Benny Goodman play, the rifle drill, Highland Village, and Drunkard. Sam to the plant at 11 p.m. had to work most of the night. Skimmy, Lyle, Marc to the Music Box and the Press Club. Met Reg, Denny + Tibbs”

Sunday July 30, 1939. “Got home about 6 a.m. Slept for a few hours. Marc here, Bessie picked him up. Went to the plant and loaned Mr. S. $20 and he put on a party. Eddie brought us home. Late.

Monday July 31, 1939. “Terrible hangover – bed most of the day – Tommy drove Sam to work in our car. Bed very early.”

Tuesday August 1, 1939. “Still a trifle shaky but did some work. Picked up Sam but delayed by Mr. S. He gave Sam $40. Walked in the park in the afternoon and evening.

Wednesday August 2, 1939. “Up early and walked in the park. With Sam down to the bank and sent money order. Picked up Zella, payed more bills and we drove to the beach and hiked along the cliffs. Rene called. Papers about the house came. Greek! Nite: to the library.


Thursday August 3, 1939: “To the bank about house papers and loan. To lunch with Tony. Bought two skirts and a jacket. Nite: dinner at Veneto’s. Then to Izzy’s and Sinaloa. Fog”

389 Bay Street

Today Veneto’s is gone. 389 Bay Street is under the bay windows on the right-but the restaurant actually occupied that and the corner, and the store front at 383. Catty-corner is another one of their hang outs, The Shack. That site, for sale, appears to be doomed. Overall from this view you see the uglinessation of San Francisco in progress, as it is almost everywhere else. Turning once charming Victorians/Edwardians with bay windows, and eclectic revival structures into generic looking vinyl windowed stucco boxes.


Veneto Today

The cookie cutter “anywhere you go” look, even in San Francisco.
Louis Fashion Restaurant Matchbook

Friday August 4, 1939. “Met Sam for drinks at Tony’s. Then to Louis, and Jacopetti’s. Then to Izzy’s for dinner. Then to Sinaloa, Jacopetti, and Louis for some time. It was a large evening. Sherry at home. Mr. H. and Mildred in for a time.”

Louis Fashion 526 Market Today

The view of Market Street today at 526.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Tedlewis as Smart Object-1

Ted Lewis (June 6, 1890 August 25, 1971), was an American entertainer, bandleader, singer, and musician. He led a band presenting a combination of jazz, hokey comedy, and schmaltzy sentimentality that was a hit with the American public. He was known by the moniker “Mr. Entertainment” or Ted “Is Everybody Happy?” Lewis.

A film clip showing Mr. Entertainment in action including his signature baton twirl at 4:21

Saturday August 5, 1939. “Took papers to the bank. In the afternoon to the Fair. Saw the Ted Lewis Show. Met Mary B. To the Press Club. Saw Palmer + Francis and later at the Island Club!! Home, Tommy was here. To Hunters Point then took him home.

Hunters Point 1940a

Originally Bay View/Hunter’s Point was an Italian and Maltese enclave southwest of Third Street. Hunters Point was for many years the site of a Chinese shrimp fishing community. There was an artists community there. Beginning the late 1930’s the Hunters Point Navy Base took over in the looming advance of World War II. Photo Source: Jack Tillmany/Arcadia Publishing.

Hunters Point

Hunter’s Point/Bay View. This street corner at 4900 Third Street was home to the Ronan Meat Market (left under the awning) and George Jones Insurance, floor above. Next door, to the right, Men’s and Boys Wear. Image Source: Betty Jones/Arcadian Publishing.

Sunday August 6, 1939. “Nice ride with Tony to Hunters Point. Stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf – bought crabs, shrimp, beer. Home and feed. Nite: Zella and Harry over for awhile. ”

4900 Third Today

That corner building in particular has visually suffered significantly from someone’s “improvements.” Note the horrible windows and doors. What is good for the big box “improvement” centers often isn’t so good buildings that were originally well designed, very attractive, and a source of community pride. Let’s just turn this nice building into an everyday anywhere piece of junk. Progress!

Sam Met Hecht and MacArthur

pennsylvania-under-golden-gate as Smart Object-1 Uss Indianapolis2

Monday July 17,1939. “Up early and cleaned the flat. Had the car greased. From den window saw the fleet depart. Water canon salute. Irene M. over in the afternoon. Picked up Sam at 9:30. Took Leaches home. One rum coke.”

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park 1939. Photo from Jeanne’s album.

Tuesday July 18, 1939. “Made appointment for Jeanne’s perm tomorrow. To the bank, cashed check. Walked in the park with Bijou. Later Jeanne and I to the park with Bijou and the kitten. Nite: Tony over with the Mortons who are leaving in the morning.


Wednesday July 19, 1939 “I window shopped while Jeanne got her perm. Bought two pairs of gloves. Went to Chinatown – Pagoda – for a drink, and then El Prado. Picked up Sam and then dinner in Chinatown. Clar’s marriage split!”

