#477 - Lloyd Khan
Nicole: [00:00:00] It’s Outside Lands San Francisco, Podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project. I'm Nicole Meldahl. All right, welcome back dear listeners. This episode is another one of our interview podcasts. And I have with me, Lloyd Kahn, a San Franciscan with West Portal roots whose life has been anything but ordinary. So welcome to the podcast, Lloyd.
Lloyd: Thank you.
Nicole: So, I perhaps should explain how we found you. I was introduced to you after you wrote a blog post on your website, that's lloydkahn.com. L-l-o-y-d-k-h-a-n.com.
Nicole: K-a-h-n. Oh my gosh. I misspelled it in my notes. I'm so sorry. Lloyd. Yeah. Okay, so you posted a, a, a blog post in August titled Growing Up in [00:01:00] San Francisco, and Woody LaBounty sent it to us. And it has incredible recollections and family photos. So, I'm so glad that we get to learn more about you today on this podcast. Thank you for joining us.
Lloyd: Sure. You're welcome.
Nicole: So maybe it's a good way to start at the beginning. Right. Let, let's talk about your family, your grandparents and, and, and your parents a little bit.
Lloyd: Oh, my mom's family came to this country in the 1700s and they actually, my mom actually is a Daughter of the American Revolution, although she never participated in the group's activities. But they, they fought in the civil war and in the War of Independence before that. And, they were in the middle of the country. And, my dad's family, the first member of my dad's family came here in the year 1848, which was the [00:02:00] year of the six-day revolution in Germany. And, they had participated in the revolution, which failed. And they, they got on a boat and came to New York and, and came across the country in an oxcart. And got to San Francisco the year before the gold rush. And my more immediate family, my grandfather came here, I guess around the turn of the century. And so, I'm a second, my dad was born in Alameda. And I'm a 2nd generation Californian. And I, I've met people that are sixth generation Californians. That's pretty impressive. But, so that's kind of in a, in a nutshell, the background. My, my, my grandfather had a bait and tackle shop in San Francisco that was down opposite the Ghirardelli square.
Nicole: Oh my gosh.
Lloyd: And he, he [00:03:00] also imported hexagonal bamboo fishing rods from China and tied the, the eyes on them with silk thread. And that’s sort of a family tradition that I learned from my dad. And then it later became Muni Bait, which a lot of people will remember. It was there for quite a while.
Nicole: And why, what are your fondest memories of fishing with your family? Because it seems like you're pretty rooted to the sea and to, and to fishing here in San Francisco.
Lloyd: More to surfing than fishing, but well, my brother and I used to go, we would, we lived, we weren't, we were close to the West Portal district, but we were on the 100 block of Ulloa Street, which is on the corner of Laguna Honda. So, if you go up Market Street, you know, you go past Castro and eventually you get onto Portola Drive. And then when you start going down towards St. Francis Woods, Laguna [00:04:00] Honda is an intersection. And so, if you turned right on Laguna Honda, Ulloa Street is the first block. It's across from St. Brendan's Church and school and, and convent. And, and we, so we could walk about a mile and a half down Laguna Honda to the tunnel, where the street cars went. The street cars went from West Portal to Castro and then down to the foot of Market Street. So, there was a stop, there was one stop in the tunnel. We could walk down there and get on the street car. So, my brother and I would take a crab net and walk, get, get on the street car, go through the tunnel, pass Castro to Van Ness and catch a bus down to Muni Pier. And then we would catch crabs and we would use the innards of the crabs for bake. And we'd catch fish and we'd go home and my mom would make us a fish dinner.
So that's [00:05:00] one, you know, memory I have of fishing. Also fishing with my dad and the, in the Sierras. My dad was a, I'm, I'm not, I'm the worst fisherman in my family. Every, everybody, and I, I just don't have much patience for it. But my, one of my brothers was a commercial fisherman. Another brother’s had a, a Monterey schooner for, you know, 50 years. And my dad and his friends were very serious fishermen. And, they actually built a couple of cabins in the Sierras. In those years, you could, you, if you paid a small fee, the government would, I dunno if it was the forestry service, I think it was, would let you build a cabin on their land. And so, they built a cabin at a place called Weaver Lake, which was very remote, very hard to get to. And so, we would go up there and there were a lot of fish in the lake. And nobody ever, we never [00:06:00] ever saw anybody around there when we were there. And so, you know, and I live in Bolinas now, so I do some fishing and get clams and mussels and, but I do, you know, I've thought of, well, for one thing, like right now, homes are so expensive around here.
Nicole: You think.
Lloyd: Oh, I could get millions of dollars for my home, but where am I gonna live? And I'm not gonna be able to live on the Pacific Ocean. So, we're gonna stay right here.
Nicole: Yeah. I mean Bolinas is its own version of Paradise, in my opinion. So, why would you?
Lloyd: Well, it wasn't always, It was, you know, when I was in high school, it was sort of a, you know, nobody, especially on the Mesa, where I live, it was, Bolinas was subdivided into 20 by 100 foot lots in the 1920s. We sold the lots for $69 apiece with a subscription to the Call newspaper. That was before it was called the Call-Bulletin.
Lloyd: And so, [00:07:00] they, you know, so, and then what happened in the ‘60s, some artists came out here and then the poets came and then, you know, it was one of the later areas to be discovered. Like a Brisbane and El Cerrito and, you know, Sausalito, Mill Valley, they all succumbed to, you know, over population early on in the ‘60s.
