Western Neighborhoods Project is dedicated to the history of San Francisco's Richmond, Sunset, OMI and West of Twin Peaks districts.   read more ...

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 496: Legendary Animals of San Francisco

Judi Leff & Joseph Amster join Nicole & Arnold to explore the fascinating histories of some San Francisco animals.
by Nicole Meldahl - Mar 18, 2023

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 496: Legendary Animals of San Francisco Outside Lands Podcast Episode 496: Legendary Animals of San Francisco

(above) Wallace the Lion, circa 1905

Fulton Street Chutes. Wallace the Lion was on display at both the Haight Street and Fulton Street Chutes. This cage with the columns is from the Fulton Street Chutes. The Zoo at the Fulton Street Chutes was phased out in October, 1907. Wallace and rest of the zoo was sold off to a zoo in Vancouver, B.C.

Podcast Transcription

WNP496 – Legendary Animals of San Francisco

Nicole: [00:00:00] It’s Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of Western Neighborhoods Project. Your weekly dose of friendly neighborhood history.

Hello Outside Landers. I'm your host Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I'm your co-host Arnold Woods,

Nicole: Arnold, this is my favorite kind of podcast. You know, the kind where we're just along for the ride as other people who have done some incredible research, share the cool things that they've uncovered. So, not to pass by the niceties right away.

Arnold: The less work for us the better.

Nicole: Oh my gosh, that is my motto for 2023. Absolutely. So, let's get on with it cause I know they have a ton of amazing history to share. Let us welcome our dear friends from the San Francisco History Association, Judi Leff and Joseph Amster. [00:01:00] Hi friends. Welcome.

Joseph: Hi.

Judi: Hello.

Nicole: So, first of all, I'm really grateful that you could join us tonight because your presentations are legendary. Almost as legendary as the San Francisco animals that you're gonna get into right now. But can you do us a favor and explain what SFHA is?

Joseph: So, the San Francisco History Association was founded about 30-some years ago. Originally as a collector's group. And morphed into this group that did monthly presentations and a yearly banquet, which we don't do anymore. And our mission is to inform the people of San Francisco about its rich and diverse history.

Arnold: And Judi, maybe you can tell us how people can find the SFHA.

Judi: Yeah, we are SanFranciscoHistory.org. You can find us on, [00:02:00] online and we are the best deal in town. $35 a year gets you into 11 programs, either live or on Zoom. We do the programs, we try to present a variety of programs about San Francisco history, and we try to tap into this, you know, wonderful treasure trove of speakers that exist in the city of San Francisco. And we also try to be a clearinghouse. A lot of times we'll get a request from reporters and researchers and so on and so forth, asking us, you know, thinking we have this vast library and archive, which we do not. But, I like to help them find the right expert in whatever it is they're looking for.

Nicole: And at the risk of being a self-promoter, what is your program coming up in March?

Judi: So March 28th, we will be having Nicole Meldahl and Reino Neimela, Jr. speaking about the art and design of Playland. And I'm super looking forward to [00:03:00] that. I think it's gonna be great. And Reino Neimela's father was responsible for all kinds of things at Playland. Designs and signs and maintaining the place and the look that we all remember of the signs and the graphics and so on and so forth. And I know that Reino brought a number of things to the wonderful Cliff House Naiad Cove exhibit. So I'm really looking forward to the visuals and the information that's gonna be presented on Tuesday, March 28th at 7:00 PM. That would be at Congregation Sherith Israel, California and Webster Streets, or you can write to us for the Zoom link.

Arnold: So, we brought Judi and Joseph in this week to talk about some of San Francisco's legendary animals. Which actually dovetails quite nicely out of last week's Chain of Lakes podcast, in which we detailed the mysterious birds of Middle Lake in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Judi and Joseph [00:04:00] have done some research about some amazing animals. So, just a little background first. What prompted you to investigate San Francisco's legendary animals?

Judi: Well, to be honest with you, it was because of my volunteer work at the Naiad Cove, Cliff House exhibit. There was that wonderful wooden bear that we kept telling everybody was probably modeled after Monarch. And I would get so excited about it. And kids love to touch that bear and people love to have themselves photographed with it and so on and so forth. And it really got me thinking about Monarch. I wanted to know more about Monarch. And as you all know, when you start to do a deep dive, then you start finding out about other animals and other things and, oh my God, and Joseph knows all about Bummer and Lazarus and other animals. And so, we decided that it would be fun for the two of us to team up and do a presentation.

Joseph: It’s not our first time doing presentations together. I think it's our third. [00:05:00]

Nicole: It's not Arnold's and my first time either. So, we're in good company together. Well, let's just get into it. I can't wait to hear about all the background on our carved bear, which might not be background on our actual carved bear, but it provides context and all the other amazing animals. So, Judi, who's up first?

Judi: So first we do, we're gonna start with Monarch Bear. And I, I don't know, this is the thing. When you dive into these sort of supposedly historical subjects, it's sometimes hard to pin down what is truth? What is fiction? What is legend? That's why we said legendary animals. It depends on which newspaper you're reading and so on and so forth.

So, essentially in about 1889, William Randolph Hearst finds out that grizzlies are disappearing in California and he wants one. Because, you know, that's what we do. We make an animal into our state animal, and then we make sure they are absolutely all killed off. But he doesn't [00:06:00] want a dead grizzly bear. He wants a live grizzly bear. And he asks one of his reporters, a guy named Alan Kelly. Now it's interesting. I listened to a previous podcast about Monarch Bear, done by Woody and David, in which they were puzzled by why Alan Kelly would've been chosen. It was just sort of random, you know, you cover the Queen's Jubilee and you cover somebody else's wedding, and hey, how about you go out and get us a bear ? Well, Alan Kelly did have some experience. He, he kind of knew about bears and he had gone on some hunting trips. He himself had not ever captured a bear, but it wasn't, he was, he was a little bit qualified to do this, let's say.

So, he goes to Southern California. Now, again, here's where we are, we run into, he tells one story of how he gets the bear in 1889 and another story later on when he's kind of irritated with Hearst and some other things that happened. Which story is correct? I don't know. Probably something in, in between the two. But some say that he found the bear in [00:07:00] Ventura. Some say that he bought the bear from somebody else who found the bear. Some say it's Ojai. But Southern California, I think we're safe in saying Southern California.

And so, he gets the services of a guide, three men, a pack mule, horses, and something like five or six months, they are camped in the mountains and trying to set traps and so on and so forth. Long story short, they finally do find out that they have gotten a grizzly bear, whether he purchased it from somebody else or they trap it, he gets the grizzly bear and it is brought. It is, it is, he tells Hearst his boss, I got you a grizzly bear. And Hearst says, wonderful. That's fabulous. And Hearst immediately calls Golden Gate Park and says, I got you a grizzly bear. And they say, no thanks. Now do they say, no thanks, and feel free to, to pop in here. Do they say no thanks because they don't really want a grizzly bear. They're not equipped to have a grizzly bear. We know there are some animals there. There's like, there's elk [00:08:00] and bison and whatever, some other things. But a bear is a different, you know, sort of animal.

So, he ends up going to Woodward's Gardens, which is, of course, in the Mission. It's a two square block area, Mission and Valencia, between 13th and 15th and operated by the hotel proprietor Robert Woodward. So, he goes to Woodward's Gardens and he's very popular there.

But you know, right away there are doubts. Is he really a grizzly bear? And part of the problem is that he's got a sort of, he's dark and people think he's a black bear. He's too dark or whatever. They don't like his coloring. And so actually professor Walter Bryant from the Academy of Sciences comes and visits the bear and the newspapers make a big deal out of this. And he examines him and says he is a true grizzly bear. He looked, mostly the way you tell a grizzly bear is by the length of their foreclaws. They have very long, you know, it's the Latin name is something like, Ursus Horribilis, because they do have these really long, [00:09:00] terrifying nails. And then, also they have a kind of a lump on the back of their neck. Which looks different than other bears. So, he just verifies all of this and determines, yes, this is actually a grizzly bear. Now, this is something I love in doing this research. I look a lot at the CDNC, the digitized newspaper collection and newspapers.com.

