WNP493 – 41-47 West Portal Drive
Nicole: [00:00:00] It’s Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of Western Neighborhoods Project, your weekly dose of friendly neighborhood history. Well, and hello Outside Landers, and of course those living in the great Eastern area of San Francisco and beyond. I'm your host, Nicole Meldahl.
Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.
Nicole: And we totally nailed that new intro.
Arnold: We'll probably screw it up next time.
Nicole: Oh, I, I, I look forward to it. If it's, if it's any kind of complicated name or a change in the normal formatting, it's gonna take us a little bit or never to get it right.
Arnold: I choose to believe in never.
Nicole: It's true. You know what's funny? Someone reached out to a buddy of mine and said, oh, I listened to the Outside Lands podcast and my buddy was [00:01:00] like, oh, I'm friends with Nicole. And they were like, oh, the one that laughs all the time. I was like, yeah, that’s the one.
Arnold: It's not the first time we've heard about that.
Nicole: No, but just to clarify, anybody who's interested, I'm not drunk right now. I'm just happy. And moving on into our happy topic today, we have a good old fashioned building history. Because sometimes people email us and ask if we can dig anything up on their building or their business. And if we have the time, we totally do. And, you know, actually, often we'll do it even if we don't really have the time because this is one of the best parts of being a neighborhood historian, right? Researching places in the neighborhood.
Arnold: It is one of the best parts. And our friends at BarbCo Real Estate asked us to research their longtime West Portal home at 45 West Portal Avenue, and we found that that building has [00:02:00] some really great history. Too great not to share on a podcast, so, here we go.
Nicole: Yeah, here we go indeed. So, the three-story building technically at 41 to 47 West Portal Avenue has apartments on the top floors and businesses on the ground floor at three separate addresses over time. It was built in 1924 by a man named John Murphy, who hired architect Charles F. Strothoff, which I'm probably mispronouncing, and contractor R.H. Kelly to complete the estimated $22,000 build. Now by then, Strothoff already had a reputation for building in San Francisco, but he wasn't known for this kind of building.
Arnold: Yeah, Strothoff was known primarily for his residences, which according to Amy O'Hair of the Sunnyside History Project, accounts for his lack of recognition in comparison to other more prominent architects of his era. Strothoff is [00:03:00] credited as the architect of nearly 500 of the 650 bungalow-style homes that were built in Westwood Park during the post-World War I building boom, between 1918 and 1923. And you can see an example of these on our OpenSFHistory website. Just go there and type in the search term “wnp27.4286,” and that will get you to a photo of one of his places.
Nicole: I can hear you all searching already. It's, it's, it's coming to us while we record. Now, aside from Westwood Park, you can see examples of his homes all over the place, in Westwood Highlands, Monterey Heights, Sherwood Forest, St. Francis Wood, the Parkside, Sunnyside, St. Mary's Park, Mission Terrace and Geneva Terraces. And yes, I promise those are all real places. I didn't just make those up. And as O'Hair said, Strothoff, and I quote, “was an amazingly [00:04:00] productive and inventive architect. His work aimed not to create a new vernacular that spoke to the new century when his designs were built, but to cater to a desire for homes that looked back to a previous century set in districts insulated from the urban fray.”
Arnold: This certainly holds true for 41-47 West Portal Avenue. Although it's been remodeled a bit over the years, the structure retains a significant amount of integrity. In line with the fashion of the day, it has classical references, red tile roofs, and Spanish Mediterranean accents with curved windows and balconies set back from the storefronts downstairs. And the commercial history of this property overlaps at three distinct addresses, 41, 43 and 45 West Portal Avenue. So, let's take them all together by decade.
Nicole: And we should mention we're not architectural historians. So, there were probably very specific terminologies for all of the things, [00:05:00] the architectural things we just described. I'm sorry, but also, I'm not sorry, cause that's not my specialty. So yes, let's get into the fun part and dig into this history. For much of the building's, early history, residents of West Portal actually purchase pastries and other grocery goods. At this location, at 41 West Portal, we find an ever-revolving door of successive bakers through the 1940s. It starts with a man named M. Wessenberg in 1925. Then passed to Harold T. Schmidt and his wife Elouise, who both lived upstairs from 1926 to 1939; then to Max Wipf in 1931; and then the Hoop brothers, Walter, Bernhardt, and Wilhelm in 1932; followed by George Dietz in 1934; Fred Christophel from 1935 to 1939, C.V. Stone in 1940; and finally, drum roll please, [00:06:00] Victor Stone from 1941 to 1945.
