Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Summer of 1974; The City and Bay Area With a Long List of Memories; Patty Hearst, Herb Caen, The Pyramid and Miss Matlock

 The Summer of '74 thoughts and memories...


I was 12 years old, (about 12 going on 40 in my own mind)...just removed from Sequoia Middle School and contemplating Bret Harte and the 7th grade. Still had a major crush on Miss Matlock at a time when the term "MILF" was more like a 7-11 Slurpee flavor. Miss Matlock was extremely hot and provided many daydreams for this young buck. I was also crazy about a girl who sat in the second row, Colleen Mullany. She was a student, so at least I was lusting about someone I had a quarter chance of conquering --she also lived nearby which was convenient and bode well for my intentions, but I had a lot going on in addition to puppy love.


We had a lot on our plate in the Summer of '74. Patty Hearst was "Tania" and just the beginning of that weird play that nobody could figure out. The "SLA" was in its infancy --we were soon to become witness to a series of main events: bank robberies, LA shootouts, and the like...Bill Graham put on huge shows, "Days on the Green" at the gargantuan "Oakland Stadium" with acts like the "Grateful Dead", "Beach Boys", (what a pairing), and Santana and Elvin Bishop. I knew who the Dead were and I had an inkling what the Beach Boys were but didn't have clues about Bishop, Eddie Money, Ronnie Montrose and Styx. Arrest me. My brother was into the concerts and loved DOTG, thanks in part to my sister working at Winterland productions, an offshoot of the mighty Graham and his emerging empire. Mind you I was 12 then but a big 12. We had more issues to examine here in the Bay Area and nationally.


Just about everyone on the planet knew Nixon was a crook and he confirmed it late in Summer. "I am not a crook!" Yes you were, Tricky Dick. Who'd have thunk Jerry Ford would become a calming figure and temporary statesman? The nation did --to bad he pardoned Nixon --it cost him the election, but the nation needed a respite from Watergate and Ford did what he thought was right and that's good. The big movie was "The Exorcist" and it was so creepy I had no use to see it although my other horny geeks swear I'd have an instant crush on Linda Blair, sorry I was still lusting over Colleen and her cute dimples. And bonus points: she too hated split-pee soup.


The Bay Area was relatively sane. I recall an awesome 4th of July and Elton John screaming out "Benny and the Jets" at Aunt Claire's backyard BBQ. The A's were well on their way to winning a third-straight World Series over the dreaded Dodgers --a Lasorda ensemble managed by Walter Allston featuring the likes of Steve Garvey, Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon, Bill Russell, Steve Yeager and Vin Scully himself. The A's prevailed, thankfully, whispered Bill Graham, so he could jet out one more Day on the Green.


I was 12, happy, contrite, laughing, giggling and having all the fun a pre-Bar-Mitzvah kid could have. Michael was still alive, crazy as usual, occasionally trying the beat the hell out of me but I was OK because Dad, even though he spent most of his life losing his paycheck at the racetrack took time enough away from GGF to take me and the family to Chinatown for dinner. Mom didn't especially like dad, she stayed away while me and the siblings got down for some dinner at the Silver Dragon. It wasn't the greatest cuisine--I mean it was divine Chinese food and pretty damn good but that's always where we went. No variety from Dad. Probably just as well, besides there was always a wait at Biff's.


The city was serene and tranquil. Just the way Herb Caen romanced about it. No tall skyscrapers other than the BofA building and the emerging iconic Transamerica Pyramid. No sign of the beckoning Manhattanization Caen had feared was evident. We now know how that turned out.


I was stuck, puberty boy and all on the Oakland side of the bay ripe for naivete and puberty itself--bring it on! AIDS was a box of dietic chocolate and not a virus; crack was a part of your anatomy and not a popular drug, things seemed pretty simple and everyone for the most part was OK. I had a routine called a Quarter-Pound burger and shake in the Dimond Districk and Kaspar's hot dogs the other day. We all played baseball on Rampart Street and for fun later, took the 57 bus down near Lake Merritt and the Grand Lake Theatre to watch a Disney movie. Two bucks was good enough for a movie and ample supply for Kwik-Way later. What a life, all I needed was Colleen and everything would be uber-swell but I made out OK.