Nicole: Yep.

Judi: And reporters in those days, when something like this was opening up at a place like Woodward's Gardens, they're walking around kind of listening to what people are saying in the crowd. Getting the crowd reaction. You know, now we have reporters standing in front of somebody's house’s burning down rubber. Well, how do you feel about this? Well, that's not a new thing. They would sort of listen in and eavesdrop to the crowd. And the crowd was very impressed with Monarch.

Now, why is he called Monarch? Because Hearst advertised his paper as the monarch of the dailies, right? The king of the newspapers. And so that's how [00:10:00] Monarch gets his name. Now, when they first introduce him, he causes a bit of trouble in the gardens. I'm gonna read to you now from an article entitled, “A Troublesome Customer.” “Two black bears were in the next cage on the other side of the grizzly. And when Monarch began tearing things apart and making a row, they became panic stricken. The keepers took them out to place them in a distant part of the garden, but one of them was greatly excited. And as soon as he caught sight of the monstrous grizzly, he had a spasm of terror, rolled over on his back, turned up his toes, and died. True? Not true? Who knows?

Nicole: That’s pretty much what happens to me when I see a spider next to my bed in the morning.

Judi: So, the rival paper actually says, oh no, they didn't capture this grizzly bear. And it's just a bizarre, it's really, I think it's the Call and they call [00:11:00] their thing an Italian's bereavement. They said that a, an Italian organ grinder claimed that he had bought Monarch for $50 from somebody and that the Examiner had stolen his bear. And they go into this long, really obnoxious, you know, in, in Italian dialect, written out Italian dialect, about how the poor guy, “I wantta my grizzla, I wantta my grizzla.” And the whole article goes on like this. And the, this paper that the reporter claims to take the organ grinder to Woodward Gardens to, to verify whether or not, and I guess they claim that the guy starts to play some music and Monarch starts to dance. Okay. It's obviously, that's not true. But that's how the rival paper decided to deal with it. So now, oh, sorry. Did you wanna ask something?

Arnold: Yeah, I, I, I'm sure you probably researched the trapping story that allegedly happened which is both wild and [00:12:00] horrific in terms of how they did it, where they, once they trapped him in a cage. They're like putting these loops in around his neck and tying it to the top of the cage, then tying each paw to different parts of this cage, and then sliding him down on a sled through the hills back to civilization. It's just, I, I felt really sorry for Monarch after reading all that.

Judi: Yeah. I didn't wanna trigger Nicole. It was that…

Nicole: Too late. Judi.

Judi: I know. What an animal. You know, this is the thing when you study these animals and this is kind of runs the thread, sort of runs through this, is that it was all about our domination over animals.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: This is, you know, we're taking the west, we're pioneers.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: We're having dominion over the land and over everything that's on the land, even some people on the land. And so, it's kind of this continuing, continuous theme of domination and dominion.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: That they make a big deal about how hard it was to get Monarch and yeah, it's really does make you sad when you read about it.

Nicole: And Hearst is out of his mind. [00:13:00]

Judi: Well.

Nicole: I've been researching the Hearst building for reasons that have nothing to do with this podcast and like I really appreciate how crazy he was. Cause as a historian, you read all these stories and you're like, thank you for this gift. You are absolutely bonkers nuts.

Judi: Yeah. It's yeah.

Joseph: It’s San Francisco.

Nicole: Yeah. It’s true.

Judi: Exactly. So, Monarch ends up a part of the 1894 Midwinter Fair. So, he finally does get to Golden Gate Park. They dig a big pit for him. He wasn't actually all that popular is what I read at the Fair. Not like at the Gardens. And they said that after the Fair, an iron cage was built for Monarch at the top of the hill between what is now the AIDS Grove and the handball courts. I've actually heard somebody say the Druid Circle is, is where the cage was.

Nicole: Do you get, Judi, do you get emotionally attached to your research subjects like I do?

Judi: Absolutely. Absolutely. Especially when we get to the elephants.

Nicole: Oh. [00:14:00]

Judy: Yes, then you'll hear the emotion rise in my voice. Okay, so he, he, at some point, I think around 1903, he decides he's lonely. I don't know how you tell if the, if a grizzly bear is lonely. I don't know.

Nicole: Look at him. Judi.

Judi: Yeah, I know.

Nicole: There's a sad photo on OpenSFHistory that is the saddest, sad bear photo you will ever see.

Judi: Yeah, it's true. It's true. But anyways, so they decide that they're gonna get him a, they're gonna get him a mate. And they find, it's so confusing to me, they go to get a female silver chip grizzly from Idaho, who they promptly name Montana. I don't really, I don't understand how that all works.

Nicole: Close enough.

Judi: But yeah. So, she's also referred to as Mrs. Monarch. So, Mrs. Monarch or Montana. And, you know, Monarch's pretty excited when he sees her. I don't know if he changes his relationship status on Facebook right away, but he's pretty excited and he actually starts to dig a pit in his cage big [00:15:00] enough for two bears. I'm not even sure what that means. If that's a good thing or a bad thing. She eventually cottons to him and they do start to have some babies. I think their first baby doesn't make it, but they do have some cubs and you could go there. I've seen some postcards. Yeah, here we, I'm just, there's some postcards of, and pictures. The papers are following all of this very carefully.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: Now they bring in another bear called Alameda Nelly. Now, you know how we try to figure out who the Kardashians are sleeping with and, you know, this sort of stuff. In those days, they were figuring out, you know, what bear is sleeping with what other bear and what third bear is jealous So, this was the what do you call it, three-way that was set up for Monarch.

Arnold: Judi, you, I don't, I apologize if you're gonna get to this, but is it true that there are descendants of Monarch currently today at the San Francisco Zoo?

Judi: Wow. I did not come across that. I don't know. That's a really interesting question. And I did get to talk to the historian at the Zoo [00:16:00] about some other animals. So, we're gonna do, at San Francisco History Association, this was a popular talk and it, they've asked us to do part two. So, I'm gonna make sure, thank you for asking me that, cause I, it's very possible that, you know, the timing might be possible because Monarch dies in 1922 and his cubs could have lived a long time and that's very possible.

Okay, so, yeah, there was a guy who ended up going in and arranging photos for the, he just went in to the bear cage. He had grown up with bears and I think his name was William Leland Miller. And the newspapers made a big deal out if he could just go in the cage and be fine with the bears.

Nicole: He had grown up with bears. What does that mean?

Judi: Yeah, that's what it said. He grew up in the wilderness. And, you know, some people, I mean, we see this Grizzly Adams kind of stuff, and I think that's kind of based on some reality of people who grew up in the wilderness and had a good, you know, knew how to deal with wild animals. Well, he had no compunction about just walking right into the cage. And, of course, the newspapers [00:17:00] ate that up. Now Monarch dies in 1911. He had terrible arthritis. He'd been in captivity for about 22 years. He really was suffering. And so, they euthanized him.

And his bones, he's buried in the Park, but then the UC Berkeley Vertebrae Department requests his bones. So, they're dug up and taken over to UC Berkeley. And his pelt and, you know, is stuffed, and originally is at the de Young Museum. Eventually it makes its way over to the Academy of Sciences, where many of us have seen it. It hasn't been on display in a while.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: I did wanna say that he's not the last grizzly bear. A lot of people say, oh, Monarch was the last grizzly bear in California. The last verified one was actually trapped and shot in 1908. So, and then there's a grizzly shot in 1922, which could have been the last one, but that's not been positively done. So, let's say Monarch was one of the last ones.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: Now there is a group [00:18:00] called the Monarch Bear Institute, and they are not happy with the fact that, they feel that animals have a spirit, and that by burying Monarch the way they did and removing his bones and sending him to UC Berkeley, that they didn't honor the way that natives feel that the spirit of an animal moves on. So, they did do a ritual purification. They were allowed to come over to UC Berkeley and do a ritual purification of the Monarch bones at that Vertebrae Museum in 2004, to try to sort of liberate, you know, the spirit of Monarch.

