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Happy (?) Valentine's Day!

As promised to my most faithful reader, Parisa, I have a very special Valentine's Day tidbit for you. Culled from the History Center's collection of old San Francisco newsclippings comes this story of true love (or unhealthy obsession?):
Here is the text of the article:
(L.A. Examiner - April 2, 1912)

WIDOW JOINS DEAD SPOUSE - ENDS LIFE BESIDE HIS COFFIN
Mrs. Anna May Marsten Kills Herself With Gas In Room Where Husband Expired

Inconsolable in her grief, Mrs. Anna May Marsten ended her life yesterday beside the bier of her husband, Dr. Luther M. Marsten, who died suddenly Friday. A double funeral will be held from the home, 2319 Raymond avenue, which had been called the "love nest" by friends who often declared that Dr. Marsten and his wife "were the happiest sweethearts in Los Angeles."

Preferring to join her husband in death rather than face the world alone, Mrs. Marsten carefully stopped up the cracks of the doors with towels, turned on the gas and then pushed the leather couch on which her husband died to near where the coffin rested. On this couch she was found dead.

Five years ago Dr. Luther married Anna May Holly. He was 59 years old and she was nine years younger.

"Love knows no age, " Dr. Luther told a friend on the wedding day. "We are as happy and as deeply in love a any young couple. Our honey moon will not end until death."

That prophecy was right. They continued the most devoted of sweethearts. Their friends say that not one cross word ever passed between them.

Couple Always Contented
"They had a simple recipe for their happiness," was the statement yesterday of Miss Carrie Holly, a sister of Mrs. Marsten. "They never found fault and each studied how to make the other happy."

Dr. Marsten was unusually active for one of his age. He was stricken with apoplexy Friday and passed away several hours later.

Mrs. Marsten was prostrated by her husband's death. Then she rallied and called her sister to her.

""Luther wants me. I must go to him. I cannot endure life without him," she said with a calmess that alarmed her sister.

Despondency Not Overcome
Miss Holly called the pastor of Mrs. Marsten's church and he tried to console her. But the efforts failed.

Mrs. Marsten said she would try to get some sleep in one of the bedrooms on the first floor and wished to be alone.

The sister later went to the bedroom and found it empty. Then she hurried to the room in which the doctor had died. The doors were closed. A rush of gas staggered Miss Holly. She called neighbors and the body of Mrs. Marsten was found.

The double funeral will be held today and burial will be in one grave at Rosedale cemetery. Service will be at the Universalist Church conducted by the Rev. C.E. Nash. The rites at the cemetery will be private.

(Apparently we must have inherited a bunch of clippings from William Randolph Hearst's L.A. Examiner when we acquired the clippings for the San Francisco Examiner.)

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A few amusing tid-bits.

Although the majority of my day at the SF History center is spent in the staff elevator (either going down to get things out of storage or bringing said stuff back to the sixth floor) there is a very enjoyable part of my day during which I can peruse random books, files, and photographs while getting the patrons' research ready for them. It's during this time where I find all sorts of amusing tid-bits, which I thought I'd share with you here.

This comes from the Sunday, September 10, 1950 SF Chronicle:
I keep wondering just how many people were walking around San Francisco with missing eyeballs! Granted, this is post-WWII so perhaps some had lost eyes in the war and then, what, wanted an upgrade? And how uncomfortable would it be to wear a "stock eye".

Here are a couple of 'what exactly is going on here?' photos I found:
The caption reads: New York, Nov. 21 (1953) - A MOTHER IS MISSING - Michael Evangelista, 34, a restaurant cook whose wife, Mary, has been missing since Sunday night, is surrounded by his seven children. Evangelista said his wife left home Sunday night and failed to return.

Uh, yeah, seven children? I don't think she's coming back, buddy.
The caption reads: Memphis, Feb. 27 (1950s?) - BOY OR GIRL? - Despite all the platinum hair, etc., the one in middle is a boy. Police arrested trio as they hitchhiked through town enroute to New Orleans.

I love the pose!

In the post today...

Look what just arrived via First Class Mail for me! My dearest friend Parisa (of PftP fame) sent this to me along with a note: It suddenly struck me that you should haave this instead of me - being the true SF Historian in our family!


Wow! Now you KNOW I'm going to have to step up and do a little more research on this amazing and historic theatre! And just so you don't think that I'm shirking my homework to do these posts... I've already found a neat little tie-in to the Classics! Upon the opening of this movie palace, one enthusiastic newspaper columnist declared: "Neither King, Nor Emperor, Nor Croessus could command more!"