I was grumpy a little over Dad's shortcomings but my Mom, who pretty much raised all of us told me not to fret and get over it. My mom is so damn strong--without her, then and now, I don't know what I'd do. She was always telling me no matter what happened, don't worry I'll be there, which since he wasn't was always comforting. My brother was just in the through of a path toward eventual destruction, that's what drugs can do but what was I to do, I was just some kid at the beginning of my own formative life --I was too young to know and too gullible to mouth off. My sisters were far apart, LA and here. So it was really me, my crazy brother and mom who'd already divorced my dad. That was enough. That's life.




Thinking back I miss 1974. Miss it a lot. And it's not one of those good old days deal. It mostly was the idea of a real Bat Day. Green bats at that. Sal Bando. Campy Campaneris. Lake Merritt. BART.


Summer trips to Redwood Park. Bill Fiset. Kwik-Way burgers. Spengers. Patty Hearst. Monte Moore. Joe Alioto. Van Amburg. Dr. Don. KFRC. Loard's Ice Cream. Skyline High. Tom Hanks. The Day on the Green. Bill Graham. The Oakland Paramount Theatre. Phil Tagami. Miss Matlock and Colleen Mullany. The Rampart kids. Flag Football. Young-America baseball. Fruitvale Field.
Quarter-Pound burgers. Kaspars. Victoria Station. KFRC. Gensler-Lee Diamons, The Store with the Heart! Monte Moore. Dingers. Puberty. Guy's Drug Store. Uncle Duddy. Aunt Claire. Richelle and Noah. Michael. KGO Radio. Ira Blue. Clergy on the Line. Art Spander. Art Hoppe. Bill Fiset. Herb Caen. Stanton Delaplane. The Owl. Perry Phillips. Dave Newhouse. Jim Dunbar. Jerry Jensen. Pete Giddings. Paoli's. Bella Nappoli. Kirby's Merritt. Captain Sal Bando. Charlie Fox. Lon Simmons. Al Michaels. Candlestick Park. Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders. Stabler. Biletnikoff. Hubbard. Otto. 49ers. Kwalick. Brodie. Kezar Stadium. Bill's Place. Tadich. San Raquel! The Mill Valley, California song sung by Rita Abrahams class.


Scary, nostalgic and a little happy and sad too.
40 years. Too fast. Memories.


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25 comments:

  1. Nice recollections. Quite a time; one of the best in my life!

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    1. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/40-year-reunion-of-Mill-Valley-third-graders-3178913.php

      A great story. It was Rita ABRAMS. Thanks, Rich.

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  2. Good story. Bit long though. You need an editor.

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  3. Victoria Station, I haven’t thought of that restaurant chain in years. Back when prime rib was health food! And Ira Blue & Jim Easson were this 16 year’s old favorite talk show hosts (I was probably the only high school kid in Chico at the time who listened to talk radio). A lot of good things going on in this country but also too much of the bad-Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, domestic terrorism and GAS LINES. Regarding the latter, I was so freaked out about a shortage of gas that I thought my CDL would be worthless!

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  4. That's a great read Rich. You have a good overview of what life was like around here but also what it was also like in your own world. I think you should write a book. Seriously!

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  5. Rich-Great Nostalgic Read! If You Recall the Sane, Tranquil Summer of 1974 Came Just at the Right time after the Absolute Terror of the "Zodiac Killings" in San Francisco that happened from Nov 1973 to April 1974 when 16 People were Killed & 8 Wounded. Fortunately the SFPD arrested the 4 Perpetrators. I was a 17 Year Old Kid in the summer of 1974 and You Brought Back a Lot of Classic, Timeless Memories--Thanks Rich, Keep up the Great work!

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    1. SW in Santa CruzMay 31, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      That was the Zebra murders. Zodiac was never caught.