Arnold: And I don’t wanna upset Nicole again, but when you said earlier that he was euthanized, what that means is they shot him.

Judi: Yeah.

Arnold: That's how they euthanized him.

Judi: Yeah. Which, you know, if you know where to shoot could have been instantaneous.

Nicole: Thank you Arnold. Appreciate you.

Judi: I'm trying Nicole, I'm trying you trying to spare you.

Arnold: Just putting facts out [00:19:00] there.

Judi: So, when they say that Monarch was at first sort of overstuffed when he was at the de Young, and then maybe they corrected that, but eventually he does go to the Academy of Sciences and they brought him out again. I think for some sort of bicentennial.

Nicole: He’s a real thick bear. Like the way they've stuffed him, he's like, you know, he's a big ‘un.

Judi: Yeah. And he's used as kind of the symbol of California in many ways. You can see him on sheet music and you can see him on things associated with the 1894 Midwinter Fair. So, that is my take on the beloved Monarch.

Arnold: And to bring this full circle, I think what we ultimately deter, determined is that our bear from the Cliff House is not actually modeled on Monarch, is that correct?

Nicole: I mean, who the heck knows?

Judi: I don't know why not?

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: But the thing is, if it was [00:20:00] made in Germany, which is something I heard.

Nicole: Yes.

Judi: I mean, was Monarch so famous that people were buying pinup pictures of him? I don't know.

Nicole: You know, pictures of the bear. Pardon me? Woohoo gentleman. But yeah, there, I mean, there were two stories. Monarch was the most beloved story connected to our carved bear. He does bear striking resemblance to the type of carving that have very similar bears like that. So that's the most likely we've heard so far. John Martini seems to think he heard or spread somewhere once that perhaps our bear was in the front offices of like a shipping line and that they used a bear for their own icon, iconography as well. So, you know, who the heck knows? Does it matter? We love sitting on him and rubbing his nose.

Judi: Well, you know, this is a good segue into what Joseph's now gonna talk about, which is legend versus reality versus what ended up, what ends up enduring [00:21:00] is kind of what matters.

Joseph: Like stuffed animals at the de Young.

Judi: Yeah, exactly. So, what ends up enduring is really where legend comes from.

Nicole: Yeah. Excellent.

Arnold: So, take it away. Joseph.

Joseph: So, the first animals that I presented about were Bummer and Lazarus, San Francisco's famous dogs. Probably the most famous dogs ever in San Francisco. They came into prominence, they first appeared on the scene in the 1860s. First one to appear is Bummer, who was a black and white dog with an underbite, part Newfoundland. And, he sort of had the run of the city. Everybody knew him. And one day he comes across a dog who had been severely injured in a fight. And he took care of the other dog. The other dog was Lazarus, and they gave him that name because Bummer nursed him back to health. Brought him food, which is not very typical for dogs. [00:22:00] And so, Lazarus literally rose from the dead. They were inseparable. They came, they called them the Damon and Pythias of San Francisco. They were cared for by the merchants of Montgomery Street, because they had a real talent for catching rats. And caught tens of thousands of them in their lifetimes. 4,000 in just one session, according to a newspaper account, when they cleared out an old market. They caught the attention of San Francisco. They were sort of that daily promenade that everybody did up and down Montgomery. Street. And eventually they became associated with Emperor Norton. Oh, one thing I've had to leave out too is they also stopped their runaway stage coach.

Nicole: Oh my goodness. And Joseph would you mind, would you mind explaining why you know so much about Emperor Norton?

Joseph: Because I am Emperor Norton.

Nicole: Thank you.

Joseph: I thought everybody in San Francisco knew that already. I've been portraying Emperor Norton for about [00:23:00] 12 years now. And the research on this started because of me doing the research for my tour and knowing that this was a story about Emperor Norton. But, as it turns out, not a true story.

Nicole: Argh.

Joseph: Now, Bummer and Lazarus may have followed Emperor Norton around. We know that much. They were never his dogs. He never claimed any ownership over them. Nobody really did own Bummer and Lazarus. They were the people's dogs, which we'll hear about in just a moment.

What really perpetuated the myths were a number of things. Mostly though lithographs by an artist named Edward Jump. And the one we've got on our screen right now, which unfortunately you at home can't see, is called the Three Bummers. And depicts Emperor Norton at a lunch buffet enjoying the Bill of Fair, which he would do. That's how he ate for free. Go into a saloon and just eat whatever he wanted off the buffet.

Nicole: That's how he got through college too, at Happy Hours. Joseph, [00:24:00]

Joseph: Where do you think that got started? Yeah. Was San Francisco in the 1860s when the bars would put out lavish displays that you could eat for a drink.

Nicole: Oh, amazing.

Joseph: So, you can see the picture, Bummer. And Lazarus looking up at him longingly, awaiting for them to, to him, to toss them a tidbit. Well, Norton became so enraged when he saw this mockery. He took his walking stick and tried to smash the window rows on display. He didn't wanna be called a Bummer.

Nicole: Yeah.

Joseph: Because that was a bum and a vagrant in those days, instead of what, you know, we consider a bummer now man. it's a totally different thing. It wasn't a bad trip, it was a bummer. Further perpetuated by the journalist Fremont Older. And I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself now, but Fremont Older met Emperor Norton once. And they were in a saloon. And when Bummer and Lazarus died, they were taxidermied.  And we'll get to how they died in a little bit. It's not a pretty story. So, this as Fremont Older [00:25:00] related to his wife, I think 20 years after the fact, who related it to a reporter 20 years after that, that Emperor Norton looked at the stuffed carcass of Bummer on the top of the bar and with a tear in his eye, said, “Bummer, my old friend.” That's how these things get started.

Judi: I was gonna say, how can you refute history with kind of provenance.

Joseph: Sure. It just sounds great, doesn't it? But probably not a word of it's true. Jump did a couple of other ones like the funeral of Lazarus, where Emperor Norton's dressed as a pope. The Pope swing a rat over his head. No, I'm sorry. That's a little drummer boy swinging the rat over his head. He was another San Francisco eccentric. The grave digger is George Washington the second, another San Francisco eccentric. Another one was done later for the funeral of Bummer. So, they had the reign of the city for about three or four years, and they almost died. They were almost put down because in the [00:26:00] 1860s, the city was overrun with wild dogs biting people.

Nicole: Uh-oh.

Joseph: And the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution saying that any unclaimed or unmuzzled dogs had to be destroyed. Included were Bummer and Lazarus. Well, the people wouldn't have it. The merchants wouldn't have it. They didn't wanna lose their champion ratters. The people didn't wanna lose their beloved mascots. So, they lobbied the Board of Supervisors to pass a second law that specifically exempted Bummer and Lazarus from the first law.

Arnold: The people have spoken.     

Joseph: Yeah. And thereby making them the wards of the people. So, the people's dogs, everybody owned them and it spared their lives. Well, Lazarus was the first to die, I think about three years after he and Bummer met. And he was poisoned. Possibly ate a rat that had been, that had ingested some rat poison. We don't know for sure. It might have been some poisoned food. We just don't know. Bummer would carry on for about [00:27:00] another six or seven years, and he was never the same after that. He was truly despondent about the death of his friend. And he would eventually be, this is terrible, he was kicked to death by a sailor.

Nicole: Oh!

Joseph: And so, they were both taxidermied when they died. And there's a wonderful book about them called Bummer and Lazarus, San Francisco's Famous Dogs by Malcolm E. Barker. Great historian, lives in Marin County.

Nicole: There’s…

Joseph: Yes, Barker wrote a book about the dogs.

Nicole: It's also a great gin called Bummer and Lazarus Gin.

Joseph: That’s by Raff Distillerie. It is, also make an Emperor Norton absinthe.

Nicole: Which I'm gonna need to start drinking. If every single one of these animal stories ends in something horrific.

