Diary of Helen Hussey

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





Diary of Helen Hussey


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.”

Diary of Helen Hussey

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.”

Diary of Helen Hussey

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

Diary of Helen Hussey

“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!

Diary of Helen Hussey

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.”




Martin – Frazenbach


Jeanne’s grandparents on her father’s side. Otto Rudolph Martin from Saxony (Germany) and Agnes Franzenbach also from Germany. They were married on June 18th 1891 in Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.A.

Agnes Martin

Agnes Franzenbach was born on April 4, 1865 in Cöln, Germany. She came to the U.S. through New York on October 25,1889 with her first husband John Michels aboard the Belgenland. On the back of the photo she wrote: “This was taken, made in Pendleton Oregon. I don’t remember when. Long time ago.”

Val 205

Otto Rudolph Martin, he went by Rudolph, was born in Oederan – Kingdom of Saxony (now part of Germany) – on July 19, 1853. He demonstrated, though various documents he ever faced filling out, that he claimed Saxony as his origin, not Germany. Rudolph immigrated to the U.S. in 1881, coming through Baltimore aboard the ship Hohenzollern on August 4th, 1881.

The caption for the above photo reads “Dad Martin his delivery wagon. The building being built is Dad’s State Hotel” Further research needs to be done to know the exact location of  the State Hotel. Businesses in the background include one W.G. Hansford & Company – Stoves. Also a banner reading The Fair. Under it US Boys Club. I can also make out “Hair, Shoes, Trunks.”

Census records through the decades indicate Rudolph’s Bakery and Grocery occupation or business in  both Pendleton and Portland, Oregon. The 1900 Census lists Railroad Street. 1910 Census showing Mississippi Avenue in Portland. But through the years, according to Bette’s memoirs, Rudolph owned many properties and could be possibly described as a compulsive Lessor (landlord).

Agnes "Mama"190

Agnes Franzenbach Martin, 1895, Pendleton, Oregon. The 1900 Census lists her as a Saleswoman in Pendleton. “Chew Horse Shoe Plug Tobacco.” Shall we assume this was a product in her sales portfolio?

William Franzenback

Agnes had a brother, William Frazenbach. His history however is tragic. On the back of this portrait Agnes wrote: “I am Agnes Martin. This is my brother William Frazenbach. Somebody killed him in Medford for his money. He was a fine man.”

Val 207

A note on the back, perhaps written by Carola, reads “The Pendleton House where all of us were born”

Carola, Frances, Otto

Carola, Frances, Otto (Val).

Val 210

Otto (Val).




Martin family, 1907 at their home on Kerby and Graham Avenue, Portland Oregon. A caption reads “We are all here. Otto (upper left), Frances (lower left), Dad and Lewis (lower steps), Mama (upper steps), and Carola (upper right). The house no longer stands. A concrete parking structure is there now as part of a hospital complex.

Dad and LewisMomFrancesVal_Carola

Rudolph Martin and Lewis “Bob”  Agnes “Mama,” “Mutti”    Frances                            Otto (Val),  Jeanne’s Dad                               Carola


Yet another Martin Frazenbach property. On the back it reads “The house Dad built in Oak Grove about 1907 or 1908 possibly a little later.”

Bette recalls in her memoirs her grandparent’s home life “Mutti (Agnes Martin) and Dad (Rudolph Martin) were from Germany and spoke a lot of German, or English, with an accent, and I grew up hearing it. I recognized a lot of German words, but I didn’t really speak a lot of it. I picked up more of the accent and ways of pronouncing certain words that I relearned quickly when I started school.”


Relentless home buyer and Landlord Rudolph Martin, early 1920’s.

It was reported by Agnes Martin that Otto Rudolph Martin, born in the Republic of Saxony on July 15, 1853, son of Wilhelm Martin  and Mollie Spindle, passed away on May 3, 1939 in Long Beach, WA. He is buried in Portland Cemetery. Agnes passed away in 1952, and is also buried in Portland Cemetery.

Frances Martin_Cousin Bette1

Jeanne’s aunt Frances and Cousin Betty (Bette).  Bette explained in her memoirs She was “Betty” until she was 15 years old. “One day I got a letter… addressed to BETTE BAKER. I was enchanted! Bette Davis was the leading actress in the movies in those days, so I thought it sounded so glamorous. From that day on, I was BETTE.”