Lloyd: But, you know, an interesting thing to me is that California had, in the ‘50s when I was like in college,13 million people. And right now, there's 39 million people. So that's a tripling of the population. And I, I get together with my Lowell friends, we meet for lunch a couple of times a year, and I was saying that to one of them and he said, well, you know, when we were born, there were 5 million people in Cal. So, we grew up, there were, there were very few people in California when we were growing up. And in San Francisco. I, I thought [00:08:00] the whole world was like San Francisco. I didn't know how incredible it was.
Lloyd: We lived on the ocean. It was, you know, we had all these wonderful things we did in the city and, you know, but, but, you know, so that's, that's a, a, a population increase by eightfold in my lifetime in California.
Nicole: So, let's talk about you growing up. So, your parents, they were married in 1934, but they didn't initially live in, in just shy of West Portal. How did your family get to West Portal?
Lloyd: Well, we lived until I was about two, we lived out near the Palace of Fine Arts in an apartment. And my dad had been in the auto repair business. And hadn't done very well. He was actually from a working-class family, and, but he, he, he, he ended up going into the insurance business and he started doing well, and so they bought this [00:09:00] house on Ulloa Street for, it was either $8,000 or $13,000.
Nicole: Oh gosh.
Lloyd: And, and that's where I grew up. It was a street that ran downhill. There were 26 kids on the block. We were outside playing all, all day until our mom would call us for dinner at night. No parental supervision, no little league, you know, no soccer moms. We played football, baseball. When they built the school, we played basketball. We played kick the can and we made skateboards and rode down the street. We rode flexi racers, which some people my age will remember, which were, it was kind of like a wagon that you lay on and it had handle bars that you steered with. And we rode bikes and we, we, and we roller skated a lot. And we, we went all over the city.
And, one of the things that we did that I tell people about is, we, our cousins the Bertollis, lived in Berkeley and we [00:10:00] would go over there and stay there on the weekends. And so how we got there was, my brother Bob and I would walk down to the streetcar stop at the tunnel, get on the street car, go to the foot of Market Street, walk a couple of blocks to the Key system trains, which went across the Bay Bridge. The bottom deck of the Bay Bridge was, was trains and electric trains. It was rapid transit in the ‘40s. And, and we would ride through Oakland, through Berkeley to Solano Avenue, which there was a little, there was a tunnel there. You went through this short tunnel and end of the line was Solano Avenue. And then we would walk two blocks to the Bertollis. And then at the end of the weekend we'd come back and, you know, no parental supervision. And that was just one of the wonderful things about, you know, growing up in the [00:11:00] city.
And it's funny because when I started, I started doing this book, because what I saw going on in the ‘60s, I, I have about 50 books on the ‘60s and I don't really agree with any of their take on the ‘60s. And so, I know I'm gonna write a book cause I grew up in San Francisco. I went to high school. Lowell was on the edge of the Haight-Ashbury district, and, and I dropped out of being an insurance broker in 1965 after smoking pot and listening to rock and roll. And, and I kind of, I was more interested in what was going on with the counterculture, which was the baby boom, that I was in, my own friends, you know, my own generation. And so, I kind of had a unique look on what happened in the ‘60s because I, I came from the old world, but I was looking at this new world and so I, I decided to write a book on it and then [00:12:00] I thought, well, maybe I should tell people some of my background. And so, I started in, I went my family and then I growing up in San Francisco. And so, what happened was really fun because it was unlocking memories.
Lloyd: And you'll find that anybody who was probably 70 years or older, they're gonna remember Playland at the Beach. And everybody's gonna remember Laughing Sal, which was a robotic eight-foot woman that was, that cackled and had freckles and laughed and kind of, was kind of scary. But everybody remembers exactly what was in the Funhouse, you know, the slides, the distorted mirrors, the wheel that you got on that spun you off, the barrel you walked through. I mean, you, they'd never do that nowadays because lawyers wouldn't let them. But, you know, and the, the Hot House, which was a, a Mexican restaurant out at the beach, which actually when you went in, they always served sourdough French bread, for some reason, and butter.
Nicole: [00:13:00] That's my favorite part.
Lloyd: And when the Pie Shop, there was a pie shop out there, and the rollercoaster and, you know, and so all of us kids, you know, everybody in San Francisco remembers the Funhouse. And also, for us that are over 80, we, we remember Sutro Baths, which was a palace that had about seven or eight pools. They were different. Some of the pools were warm, some of them were for diving. And of course, you can see the remains of it now. And of course, it burned down. And, but we did, we did, we, we, we did go there when we were, and I'm not sure when it, it, it burned down twice actually. But it's gone now. Uh, now what is,
Nicole: What i specifically do you remember from the Baths? Cause there was a big museum there and all kinds of things.
Lloyd: Yeah, well there was, it first burned down and they closed the, oh, they, they made it into an ice skating. And, and they had a museum. They had [00:14:00] an Egyptian museum, weird things. They had an Egyptian mummy and they had a steam motorcycle, I think that set the world's record. And even now I'm just sort of probing my faulty memory for, you know, and we, we went there, I remember it was still there when I was in high school. There was also a, a, a, an ice skating rink out on the Avenues about, I think it was on 47th Avenue. It was kind of like right in the, you know, the area that's all houses.
Nicole: Yeah. It was on Lawton street.
Nicole: It was on Lawton Street. It was called the San Francisco Ice Rink.
Nicole: Lawton in like 45th, 46th, something like that, yeah.