Now, many of you who live (or have lived) in San Francisco know that this amazing theatre no longer exists. In fact, the huge apartment complex that stands there now is rumored to be haunted! (Ask any projectionist and they will tell you! Or wait for a little while and I will post more about this later - you do know that I once trained to become an apprentice in the Projectionist's Union, no?)

To keep the theme going (and I love a theme) - I ALSO just received a set of these wonderful Edgar Allan Poe stamps! Parisa, you'll be seeing these soon on something in your P.O. Box!

I saw a great film today...


Skip the self-help books, skip therapy - watch this movie... it'll improve your life!

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Let us die young or let us live forever.


I've recently finished watching the first season of True Blood and I must say... it's a rollicking good bloodsucking time. It's not ALL sex, drugs, and biting... though, it might not to everyone's taste. But, as vampire aficionado (and lovely pillow maker) PftP states: "It's super racy and it has tons of good vampire (sociopath) psychology. Plus it smartly explores the way the vampires and humans envy, desire, fear, enjoy, and despise each other in the context of a shared coexistence in Louisiana."

The South and vampires go very well together. Well, I suppose Vampires can make the most of any place really. How 'bout right here in San Francisco? Sure. Just on a whim I checked the vertical files in the History Center for anything on vampires and found one article: Vampire Scholar Found One Here. No source, no date. But after a bit of checking, I figured out that it was from the SF Chronicle sometime in 1972. (Naturally... mid-drug, etc. experimentation/pre-AIDS days.)

The scholar is SF State Professor Leonard Wolf (father of third-wave feminist, Naomi Wolf) who just happened to have a new book out at the time called A Dream of Dracula. The vampire is 22-year old 'Alex' who Wolf found through a mutual friend after several fruitless ads placed in the SF Chron. Wolf told the reporter that Alex had been turned on to blood drinking by acquaintances on a drug trip. Shortly afterward, Alex got married and, during his honeymoon, the blood drinking began in earnest. His bride left him for good the very next day. No worries though, as Wolf explained to the reporter, "San Francisco seems to be on a bood trip." Apparently masochists around The City were lining up to be bit. Good times.

My question is: Why would you go through all the trouble of drinking blood if you're not going to live forever because of it? I mean, really, isn't that the whole point?

Folks, it's a dirty world out there... keep your fangs to yourself and your id in check. If you want vampires, check out True Blood. If you haven't watched it already, you should... it's just that (unless you're clever like me) you'll have to wait for the DVD to be released on May 12th.

Oh, and you could always check out Leonard Wolf's extensive work on vampires and such, including A Dream of Dracula.

Just Another Beautiful Day In SF

Geese Guard Against Gauls!

In light of the recent 'geese vs. US Airways' incident, I thought it might be nice to reflect on a time when geese and men (at least Romans) were all on the same side...

In the early 4th century BCE a vast horde of Gauls sacked the city of Rome. Romans gave it up rather easily, actually. Most fled to neighboring cities like Veii while the Senate, priests, and what was left of the Roman army migrated to the Capitol - defending and taking refuge in the temples there. The Gauls made easy pickings of what they found in the city. According to Livy:
For several days they had been directing their fury only against bricks and mortar. Rome was a heap of smouldering ruins, but something remained - the armed men in the Citadel, and when the Gauls saw that, in spite of everything, they remained unshaken and would never yield to anything but force, they resolved to attempt an assault. At dawn, therefore, on a given signal the whole vast horde assembled in the Forum; then, roaring out their challenge, they locked shields and moved up the slope of the Capitol." (5.43)
 
The Romans, however, used the advantage of being at the top of the hill and managed to beat the Gauls back. Yet the Gauls were determined and even though they had destroyed most of the food and supplies in their initial sack of the city, they began a siege on the hill.

During all of this, officials in Veii were determined to get a message through to the Roman Senate - despite the fact that the Senate was under siege. As the old saying goes, 'if there's a will, there's a way', and a young Roman soldier named Pontius Cominus managed to do it. "Floating on a life-buoy down the river to Rome, he took the shortest way to the Capitol up and over a bluff so steep that the Gauls had never thought of watching it." (5.46) But the Gauls did find out about it and figured if he could do it, then they should all be able to do it too.