Arnold: And as we see at bakeries throughout San Francisco, like one of our personal favorites, which is Schubert’s in the Richmond District, many of these men were German, either immigrants or first-generation German-American. And while most of these listed bakers appear only in passing in the written record, the Hoop brothers held onto more space in print. For instance, Bernhardt, who is better known as Bernard, was president of the Retail Bakers Association of San Francisco for a time.
Nicole: Please know that in my head, “hoop, there it is,” is now going on cycle and I'm so sorry I did that all to you, but you have to be part of this pain as well. Oh, we're gonna get emails about that. I'm so sorry. So, his brother Wilhelm, who was better known as Walter, was a charter member of the American Society of Bakery Engineers and also a card-carrying member of Baker's [00:07:00] Union, Local 24. But even for experienced bakers, the depression was hard on small business owners. In May 1932, the Hoop brothers were forced to liquidate the bakery's entire holdings from the chairs to the cash registers to the bakery equipment in a sheriff's sale.
Arnold: And, as you might realize, it was also a hard time to be a German in the United States. Then take for example, the story of Fred Christophel, who was born in Nienstadt, Germany and immigrated to the United States with his wife Lena in 1926. After leaving West Portal Avenue in 1939, Fred was working for Claus Hinck on Castro Street, when charges were filed against him and 11 other men who were accused of disloyalty in 1943. All 12 men were identified as Bundists, or members of the Friends of New Germany who had allegedly attended shipboard meetings with Nazi sailors.
Nicole: And as [00:08:00] background, the Friends of New Germany was founded as a forum for Nazi sympathizers in the United States in 1933. And as officials began to notice a cited increase in anti-Semitism in legal immigrants, a committee on Un-American Activities was auth, was authorized to investigate fascism in the country and determined that the Friends was functioning as the American outpost of Adolph Hitler. Hence, the Friends of New Germany was officially dissolved, and members transferred to a new group called the German American Bund. And sometimes the two are confused or used interchangeably.
Arnold: Now back to these charges against Fred. If he was convicted, Fred, who admitted to being a member of the Friends of New Germany, could have been denaturalized. The trial stretched into 1944, but Fred maintained he was not disloyal. And in January 1944, a judge agreed with him, ruling in his favor and allowing him to [00:09:00] retain his full citizenship.
Nicole: So, this kind of stuff fascinates me. Cause you don't think about how far it stretches into the west side, these kinds of stories are. You think of war being like a very downtown kind of a thing, not something that really hits upon our sleepy Outside Lands. So, if the first part of 41 West Portal Avenue’s history was delicious, if not a little complicated, the first decade next door at 43 West Portal Avenue was a beautiful one. I was home to hairdresser, Estelle Dondero. A native of Santa Rosa, she was the first tenant in 1925, a single woman who owned her own business and was also a member of the San Francisco Association of Cosmetologists.
Arnold: Although it was more common for women to own their own businesses in the 1920s, it was still a little bit unique. Perhaps there was an independent matriarchal streak in her family. Estelle's parents, John B. and Rose [00:10:00] Dondero divorced in April 1907 after quote, “Mrs. Dondero deserted her husband.” End quote. Although Ms. Dondero operated the beauty shop until December 1934 while living at 50 Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin, the only time her name appeared in local papers is when her purse was stolen out of the shop's dressing room in 1929.
Nicole: Whenever I see a woman deserting her husband, it, like earlier than the 1960s, I'm like, oh, there's something, there's something going on with that lady and she sounds awesome to me. So, the storefront was vacant for a year until Mrs. Grace R. Pack briefly served the neighborhood coffee from 43 West Portal Avenue for one year in 1935. And perhaps the family needed a little extra income since her husband's job was a bit unsteady at this time. At the time, Grace lived with her husband, Homer B. Pack and their two sons at 1342 [00:11:00] Schrader. And Arnold, who the heck is Homer?
