Researching Myself

Researching Myself

When I was working on my most recent Memories post, I wanted to check some details, and possibly push past the haze to discover some of the places about which I was writing. In particular I tried to locate the precinct to which we drove in order to make our report about the robbery, and hence perhaps find out the name of the night club next door.

A Google search with the words “San Francisco Police precincts 1977” landed me on the Internet Archive site – and the SFPD annual report for the year of 1977. I was rewarded with a plethora of statistics and even some useful info in the thickets.

Our request for police service on that Saturday night in 1977 was one of 424,368 that year, and became more specifically one of 105,374 criminal incidents reported. Curiously the report we gave them was one of a grand total of 140,979, so I guess 35,605 of those they took in, were non-criminal. (I wonder what constituted a non-criminal report back then).

They did some comparisons to the year before and were happy to report that the incidents of robbery in 1977 were down in the city by 17.8% – (from a total of 6640 in 1976, down to 5456). Seeing that made me feel better, too.

Then I saw the category entitled malicious mischief.  I briefly considered this designation, as I thought our broken window might have fallen under that rubric. Its incidents were down only 1.5%.

There was a map included with the annual report showing the various police districts in the city. And wouldn’t you know it, Market Street makes up the boundary of two, the A and B districts.

So, in which district had our car break-in been reported? With no guidelines to go by, it was difficult to make a determination. If it had been presented to Solomon and he asked me which side of Market Street we had parked on, he would have gone with the B District. But I have a suspicion that we made our report to a station somewhere in the A region, and they should have gotten credit for it.

So armed with these pertinent facts, I found a SFPD records website, and filled out a PDF request form to order copies of the police incident report. After a four day wait, I received an email back from their clerk, who reported that all the records from that time, had been “purged/destroyed.”

I guess just like Vegas, what happened in San Francisco, stayed in San Francisco, except for the official reports about what had happened in San Francisco.

Aside – I discovered some years after this incident that the stolen 8mm Bell & Howell movie camera had been to San Francisco before. It had been in my Mom’s family from at least the 1940’s. Among the footage is a shot that clearly was Coit Tower and a couple more scenes were taken in Chinatown.

Aside aside – Two police TV shows set in San Francisco – McMillan & Wife, and The Streets of San Francisco finished their runs in 1977. Coincidence?

Down in the Canyons of Seattle

Down in the Canyons of Seattle

We were canyon dwellers in Seattle, and spent the majority of our time in the one canyon called Fifth Avenue. Out where our apartment was located the canyon was a little more open, but as we trudged off to work the canyon walls grew steeper and the shadows lengthened. My wife’s place of work came first on the trek up the arroyo. She cashiered at the Coliseum theater, a gleaming white Roman-like structure at the corner of Fifth and Pike. (Bruce Lee was mixing it up with Chuck Norris in “Return of the Dragon”). My theater was farther up the avenue past our opposition, SRO’s Music Box theater, at this juncture running the first run hit, “Chinatown”, the Jack Nicholson starrer, directed by Roman Polanski.

[Aside – though I was gone from the UA Cinema, I remained in contact with the cinephile’s there. Pat and Wendy, Karl, Stephen and Billie caught the film at the Music Box, too. We all liked it. Except Billie. For some strange reason she took umbrage to the red and green Lucky Strike cigarette packages, an Art Director’s touch that lent an additional layer of authenticity for the rest of us.]

On the first day I walked under the marquee, it was lettered with the title “Uptown Saturday Night,” a comedy starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. Oddly, it was double billed with “The Getaway” (the Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw version, directed by Sam Peckinpah and written by Walter Hill).

I have a lot of memories linked to the entrance of the Fifth Avenue theater. At break times I relieved the cashier in the octagonal box office, which sat smack dab in the center of the entrance. I took tickets at the ornate doors behind and in line with the box office. I changed the posters in the large shadow box frames lining the sides of the entrance. And I watched one building come down, and another go up.

By the time we changed our bill of fare (two thrillers – “The Black Windmill,” directed by Don Siegel; doubled with “The Day of the Jackal,” directed by Fred Zinneman) some big changes were underway across the street. The Fifth Avenue sat across from the White Henry Stuart Building. Both were within that section of Seattle known as the Metropolitan Tract. This valuable acreage of real estate is owned by the University of Washington, having been the former campus of the school (prior to 1895). The decision had been made to demolish the White Henry Stuart building in order to put up a newer and bigger structure. Now as the wrecking balls moved into place and began battering away at the canyon wall in front of us, we were introduced little by little to views of the setting sun on Puget Sound. The pounding continued throughout our run of “Airport 75” (directed by Jack Smight), and the pile drivers added their tune somewhere along the line to our Christmas film, “The Front Page” (directed by Billy Wilder, assisted by Howard Kazanjian). By the time John Cassavetes’ film “Woman Under the Influence”  moved in, we were treated to the spectacle of a non-ending convoy of cement trucks adding their contents to the continuous pour that resulted in that “golf-tee” like structure that is the base of the Rainier Tower. And two huge cranes worked in tandem as the new building sprouted up forty stories.

At one of these change of billings, I was almost seriously wounded by a falling plate glass window. No, it did not wing in from across the street. I was changing posters in that afore mentioned shadow box frame. The posters were enclosed behind two huge pieces of sliding plate glass. A cylindrical lock slid on and off a bayonet-type piece of metal that was attached to the plate glass that slid behind the other. I had just unlocked and removed the lock, and was gripping the plate glass in front to slide it open when that glass cracked in half. All the weight of the upper portion of the window came down on top of my right thumb, glanced off, and crashed back into the box frame, instead of falling towards me and chopping me off at the ankles.

The incident gave me pause to reflect. I had the smallest of wounds on the knuckle of my thumb, a mere quarter inch long (and a tiny scar that lasted a decade or so). It left me with a deep sense of gratitude. A thankfulness for God’s protection from injury. Something I will always remember.