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Outside Lands Podcast Episode 88: Broderick-Terry Duel

On September 13, 1859, a California State Supreme Court Judge and a United States Senator fought a duel beside Lake Merced. The story, and its importance to local and national politics, plus podcast mail!
Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast - Sep 13, 2014

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 88: Broderick-Terry Duel Outside Lands Podcast Episode 88: Broderick-Terry Duel


Podcast Transcription

#88 - Broderick-Terry Duel

David: [00:00:00] Citizens of California, a senator lies dead in our midst. He is wrapped in a bloody shroud and we to whom his toils and cares were given are about to bear him to the place appointed for all the living. It is not fit that such a man should pass to the tomb unheralded. It is not fit that such a life should steal unnoticed to close. It is not fit that such a death should call forth no rebuke or be surrounded by no public lamentation

Woody: It's Outside Lands San Francisco, the Podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project. I'm Woody LaBounty.

David: And I'm David Gallagher.

Woody: What was that from David? It's a great rousing way to get us  started.

David: That was from the oration of Edward D. Baker over the dead body of David Broderick.

Woody: Because today, [00:01:00] September 13th, is the 155th anniversary of the Broderick-Terry Duel.

David: That's right.

Woody: When we're recording this.

David: The last duel in California.

Woody: And a very well-known one. We are gonna get to that in just a second, but I've got some mail, David. We're behind on our podcast mail.

David: Didit-didit-didit-didit.

Woody: Nobody knows what that is.

David: News from overseas

Woody: No. No. This is not news. This is mail.

David: Oh, mail from overseas.

Woody: I'm just gonna go through these real quick. Will McCuller, a loyal listener…

David: Yes.

Woody: Says hello David. He wants to know during our podcast about the Gellerts and the Sun Stream Homes, if you were drinking Sun Stream Coffee because there's a cafe that serves Sun Stream Coffee just up the road. And no.

David: No, we weren't. I may, I think I drank the coffee that Woody made.

Woody: Yes, you did.

David: Which I don't know what kind it was.

Woody: Ah, Martha's.

David: But he, you know, we're confident that Woody can, if his historian career stalls, he can make it as a barista.

Woody: [00:02:00] I better get moving on that because there's a lot of stalling going on. Okay. Peter Mark, Markopoulos, says hello Woody and David, again about the Sun Stream Home Podcast. He really enjoyed it. He lives in a Sun Stream home. He doesn't have one of those little plates in his garage.

David: No.

Woody: He's very dismayed and sad about that. But he did have in his basement the instructions for the care and maintenance of Sun Stream Homes.

David: They were very thorough in this flyer that they handed out, right?

Woody: Yeah. They had like 42 tips, and I'll read you a couple of them. Number one, do not overheat your home when new.

David: Whew, yeah. Don't even, try not to overheat anything, like…

Woody: It'll cause excessive shrinkage.

David: Especially the coffee if that, if you had done that to the coffee, it would've been not good.

Woody: The whole house might shrink. Do not slam doors.

David: My mother wrote this list. I guess.

Woody: I like this one. Number 25, if your lights go out suddenly, call PG&E.

David: Aah, I like the one where it says, don't close your medicine cabinet in the bathroom too hard.

Woody: Yeah, that's back to the slamming doors. So…

David: Yeah, I. I broke our medicine cabinet mirror [00:03:00] once.

Woody: You did?

David: Slamming it too hard.

Woody: Oh, that's why your mom wrote this.

David: Yeah.

Woody: He has some ideas. He thought that maybe we could, for future podcasts, do something on high schools in the western neighborhoods like Lowell, SI, Lincoln, Washington, McTeer, Lick Wilmerding and Riordan might be too far east. But right after this we did Polytechnic.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Yeah, Rochelle Jacobs wrote in, talking about the Blackie podcast.

David: Yeah.

Woody: The horse that's swam the Golden Gate. She said she liked the way I did a sound effect every time I said sway back. [does sound effect].

David: I don't remember, that was it?

Woody: [does sound effect] The sway back.

David: Have to get our slide whistle in here.

Woody: Thank you, Rochelle. David Chang says he knows we have a Facebook page where we post links to the podcast and visitors can comment there, but he wants to know if we've considered adding a comment function to the posts on the page, on the website.