Lloyd: Oh, okay. Lawton and 40.
Nicole: Yeah. Yeah.
Lloyd: Well, you're pretty young to know all that stuff. Well, you just studied it, right?
Nicole: Yeah. I just researched for work.
Lloyd: Yeah. And then Fleishhackers was this incredible pool. I think it was the largest pool in the world. It was, I [00:15:00] believe it was saltwater, and we had swimming meets there. And it was so big that the lifeguards had to do their lifeguarding in rowboats. And, and so that was, you know, that was, that was the beach part of the city.
Nicole: Did you swim in those meets?
Nicole: Or were you just watching?
Lloyd: Yeah. I was a swimmer in high school. I swam butterfly and, and it was, it was from there that I got into surfing, because one day, a guy named Jim Fisher, who was also a swimmer at Lowell, he, and he became a, a surfing legend later on. But he took me, we walked across the Great Highway and went swimming in the ocean. And I still remember, I was just, you know, amazed and, and stunned by the, the blue water and the sunshine and the blue sky and the waves. And, you know, I, and, and eventually, I got into surfing and it really changed my life.
Nicole: Yeah, let's talk about surfing a little bit because, I mean, the connection between Fleishhacker and the lifeguards there and the surf community on [00:16:00] both ends of Ocean Beach are such a vibrant part of the west side for us. What do you remember about your experiences with the surf community out there?
Lloyd: Well, the, there were a bunch of body surfers. Before board surfing, before board surfing came to Northern California at Kelly's Cove. And they would, they would build a big fire on the beach and then they'd go, you know, no wetsuits and they'd go body surfing. And one of them was actually Jack O'Neill, who became, you know, world famous for designing wetsuits. And, and so they, and I, and I actually knew Jack and when he was starting, he, he, he first, it was so cold, he first tried a dry suit, which divers used, which tried to, kept the water out. And you'd wore, you wear long under wool, underwear underneath him. But, but surfing, it didn't work because you'd getting pounded by the waves. And so then, he then, [00:17:00] the Navy had actually started making neoprene suits and Jack went down and bought one at Roose Atkins on Market Street. And the basement was the sporting goods. And he brought it home and he took the measurements off of it and he returned it the next day. He built his first wetsuit and so it went on to become a, you know, world famous, you know, huge, huge operation. And he opened up the surf shop out there on the Great Highway on the, that street right next to the Great Highway.
Lloyd: And, and, and actually I became his insurance broker, but…
Lloyd: Yeah. So, but the, the guys in San Francisco, they learned body surfing from a lifeguard at Fleishhackers, whose name was Cliff Kamaka. Bought them, and then, and then, you know, then board surfing started and got more serious and, and I, I, I started really, the first time I went surfing was in. And, uh, and then I, I went [00:18:00] to Stanford and I changed my major at Stanford to economics, because they didn't have Friday classes. And I leave from Stanford at Thursday at noon, and we come back on Sunday. So, surfing became a big part of my life. But you know, I, I, for a while I was really pissed off at San Francisco. I, I hate that Transamerica Pyramid. It's just the ugliest building and, and a lot of the stuff. And then after a while I thought, you know, this is still the most wonderful city in the country, if not the world. And I'm gonna look at the glass half-full.
Lloyd: I've lived in Bolinas for about 50 years. A real treat for me is to go into the City. You know, and, and, and, and usually, and I, for a long time, I would go to Cafe Roma.
Lloyd: In North Beach and get there early in the morning and then go around the City and do my things with, you know, photo labs and stuff like that. And so, I, I, I still do it. I, what I found in [00:19:00] the City recently is, so for a while, Valencia Street was sort of a, a, a cool place to hang out. Ritual Roasters and Four Barrel Coffee. And there was a, forget what it was called, it was a really interesting store that sold animal skins and skulls and plants. And so, there was kind of an artistic community there on Valencia in the Mission District. And then, I don't know, maybe for 10 years, I've been going out to the beach to Judah and 46th, where there's the Outer Lands restaurant and Trouble Coffee and Mollusk Surf Shop is over on Irving.
Lloyd: And, and it's really great out there. You know, whoever would've thought that, that would be a cool area. Well, a month ago, I took my truck into the City to have work done on it. I took my bike along, so I started riding my bike along. So, I rode over into the Mission District and so I'm really excited about the Mission District right now. I mean, [00:20:00] 24, I rode down 24th Street and it was, there's so much happening there right now. And art and coffee shops and, and clothing and bars and, and graffiti. So that, I'm kind of, now I'm sort of, you know, excited about, you know, and, and, and I find also getting around in the city on a bike is really great, as opposed to a car.
Lloyd: Trouble is, it's you, your bike, if you have a good bike, it's gonna get stolen, So, I'm thinking of maybe getting a scooter, you know, one of those electric scooters.
Lloyd: I, I have, in the City, I. a push scooter that I've used. I use it when, sometimes when I'll, I'll say if I'm going to, I used to go to the Fillmore Auditorium, and I would park on a well-lit street, maybe a mile or two away, and ride my scooter to the event. And, so anyway, I'm excited as ever about San Francisco. You know, you can't take the city out of the boy.
Nicole: Well, I think that's a really good [00:21:00] point of, it's, it's hard to see things change in the city you grew up in, the city you love. But maybe you just have to keep changing your perspective. You know, one neighborhood may shift away from who you've grown as a, into as a person. So, maybe you have to go out to the beach.