JohnWayneStageCoachsan-francisco-jeanette-macdonald-clark-gable-1936 as Smart Object-1

Thursday July 20, 1939. “Nice walk in the park. P.M. Jeanne and I walked to the library and then to a show. Stagecoach and San Francisco. Check from Ruth came. Nite: Tony and Phil over for a short time. Rene here. It was HOT today.”

SaturdayEveningPost July1939Image Source Christian Montone

Friday July 21, 1939. “Jeanne and I downtown. Bought her two bathing suits and a sweat shirt. Back to Clement Street and shopped. Nite: picked Sam up. Turkey + Cafe Diablo. Jacopetti’s. Jeanne and Rene to the show. HOT day!”

ben-hecht-06 as Smart Object-1 CharlesMacArthur

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Prolific writers individually, but also collaborated on several renown projects including the play Ladies and Gentlemen which was performing in San Francisco at this time. The film version was Perfect Strangers. They also wrote Twentieth Century, and a constant Hollywood favorite, The Front Page. Hecht was particularly busy in 1939 which saw completed screenplays for Some Like It Hot, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, and Wuthering Heights.

Saturday July 22, 1939. “Took Bijou for a walk in the park. Foggy and delightful. Shopped at Clement Street and sent money orders. Jeanne and I to Geary Street, then a lazy afternoon. Sam was invited to the Press Club and met Hecht and MacArthur. Picked him up at 8 PM. Tom Collins at Jacopetti’s and then home.”

Land's End

Fort Miley & Lands End, January 1939. Golden Gate Park, upper right. Photo source John Martini.

Sunday July 23, 1939 “Took Sam to plant for a while then we walked to Lands End. Home, read and lazed most of the day.”



Ladies and Gentlemen

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


Monday July 10, 1939 “Cleaned up some of the party mess. Nite: Jeanne and I to the premiere of Helen Hayes in Ladies and Gentlemen. Very good. Home about midnight.”

Tuesday July 11, 1939 “Quiet day. Nite: Marc and Olie over for short time.”

BetteDavisDarkVivtory Dark+Victory+3 as Smart Object-1

Wednesday July 12, 1939 “Jeanne and I to the matinee. Betty Davis, Dark Victory. Nite: Sam and I to the library and to Tony’s to see Mortons who called this a.m.”


USS Enterprise entering San Francisco Bay on July 3, 1939. Official U.S. Navy Photo

July 13, 1939. “Jeanne and I picked up Mildred and we went to the airplane carrier Enterprise. Nice long boat ride. Back through the Presidio – beach for a hot dog. Nite: Picked up Sam and took Tommy home.”


July 14, 1939 “Grand day. Jeanne and I hiked along the coast – cliffs – tunnel – wrecks. Grand!! Picked up Sam. Had turkey at Jacopetti’s.”

Lonely Planet Guide to San Francisco writes San Francisco is partially built on the wrecked and scuttled remains of old ships. Most of  the Guide’s walk through the streets near the Embarcadero is over reclaimed land, some of it layered over the scores of sailing ships scuttled in the bay to provide landfill.

A good part of coastal San Francisco is not built on solid ground, but on the forgotten residue of buried ships.  The basements of some 19th-century San Francisco homes weren’t basements at all… they were the hulls of lost ships. “As late as Jan 1857, old hulks still obstructed the harbor while others had been overtaken by the bayward march of the city front and formed basements or cellars to tenements built on their decks. Even now [1888] remains of the vessels are found under the filled foundations of houses.”

In other words, when you walked downstairs to grab a jar of preserved fruit – you stepped into the remains of an old ship.

Those ships are still down there and they’re still being discovered.

In the late 1960s, as San Francisco was building its BART subway system, discoveries of ships and ship fragments occurred regularly. Over the following decades, ships and pieces of ships appeared during several major construction projects along the shore. As recently as 1994, construction workers digging a tunnel found a 200-foot-long (61-meter) ship 35 feet (11 meters) underground. Rather than attempt to remove the ship which would have been both costly and dangerous they simply tunneled right through it. When buried ships are found, they are sometimes looted for bottles, coins, and other valuable antiques frequently found inside. Among the prizes found in the ships have been intact, sealed bottles of champagne and whiskey, nautical equipment, and a variety of personal effects from the passengers and crews.

Under San Francisco an entire armada of lost fishing ships, now rotting in the mud, nameless and undiscovered, shivering with every earthquake. Original content:


Saturday July 15, 1939. “Jeanne and I downtown. Window shopped. Nite: Rene over – Sam worked. Had to pick him up late. Bessie over with candy. Took Tommy + headaches home – We arrived home at 4:30 AM.”

Statue Of Creation

Bjorn Palenius

Sunday July 16, 1939. “Up early to take Sam to the plant. Saw part of the parade. Bought 17 bottles of beer. Home + napped – up – ate – bed 10:30. Jeanne to the Fair.”