Joseph: They both have beautiful labels, great depictions of both. I think it's the Bummer Lazarus Gin. There's a little rat with wings going to heaven. It's really…

Nicole: I think I have it. Wait, hold on.

Joseph: [00:28:00] So, Bummer and Lazarus are both taxidermied, this much we know for sure. It's in the first edition of Barker's book.

Arnold: And do we know where those taxidermied animals are now, or even if they're still around now?

Joseph: Well, yes. Yes, we do. So, there it is. There's a beautiful label.

Nicole: Yes, I do have this gin and just in my cupboard without planning.

Joseph: It's a good gin. It's a very good gin. Raff Distillerid makes wonderful liquor. I haven't tried a scotch yet though. But anyway, so after they were taxidermied, they were on display in a bar at 425 Sansome Street. And Barker concluded in the first edition of his book that they probably burned up in the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. But in the second edition of his book, he did more research only to find that in February of ‘06, just a couple months before the Great Earthquake and Fire, they were donated to what was then known as the Golden Gate Park Museum. Now we [00:29:00] know it as the de Young Museum. And that's sort of where his trail ended. And I did some more research to find out that they had been sent out in, there was a newspaper story actually, saying they'd been sent out in 1910 to be restuffed. And that's actually where Barker's Trail went cold. So, in my research, I was able to get ahold of the de Young, had them go through their ledgers from 1910, only to discover that unknown, they'd been sent out to be restuffed when they were gonna be in the natural history section, they were full of bugs and had to be destroyed. And I looked, you know, I spent a few years working on this. I was really hoping to find them in a crate, somewhere in a closet. I started looking at pictures of when they were of the taxidermy collection at the Cliff House, thinking they might have ended up there. But the ledger says it right there that they were destroyed.

Nicole: Wow.

Joseph: So, you know, they live on we've got the gin named after them. They're still very much [00:30:00] in the imagination of San Francisco. There's a plaque dedicated to them. It was in Redwood Park next to the Transamerica Pyramid. It was placed there in I believe it was 1995 by the ancient and honorable order of E Clampus Vitus, Yerba Buena Lodge Number 1. What say the brethren! They never answer on podcasts.

Judi: So, recorded.

Joseph: Yeah, so recorded. So anyway, that plaque has been taken down. A couple weeks ago, was driving by Redwood Park, and to see them demolishing the park and hopped off the bus I was on and ran in and said, where's the Bummer and Lazarus plaque. I belong to an organization that put it up. And they said, don't worry, we've got it. It's in safekeeping. It's gonna be placed back in the building when we rededicate everything.

Nicole: Good.

Joseph: So, Bummer and Lazarus will continue to live on the imagination of the people of San Francisco.

Nicole: Hear! Hear!

Arnold: It's a bummer that the, the stuffed Bummer isn't still around.

Joseph: It, it would've been something to find them, you know? But as, [00:31:00] as my husband and I always say on our tours, we don't write history. History writes itself.

Nicole: So, if you have a dog that fits the description of either Bummer or Lazarus, and you upsettingly lose said dog, maybe think about stuffing them and giving them to the San Francisco History Association..

Joseph: We have no place to put it, but that’s okay. One more thing on that too. Back in the, I think it was the ‘80s and ‘90s, the SPCA would hell, hold an annual adoption event and they would deem two of the dogs, Bummer and Lazarus.

Nicole: Aww.

Joseph: I wanna get them to bring that back. I've been making some inquiries about.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely.

Arnold: So, we're moving on. Judi, have you got this next one?

Judi: I've got this next one. I do wanna say though, that it's a good, you know, when Joseph as Emperor Norton gives the tours and he used to get asked all the time, now how, what about your dogs, Bummer and Lazarus? What about your dogs? Bummer and Lazarus. And he would try to set the record straight and people were just invariably disappointed or bummed out. And so, he's kind of [00:32:00] altered the way he deals with the topic because people really do want there to be a connection.

Joseph: But I do show them a newspaper clipping of a letter I wrote to the Chronicle from an article by Warren Hinckle where he says that Bummer and Lazarus were Emperor Norton's dogs. And I wrote in saying, no they weren't. And I actually show it to people during the tour, but I told 'em, don't look too closely at the signature.

Nicole: Well, it's funny, right? The history people remember, that's not history. That they want corrected, right? That's part of the hardest part of our jobs. Not that any of this is like a real job job for us, but like to try to convince people that what they've been told for their whole lives isn't exactly the way it happened.

Joseph: Yeah.

Judi: Right. Okay, so Wallace the Lion you, I'm sure you guys have done a podcast on the Chutes, the Haight Street Chutes and the Fulton Street Chutes and Chutes at the Beach. And…

Nicole: Maybe. There's like [00:33:00] over 450 podcasts now. And to be honest, I can't remember all the ones we did, but probably.

Judi: Okay. Well, just…

Arnold: Really brief, I'll say we've definitely done OpenSFHistory blog posts about each of the Chutes, and I've mentioned Wallace the Lion in those.

Judi: Okay. Great. Well, so the Chutes, you know, they were in, in the Haight Street area between 1895 and 1902. And that's where Wallace starts. Chutes is a kind of a giant water ride, right. And, but after it's, it gets moved to Fulton between 10th and 11th Avenue. Charles Ackerman, who was the attorney and impresario, I just absolutely love that word.

Nicole: Ooohh.

Judi: Behind the Chutes knew that they were losing their lease, and so he moves them over to Fulton. And the zoo's headline attraction was Wallace the Lion. He was hyped as the fiercest lion in America. He was supposed to be untameable, and there were all, there's all these articles about who's gonna try to tame Wallace now. And there were [00:34:00] other zoo animals too at the Chutes. Jaguar, kangaroos, wallabies, leopards and bears, and a hyena who refused to laugh.

Nicole: Oh my.

Judi: Yeah. I don't know. He must have had a good agent. So yeah, you know, this Wallace is really a very famous lion and people follow these animals in the papers. I mean, they're famous. They're really legendary. And at the, it isn't like we think of them as being legendary. Now, they were sort of legends in their own time, you know. And people would go see Wallace. People would follow his story in the paper and so on and so forth. And so, examples of, you know, this is, you would find advertisements. You see them as articles and advertisements, you know, more exciting than war news in 1898. Wallace, the Untameable Lion’s subdued by Captain Cardono. Or Cannon the Fat Man. Wallace, the Untamable Lions. So, they're all these different lion tamers that are getting in the ring with [00:35:00] Wallace. Cannon the Fat Man and Wallace, the large lion, will meet in public in the large open air cage at the Chutes this afternoon and evening. Cannon will make his first appearance in tights and will be unarmed. Wallace wears a profound air of mystery and has not announced his intentions. So, that's the sort of thing you could see. And, you know, they, there's a, an advertisement that says, “will beard the lion in his den”. An article rather. And I was fascinated by this phrase “will beard the lion in his den.” I didn't understand what it meant. It's first used by Walter Scott. And it means to, to face your enemy in their area.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: Okay. So then also, so you know, so all Frank Hall will enter cage with the ferocious King Wallace. And Frank Hall actually ran into much trouble later when he paid a little bit too much attention to a female mind reader from the Chutes, who had him arrested. I guess [00:36:00] somehow, she didn't know his, what his intentions were.

Anyway. Another time that Wallace is featured in the newspaper is when a sea diver is wed to “pretty girl” as it says here. And there's this guy, Judge Treadwell, who I kind of wanted to know more about. But Judge Treadwell was not scared to go into the lion’s den to perform this marriage ceremony. Judge Treadwell was kind of performing marriage ceremonies all over the place, to be honest. And the only question he wanted to know was, if they are attacked by the lion, should I proceed? That, that was all he kind of wanted to know. So, the reporter then went on to say, but speaking of the significance of everyday incidents, could there be anything more apt at the beginning of married life than to be attacked by a lion? It would be so like the life to follow.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: So that, okay, that [00:37:00] article mentions that the quote unquote, “pretty girl” was connected to the Chutes. Do we know what her connection was?