Nicole: And then head back to North Beach
Nicole: And then do things like that. The city's always evolving and changing.
Lloyd: Well, the beach, the beach is always the beach. And, and, you know, I used to, one of the things I used to love doing was going to the Cliff House and getting a Irish coffee and because they could make a, as good or maybe even better, Irish coffee than the Buena Vista Cafe. But one of the other things I did do over the years was I, I belonged to the South End Rowing Club and I went swimming in the cove. And I started doing that again about a year ago. And because now you can, you can get into the, the South End and the Dolphin Club by paying $10 and, you can, and go swimming and use the sauna. So, one of my favorite things to do is to go, you know, it's cold to get into that water, but after you're [00:22:00] in for two or three minutes, it's okay. And I swim for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and then go into the club, take a sauna, and then go across to the Buena Vista Cafe and get a Irish coffee. Oh, and I, I'm wired for the day.
Nicole: That sounds delightful.
Nicole: So, okay. You grew up outside of West Portal. You went to Stanford.
Nicole: And you said insurance for years. What, where have you gone since in, selling insurance?
Lloyd: I quit the insurance business in 1965. My, my brother and I were actually starting to make a lot of money and, and I went to work as a carpenter, because I'd been doing carpentry on the weekends. And, and so I probably worked for 10 years as a carpenter. I went down to Big Sur to build a house out of large bridge timbers for the daughter of one of, her name was Chapalet and her dad was one of the owners of Lockheed, and he had a 400-acre ranch on in Big Sur with two private beaches. And so [00:23:00] three of us went down there from Mill Valley and worked for about a year on this house. And I quit. I couldn't get along with the architect. And then I build my own house in Big Sur, about two miles north of Esalen. And while I was doing that, I started building geodesic domes. And that led me into building domes for about five years and writing a book on dome building, which got me started in publishing.
I also hooked up with Stuart Brown and the Whole Earth Catalog and became the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. And so that's how I got my building experience, my, my publishing experience. And so, I've been a publisher ever since. So and then, I moved from Big Sur to Pacific High School, which was in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I was there for two years and we built 17 geodesic domes for the kids to live in, and the kids built their own domes. [00:24:00] And it, it lasted for about two years, but, you know, 50 kids, away from home for the first time, taking acid, smoking pot. We couldn't control them. And so, I left there after a couple of years and, but I, you know, I came out with a, with a, a knowledge of how to publish books and, and then I eventually decided domes didn't work and I took dome book two out of print after it had sold 160,000 copies and published the book Shelter in 1973. And so, I've been publishing books on building, and for 20 years, I published books on fitness and, but now I'm publishing mostly books on, on building.
Nicole: What is it about building that attracted you to the trade? Is it, cause I've asked, my uncle's a builder too, and he, he just likes the simplicity of the process. You know, that it's, you have an idea and then you [00:25:00] make it with your hands and then it's standing in front of you. There's a purity to it. So, I'm always curious how people come to the carpentry.
Lloyd: Well, working with your hands is very satisfying. And, and also, I just didn't like wearing a suit. And I, you know, I'd, I'd rush home every night, you know, and especially in the summertime and, and put on my carpenter's apron and work in, in Mill Valley this was. And I liked the smell of lumber. And when I quit, I was really, I really enjoyed the getting a pickup truck. And I liked going to lumber yards and I, I like carpenters and builders the same way like, I like farmers. Like I've never met a farmer I didn't like because they have to deal with real things.
Lloyd: They're not just buying and selling stocks or looking over contracts or working in a bank. It, it has to work. And so, I like that. And then also, I needed a, a home, and I, if I could have found a home at a right price, I don't know if I [00:26:00] would've got so deeply into building, but I started building my own house actually in the, before I left the insurance business. And so, I, even now, I, I, I love, you know, going out and doing stuff, doing carpentry stuff and things in the shop. And getting away from the computer. And, and it, it's kind of like a brotherhood of people who, who build. You know, and, and it's in these days, it's, you know, the thing I tell people is, your computer's not gonna build your house for you. And, there's some people that are trying to do that.
Lloyd: But maybe you still need a hammer and a saw. And, maybe the hammer's a pneumatic gun and maybe the saw is electric, but you still, it still hasn't changed that much. And so, but the problem now is that it's so expensive to build in the Bay Area. Like my lot cost $6,000 and my building permit was $200 and, $200 in the early [00:27:00] ‘70s. And, I was my own architect and my own engineer. Well, now the building permits are $50,000. My septic system was three or four thousand dollars. Now septic systems are $80 to $90,000.
Nicole: Oh my goodness.
Lloyd: We got corruption. And so, you know, there is, there still is that possibility for people to build their own homes, but you're not gonna be able to do it in Marin County.
Lloyd: You know, you're gonna have to go, some, you have to go somewhere where you're a, maybe a couple of hours away from a, a great city. Now you're gonna go to Nevada. Or, you know, a lot of people go to Oregon. But if you're within striking distance of a good city, your chances are that it's gonna be really expensive, and that regulations are gonna be so strict that they're just gonna hamper you. And so, but anyway, I, I've had a great time interviewing builders all these years, interviewing [00:28:00] them and photographing them. And so, we did a book called Tiny Homes. And then, we did a book called Small Homes. Tiny Homes was under 500 square feet. Small Homes was between 500 and 1200 square feet, which is pretty modest by today's standards. And then, I did a book called The Half Acre Homestead, which describes my wife Leslie and I, 45 years of, of building and gardening and, and doing crafts and foraging and cooking. And then, the last book I did was called Rolling Homes, which covers vans and pickup trucks with campers and all these nomadic vehicles that you see quite a few of now on the road.