Betty Jane2 Betty Jane1

Bette remembers, “My very earliest memories are going to Mutti and Dad’s beach house in Long Beach, Washington for three months every summer.

“I went every summer until I got married in 1940. The old house was several blocks from the beach, but I remember walking down there with Mutti and Dad to pick up driftwood to burn in the wood stove. Dad would tie it up and drag it along behind him back to the house.”

More of Bette’s Story

Also visit Family of Otto Rudolph Martin and Agnes Frazenback



Diary of Helen Hussey

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: http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/ground-conditions.html


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.”

Diary of Helen Hussey

Jeanne Martin “Pictures Of My Vacation In Washington (Long…

World's Longest Beach

Jeanne’s grandparents (Otto Rudolph Martin and Agnes Franzenbach) on her father’s side (Val Martin) had a beach house in Long Beach, Washington. Jeanne’s “Big Cousin Bette (daughter of Val’s sister, Frances) spent most of her childhood summers at that beach house. Not sure how often Jeanne went to visit, but the summer of 38 is the only one I’ve found documented so far, at least to this extent.

Notes from the diary of Helen Hussey. Photos from Jeanne’s scrapbook.

Monday July 18, 1939. “Check came by Special Delivery for Jeanne to go to Portland, Oregon.”
Tuesday July 19, 1938 “To the bank and cashed Jeanne’s check. Bought her ticket. She got her permanent – end curl – pageboy.”
Wednesday July 20, 1938 “Got a Special Delivery Air Mail from Tony. She and Junior will see Jeanne in San Francisco.”
Thursday July 21, 1938 “Jeanne left today at 3:23. Hated to see her go. Special Delivery Airmail from Carola begging me to go. Wish I could.”
Friday July 22, 1938 “Tony phoned from San Francisco to tell me Jeanne stopped over until tonight.”

1 Long Beach Trip_

Sunday July 24, 1938 “Jeanne arrived safely in Portland, Oregon.”
Monday July 25, 1938. “Got two cards from Jeanne.”
Tuesday July 27, 1938 “Card from Jeanne.”
Wednesday July 28, 1938 “Letter from Jeanne. Weather doesn’t sound too pleasant up there.”

Big Cousin BetteMe at the side of Mom's cabin

Jeanne with her “end curl “ pageboy” haircut. “Mom” was Jeanne’s grandmother, also known as “Mutti.” Grandfather was known as “Dad.”

Stanly Redfern

“Stanly Redfern”

Goody Shop or Hang OutGoody Shop or Hang Out Surf Freeze Ice CreamSome of the gang"Dep"redoux

Meryville Deputy 

GettingThe Town Car Started

“Getting the Town Car started.”


“Stan the ladies man and the Town Car.”

Monday August 1, 1938 “Got two letters from Jeanne Today.”
Tuesday August 2, 1938 “Jerry over in the morning asking about Jeanne. Letter from Jeanne.”

“Friday August 5, 1938 “Letter from Carola. Jeanne staying longer.”
Sunday August 8, 1838 “Two letters from Jeanne.”

2 Long Beach Trip3

North Head Lighthouse



Bette and RuthLillianAndDorothyLBHotel

“Mary and Dorothy in front of the Long Beach Motel”

Long_Beach_Hotel_Long_Beach_WA_April_1953 as Smart Object-1Long Beach Post Card_1Bette and Lillian

Monday August 11, 1938 “Irene and I took a bus to Santa Monica and saw Rudolph Valentino in Son Of The Sheik. Jeanne very prominent in 2 scenes.” After Val and Helen Martin moved from Santa Rosa and Northern California to Southern California, they landed jobs in Hollywood in the film industry. (Jeanne was born September 22, 1923 in Long Beach, California). The 1928 phone directory lists Val as “director, actor.” Apparently however his livelihood was mostly related to set dressing and perhaps Extra work. Born Rudolph Otto Martin, his childhood name was Otto. As an adult he went by Val, according to Helen, because he liked and emulated Rudolph Valentino. Helen worked in Make Up. Helen and Jeanne were extras in Rudolph Valentino’s Son of the Sheik. As Helen noted, Jeanne caught a couple of prominent camera angles in that film.