One starlit night, they made the attempt. Having first sent an unarmed man to reconnoitre the route, they began the climb. It was something of a scramble: at the awkward spots a man would get a purchase for his feet on a comrade below him, then haul him up in his turn - weapons were passed up from hand to hand as the lie of the rocks allowed - until by pushing and pulling on another they reached the top. What is more, they accomplished the climb so quietly that the Romans on guard never heard a sound, and even the dogs - who are normally aroused by the least noise in the night - noticed nothing. It was the geese that saved them - Juno's sacred geese, which in spite of the dearth of provisions had not been killed. The cackling of the birds and the clapping of their wings awoke Marcus Manlius - a distinguished officer who had been consul three years before - and he, seizing his sword and giving the alarm, hurried, without waiting for the support of his bewildered comrades, straight to the point of danger. (5.46)



And that, my friends, is how the sacred geese of Juno saved Rome - since after that last attempt, the lack of food forced the Gaul to accept payment from the Romans to leave the city alone.

I highly recommend...

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First book of the year...



This Common Secret: My journey as an abortion doctor - Susan Wicklund

Sometimes you can be zooming along, picking up books from the library, reading them, enjoying them, and then picking up another.  Then there are books that really grab your attention and make you think about your life.  This is one of those books.  Despite the fact that it is a quick and easy read, it also demands the reader to think about their part in the (seemingly) endless fight to keep abortion safe and legal in the United States. 

She says it herself, that it seems ridiculous that we still have to fight for it.  But what I think is so amazing is the fact that it is this "common secret".  So many women have them, but it is still incredibly taboo to talk about.

Equally important and revealing is the fact that women who have abortions come from every level of education, every income bracket, and every age from puberty to menopause.  They are Catholic and Jewish, Protestant and Buddhist, agnostic and atheist.  Every race and every ethnic group.  Every possible woman.  They are, in truth, our sisters, aunts, grandmothers, music teachers, neighbors, and best friends.

Susan Wicklund is definitely not your average woman.  As an abortion provider she was under constant pressures that most of us would consider too much to keep going.  But she did keep going, and that is inspiring.

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"Once Upon a Time..."

Somehow I found this film to be beautiful, wonderful, and yet, deeply disturbing.

*Edited to add*...
My feelings are confirmed after reading Jean Cocteau's notes on the film:
To realism, I would oppose the simplified, formalized behavior of characters out of Moliere (at the beginning of the film). To fairyland as people usually see it, I would bring a kind of realism to banish the vague and misty nonsense now so completely outworn. My story would concern itself mainly with the unconscious obstinacy with which women pursue the same type of man, and expose the naivete of the old fairy tales that would have us believe that this type reaches its ideal in conventional good looks. My aim would be to make the Beast so human, so sympathetic, so superior to men, that his transformation into Prince Charming would come as a terrible blow to Beauty, condemning her to a humdrum marriage and a future that I summed up in that last sentence of all fairy tales: "And they had many children."

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Latest Month

February 2015
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2015 in review

Movies:
1. Big Eyes (2014)****
2. Hercules (2014)***
3. Ida (2013)*****
4. Virunga (2014)****
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)*
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)**
7. Big Hero 6 (2014)*****
8. The Lego Movie (2014)**
9. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)****
10. Begin Again (2014)***
11. Last Days In Vietnam (2014)****
12. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)***
13. Boyhood (2014)**
14. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)***
15. Gone Girl (2014)***
16. The Boxtrolls (2014)***
17. Agent Carter: Season One (2015)*****
18. Whiplash (2014)****
19. Foxcatcher (2014)***
20. Beyond The Lights (2014)**
21. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)****
22. Outlander: Season One (2014)***
23. Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)*
24. Song of the Sea (2014)*****


Books:
1. A Vision of Fire ***
~~~~Gillian Anderson
2. The Name of the Game Is Death****
~~~~Dan J. Marlowe
3. Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Bennie Binnion****
~~~~Doug J. Swanson
4. In Real Life****
~~~~Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
5. The Outsmarting of Criminals***
~~~~Steven Rigolosi
6. Let's Go Crazy****
~~~~Alan Light
7. Tuck Everlasting****
~~~~Natalie Babbitt
8. Death Bed*
~~~~Stephen Greenleaf
9. Dead Pull Hitter****
~~~~Alison Gordon
10. Safe At Home***
~~~~Alison Gordon
11. Mortal Stakes****
~~~~Robert B. Parker
12. Night Game***
~~~~Alison Gordon
13. Striking Out***
~~~~Alison Gordon
14. Bra-Strap Bar & Grill**
~~~~Donna Camille
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