David: We considered it.

Woody: Okay. There you go. Done. Okay. But he continues to love the podcast and he says, power on.

David: Yeah. [00:04:00] That's the first thing we do every day.

Woody: And if we don't, we call PG&E.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Peter also likes our podcast, by the way. He says he looks forward to it every week. Can't wait.

David: Hello Peter.

Woody: Can't wait. Angus McFarlane, who was our guest last week. And to show that he's such a good guest. He told me that the proper pronunciation of the major thoroughfare that parallels 19th Avenue is You-nipero Serra, not Ju-nipero Serra, like I said.

David: I've heard a lot of pronunciations of it.

Woody: But he says I'm a native so I could be right.

David: Yeah.

Woody: And I…

David: I say Ju-nipero Serra.

Woody: Well, Good. I do too. Ju-nipero Serra. I don't know. I well, but..

David: Yeah, I know if I was speaking Spanish, I would say Who-nipero Serra.

Woody: Who-nipero Serra.

David: Wouldn't be like that exactly.

Woody: Let’s hope we don't do that. Timothy McIntosh, and I think we're gonna have more from him on the end of this podcast, or maybe we should do it right now.

David: No.

Woody: But he says, David, if one was going to drive gunpowder factories out of the Sunset, [00:05:00] the last thing they would use would be pitchforks and torches.

David: Did I say that?

Woody: I guess you did that.

David: That wasn't like Frankenstein reference the movie, you know,

Woody: [monster sound] That's how they were making the gun powder in the Sunset.

David: Yeah, he’s right.

Woody: And he said that living at the Merchant's Exchange Lookout, which we both said we wanted to do.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Would be nice until the guys at Fort Miley started lobbying projectiles over our heads from their guns.

David: And I was gonna ask John Martini about that to see if they ever, I know they must have tested the guns over Fort Miley, but I wonder how often they fired something out of the cannons up there.

Woody:  I could see that being annoying.

David: Also, and when we mentioned in the podcast that the caretaker family was moved out during the war years…

Woody:  That's right.

David: Anyway. That's right.

Woody: That’s right. They had somebody there, I guess, but they weren't living there. Paul Rosenberg, thank goodness, wrote in, because we mentioned when we were talking about Polytechnic High, that he would probably know the alma mater. Because we were having trouble…

David: Right.

Woody: Working on that. He says yes, he has sung the Poly hymn, [00:06:00] but he can't recall the melody. But as he wanted to talk about some other things with our podcast, for example, why we didn't mention Bob St. Clair, who was the alumni.

David: We, yeah.

Woody: I was going to, but then we got caught up in something else.

David: We, we left out a lot of famous Poly grads.

Woody: Right.

David: Bob St. Clair. Yeah. I mean…

Woody: Casper Weinberger. We've heard of him.

David: Famous statesman.

Woody: George Fenneman.

David: Aah.

Woody: He would've been my favorite person to mention.

David: George Fenneman. Just like Groucho's second banana.

Woody: Right, he was like the, if anybody ever saw The Tonight Show, he was like Johnny Carson's guy…

David: Ed McMahon.

Woody: Ed McMahon, but he was that on Groucho’s show.

David: But he was George Fenneman before Ed McMahon was Ed McMahon.

Woody: Right. And I think he went to State too. I think he went to San Francisco State.

David: Yeah.

Woody: San Francisco guy, George Fenneman. So, thank you Paul for bringing that up and reminding us of those things we forgot. Also, thank goodness, we do have the Poly alma mater.

David: Whew!

Woody: Somebody called in, and…

David: We asked someone, we asked you to call in and sing it on our voicemail and this is what we got.

Voice Mail: Hail Polytechnic, [00:07:00] we're loyal to you. Hail alma mater. Ever so true. We come with praises, singing your fame. Hail Polytechnic. Long live your name. Thank you.

Woody: Well, it was..

David: Yeah.

Woody: It is a technical high school, so maybe that was a robotic version of it. Although he says he, I think he was trying to be William Shatner. We know who you are, by the way, who called in. You didn't say, but we know who you are. All right. That's the mail. On to serious stuff David.