Nicole: Yeah. And there, this is like a very popular movement. Now, what I always find interesting about the tiny home movement, or whatever you wanna call it, is that it very much harkens back to the counterculture movement in the [00:29:00] ‘60s and the ‘70s, where like making things with your hands, tangible aspects of like, being one with the earth and, and self-sufficiency as a, as a broader communal act, you know?
Lloyd: Yeah, yeah.
Nicole: It just makes, it resonates so much today where we're just faced with a computer all day. It's like this very amazing way to provide for yourself and others, and, and I think you really hit that on the head and have been sort of a, I don't know, an influencer, I hate using that word, but you really started publishing far above the curve here.
Lloyd: Well, it's, it's, it's gratifying to see young people that are picking up our book Shelter now and kind of skipped the generation before the, what, the 20, 30-year-olds. I dunno what the 40-year-olds are called, what, what generation that is. But the younger ones are seeing the Shelter book, which is published in 1973, and they like what we were doing. I mean, and I, and I've read, I've read a couple of things lately about people were saying, well, with the hippies, don't throw them [00:30:00] out with the bath water. There were, there were, there were some bad things that came out of all that. One of them was drug overdoses. Another one was sexually transmitted diseases.
Lloyd: And then there was, there was the WOOWOO stuff. There was the kind of lame, you know, psychic phenomenon. But the hippies really wanted to treat the earth well and, and, and I was, I was naive. I mean, I thought the, I went to the Monterey Pop Festival and I thought the world was really gonna change.
Lloyd: And, and that people were gonna learn to get along and that we weren't gonna have war anymore. And, and so those ideals, were a, and, and some things worked. I mean, like organic farming that came out of the ‘60s. We, yeah, we got outta Vietnam and so there are, if you tally it up, there were some really good things that happened. And so there, there is kind of a, [00:31:00] a, a perspective now that people have that hey, the hippies were, you know, they were right about a lot of things and especially with the horrible political situation we've got now.
Nicole: Which is its own podcast. But yeah, no, I totally agree. A lot of the literature around San Francisco is just sort of fetishizes like, you know, the consumer part of hippie culture. What's marketable, like, you know, oh, Janice Joplin and like all this stuff and it doesn't always drill down into what it was really like for counterculture people living in San Francisco, living in the Bay Area. And that's why I'm excited to read your book because I feel like it'll be a more authentic depiction of the diversity of narratives that came out of this part of California at that time period.
Lloyd: Well, it was, you know, like, I think the ‘60s, the good it went from, for me, from ‘63 up to the, the Summer of Love. And, and then, and then things felt really fell apart [00:32:00] in the Haight district, but also people that just left. But what happened in ‘67 was, you had the Be-In, in the park, which was, I didn't go, but I certainly heard about it, which was this wonderful event that 10,000 people attended. And you had the, the rock and roll bands were there on trucks, flatbed trucks, and Suzuki Roshi and Timothy Leary, and the poets were there and everything, and, and everything worked really well. Everybody came out of that just stunned and, and inspired. And then in the June, early June of 1967, there was a lot of people don't know about it was the Magic Mountain Festival on Mount Tam. And the Doors, I think was maybe their first outdoor appearance or something. Owsley flew over in an airplane, dropped 3000 hits of acid and it was one of those great events. And then a week after that was the Monterey Pop Festival. [00:33:00] All, those three events got broadcast all over the country and a hundred thousand kids came to San Francisco and there was no place for them to stay. There was no food, there was no sanitation and everything really fell apart at that time.
Lloyd: The other thing and what happened in those years was the Diggers came along and I, the Diggers were like from New York and they changed, they kind of took over the media. and became the spokesman for the movement. And everybody, when they, everybody when they wanna know what happened, they interviewed Peter Coyote, who was one of the Diggers. And I think that it's, I think they need to be put in the right light of what they were, they were street savvy New Yorkers. Emmett Grogan was a junkie apparent, apparently a very magnetic guy.
Lloyd: But that kind of contributed to things. But up until then it had been a California movement. And Californians are way different from, you know, East [00:34:00] coast people.
Nicole: Yes, they are.
Lloyd: And I love, I have some really wonderful friends from the East coast, but still there's something to being a Californian that is different if you grew up here in this, in this land and with this sunshine and with these beaches and, you know, so I hope to be able to get part of that in the book about what it's like to be a Californian.
Nicole: No, that's really true. I think people equate being a Californian as like being kind of a hippie and, you know, I'm born and bred Californian too, and I definitely noticed there's a difference between me and, and my friends who were originally on the East coast.
Nicole: But we're all peace and love and you know, all that kind of stuff. But there is a relaxed, we're more relaxed in a lot of different ways and I think for me at least, it's because I grew up by the ocean. And open ocean. Not like an eastern seaboard, Atlantic Ocean.
Nicole: There's some sort of vibes or something that you [00:35:00] pull from the land here. And I think that, I think that your lifestyle and everything you've been able to accomplish manifests that in a lot of ways.
Lloyd: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, it's, I mean, part of it is physical because we don't have snow. At least we don't, we don't in this part of California. So, we are, yeah, able to be outside all the time. And, and we have the ocean. And so, yeah.
