Saw The Incubator Babies

Sally Rand's Troubles Begin

The Sally Rand Nude Ranch was the talk of the town in San Francisco at this time

El Portal Menu

Image source: John Freeman

Monday February 20, 1939 “To town in the A.M. Had the car greased, etc. Nite: to El Portal, nice dinner. Saw Tony at her apartment. Home + Sherry. Letter from Irene. Lovely day.”


Tuesday February 21, 1939. “To Tony’s at her shop with Phil + got 3 piece suit. Then to the mechanic to pick up car. Drinks with Phil. Nite: picked Sam up. Dinner in Chinatown + wandered around. Grand evening-balmy-”

Incubator Babies

“The incubator babies exhibit was a premium attraction, meaning an additional quarter collected at the door on top of the fair admission. The spin was that the purpose of the display and admission fee was for scientific public education purposes and fundraising for the nurses, but in reality it was a common side show attraction at fairs back in the day.” –Shawn Clover

Wednesday February 22, 1939 “With Jeanne + Phil to the Fair. Met Tony at  nite. Saw incubator babies + lots of exhibits. Home at 9:30. No Sam! Called K.C., Sam out with Marc.”

Thursday February 23, 1939 “Jeanne and I to town. Bought hose  + hat. Back home, picked up at the house. Phil over. Sam home late + drunk! So discouraging-”


My first search for a San Francisco Trocadero turned up the Trocadero Inn. However apparently it may have been closed by 1939. A more likely site, located downtown (fitting with what the diary says), is listed in the city directory. A Trocadero French restaurant at 609 Montgomery Street, which today the site of a tall building across the street from the TransAmerica building.

Friday February 24, 1939 “Lovely day. Walked. Met Jeanne and we went downtown + met Sam. Saw big fire at Sutter + Kearny. Dined at Trocadero. Good. Home + Sherry.”
609 Montgomery Street

The Google View of 609 Montgomery Street today

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.

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