Judi: Yeah, that's a really good question. I don't know what her connection was.

Joseph: But she was literally connected to them.

Judi: Yes. She was, maybe she was tied to the Chutes or she was in a lifesaver that was tied to the Chutes. Yeah. I'm not sure about that. So, Wallace also gets a mate named Victoria and they have some cubs. Victoria unfortunately doesn't survive.

Nicole: Aww.

Judi: So now the survival of the cubs is really up in the air because they don't have any mother to feed them.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: And they get this idea, I think it's Ackerman's idea, that they would press into service Lily the mastiff, who had just given birth to puppies. And Lily the mastiff is perfectly happy to suckle these lion cubs.

Nicole: Although the photo you're showing Judi…

Judi: Yes. [00:38:00]

Nicole: She's like, what she's gotta look on her face that doesn't, you know, ooze happiness.

Joseph: Looks very put upon.

Judi: So, Wallace Jr. does end up being the only one of the cubs to survive. And actually, Lily doesn't survive herself, but some of her puppies do. And so, while he's little, he grows up with these sort of puppy companions, but at a certain point, the difference in size and fierceness becomes evident, and he has to, he can't be with his little puppy dog friends anymore. And he's really super sad about that. But Wallace Jr and Wallace are both very popular with the people of San Francisco. Whatever Chutes they're at,

Nicole: You know, you keep saying that like newspapers covered these animals, like celebrities. I mean, I follow a lot of cat accounts on Instagram. Did that sound as sad as it I think it did? Anyways. Like some of these cat accounts, like one of them's a [00:39:00] Ukrainian refugee from the war, right? Like, and this cat likes to drink wine in the evenings, and I watch, I like, I can't wait to see his new post. Anyways, human beings have changed very little over time, is my point.

Judi: Well, it’s true. And you know, I remember I was a docent at the zoo in the ‘80s and they were always making a big deal about, don't anthropomorphize the fan, the animals. And cause people would say, what's their, what's the animal's name and what's the animal's backstory? And they were trying to get us to get people to realize they're wild animals. Don't anthropomorphize them. But that's what people wanted. They wanted this kind of human-animal connection. And they could, you know, visit their favorite zoo animal and know all about that animal and not just think of it as some random wild animal.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: I hesitate to ask this.

Nicole: No, Arnold.

Arnold: But do we know when and how Wallace died?

Nicole: Ugh.

Judi: Well, you know, I found a couple of articles that there, there was Wallace Jr actually dies. He doesn't last very long. But…

Nicole: He died in his [00:40:00] sleep right? Happy contented?

Judi: Yes. Thank you. But I do know that there's, at one point, we hear about Wallace going up to Seattle on a ship to pro, to perform tricks with his, one of his trainers, and they report that Wallace is enjoying his voyage very much.

Nicole: Yeah. Is that like, oh, your dog. We sent him to live on a farm?

Judi: Well apparently, he came back, so no.

Nicole: Okay.

Arnold: So, I, is that the end of Wallace's story? Are we moving on?

Judi: That is the end of Wallace's story.

Nicole: And now Arnold, are you gonna chime in every time and just be like, how did the animal die?

Judi: No, he's just gonna continue to ask me questions I don't know the answers to because it's important for historians to be humble. We know this.

Arnold: I'm just doing my best to upset Nicole in this episode.

Nicole: Great Arnold, I'm gonna uncork this [00:41:00] Bummer and Lazarus Gin, if you keep it up.

Judi: Me too. And I don't even drink.

Arnold: All right. So, Joseph, who have we got next?

Joseph: Dormie the dog.

Nicole: Ooh.

Joseph: The story I knew nothing about until I got contacted by a French TV show called Invitation to the Arts, and I've done four episodes for them now. So apparently, I'm big in France like Jerry Lewis. Which I guess is okay. And they wanted me to do an episode on this dog, so I had to get up to speed on it and learned about him, and I had no idea about this story. Dormie lived in Ingleside. He was a dog owned by Eden McMillan, an automobile dealer. He was an Airedale. And he was charged with 14 counts of murder.

Arnold: The dog or the, his owner?

Joseph: Well, the dog. But well, there's an interesting point about that. He had, apparently he had a real taste for killing dog, cats apparently. [00:42:00]

Nicole: Oh.

Joseph: Doesn't sit too well with me, cause I'm a cat person. Odd that I'm talking about dogs here because I'm a cat person. San Francisco at that time, and I guess still does, have an ordinance that made both the owner and the dog liable for aggressive behavior, which just came up in the news last week with the Diane Whipple story.

Nicole: Right.

Joseph: A woman who was killed by those dogs and the owner of the dog is still in prison. So, Dormie was accused of killing cats and, in particular, one cat named Sunbeam.

Nicole: Oh!

Joseph: And he was arrested in September of 1920. And that's when, actually when the killing took place. It was put on trial in December of, I'm sorry, 1921. And it was put on trial in December of 1921.

Arnold: So again, are we talking the dog got arrested and put on trial or his owner for being responsible for the dog.

Joseph: The dog was put on trial.

Nicole: Is there, so we're able to see a photo, which if you wanna see it listeners please [00:43:00] just email us. But is the dog being fingerprinted or is he being read his rights?

Joseph: That's a good question. I think he's being fingerprinted.

Nicole: Okay.

Joseph: The guy has his hand on his paw.

Nicole: He does not look remorseful. I would like to tell the audience.

Joseph: No, not at all. Not at all. As Airedales are. They're terriers. Terriers don't regret anything.

Nicole: Yeah.

Joseph: But I don't know, cause I'm a cat person. So, the people rallied behind Dormie. Children were raising money, pennies to, for Dormie's defense fund. Now we do GoFundMe. Back then children were going door to door, getting pennies for Dormie. The newspapers covered this tremendously, and more or less, as a satire of the Fatty Arbuckle case. Cause it was happening at the same time. So maybe had that case not happened, Dormie probably wouldn't have gotten as much attention.

Nicole: Can you explain that case in like a very succinct way for our listeners?

Joseph: So Fatty Arbuckle was a [00:44:00] silent film star on par with Charlie Chaplin. Came up for a weekend in San Francisco. Stayed at the St. Francis. Had a woman in named Virginia Rappe. They disappeared in the bedroom together. She, he emerged. She emerged later, screaming in pain. Died a couple days later, and they said that she was killed by how do I put this delicately? Fatty Arbuckle's great size, physical size, crushed her to death. Fatty Arbuckle endured three trials, eventually was acquitted. But his career was destroyed.

Nicole: Yep.

Joseph: Didn’t work again. So, because of that, this really caught the imagination of the people of San Francisco. And there, there were witnesses called. The president of the Pacific Coast Dog Fanciers Association testified, “we deny that Airedale's individually or as a breed have an intent to injure cats.” Meanwhile, the president of the Cat Club said Sunbeam was cut off in the prime of her cathood. She [00:45:00] must been eight years old. And an ordinary cat dies between eight and 12. But Persians lived to be about 19.

Nicole: What?

Joseph: So, there were, there was testimony and witnesses were called. Eventually the, the case went to the jury, nine men and three women. And he was, the case was dismissed. He was… [phone tone heard] Sorry about that. He wasn't actually acquitted. The case was dismissed because it was a hung jury. seven for acquittal, five for conviction. And Dormie would eventually disappear into obscurity. There is no newspaper coverage of whatever happened to Dormie. We can assume that he eventually died, but was not taxidermied.

Arnold: It's a real shame that the podcast listeners can't see the pictures that we're seeing as we're talking about these. Because there was a picture there of Dormie in the courtroom. It looked like on a witness stand or something, as if he was getting questioned. [00:46:00]

Joseph: Which I think is probably a created photo, especially given the woman's expression in the lower left. She's looking askance into the camera.

Nicole: Yeah. It's definitely a composite, but yeah, I mean, you know, fake news, yada yada.

Arnold: Not a new concept.