Nicole: So, when does this autobiography come out?
Lloyd: Oh I, maybe the middle of next year. I, I, I'm about, oh, I maybe got a fifth or a sixth of it done. Yeah actually, the, the really good part of it is gonna be this hippie high school, because I, like, I don't have many photos from, I have a lot of photos from Lowell High School because I have the yearbook. I, I don't have hardly any photos from Stanford. I wasn't [00:36:00] taking photos in those years. But when I got to the, the high school, we, we shot a lot of photos. And so, it's very photogenic, everything that went on there. And, and, you know, the, this was ‘60, ‘68, probably ‘68, ‘69. And it was, it was a, you know, you know, an amazing thing that happened. It could never happen nowadays. And so, I think that's gonna be a, that's gonna be a, a really interesting part of the book. Kind of the center of the book. And then I'll conclude the book in about kind of when I got to Bolinas. And so, I think sometime next year, I, I just, I write the book, I write it, and then I, after I get the text done, I print out and then I go over and I do layout the old school way. I do layout with scissors and scotch tape. And blow photos to the size up that I, to the size I want on a copy machine and paste them down. And then that goes to Rick, who's the, who prepares the files in InDesign [00:37:00] and Photoshop for the printers. And so, I just kind of put the book together of, you know, two pages at a time.
And I, most books, I have no idea what they're gonna be like when I start them. This book, I, I do. I, I, I mean, I know that I have these chapters on different things in my life and, you know, Santa Cruz is another big part of it. I just finished Stanford. But at the same time I was like leading a double life, surfing in Santa Cruz. And, and then the ‘50s describing what was going on in the ‘50s. Just as far as, you know, the books, like the Organization Man, and, you know, people were the homogenous part of society where everybody was supposed to be the same. And, and, and the, the Beatniks revolted at that. And then the transition from the Beatnik to the hippies. So, all those things. So I, I think I'll get it done [00:38:00] and out next year.
Nicole: You know, I moved to San Francisco in 2002 to join the Beatnik community. I, I like was ready. I had my beret and my pocketbook full of poems and I went down to Campy.
Lloyd: Where'd you grow up?
Nicole: Oh, I'm from L.A. Yeah. I grew up in Delmar actually, so down in San Diego and, and in Pasadena. And I was very bummed to realize I had missed the movement.
Nicole: But I find it in pockets still. I think that's what's incredible about San Francisco is you meet folks like you, Lloyd. Or, you know, folks who still hang around North Beach. Some of the old-time poets who, who lead the same lives they always had going to the coffee shop, ending up at Specs, Adler bar in the evening hours. And, there's still roots here in San Francisco that, that have, have failed to die. And, I hope that when folks get upset about how the city's changing, that they're able to find people like you through your book. [00:39:00] And I also hope that you'll come back and do a signing for us, maybe at our office when you publish it?
Lloyd: Sure, sure. Well, I mean the, yeah, Café Trieste is still there and, but, but a lot of the new things are fine as far as I'm concerned. I mean, I went to a coffee shop on 24th Street, three, few weeks ago and had a, a matcha latte.
Nicole: Oh, they're the best.
Lloyd: And it was really good and it was totally new. And, and, and the, and the coffee shop had good internet connection. And, you know, there's, there's an example of, of new things happening that are, that I, I find fine, you know. And, but I mean, the, there aren't very many places like Cafe Trieste that are still around. You know, Tadichs is still there.
Lloyd: And Jack, Sam's Grill.
Lloyd: You know, and I, the thing is, you know, I'm, I'm not in the city very often, so I'm, I'm, you know, I'm sort of, a lot of my references are, are old. Although [00:40:00] I, I, you know, I explore and, but if somebody who lives there, you know, in the South End Rowing Club, in the Dolphins Club, that are, also the Buena Vista Cafe, they're all still there.
Nicole: Oh, yeah.
Lloyd: Still there.
Nicole: Touchstones. Do you know a guy named Pat Cunneen?
Lloyd: I do, I do know him. Yeah. Well, I did a book called, Over the Hill, But Not Out to Lunch. It was, it was people over 40 years of age who worked out. And Pat, I know Pat real well. In fact, Pat is still around. He's still, somebody told me he's still, I haven't seen him for like 20 years, but he was a firefighter and, but he was one of the guys from the South End Rowing Club, you know, that are, yeah there, there are still some old timers. I, I remember when I, there was a guy there back in, I don't know the, ‘70s or ‘80s. He was 80 years old and still swimming. And I thought, man, that's really old. I'm [00:41:00] in my eighties and swimming.
Nicole: It's all relative, right? Yeah. Pat Cunneen's a, a Western Neighborhoods Project member and he is one of the most amazing human beings I've ever met, so…
Lloyd: Yeah, we'll tell him hello and, and that, and that is something that's pretty much the same, the South End Rowing Club, the Dolphin Club have changed, but they were always sort of a little more upscale in the South end. But the South Enders were, let's see, the South Enders were the Irish I think, and the Dolphins were maybe Italians. And when I was in the early ‘60s when I was working in the insurance business, I would go there on my lunch hour and run in the beach and swim and then eat lunch on the roof. And, and it, it, you know, it's, it's, it's pretty much the, it hasn't changed all that much. So, you do find these things, but as I say, there are, there are changed things, new things that I really li like Outer Lands that restaurant out there and Trouble Coffee. I mean, I didn't even know what espresso was until [00:42:00] relatively recently
Nicole: I have bad news for you, Lloyd. Trouble coffee closed.