“Big Cousin Bette” was Val’s niece, and daughter of Frances Martin who was sister of Val Martin, Carola Martin, and Bob Martin. Val Martin died in tragic circumstances in 1936 which this blog will cover in more detail later on. So this trip to Long Beach was still very much in the wake of what was the most tragic event in Jeanne’s young life.

Friday August 12, 1938 “Received two letters from Jeanne.”
Monday August 15, 1938 “Letter from Jeanne.”
Wednesday August 17, 1938 “Letter from Jeanne, staying two more weeks.”

“Letter(s) from Jeanne” Friday the 19, and Wednesday the 24, 1938.

3 Long Beach Washington Trip Last PageDriftwood Inn Long Beach WashingtonBob Martin

“Uncle Bob” Robert Lewis Martin, brother of Val, Carola, and Frances.


Lanes Redwood Flat “The Beauty Spot” on the Redwood HIghway, California, Route U.S. 101, Piercy, Mendocino County, CA.

Bob Martin 2

Lane'sRedwood Flat_140

Monday August 29, 1938 “Jeanne home at 2 PM. Surprised us – I didn’t expect her until the end of the week. She looks very tired and had been sick on the bus.”

Mom and “Big Cousin Bette” remained in contact over the years. Bette moved with her husband, Robert Clarno, and their four children to San Diego in 1952. I remember going with Mom to visit Bette’s home. My recollection was of a very nice two story house in the vicinity of the Mount Soledad and Torrey Pines road region of La Jolla. I recall lots of kid’s activity options at that house.

Diary of Helen Hussey

Saw James Roosevelt There

NightSceneBjorn Palenius

Saturday July 1, 1939. “Out early and paid the bills. Jeanne and I went to Fort Winfield Scott to see the fleet come in. It was an impressive sight. Nite: To the Plant. Then to Marc’s. Home and Sherry.”

Salici's PuppetsSalici's Puppets2

Sunday July 2, 1939. “Frances, her sons, and Marc here. Drove to the Fair at nite. Saw the puppet show, backstage, etc…” News, Theodore Roosevelt’s head is dedicated at Mount Rushmore.

James_Roosevelt-crop as Smart Object-1 James Roosevelt II (December 23, 1907 August 13, 1991) was the oldest son of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was a United States Congressman, an officer in the United States Marine Corps, an aide to his father, the official Secretary to the President, a Democratic Party activist, and a businessman with varied interests.

Monday July 3, 1939. “Marc, Frances, Sam and I to Vanessi’s. Grand dinner – James Roosevelt was there. Then to Jacopetti’s. Met Harry Dixson. Then to Izzy’s. The town is full of sailors – grand time.”


Tuesday July 4, 1939. ” Quiet 4th. Home all day – sherry – lunch for the crowd. Ralph and Scotty called in the afternoon. Nite: all to Fisherman’s Wharf for spaghetti feed. Swell ride around the waterfront and to the Presidio.” News, Lou Gehrig gives his “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth” farewell speech.”

Tobacco-Road_souvenir_1935_front-cover as Smart Object-1

Wednesday July 5, 1939. “Jeanne and I with Zella to the matinee of Tobacco Road. Frances and kids left late afternoon. They left a dozen wine glasses for me. Tony dropped in. To bed early.”

Thursday July 6, 1939. “Lovely day – Took Bijou and walked to the beach and back. Then Jeanne and I walked to the library and back. Nite: Gina and John Waldron here. Sherry and Seagrams. Quite a nite. Sam to bed at 2:30. The rest of us at daylight.”


Friday July 7, 1939. “Took Gina and John to look at houses…”


“…Nite: Sam and I shopped for party tomorrow night. Lots of grub, 4 quarts of gin, 1/2 gallon of sherry, 1 dozen mixers.”

Saturday July 8, 1939. “Jeanne and I cleaned house and prepared for the party. The Rosses, Marc and Bessie, Palmer, Gina and John, Rene, and later Francisco was here. Edith, Shelton, quite a party. Broke up at 4 AM. Bessie and Marc here all night. Kitten finally came out.”

Marc Messinger

Sunday July 9, 1939 “Up at 8 AM because of Marc. Tony stopped in. Beer Breakfast. Marc and Bessie to golf links. Marc back in the evening and stayed all night. Jeanne went to the Fair.” An old map is required to see where this was located. The numbers along Sutter today are different–no 7244, or even close to it.