Tag: San Francisco Bay Area

Hanging Out in “Beserkley”

Hanging Out in “Beserkley”

“California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.”

That lyric from the Mama and Papas’ hit song, California Dreamin, could have been playing on the radio in my 1960 Alfa Romeo as I drove south from Seattle, through Oregon, and on to San Francisco at the end of 1967. Having completed Air Force “boot camp” in Texas a few weeks earlier, I was on my way to Monterey, California to study Chinese Mandarin at the Defense Language Institute situated on a hill above that city’s famed Cannery Row.

After the Christmas holidays I had time to kill before reporting for duty at DLI, so I decided to spend a few days in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Long hours behind the wheel and the setting sun forced me to call it a day and pull off the highway 30 miles short of San Francisco.

The next day I made it into San Francisco, where I bunked in a budget motel on Lombard Street, dined in a “coffee house” on Union Street that was far “cooler” than the “coffee shops” like Denny’s that I had frequented back in Seattle. And at a theater just across the street, I saw The Graduate, the movie that launched Dustin Hoffman’s cinematic stardom.

On the other side of the Bay, I did an uneventful “drive-through” of Berkeley. I had no idea of what I’d experience there just a few months later.

(Eric Fischer Flickr Photo)
(Eric Fischer Flickr Photo)

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Ruth’s Secret Garden

Ruth’s Secret Garden

Motorist speed up and down busy Bancroft Road, unwittingly bypassing one of Walnut Creek, California’s hidden secrets: The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

The idea for the garden might have been germinating in Ruth Bancroft’s mind back in 1971 when I briefly lived just up the road in the city of Concord. But by the time she started planting it the following year, I had moved more than a dozen miles west, over the Berkeley Hills to Oakland. And three years after that I relocated to Marin County, an hour’s drive from Walnut Creek.

It would take me over forty years to find my way to Ruth’s garden, which she still has a hand in tending in the 105th year of her life.

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