Lloyd: I know, I know that. Well. Did you know her? Did you know Jacqueline?
Nicole: Not well, but yes, we've interacted several times cause I, I live in the neighborhood, so I'm out here.
Lloyd: I, I think she sold it to somebody who maybe is, kept it going. And, and then there's another place, you know, a block over is Mollusk Surf Shop and Hook Fish. And, across the street, there's a, there's a coffee shop that people speak highly of.
Lloyd: And there's Andy's, there's Andy's up on, it might be Lawton.
Nicole: It is. Yeah, Lawton. And 43rd.
Lloyd: It's a good ice cream place.
Lloyd: Out there on the corner. I mean, but that's all I know from, you know, the little bit that, I, you know, get over to the city.
Nicole: This feels like a good time to transition into our next section called Say What Now? Where I, I grill you with really hard questions. You've already kind of answered one of 'em, which is what's some of your [00:43:00] favorite restaurants in the city? So, I feel like you just listed off a bunch of incredible restaurants, but I did wanna ask you if you could bring back anything from the 1960s, either before or after it, what would it be? This could be a business or a restaurant or something else. What would it be?
Lloyd: Well, the attitude, you know, the dances, you know, the dances were, they was kind of word of mouth and there wasn't any internet. I mean, the Fillmore dances were great. American, the Avalon Ballroom. As far as locations and things to do, I don't know. I mean, I think that restaurants and things like that are, by and large, there's, you know, as many good places to eat now as there were back then. Playland at the Beach, I would bring back. The Cliff House I would bring it back because I'm sad that it closed.
Nicole: I [00:44:00] know.
Lloyd: And at the Cliff House, I would always sit at the, at the bar. And they had a, they always had a, a monitor going with old movies of the, of Playland and street cars that came out there. And Sutro had his mansion up on the cliffs up above it. And, but I don't know, I just can't think of, you know, things that were going on then, that are not now. Other, I mean, there's an, there's attrition, thing's just closed and things move on.
Nicole: It’s true. You know, it's funny, we, we've been operating a pop-up museum in the former Cliff House for about a year with, you know, showing all kinds of history about Playland and things like that. And I tend to work with my laptop, sadly, at the bar and people will come up and just tell me all their, all their memories of coming to the Cliff House, going to Playland. And it made me realize that there's a [00:45:00] lot of similarities between historians and bartenders.
Lloyd: Well, you mean, so the Cliff House is still open for special events.
Nicole: Well so, we took it over for a pop-up museum. We first were in the old gift shop, and it's all about the history of, of the area of Lands End and Playland and Sutro Heights and Sutro Baths. We've been working with the National Park Service and the Global Museum at SF State, which took all those mummies you remember from Sutro Baths.
Nicole: And yeah, and we've, we've just been having fun there. We're doing one more open day on, on Saturday, October 15th, if you're not busy, Lloyd. And yeah, we just, we just hang out and tell people fun things about local history and it's not the same as a restaurant, but it's free. And when was the last time you got to go to the Cliff House without spending a dime?
Lloyd: Well, don't they have pictures of movie stars in the dining room, in the [00:46:00] in the, the coffee shop?
Nicole: They did. So, all that stuff went to auction.
Nicole: In August, or in March of last year. And we bought over a hundred artifacts from that auction.
Lloyd: They were caricatures, I dunno if they were, no, they were probably photographs, cause there was a waiter there, he knew every one of 'em. You know, and they were some obscure, it wasn't all like Humphrey Bogart, you know, there were, there were some obscure movie stars.
Nicole: Yeah, those started with the Whitney family. They started collecting them and then it's, it sort of continued into the modern era by the Hontalas family and yeah, there were so many of them that they got their own special day at the auction there. The auction took three days.
Lloyd: Yeah. Huh.
Nicole: They all got scattered to the wind. We didn't, we didn't try to buy any of those, but, but yeah. Okay. So, another question. What is the best San Francisco neighborhood?
Lloyd: Well for me right now, I mean, in terms of interest for me, the Mission right now.
Lloyd: And poking around on a bike or a scooter, [00:47:00] you know, it allows me to, like, if you go down, if you go down Valencia or Mission, you've got arterial, you've got stop signs. But if you go down Harrison, there's arterial stops and you don't have to stop at those if there's no traffic coming and you're on a bike. So, it's a quick way to get around, but then, you know, just going down the street on, if you're on a, if you're on wheels, people don't hassle you for spare change and you get to see things. And so, that's the, what was the question here?
Nicole: What's the best San Francisco neighborhood?
Lloyd: Oh yeah. So, I really like the Mission. I like it out by the beach. And, I don't know, you know, I, I, I love North Beach.
Lloyd: I always will. And Chinatown. There's pockets here and there. I, I actually, I was in on Potrero Hill a few weeks ago and I saw, you know, what was going on there. Noe Valley. You know, but as I say, I'm only over there once every [00:48:00] week or two, so I'm limited. But there are, there's, you know, there's very, there's great little pockets of activity and culture in the City.
Nicole: It's true. Okay. We've got one more question for you, and this one's a doozy, so I hope you're ready.
Lloyd: All right.
Nicole: Why do you think history is important?