Joseph: And Dormie was not the first animal to be put on trial. There had been other trials of dogs. There was a bull that was put on trial. There was a chimpanzee arrested for smoking a cigarette in public. How dare he!

Nicole: Your tax dollars at work San Francisco.

Joseph: Only in San Francisco.

Nicole: Oh, probably not only in San Francisco, which is pretty wild. Oh. Now Judi, now we're getting into the most emotional part of tonight's podcast.

Judi: Well, yeah. I might get a little bit emotional about the zoo animals too. But I just love, I think I this research brought me the most joy. Queen Jumbo and Baldy were two elephants. So, [00:47:00] you know, circuses go around and circuses don't function well in the United States of America during what times of year?

Nicole: All the times of year.

Judi: The winter. The winter. Too cold.

Nicole: Okay.

Judi: So, if you happen to be hanging out in Golden Gate Park in 1891, suddenly these two elephants show up from McMahon's Circus. Because they need a place to spend the winter. And they end up spending that winter in the Children's Playground. To everybody's great delight.

Nicole: Naturally. Yeah.

Judi: Right. These two elephants are, as I said, called Queen Jumbo and Baldy. They're pretty young. They're about 23 or 24 years old, which is pretty young for elephants. Queen Jumbo gets that name because she is the widow of, take a guess,

Arnold: King Jumbo.

Judi: Yes. Jumbo, who was probably the most famous elephant right? From Barnham and Bailey. These were Asian elephants from India. Asian elephants are working elephants as opposed to African elephants. [00:48:00] So, Asian elephants would've probably been in the logging trade or some, something else. And they, these two end up with the circus. But for, to the great delight of San Franciscans, this particular winter of 1891 to 1892, they hang out in Golden Gate Park. So, they do some tricks and so on and so forth. The big excitement however, is that they're gonna give rides. At least Baldy is gonna give rides. And there's a lot in the paper about, they're hoping to do it for Christmas, but it doesn't quite work out for Christmas. But somebody's making them howdahs, which are these things that sit on, that's how you sit on an elephant. And they're red with their names in green. And, you know, it's really a big deal.

And the gentleman who's taking care of them is called Professor Pet. And he thinks very highly of them, and they think very highly of him. These elephants are controlled with a, sort of a pokey tool that isn't meant to hurt the animal. It's, they sort of nudge the animal [00:49:00] in different spots and the animal has learned what they're supposed to do.

Nicole: It’s like spurs on your boots.

Judi: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a good comparison. So now, here's some descriptions of them. She actually had been taken to London originally. She was in the Zoological Gardens there. And then she was, became Mrs. Jumbo from there. And then after Jumbo's death, she comes to this particular circus. Now she weighs like five tons and she's 11 feet tall. She may have been the, at that point, actually the biggest elephant in the world. And she keeps growing. You know, like I said, she's only in her twenties. They say that they're worth about $40,000. Professor Pet loves elephants. He says they're the kings, absolute kings and queens of the beasts. That a lion is no match for elephants. And he loves to talk about them. And the newspapers are eating it up. So, here's his description that every night they make a kind of a place for them to live over in the Children's Playground. Every [00:50:00] night they lie down about 10 o'clock and lay flat on their sides with their feet sticking out. They're always chained side by side. And Queen generally puts one leg over Baldy neck and then they lie and snore together like two little puppies. They always snore and they snore like six foghorns on an awful night along the shore. While this is going on, their trunks are curled up in a coil, so that ants, mice, and such small creatures will not be able to crawl up inside. And, I wish you could sleep…

Nicole: That's how I sleep too, when my boyfriend and I are snuggled up.

Judi: So, they're constantly, they eat two tons of hay and a half a ton of carrots a week. They're constantly showing their affection for Professor, Professor Pet. Sometimes they have to be punished. And when, when Baldy gets punished, Queen Jumbo comes over and sort of tries to, to calm him down and comfort him. And when Queen Jumbo gets punished, Baldy, he just really likes it. really loves it. [00:51:00]

Nicole: Sure.

Judi: According to Professor Pet. Now Professor Pet, it points out that that Queen Jumbo is a smart, you know, elephants are, elephant groups are run by the oldest female. The females are the matriarchs and the wise ones. And Queen Jumbo shows her wisdom. She, there was actually a terrible train accident with the circus one time, and Queen Jumbo placed herself so that the car would not roll off a cliff and thereby save the lives of the people in there.

So, they're, they’re going on and on. The newspapers are going on and on about how, hopefully, there will be rides, hopefully there will be rides. And there's a lot of coverage. A lot of coverage. They, they're mentioning what it's like when people encounter these elephants. The, but the elephants, they were the one great attraction. About one o'clock, they're taken out of their quarters by their keeper, and they stand there until sundown, loose and quiet and obedient.

And this is interesting, cause I worked with elephants at the zoo, elephants can be quite dangerous. You really [00:52:00] have to watch yourself. There's a whole hierarchy and they have to be a little bit intimidated by the person who's in charge of them. But these elephants really were gentle and kids pulled their tails and, you know, played with their ears and they just put up with all of that stuff. The heads of the crowds came only about halfway up their sides. When people got in sight of the playground, they saw the backs of the towering monsters covered with bright red coats, glittering with silver spangles, and the slowly swaying heads that rose above the throng. No wonder little ones danced in ecstasy at the vision and shrieked, “There they are. There they are.” The tinseled names, Queen Jumbo and Baldy, on the sides of the red coats were in view above the highest ping hat there. The Park never held anything that was half the attraction.

Nicole: Agreed.

Judi: Right? So, they're kind of…

Nicole: Sorry Monarch.

Judi: Yeah. They're kind of not fed particularly well. The kids feed them, you know, [00:53:00] candy and stuff like that all day long. But they do all right. And there's lots and lots of coverage of them. Now Baldy is kind of the favorite of the kids. He's very mischievous. He, they sell these popcorn balls in the in the Park at that time for kids in 1891. And Baldy will go over and grab your popcorn. Popcorn ball, sorry, I can't say a popcorn ball. And, happily munch away at it. And there's a story in the newspaper about how a kid had a baseball and Baldy thought it was a popcorn ball and grabbed it, ate it, and quickly spit out the remains of the baseball.

Now they're, they were laying down a Macadam path as part of, you know, they're trying to make the Park more and more recreational and they lay down this Macadam path. And there's this huge, very heavy machine that has been there so long grinding up this Macadam, that they're trying to drag it out of there [00:54:00] with horses.  A team of horses. And the horses are getting nowhere and the horses are laboring and laboring and laboring for hours. And finally, somebody says, wait, don't we have an elephant here? And they ask Professor Pet, can Queen Jumbo come out. And Queen Jumbo with barely any effort there, they go into this great description about how they take jackets and hay and stuff, and they put a pad over her head and she just pushes that machine like it's nothing. And, you know, every time it gets stuck, she comes over and pushes it. And every time it, and finally somebody in the crowd says, why don't you just give her the address of where the machine is supposed to be delivered. And she can just, she can just take it there. There's an, there's a wonderful interview with Baldy, you know, where Baldy is, is talking about the fact that he really would like some, some chaw, you know, to be able to chew some tobacco. But Queen Jumbo would be too upset, so don't tell her.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: So, they're really, you know, they're really wonderful and they're, got so much coverage considering they're only there for about four months. They leave, I think, in [00:55:00] March. They go over to the zoo in Oakland and then they're back on the road. And they, while they thought that maybe Queen Jumbo and Baldy would come back, they never did. So, it was just that, you know, that one summer.

There, there was a really interesting article about how Queen, they decided Queen Jumbo got the flu. She wasn't looking too good. And so, I, to cure her, they gave her like 50 gallons of Brandy.

Nicole: Oh my God!

Judi: Some kind of alcohol, right? So, they did depart March 9th, 1892. And everybody was really upset about this, cause they were so beloved, especially by the children.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: There are a lot of cartoons that were, they would often draw cartoons of Queen Jumbo and Baldy in the Park. And that you could see in the newspaper. Yeah, this machine that, you know, weighed 10 tons and she was able to push it out so easily.