David: Didit-didit-didit-didit.

Woody: 155 years ago today, a duel near Lake Merced between David Broderick, David C. Broderick, who was a United States senator from California at the time.

David: Right.

Woody: And David Smith Terry who…

David: Who had been the On the Supreme Court, [00:08:00] right?

Woody: Well, He was on the California State Supreme Court.

David: State Supreme Court.

Woody: Yeah. How did it happen and where did it happen and what did it lead up to? I think those are the three things we want to talk about. So, I'll go first.

David: All right. How did it, where, why did it happen?

Woody: Why did it happen? So, well, first of all, you have to remember, or you have to know, David Terry had some anger management issues. He was the guy who was the Supreme Court justice. He, over the years, would often find himself offended that his reputation was being besmirched and would often stab somebody about that. I'm exaggerating a little but not much. He was, so he's arguing in a courthouse in San Joaquin County, and some guy keeps interrupting him, the other lawyer. And so, after the argument, he stabs the guy.

David: In the courtroom?

Woody: Yes. In fact…

David: And he still made it to the California Supreme Court?

Woody: Yeah. He had political juice, man. Anyway, another, there's a Stockton publisher in, who does some, you know, insults Terry a little bit. [00:09:00] And Terry goes in and whacks him with his cane in the head. He tried to just give him a slight blow, but then after the guy took offense, he had to hit him a couple more times, a little harder. And during the vigilante…

David: It's not funny. We're laughing.

Woody: It's true.

David: It's not funny.

Woody: It's a long time ago. We can laugh at violence in the past.

David: Okay.

Woody: Okay. So, and during the vigilante times in San Francisco in the 1850s, this was more an issue of self-defense, but Terry gets into it with some of the vigilantes and stabs a guy in the neck. So, he has a history of getting excited, getting angry, getting in confrontations, and having violence.

David: A man had to defend himself.

Woody: Yes, that's how he would say. And he was from, he was part of the chivalry, this southern sympathizing group of people in California. California was kind of in the balance, should it go with the northern politics and issues of the day or should it go with the south.

David: All right. So, Terry's a hothead

Woody: Right.

David: What did [00:10:00] Broderick do to, ever do to him?

Woody: So, Broderick, Broderick was having some political issues. He was kinda, the Democratic party and he were not seeing eye to eye. He was losing his juice in Washington with the president, his fellow senators. They were at odds. So, he was having a rough time and he was kind of moping around. And I guess one morning he's having breakfast and he reads something that Terry wrote in the newspaper and he wasn't real happy with it. And he threw the paper and he said that Terry was a miserable, dishonest wretch of a judge.

David: Well.

Woody: He kinda insulted him.

David: So, Broderick said that while he was reading a newspaper.

Woody: Having breakfast.

David: Having breakfast,

Woody: Yeah. And Terry wasn't there.

David: Okay.

Woody: But a friend of Terry’s was.

David: I see.

Woody: And so, a word got around that Terry said that and…

David: Who is that blabber mouth that told him? That's what we need to know.

Woody: I don't know. Paul Rosenberg will probably tell us. But there was some guy who said, “hey Terry, Broderick said you were a miserable wretch.” And so, Terry of course took offense. [00:11:00] Yeah. Took out his Bowie knives, and took offense. Well, actually what he did is he wrote a letter and he said in the letter, “I now take the earliest opportunity to require of you a retraction of those remarks.”

David: Ha, ha, ha.

Woody: That's the kind of hot headedness that he was known for. And it's like politeness.

David: Well, let me just tell you what my response is.

Woody: Are you Broderick?

David: Yeah.

Woody: Okay.

David: Forget you!

Woody: Yeah, sort of. So, they decided to have a duel. This is also, do you know anything about duels? Tell us what duels are about.

David: As far as I understand, a duel is something that, when the honor of one of the people has been besmirched, he challenges the other man to a duel and duels could have, take many forms. I think the most traditional one is pistols at 10 paces or something, right?

Woody: Yeah.

David: And that is what this was decided upon.