Lloyd: Well, well, well, that's a pretty broad question. I mean, history of San Francisco, history of San Francisco is important if you wanna understand what's going on now. And what things, what events, what people, what places led up to where we are now. And I think it's, it, there's a depth that you get if you know, you know, if you know that that block on Pacific used to be the Barbary Coast and that sailors would get, you know, drunk and knocked out and end up going out to sea. And [00:49:00] how the Embarcadero, instead of a tourist area used to be the, the, the vital part of San Francisco where there was a, San Francisco was a port, it was a shipping port, and the Embarcadero was a, was like a city in itself. With the, with the longshoreman and the train, there were train tracks on the Embarcadero and, and forklifts and, and, so I mean, it's, it's worth knowing. It's worth knowing, you know, little, just little things like the Bay Bridge used to have trains going across it and, and San Francisco really got a inter, like Emperor Norton, things like that about the city. I, we have a really good Californiana collection of books and the, and the background of Chinatown and, and how discriminated against they were. The, the, the Senator Phelan would, his motto was keep California white.
Lloyd: And, and I don't know a lot of misses,.Coit Tower. [00:50:00] In the background behind that, the, the Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Bernard Maybeck, and they built it out of plaster of paris because he wanted it to fall apart. And there have ruins there. And of course, it, it, I can't, I think in the ’70;s, this guy was, a rich guy came along and, and, and, and financed the rebuilding of it in concrete. But all, and, and the, the origins of Fisherman's Wharf with the palookas, which were these fishing boats from Sicily. How that came about. And you, you know, so you like, like for example, you can walk down. Fisherman's wharf and see these boats. Oh, those boats, they, they were designed based on, on Sicilian fishing boats. So, you know, it's, it's a rich, San Francisco has a rich history, you know, much more complex and interesting than say LA or, you know, Sacramento or San Jose.
Lloyd: I mean, don't get me started. You know, [00:51:00] that wasn't tough at all.
Nicole: I think that's a good place to end our interview portion.
Lloyd: All right.
Nicole: Okay Lloyd, thank you so much for joining us. This has been wonderful. And now it's time for Listener Mail. So, first of all listeners, if you want to contact us about this podcast or you have ideas for future podcasts, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or of course find us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and send us a message through any of those platforms. My dear normal co-host Arnold Woods and I will be monitoring those and feeding them into the listener mail section. So, we have more Playland memories inspired by our Playland Memories podcast. Scott said, and I, I went to the Fun House several times in 1966 and ‘67 before I hit my teens and decided I was too grown up for fun. It's so true. We all turn [00:52:00] into very boring people right after we, we come out of our teenage years. I don't know why that is.
And Maris said, I was there many times in the ‘50s. We lived in Oakland but took tap in ballet in San Francisco sometimes as a treat. Mom took us to Playland after dance class. Thank you for your memories, Scott and Maris, and I love that. I love thinking about a trip to the west side as a special treat, cause I think that's still true even though we don't have Playland anymore.
So, of course I have to explain to you the benefits of membership and donating. Otherwise, there's no way we could be here recording this podcast without support from listeners like you. And for the low, low price of $50 a year, you can get a quarterly membership magazine, discounts on events and other exclusive perks. You know, we really can't emphasize enough how much our membership base and the WNP family is a boon for what [00:53:00] we do. It helps us do OpenSFHistory, caring for and exhibiting the Cliff House collection and so much more. So please become a member today. Or donate what you can you just go to outsidelands.org or OpenSFHistory.org and clickety clickety clack that big orange button. And then if it doesn't work, you can email me and I'll fix it for you.
And on more announcements, I have to say that, of course, our time in the Cliff House restaurant and gift shop is, is coming to a close, but we will get to see you one last time as a big last hurrah today if you're listening to the podcast as soon as it's released. Saturday, October 15th is our last day of open hours, totally free, 11 to 5:00 PM. This is in conjunction with MKThink’s Community Day at Edge Fest on Great Highway. So, we're opening our doors one last time to be good [00:54:00] neighbors. And you can register just like before you go to our events tab on the website. Or you can also find us on Eventbrite. And you can pre-register in advance, which is helpful for us. Or you can just walk up and we'll make sure to get you in. And then tomorrow we're throwing a bon voyage party. That’s Sunday, October 16th, you'll have the cheapest refreshments of your life in the Cliff House where you can watch the sunset, mingle with folks who made the museum happen, and of course, celebrate Ben Wood's Incredible projections one last time. That's gonna be $10 for members, $20 for non-members. And don't you worry, if you helped us make the museum happen, you can come for free. So don't buy tickets if you volunteered because you, we owe you and we wanna throw a party for you.
And then, even though we are winding down our events in general for the end of the year, we'll be having one more history walk. [00:55:00] That'll be our annual City Cemetery walk through Lincoln Park, led by the always engaging John Martini. And if you've never done this before, this is really the perfect way to start off Halloween. It is an evening walk. We do talk about the lives of the dead and, and how they're being commemorated now. Even more commemorated because City Cemetery is on its pathway to be a city landmark. So come and learn about San Francisco's newest city landmark on October 29th, Saturday at 5:00 PM. Tickets are $10 for WNP members and $20 for non-members. And if hopefully hearing these discounts will encourage you to become a member.
So again, all of our events are found on our website, on the events tab and on our Eventbrite page, which you can follow to get the latest updates. So, let's see, what could we possibly be doing next week? [00:56:00] Maybe we'll finish our Great Highway saga, I'm not quite sure, but I do know that we appreciate you being here, listeners, and I hope that you know that WNP loves you. Thank you very much, and have a good morning, afternoon, or good night. Goodbye.
Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.
Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.