Nicole: And they live forever and ever and they just quietly died in their sleep. Fully contented.

Judi: Absolutely.

Arnold: So, I think [00:56:00] Joseph is next. What have you got for us, Joseph?

Joseph: Some animals that are still with us and are very famous. The wild parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Nicole: Love it.

Joseph: And they came into prominence mostly because of a man named Mark Bittner, who took care of them for a number of years. He wrote a book about them. And then in 2003, a documentary by, lemme get to her name, Judy Irving, was done about them. So, they're pretty well known. Has been broadcast on PBS a few times. There's certainly known here in San Francisco, because we see them all the time. They started appearing, I believe it was in the 1990s, around Telegraph Hill. But what's interesting about this, a lot of people assume these are the first parrots to inhabit San Francisco. They're not.

Nicole: Oh.

Joseph: There was a flock of parrots, stories about a flock of parrots on Telegraph Hill in 1911. And again in 1930. In the 1970s, there were Canary Wing parakeets that were known to be in around San Francisco. They were seen all over the place. Mark Bittner took care of [00:57:00] them for a number of years. He would feed them and look after them and they became a huge part of his life. Still are, but he doesn't take care of them anymore. They're pretty much on their own.

We don't know how they got here. That's the million dollar question. They either escaped from being smuggled into the country, because it was illegal to bring them in. Or somebody got tired of them because of, your live here in San Francisco, you know, they are loud. They sound like flying babies. But the flying babies are under lock and key at Genentech. So, we're okay, oh, I'm not supposed to talk about that. Sorry. Forget, just edit that out. Okay.

Nicole: That’s okay. No one listens to this podcast.

Joseph: Okay. So, he started taking care of them and they have thrived and multiplied since. There are flocks all over the city now. Some of them like to roost in the palm trees along Dolores Street, because they love the dates in there. They are especially fond of pyracantha, the red [00:58:00] berries. And sometimes when it's a hot day, the pyracanthas ferment and the get drunk.

Arnold: Do, just, do you know, like, are there like good times and good places where to find them? Because I know I've been out to Telegraph Hill a few times looking for them and I've never been lucky enough to find them, but…

Joseph: Oh no. When you look for them, they never appear. It’s when you don't look for them.

Arnold: Right.

Joseph: I often see a flock flying in and out of the Presidio.

Nicole: Yeah, I’ve seen them there.

Joseph: I live in Bernal Heights. There's a flock that flies over my house every day, about three o'clock.

Nicole: Bet you love that.

Joseph: Oh, it's wonderful. I love seeing the parrots and when I'm on a tour bus doing a tour and we see, and I hear the parrots like, okay, everybody look up. There are parrots here somewhere and nobody will believe me, that we have parrots living here in San Francisco. But they'll see maybe two or sometimes as many as 50 fly by it. Once they hang out of the wharf. Around the Longshoreman's Hall. I guess they're trying to get jobs. I'm not sure.

Nicole: We had parrots in the town I grew up in. We also had [00:59:00] peacocks. That's another story. And I was really homesick when I first got here, cause San Francisco was a little different than L.A. And as soon as I heard the parrots when I was in the Presidio, it made me feel more at home.

Joseph: Well, I used to live in Laguna Beach and we had a flock of parrots there as well.

Nicole: Yeah.

Joseph: These parrots are what are called Cherry Headed Conures. So, they're small for a parrot. And they have bright red heads, but not all of them do. There are a few with blue heads and there are some with green heads. Actually, the best place to see the parrots is to go down to Sue Bierman Park, which is right by the Embarcadero Center, and right around dusk, because they really like to roost in the tall poplar trees that are there. And you can walk through there right around dusk and it's a cacophony. It's just so loud. And you'll see them moving from one tree to another. It's really something to see. Although Mark Bittner doesn't take care of them anymore, he does live, I dunno if he lives on Telegraph Hill or just nearby. But I'm [01:00:00] friends with him on Facebook and he posts a picture of Coit Tower every single day. So, they're part of, you know, legendary San Francisco, and that's the story of the parrots.

Nicole: That’s great. Thanks Joseph.

Arnold: And that's a legendary animal that's still here for all you podcast listeners to go out and check out.

Nicole: Yes. No gruesome deaths forArnold to check in on.

Arnold: So, Judi, why don't you bring us to a conclusion here.

Judi: Okay. So, I'm going to conclude with Cuddles and Puddles, the hippos from the San Francisco Zoo. So, you know, 1922, Herbert Fleishhacker, who's running the Parks Commission, he buys the area that we all know where the zoo is, right by the ocean. And puts the pool in 1925 and the mother's building and the carousel, and they decide, okay, zoo would be a really good addition. And the first animals in the zoo are actually from Golden Gate Park. Which I'm, you know, we [01:01:00] should mention, by the way, that McLaren never wanted, he didn't want statues and he didn't want the Fair and he didn't want a zoo. You know, he wanted a park.

Nicole: Love him so much.

Judi: And so, you know, the first exhibits come over. There's an, you can find an inventory to zebras, a Cape Buffalo, five Reese's monkeys, two spider monkeys, and then three elephants--Babe, Virginia and Marjorie--who were donated by Mr. Fleishhacker himself. He hires a guy named George Bistany, who's Egyptian. And Bistany has a lot of experience with animals. I think the first, the first director, whose name I don't remember, passed away very quickly. And so, he brings in George Bistany. And you're constantly seeing newspaper articles that say Bistany is going to get hippos and Bistany is going to get these animals and those animals and the other animals. And he actually ends up dying in 1935, but he's a major reason why the zoo is able to organize itself.

And then I came across a funny thing. They, so we do have [01:02:00] hippos and the hippo seems to be, we have one hippo and it does seem to be named Puddles in the 1940s. And there's this article about how Fleishhacker himself was throwing peanuts to Puddles and fell in. Okay. And Puddles, I mean, hippos can be dangerous, but Puddles was apparently nonplused. And so, Herbert Fleishhacker was okay. Now I was con…

Arnold: Just to be clear.

Judi: Yeah.

Arnold: In Africa, hippos are considered one of the most dangerous…

Judi: Yes.

Arnold: Animals there in terms of causing harm to humans.

Judi: That is…

Nicole: Not when they’re in San Francisco though.

Judi: That is actually true. That is actually true. So, you know, Puddles is very popular with the, with the San Francisco visitors. The thing is, I was really confused by that, cause I remembered a Puddles from my time growing up, which would've been the ‘60s and ‘70s. And then, I also remember two Puddles from when I was a docent at the zoo, which would've been the ‘80s. So, I'm like, do, you know, do [01:03:00] hippos, for a thousand years? What is going on here? Well, it turns out that most, most hippos are named Puddles. So, we do have more than one Puddles. And so, there's lots of, you know, I, there's a whole thing about the hippo needs a hypo because the hippo's got a bad tooth. And will somebody come in, anesthetize the hippo. And they're using the hippo to encourage dental health, you know, with big pictures of the, the mouth open with all the teeth. And so, the hippo's very popular and we're constantly seeing it. But, at some point, they decide the hippo is lonely.

Nicole: Yep.

Judi: And they bring in a female hippopotamus. This is in the ‘60s, the early ‘60s. And he has been a bachelor of this whole time. He's a lot older than she is. And I would say he's a pretty confirmed bachelor or perhaps he's not a hetero hippo or whatever the word is because he really has no interest in Cuddles at [01:04:00] all. As a matter of fact, he's seems rather unhappy with Cuddles. And so he dies.

Nicole: Oh.