Arnold: Well, since 1929, Homer had served on the Playground Commission. But in October 1933, rumors were swirling that Superintendent Josephine Randall was soon to demand Pack's resignation. Pack came to the Recreation Committee's regular meeting the next month with a lawyer, and Randall let the matter rest, for the time being. In January 1934, Pack was forcibly removed for five months before Superior Court Judge Edmond P. Mogan restored his position in June with back pay.
Nicole: That respite, however, did not last long. In February 1935, he was again suspended on charges of, and I quote, “incompetence and inattention to duties.” End quote. And by that time, he had been supervisor of playground construction for seven years. So, this dispute dragged on for [00:12:00] years and was used by those who disliked Randall as a woman in charge of something, as evidence of her incompetence in managing the department.
Arnold: Luckily for the Pack family, however, Homer, he inherited a hundred thousand dollars from a distant relative of his mother that September. Certainly enough money to close the Pack coffee shop on West Portal Avenue, but not enough money to give up his fight with Randall. The San Francisco Examiner article, that shared the Pack's happy news about the inheritance, was also on record as saying Pack quote, “wouldn't retire. He's too young, he says, and there are more playgrounds to build.” End quote.
Nicole: There is definitely another podcast in, in that. I know Chelsea's been really, she's been researching Josephine Randall on the side, cause she really likes her. So, maybe there is a future podcast here. So as a succession of bakeries, moved through 41 West Portal. There was a series of [00:13:00] delicatessens at 45 West Portal Avenue for the first 10 years of its existence. From 1925 to 1926, a delicatessen was owned and operated by Robert and Josephine Mueller. Then Henry C. Schweers from 1927 to 1930, when it was known as Henry's Delicatessen. Then from 1932 to 1934, Candido Nicolai ran it as West Portal Delicatessen.
Arnold: The Muellers were also natives of Germany. And the couple sold the delicatessen on account of sickness, moving to the East Bay where Josephine died in Berkeley in 1929. After the Schweers and Nicolais managed the business for a few years each, respectively, 45 West Port Avenue sat vacant. It was briefly occupied by a west side plumber named Milton B. Schwartz in 1938, and then the space enters the sweetest period as home to Awful Fresh McFarlane's Candy Store. [00:14:00]
Nicole: Oh, this is my favorite part. Well, not totally my favorite part. The McFarlane Nut Company was founded by Donald Lee McFarlane, Senior, also known as Don “Awful Fresh” McFarlane, in 1918. Definitely not the kind of nickname a man would want these days, but as far as we can tell, the reference was just about his fresh nuts. And don't worry, the company was eventually rebranded as McFarlane's Candy Company and offerings branded in, out into ice cream and hard candies. But those nuts were still super fresh.
Arnold: That so reminded me of that Saturday Night Live skit about sweaty balls, or schweaty, schweaty balls.
Nicole: Oh, sorry, young listeners.
Arnold: Anyways, by 1927, McFarlane's had 27 stores and it's 45,000 square foot Oakland factory churned out more than 3 million pounds [00:15:00] of candy per year.
Nicole: So much candy.
Arnold: When his West Portal store opened in August 1939, McFarlane frequently advertised additional San Francisco locations on Market and Mission Streets, as well as another west side outpost at 5630 Geary Boulevard.
Nicole: Yeah so, for his grand opening at 45 West Portal, the Scotch candy maker ran an ad in local papers that promised free samples and a performance by a bagpipe band called Ladies From Hell at 8:00 PM on August 2nd, 1939. Now, during the 1920s and 1930s, the company actually sponsored the band, which was composed of veterans from the First World War. And we see refreshingly original advertisements that say things like, “come to the house of a million nuts, you'll like my stuff--awful fresh,” enticing people to West Portal for years until the advertisements end in [00:16:00] 1942.
Arnold: I really hope these Ladies From Hell have a recording somewhere that somebody can find for us.