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    2. Thanks SW- Of Course-I meant "The Zebra" not the "Zodiac" Killings. As a 17 year old San Franciscan Youth between Nov 1973 to April 1974 and now 57 Years Old, that 6 Month Reign of Terror in The City Still Vividly Reverberates in My Mind Today.

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    3. The Zebra killers - "Green Eyes" was my tier-tender at SQ. Good column Rich. Days on the Green. Great (and bittersweet) memories of my dating youth....

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  6. SW in Santa CruzMay 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    I was there at that DOG, that was the second ever held. The second deck was sparse but not after that. Full crowd from then on, guess word spread :). That was my first and went to all of them through '83. None after that, broke the cycle.

    Many on your list hit home. Add Monkey Trees, Grass Bowl, Points 1 and 2, Montclair Park, Escher, The Ave, 35th, Montclair Swim Club, and the list goes on.

    Good memories, of what I can remember...

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  7. You can add a Jag and a little doggy to your stories but you'll never approach Savage's appeal. It's his ability to separate the wheat from the chaff with such ease that appeals to his audience. He's a genuine original.

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  8. Great read for me, an 11-year-old in Berkeley at the time. Loved all of it.

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  9. Being from Oakland during the mid 70's and its heyday, was the crime like it is now or has been in recent decades? Were the demographics the same as they are now?

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  10. Great Piece, Rich!
    Wow, now we know...you're born the Great Year of The Tiger!
    I've been asking for your Birthday, but you disregard me.
    Please keep all your wonderful stories coming!

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  11. When you were 12 you knew Tom Hanks when he was at Chabot College?

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  12. Fred Biletnikoff's Flanker bar and resturant on Hegenberger, the Sea Wolf, Grotto, Elegant Farmer and more dining selections in Jack London square. Shopping at Rhodes, Capwells and I Magnin's. Guys' Drug Store - love it!

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  13. Damn. This is the second "manifesto" I've read this week. The first from Isla Vista / Santa Barbara really creeped me out. This one, however, is pretty damn good, Rich. You're not about to go postal on us, are you?

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  14. I saw a 100% mint Plymoth Volare drive by today. Not a great car at all, but so new looking, I appreciated how the owner took care of it. It was probably from 1975, maybe it was '74. Either way, it brought back memories of that era for me too.

    Things WERE better, if not 100% perfect at all. Rap was what the teacher did to your knuckles, and that was STILL better than what they call "rap" these days...

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  15. . . . . and later in the fall of 1974, Deep Purple and Electric Light Orchestra played at the Cow Palace.

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  16. Thank you Rich, for sharing your wonderful memories...

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  17. Wow, The concert poster at the beginning of the post really caught me by surprise this morning. Ten Years After, King Crimson and the Strawbs at the Cow Palace in '74 was my very first rock concert. I was there! The first of many over the next few years. It was June of 1974, I also graduated from High School that month (barely made it) Thanks for the memories Rich!

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    1. The Strawbs! "Now I'm an union man....

      How "Dirty Harry"? His series packing the movie houses. "American Graffiti" was still fresh on our minds.

      Too bad the Finance people beat the unions and Dirty Harry's crusade against the bad guys was all for naught.

      Checked out "Harold and Maude" the other day. Some glimpses into Bay Area life in the early '70s.

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  18. Enjoyed reading this, although how an Al Campanis built, Walter Alston managed Doger team can be a "LaSorda ensemble" is a bit mystifying. Side note, former Dodger GM Buzzie Buvasi was all set to hire a Doger 3rd base coach named Tommy LaSorda the managing job of the San Diego Padres, and he was all set to bleed Padre brown before Alston decided to retire, and leave Tommy some well built, young and talented Dodger teams. Wonder if he was in the same boat, if Tommy would have walked away.

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    1. Perhaps he was referring to Lasorda's high-profile work in the Dodger minor league system (prior to his "promotion" to third base coach in LA). Lasorda mentored a number of the Dodger stars, and other prospects who had brief stints in the limelight, during that era.

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  19. Anon at 10:18...yup...I'm sure that's exactly what he meant

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