07/22/23 - posted by Paul Judge
Those grid blocks of the Westside of the City do provide one with a decent sense of the cardinal directions of the compass.
Face it, whether walking, bicycling, taking Muni, motoring or skateboarding one traverses the points of the compass to get anywhere.
I never gave thought to the dimensions of the block that I and my pals lived on. We did however as kids do our share of excavating in the backyard.

We were inspired I imagine by the giant hole that my dad dug to bury dead rose bushes in preparation to plant a lawn of dichondra ground cover. A fatal plan in the making that was. Bought at the Garden Department of Sears at Geary and Masonic the sales pitch was that it would do well in the foggy coastal air of the Outer Richmond. The rolls of dichondra were laid out in the flat center rectangle of the back yard only in time to be out witted and outgrown by faster growing weeds.

While that experiment was being played out my pal’s, brothers Glenn and Craig and I employed the shovels laying around to dig as deep a hole as we could in the rear terrace of my backyard. In the sand we found chunks of chert rock and thick broken glass bottles. We fantasied these were tailings left by miners from the Gold Rush. Our imagination fired us to dig deeper where we hit a layer of, I kid you not, distinctly moist, gold colored sand that we were certain was the real deal. We went ape celebrating our discovery jumping up and down entertaining notions that we wouldn’t need to attend anymore school since we’d hit pay dirt. We kept the secret to ourselves and returned the next day to excavate more. The only new treasure unearthed was a metal convention badge showing the skyline of San Francisco. We didn’t know anything of the law of stratigraphy to realize that if the badge was below the level of stuff the gold miners left that it had to be ‘older’ in sequence of time and burial. The gold dirt didn’t raise from our parents to our level of excitement, but the convention badge did rate their curiosity. The deep trench we kids dug was topped with the wooden crate a new water heater was delivered in. This converted to a pill box club house where graham cracker and peanut butter snacks were enjoyed while playing war games and laying siege to imaginary armies.

I’ll have to ask Mike Smith over there on 46th Avenue what he thinks. Here’s a Carl Nolte article about what Mike found digging in his backyard.
“Deep dig in the backyard offers glimpse of ice age”. Carl Nolte. Updated: Nov. 8, 2013.

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