Nicole: Also, I think we should have, if we ever do a Patreon, that Patreon will just be me, at least the first one, it will just be me reading all of the Awful Fresh McFarlane ads, because they're all completely insane. There's so many of them.
Arnold: So, after the Scottish candy maker left, 45 West Portal Avenue entered an extended period serving parents and children in the neighborhood. Around 1947, it was home to the Children's Bazaar, which sold quote, “infants and children's wear, nursery furniture, buggies, dolls, toys, and games.” End quote. And that was before the entire stock was purchased by a local department store called Weinstein Company in April 1948. But locals remember this location most fondly as a beloved toy store.
Nicole: They sure do. An advertisement for Carlotta's [00:17:00] Toys appears in the San Francisco Examiner in November 1955. But the coup de grace came the next year when Herb Caen covered the shop in 1956. He wrote, and I quote, “Carlotta's Toy Shop in West Portal,” which he writes as W’Portal. “W’Portal advertises outside Twin Peaks tunnel. How dull. If it were inside, think of the fun the customers would have dodging streetcars.” End quote. I gotta tell you, and this is a point of contention for some folks, I've never really understood Herb Caen. Every time I read his stuff, I'm like, all right.
Arnold: It is a something for a different generation.
Nicole: Maybe, but like I read plenty of other columns that I still understand. Personal opinion.
Arnold: By November 1958, the business had changed hands [00:18:00] and was known as Toy Village, which was owned by Renato “Ray” Salvoni. Western Neighborhoods Project members have vivid member, memories of Ray's Toy Village, which they shared on our message board. Ken Englund remembers visiting the store after listening to Saturday morning radio shows. He said, “Toy Village always had the newest toys. The ones you saw advertised on TV shows. Mattel and Remco were a few of the big names. Ray was usually there and he had other clerks. They were pretty good about letting us look at all the new things and letting us handle some of them.” End quote.
Nicole: Yeah, Katherine T. said, :everyone who worked there was so kind and seemed to genuinely love their work.” End quote. There were yo-yo contests, model building contests. They were really a part of the neighborhood. Wrapped gifts came with a complimentary role of Life Savers taped to the toy, which is awesome. And this [00:19:00] memory is particularly mentioned in several of the messages left to us by our members. And do kids even eat Life Savers anymore? Is that a thing?
Arnold: I'm pretty sure it's still a thing. But I don't know, cause I don't eat 'em anymore.
Nicole: Yeah. People around children, please report back. That came out kind of creepy, but you know what I mean.
Arnold: Anyway, one of those members was Jim, who was a stock boy at Toy Village from 1966 to 1967, and a manager from 1968 until early 1970. He said, quote, “the other full-timers were Marie Woods and Susan Hookins. Those were the days before Toys R Us hit the Bay Area. And business for an independent, if properly managed store, could be quite profitable. Ray Salvoni was a great boss and his instincts and business savvy were unparalleled. I later went on to be an auditor, supervisor, and lastly, [00:20:00] an executive at the California State Board of Equalization and dealt with many business people over my 32 years there, but met very few who were as sharp as Ray.” End quote.
Nicole: Sharp indeed. Ray is quoted in a San Francisco Examiner article from May 1964 that asked locals, what's the biggest need in West Portal area? And Ray said, and I quote, “the greatest need is the understanding of the city administrators of the outlying merchant's problems. In this respect, the new council of district merchants is providing the small businessman with the voice in city government.” End quote. And I've, what I loved about that quote is how, you know, topical and present it felt. Like these are things that merchants out in the neighborhoods are still saying that like they're largely overlooked by the greater machinations of city government. And that kind of feels extra true now that the mayor has, like unveiled her plan to focus [00:21:00] on revitalizing downtown. I know a lot of people I've talked to out here feel a little uncomfortable.
Arnold: So, by the end of the 1960s, Ray and his wife Lucille, had business interests beyond West Portal. In May 1969, Ray and Lucille took on a new venture as co-managers of a new hotel, the San Francisco Royal Inn that was located on Ellis Street near Larkin. They took that on with another couple. Len Norack is brought in to manage a Toy Village by 1972, and he took over the business entirely by 1975.