Judi: Sorry Nicole. So, Puddles the lovelorn hippo, who probably wasn't all that lovelorn, it's just, we projected that on Puddles. And once they got a female for Puddles, he decided that's it. I’m out. So, they announced that he dies. But there's a new Puddles and now I understood. Aha. Not the same Puddles. So, they get a young Puddles, who's about the same age as Cuddles. Two years old. And they get along very well from the get-go. And they have a baby. Baby is 70 pounds when it's born. And they have a lot of babies. Lots and lots of babies. The first one I think was something they started with an S. Snoodles or something. There's Pegasus, Doodles, Rosie, Waddles. Just lots and lots of babies. I think there's one named Junior. [01:05:00] Poppy was the last one. And how many did Cuddles and Puddles have? 16 offspring.

Arnold: Wow.

Judi: 16. So, they were really lovey-dovey. And, of course, this is wonderful, cause it's providing hippos for zoos all over the place. We don't tend to keep the babies. We tend to ship them out.

Nicole: It’s baby hippos all over the United States?

Judi: Yeah. So, the baby hippos are being, they're, you know, it's also making money for the zoo, frankly, to…

Nicole: Right.

Judi: Sell these hippos, you know, these baby hippos.

Nicole: Right.

Judi: So, they're around for quite a while and then they start to renovate the zoo, 2007, 2008. The hippos are, you know, in their forties at this point. And we lose, we lose Puddles and then we lose Cuddles. But they were absolutely wonderful parents and a fabulous monogamous. I think there may have been one sort of love triangle at a certain point. But I know, for me, those hippos were two of my favorite animals. And seeing the babies born every year was [01:06:00] such a delight. So, I'm really gonna miss Cuddles and Puddles.

Nicole: I, thank you, Judi. The hippo enclosure at the San Diego Zoo was always my favorite growing up, cause they're quite graceful in the water.

Joseph: Yes, but not on land.

Nicole: Not on land so much, no. Which, you know what, I also identify with.

Arnold: So, this is already one of our longest podcasts, but I do wanna mention that we have pictures of Monarch the bear, Wallace the lion, Queen Jumbo and Baldy the elephants, and Puddles the hippo on our OpenSFHistory website. The podcast listeners haven't been able to see the photos we've been watching while we'll be talking about these animals, but go to OpenSFHistory and find them there. And I do want to thank both Judi and Joseph for telling us these great stories about these animals.

Joseph: It's been a pleasure.

Judi: You're welcome.

Nicole: Yeah, this was awesome. I'm glad Arnold was [01:07:00] keeping a look on the time, cause I was like, I'm here for it. Three hours, I don't care how long this goes.

Judi: We could do that.

Nicole: Yeah.

Judi: We can bring us back for part two. We've got a lot more animals to talk about.

Nicole: That sounds good. and Arnold, do we have time for Say What Now? Or should we just hold that for like a listener mail?

Arnold: Well, given how long this has gone, I think, what the hell? Why not?

Nicole: Not the response I expected, but, okay. So, okay. On Say What Now, we're gonna get a little bit deeper into Monarch's history. So, we mentioned that the legendary grizzly bear that was captured at the behest of William Randolph Hearst and lived first at Woodward's Garden and then Golden Gate Park until his death in 1911. It's long been claimed that the bear on the California state flag was modeled on Marnak, on Monarch. I guess I just can't say that word tonight. And Judi, is this, in [01:08:00] fact, true?

Judi: Well, yes and no. Like everything, before the flag was standardized, sometimes Monarch could have been used as the model for the flag. Now, the original flag, Mary Todd's nephew, you know, Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln's nephew, draws something for that bear flag. And…

Arnold: And that's dated back to 1846.

Judi: Right. Exactly. All the way back to 18…

Arnold: Well before anybody knew anything about Monarch.

Judi: Yes. And then, so the bear flag gets adopted in 1911, but there's no specifications. So, the image kind of changes over time. Sometimes it looks like Monarch and sometimes it looks like a different bear. But then in 1953, it gets standardized. And it is claimed that the bear in the now standardized California flag was actually based on a painting by an artist named Charles Nahl, which was done in 1855. That's well before Monarch ever comes on the scene. [01:09:00] So, you can find images that look very much like Monarch is on the California state flag, but that's not the official sanctioned whatever image.

Nicole: And I'm sure some people are listening to this right now and going, that's not the story I've been told and are just gonna keep going with the story they have been told.

Arnold: Yeah. I can't tell you how many news stories I found that just flat-out state that the bear on the state flag is based on Monarch. And I've even found stories that say that Nahl's painting is a painting of Monarch, even though Nahl painted this long before they captured Monarch, and he, in fact, died before they ever captured Monarch. So, it's clearly not that.

Nicole: Next!

Arnold: Yeah. So, let's explode the myth. The bear on the state flag now is not modeled after Monarch.

Nicole: Wah-wah-wah.

Judi: Sorry. I know it was really, cause I had been telling all these people at, [01:10:00] when I was a docent at the Cliff House, oh, this is Mon, this is based on Monarch, who's the flag. You know, who's the bear on the flag? And I apologize heartily to all those people who said, but Judy Leff told me. Well, now she's telling you something different. Such is, such is the lot of the obsessive researcher.

Joseph: Yes.

Arnold: All right. So, thanks again Judi and Joseph. Nicole let's quickly roll through the rest of this and get some…

Nicole: Oh boy.

Arnold: Listener mail.

Nicole: So yes, Arnold. Let's see how fast we can read this all. And we're actually not gonna read all the listener mail I have queued up, cause we certainly don't have time for that. But if you have ideas for future episodes or something came to mind while you were listening to this episode, like you're like, actually I have Bummer in my basement. Absolutely email us. You can contact us by sending ye olde email to podcast@outsidelands.org. Or, you know, [01:11:00] catch us on the socials. You can leave us a message on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We're normally outsidelands with a Z on those accounts and just outsidelands with an S because we're a branding nightmare on Facebook.

Arnold: And in fact, the people on Facebook this week went bananas for our episode 493 about the BarbCo office building at 41-47 West Portal Avenue. Maureen said she remembers the toy store and that quote, “Helen Dawson was our Girl Scout troop leader at St. Brendan's.” End quote.

Nicole: There's so many more comments y'all left at, left us about this. We'll read those on future podcasts, when we have a little more time on our hands, but overall people loved it, so I feel like we're gonna be doing some more business histories. So quickly, Arnold, the benefits of membership and donating.

Arnold: You get the quarterly [01:12:00] membership magazine. You get discounts on events. You get other exclusive perks. You support all the great programs we do, like OpenSFHistory, the Cliff House collection, and, all importantly, this podcast. So, clickity, clickity, clack on the big orange button on our websites to either become a member or to donate to us. We really appreciate it. It helps us make our world go round and present history to all of you.

Nicole: Other announcements are events are happening. Our public programs have officially relaunched. We are working on our newest exhibition on the windmills of Golden Gate Park and a whole bunch of shenanigans connected to them. That'll be installed soon. We're also working on a trivia night with Fort Point Beer. TBD on date and location, but are actively working on that now. And then Arnold, what's going on with these Martini walks?

Arnold: So, we've got a couple more left. On March 25th he's taking us around the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. On April 8th, he's taking us around Mountain Lake. These events are $10 for [01:13:00] WNP members, $20 for everybody else. So, follow us on Eventbrite or visit our events page on outsidelands.org and join us on these events.

Nicole: Yes, please. They are the funnest. So, Arnold, what is the preview for next week?

Arnold: So, grab that frosted mug and pour yourself a cold one because, by special Instagram request, we're giving you the full history of Blackthorn Tavern in the Sunset District.

Nicole: That's right. We are. Until next time, I'm Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.

Nicole: And this has been another fantabulous episode of Outside Lands San Francisco, courtesy of Judi Left and Joseph Amster. 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.

More Podcasts
  • Podcast # 152: Parkway Terrace

    Fine homes and curving concrete benches in an early housing development in the middle of the Sunset District. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Dec 20, 2015)
  • Podcast # 235: Zoo Trains

    We remember all the trains in the San Francisco Zoo, from the Little Puffer to the playground locomotive to the Elephant train. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Jul 29, 2017)
All Podcasts...

The Outside Lands San Francisco podcast is also available as a subscription via iTunes and by RSS feed.

Save SF History