Nicole: And, by then, the neighborhood has started to change in the mid-1970s, like, like elsewhere in the city and beyond. And some of the neighbors thought the pro, the proliferation of bank branches and other chains were leading to frequent business turnovers, into an overall decline, including Len, who is Vice President of the Merchants Association in March of that year. Toy Village [00:22:00] managed to hang on for a few more years, but it disappeared from city directories at this location by 1978.
Arnold: So, we found bakeries, beauty stores, and delicatessens, as well as candy purveyors and toy store owners. But remember we got into this at the request of a realtor. So, we also found that BarbCo was not the first real estate firm to grace the building. In July 1936, the first advertisement for the real estate team of George Chapman and H. Syril Dusenberry appeared in the San Francisco Examiner. Although Chapman having a rather common name was hard to track, a wealth of information on Harry Syril Dusenberry was made available to us.
Nicole: What a doozy, Harry is. The Dusenberry men in some form or another were involved in real estate for generations. Dusenberry's father Samuel was the son of Russian and German [00:23:00] immigrants, Esoer, Esoer and Helena Dusenberry, and the family was living in San Francisco when Esoer worked as a fire insurance agent as early as 1880. In April 1893, Samuel married Rose Harris at the Hotel California, and just about nine months later, they gave birth to a son, H. Syril, on January 15th, 1890.
Arnold: Yeah. Ready a room at the Hotel California.
Nicole: No. Now that’s stuck in my head.
Arnold: Newspapers tracked the family as they summered outside the city and took their son on an educational year-long trip abroad to see Europe, Egypt, India and China, as was the custom at the time. We also see Samuel purchasing, transferring, building, managing, and selling properties throughout San Francisco, particularly in the Tenderloin, Chinatown and Nob Hill in the first decade of the 20th century.
Nicole: Yeah, [00:24:00] he was successful, although he did have his fair share of legal troubles, like suing his insurance companies over 1906 earthquake and fire claims, and battling the city on complaints that some of his larger Tenderloin apartment buildings were in violation of the Red Light Abatement Act. And I'll give you 10 guesses what that Abatement Act was trying to abate
Arnold: Yeah, I won't get into it. Probably not proper for this podcast.
Nicole: Maybe it has something to do with fresh nuts.
Arnold: Meanwhile, young Syril took an interest in magic.
Nicole: I have a joke about making things disappear, but I think we should also leave that for the time being.
Arnold: According to an uncited entry on his Wikipedia page, and yes, Syril has a Wikipedia page.
Nicole: No, actually I looked it up again. It's a [00:25:00] Magicpedia page.
Arnold: Oh, okay.
Nicole: Apparently, there are Wikipedia type things for any topic you can imagine. Fun facts.
Arnold: Okay, so young Syril has a Magicpedia page, and on it, it says he was presented with two trunks of magic tricks purchased from a stranded magician when he was just 13 years old. And while he was studying mechanics at UC Berkeley, which probably came in handy for a magician, he had many extracurricular pursuits as a member of the mathematics, glee, radio, and camera clubs.
Nicole: Man after my old heart, I am my old heart, my own heart. He was also already a member of the Golden Gate Assembly of a Society of American Magic. After graduating 1918, he served with the US Army as a sergeant in the 126th Spruce Squadron. He then expanded his pursuit of magic, traveling extensively to watch magicians [00:26:00] perform and learn new tricks and publishing numerous articles and a book on the subject.
Arnold: He marries Jane Silverberg in San Francisco in 1927 and perhaps being a magician from a prominent local family, didn't pay him, didn't pay a married man's bills. They most certainly couldn't pay those of a father. The couple welcomed the birth of their daughter, Patricia, in 1930, and his father Samuel, died in 1932, while he was living in Los Angeles. By the end of the 1930s, Syril becomes a real estate broker in West Portal.
Nicole: Yeah, because what's a magician to do when he needs a little money? Sell homes. Chapman and Dusenberry mostly covered the west of Twin Peaks area and remained at 43 West Portal until the Dusenberry Realty Company, I quote, “specialists in fine homes,” moved to, first to 183 West Portal Avenue in June 1940 without Chapman. Don't know what the [00:27:00] story is there. And finally, to 2387 Ocean Avenue in March 1940.
Arnold: While 43 West Portal hosted a real estate firm with a magic secret, 41 West Portal Avenue was home to a pioneering woman-owned firm, Dawson & Brolan. The agency, which was co-owned by Helen Dawson and Elise, or Elsie Brolan, began advertising in local papers in June 1965, with their first location at 201 West Portal Avenue.
Nicole: What a missed opportunity. We should have said the magic touch. Next time. So I, this is my, this might be my real favorite part of the story. Helen was the daughter of Hazel Scanlin and George C. Jones, who met during the 1906 earthquake and fire and married in 1913. We really should have a podcast drinking game where every time the 1906 Earthquake and fire is mentioned, you have to take a shot of something. It's two already. The family lived on Schrader [00:28:00] Street and George worked for the San Francisco Unified School District teaching electric shop and math at a variety of campuses from 1928 through 1954. And in his free time, he volunteered with the Boy Scouts. So, Helen had a solid upbringing that we imagine helped her through a pretty rough first marriage.
Arnold: We should mention that not only Scanlin and Jones meeting during the 1906 earthquake, the Western Neighborhoods Project is here today because of the 1906 earthquake, because our founder Woody LaBounty, his grandparents met at that earthquake.
Nicole: Yeah. So, take your third drink.
Arnold: So, anyways, when she was just 21 years old, Helen married a Russian born attorney named Andrew Bradisco. Probably pronounced wrong. They married at the old Mission Dolores in 1936. The couple had a son, Michael, in 1941 as Bradisco's career [00:29:00] flourished in the 1940s, with an appointment to assistant district attorney in 1943. He seems to have wandered and the couple were divorced by around 1945. An article in 1951 notes that he had left his second wife of six years for another woman. So, there you have it. But her obituary state, stated that she had a background in law. We're wondering if maybe that's how the pair met.
Nicole: Yeah, I don't know. Regardless, Helen remarried to Malcolm Dawson in October 1947, and she began her career in real estate working with John Barbagelata in 1958. When she decided to strike out on her own, her husband and two sons built an office over the family's garage. And there's a wonderful article about this, I, I took a quote from. “Working with mom at home on multiple listing filing cards, became a daily enterprise for the entire family.” End quote. She started Dawson and Brolan with her friend Elsie in [00:30:00] 1964, and the agency became an anchor for businesswomen in San Francisco during a time that was critical for second-wave feminists.
Arnold: And in 1973, Helen spoke at Convent of the Sacred Heart for Career Day. In an article titled, “’Go’ is a career word for teen girls,” the San Francisco Examiner said, quote, “the momentum of the women's movement has caught up with private elite high schools for girls. Yesterday, 16 successful women representing a wide range of careers, but united in a single purpose of encouragement spoke at the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Their message, no professional doors are closed to today's teenage girl.” End quote.
Nicole: Yeah, Helen encouraged the young women in attendance with, and I quote, “happy, outgoing” personalities who were “interested in the housing needs of people,” to go into real estate, [00:31:00] as long as they knew that they wouldn't make a lot of money in the profession, I guess it was about $10,000 a year right then. So, professional women clearly still had an uphill battle, but Helen herself continued to climb.
Arnold: Yeah, in 1982, she was elected director of the National Association of Realtors and Dawson and Brolan Realty had “nearly 700,000 members engaged in all phases of real estate.” End quote. A figure that makes little sense, but is certainly impressive.
Nicole: Yeah. I was like 700,000 members of what?
Arnold: I'm not sure. By 1990, Helen was also president of the San Francisco Board of Realtors and the company transitioned to Dawson-Bradisco in 1991 before she went solo in 1995. And perhaps we should ask the good folk at Barbagelata what that 700,000 members means. [00:32:00]
Nicole: Yeah, I mean it's also fine if they're fudging the numbers, cause I respect you ladies, but, and I'm also wondering if, if there was a typo in the article that I read and Dawson-Bradisco is actually connected to maybe someone from her ex-husband's family, I don't know. I didn't have time to really dig into that too much. Also, information on these ladies was not easy to find. Anywhose it. Before Helen retired in 1998. Helen was also president of the State Women's Council of Realtors and a congressional liaison for the State Association of Realtors. And somehow, she also found the time to teach a real estate course at City College of San Francisco. When she died in November 2003, her children remembered her as, and I quote, “a great lady, a great mother, a great success, and great American woman.”
Arnold: Helen's partner and friend Elsie was equally as impressive. Her [00:33:00] obituary says that she was the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, but her early history was a little hard to straighten out, at least by the time of this podcast. She was born Elsie Bernard in Massachusetts in 1920. But by, in the 1930 census, she and her siblings, 16-year-old George M. Bernard and 12-year-old Eva Bernard, had been adopted and were living with Manuel F. Rezendes and his wife Emily in Patterson, California near Modesto.
Nicole: Yeah, she graduated from Heald College and in October 1949, she was living at 656 Thornton Avenue in San Francisco, when she filed for a wedding license to marry Francis Brolan of 746 Clayton Street. The couple were married at St. Stanislaus Church and had their reception at the Hotel Covell in Modesto in January 1950. And there's a really cute photo of them in the Modesto Bee, if you wanna look that up. The couple [00:34:00] lived in San Francisco and raised a family. And the year Elsie's stepfather Manuel died in Modesto, she opened her own real estate business with Helen.
Arnold: Together, the two women paved an impressive path. By 1971, Elsie was keeping pace with her distinguished partner and served as vice president for the realtors. In 1976, she founded the first Women's Savings and Loan Association, cause she felt, quote, “that women have also been discriminated against for too long in the banking and lending business.” End quote. She along with several other partners, only one of whom was male, received a charter from the state and signed a lease on property on Battery and Sansome in 1977.
Nicole: An article in 1981 described Elsie as a real estate broker, property investor, businesswoman and teacher at City College of San Francisco, when she spoke at the Women's Council for Realtors in Modesto. She also worked with the Federal Department of Housing and [00:35:00] Urban Development and gave talks on women and credit and who better to lecture on something, yes, like that, than the woman who, along with her partners, sold the pioneering Savings and Loan Association to a New York investor for over 5 million in 1984, less than 10 years after the association was created in San Francisco. Truly a complete badass. Love her so much.
Arnold: Indeed, and this feels like a good place to stop.
Arnold: As we get into the 1980s, the history gets a lot less interesting with the only major tenant being a military recruiting station. And we won't get into the history of BarbCo here, because honestly that should be its own podcast.
Nicole: Totally agree. Which brings us to, Arnold? A Say What Now!
Arnold: And because we know you're thinking about it, we're [00:36:00] excited to report that you can read Syril Dusenberry's book, Making Magic Pay, which he wrote in 1923, through the magnificent Internet Archive, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
Nicole: Like, of course the realtor who comes from a wealthy family is like, here's how to turn your hobby into a side hustle. Oh boy.
Arnold: I wonder what the uptick will be in people trying to read that now.
Nicole: Gonna have a whole one download. Yeah. Excuse me, two. I, I opened it for, to see like what it was about.
Arnold: So, this leads us to listener mail.
Nicole: So first of all, Arnold, how does one send us listener mail?
Arnold: As always, the email address is [00:37:00] email@example.com. But you can also take advantage of our social media presence and contact us through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and post a podcast comment there.
Nicole: Yeah, and after listening to episode number 477, my interview with Lloyd Kahn, Ellen said, and I quote, “this was a phenomenal podcast. Keep us posted on his latest book when it comes out. Appreciate having the transcript to read as I miss some details on the first listen, and now realize that I have some of his books already. For example, Shelter. Thanks, Nicole.” And thank you Arnold Woods, Thomas Beutel and his Descript account, and other volunteers for making those podcast transcripts happen.
Arnold: Yeah, our transcript volunteers are doing a great job. Not only are we keeping every new podcast transcribed going forward, but we're filling in a lot of the old ones. And, it's still gonna take [00:38:00] a lot of time because we, again, we have nearly 500 of them, but it is happening.
Nicole: Yeah. This is part of a slow process as we build on a new website too, of making sure that all of our text articles also have audio files to accompany them as we try to increase our accessibility online. Because why not try to do the work of a 40 man and woman museum, with just two people and some volunteers.
Arnold: And the only way that happens…
Arnold: Is by people becoming members or donating. And how do they do that? Nicole?
Nicole: Oh Arnold, I'm so glad you asked about the benefits of membership and donating. So, if you clickety, clickety, clack a ginormous orange button on our websites that say Membership or Donate, and you give us money either monthly or annually or just one time, a little bit goes a long way, you get, if you're a member, [00:39:00] quarterly membership magazine, discounts on events and other exclusive perks. And your membership or donations support all the good work that we do. Work on OpenSFHistory.org, which happens weekly, even though you don't see new photos online yet. The Cliff House collection, it's care and exhibition, which is horrendously expensive and time consuming. This podcast, which is the funnest thing that we might do at WNP. You get to listen to it for free and as we introduce you to all kinds of new people and places here. So really, every single dollar goes a long way at WNP, and we hope you join the family today.
Arnold: And it also helps support some other things we do, which we are gonna get to in our announcement section.
Nicole: Yes, indeedy Arnold. Mark your calendars. March 11th will be an epic party at the Great Highway Gallery at 43rd and Lawton. [00:40:00] We told you some time ago that our dear friend John Lindsey, is being forced to close his gallery after his landlord refused to negotiate a 50% increase in his lease. In the meantime, before the party, many people have been asking what they can do for him. So here it is from the man himself. Go buy art from his gallery, see his shows, tell him in person that you love him, even though it makes him uncomfortable because he is a big softie. And if you're interested in sharing your memories of how the Great Highway has impacted your life or changed your neighborhood, please email them here, firstname.lastname@example.org or send them straight to John, email@example.com. He doesn't know I'm doing this, but he will soon.
Arnold: And it's almost March, and that means our events are coming back.
Nicole: Should we call it March Madness?
Arnold: I, that might be trademarked.
Nicole: Yeah, I was just thinking. Oh gosh. I bet that's copyrighted. [00:41:00]
Arnold: So, tickets to our three upcoming history walks with John Martini in March and April are selling out fast. But, I think there's still some available. So, get yours now so you can join us on our history walks of the Presidio Main Post, the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park and Mountain Lake. Tickets are just $10 for WNP members, and $20 for non-members. You can get those tickets by going to our Eventbrite page or signing up for our monthly email at outsidelands.org, or just click on the events link on our website.
Nicole: And on Thursday, March 16th, we are joining with the Global Museum at San Francisco State for a program called Community History, but Make it Global. Which we kind of thought was just gonna be a working title, and then it just didn't change. So, this will explore the power, purpose, and process of community involvement in the work of our respective organization. [00:42:00] And it happens at the Global Museum, which a lot of people don't know exists. And this is a really special opportunity to get behind the scenes, see artifacts that aren't normally on display and chat with the people who, who do all the amazing work that they do. So, it's $10 for WNP members, $20 for everyone else. And if you go to S.F. State as a student or you teach there as a faculty member, it's for free and you have a secret code that you need to put in. So, email us firstname.lastname@example.org for that secret code. And the proceeds from the event will pay for some of the catering that we give you and will then benefit evenly both organizations. So, reserve your ticket. There's only 50 tickets available and with just the first initial email that went out to our members and WNP insiders who signed up for the email list, were already almost half sold out. So, go to Eventbrite or outsidelands.org/events [00:43:00] to preserve your tickets today.
Arnold: And golly gee Nicole, we are not pushing one hour on this podcast. So, as we reach the end here, what is our preview for next week?
Nicole: Yeah, so we're joined by buddy John Lindsey of the Great Highway Gallery, that I just told you about for an exercise in living history as we begrudgingly say goodbye to his iconic location on 43rd and Lawton, by remembering all the good it gave to the Sunset District. And, I don't know, hearing what John will be up to next. So, with that, until next time, I'm Nicole Meldahl.
Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.
Nicole: And this has been another episode of Outside Lands San Francisco. Thanks for being with us history friends,
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.