Woody: Yeah. And we should say, this was in 1859, this was just in San Francisco where this happened.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Yeah, it was very formalized. It was this ridiculous, I don't wanna call it a fad, [00:12:00] but it was this thing that really went all the way through the 1800s, where it got very organized and systematic and there were all these rules about the duels.

David: I feel like we, I saw plenty of ‘50s movies where, you know, a guy in an outfit would take off his white glove and slap the face of the other person with his glove, and that was the official challenge to the duel or something.

Woody: Yeah.

David: I don't know if that happened, but let's just say that in 1859, dueling was on its way out.

Woody: Right.

David: And it was illegal in San Francisco, so…

Woody: I think in California, maybe? Maybe not.

David: I don't know.

Woody: Okay.

David: But from what I understand, it was illegal in San Francisco, so they had to go outside the county line.

Woody: Well so, maybe that's true because, so what happened was they arranged, again, it's all formalized. The person, one person gets to choose the weapons they use. The other person picks the time. They have seconds, the buddies that come with them to make sure everything's on the up and up and represent the duelists. And they decided that on Monday, September 12th…

David: Right.

Woody: 1859 at [00:13:00] 5:30 in the morning, they would meet out at Lake Merced on the farm next to the, there was a ranch out here, the Lake House ranch, and that, that's where they were gonna have their duel.

David: Right.

Woody: Now, everybody hears about this. Everybody goes to go see the duel. Fight, fight, fight.

David: That's a long way out there to get out there. I mean, some of the, we know who, who stayed where, but they stayed in different places that was out in the countryside, out of near Lake Merced.

Woody: Right, because they're getting up at 5:30.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Now this is, everybody knows about this. So, the sheriff comes out and says boys, ain't gonna be no duel today.

David: Yeah, he was from Tombstone, Arizona or something.

Woody: So, he breaks it up and everybody's like, oh, no duel. No duel. And then they, he takes them in, I think, to court, because it is illegal. And the judge says, okay, you guys, you're off on your own recognizance or whatever.

David: He released them. They didn't, so they were arrested, but then they weren't held.

Woody: Right. [00:14:00] So, what did they do?

David: They went and had it rescheduled, the duel, for outside the city limits.

Woody: The next morning.

David: The next morning

Woody: So, and the sheriff, or because it's outside the city limits, they don't do it. And that's, that is a question where this took place.

David: Right.

Woody: So, you're saying, and I think you have a good basis to say this, that they went out to Lake Merced and they went just across the county line.

David: Right.

Woody: Is your thought. And that way they could be outside of the city.

David: It’s described as a little glen, and it's described in various texts as having a different orientation from the lake and there were little hills around it.

Woody: In like a gully or something.

David: It's so different now. I mean, there were no trees planted out there. It was very barren. And, and the location of the duel was up for question for years. And around, I think sometime around the early 1900s or maybe right around

Woody: The 1910s.

David: 1910s. The president or big wig at the Spring Valley Water Company took him, took it upon himself to determine the location by interviewing people and by surveying the area. Cause the area around Lake Merced was all owned by Spring Valley Water by that time.

Woody: [00:15:00] Right.

David: And…

Woody: And people were still alive who remembered it.

David: Right.

Woody: That's the thing.

David: Some people,

Woody: In 1915, 1916.

David: Not very many. Yeah, not too many. And he determined the site, which is now right behind the San Francisco golf course, golf club. It's kind of in Daly City, off Lake Merced Boulevard. You can find it. It's just southeast of the lake there.

Woody: Right.

David: There's a historic marker and there are two like…

Woody: Granite shafts.

David: Granite pillars

Woody: Yeah.

David: That supposedly show where they stood.

Woody: Right.

David: Some of the descriptions that I've read of the duel just don't ring right to me. For where the crowd would stand up on, they said the crowd stood up on the hills, behind, but the shafts are placed in places that the hills are behind the two.

Woody: Right.

David: They talk about the sun coming up in someone's eyes and…

Woody: Yeah.

David: It's just, it's very confusing.

Woody: Well, I think [00:16:00] we can't, even though there's nice granite markers, we don't know exactly where the duel was.

David: Yeah. I mean, those are placed…

Woody: In the ‘40s.

David: Years later.

Woody: So.

David: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Woody: And there is a historic landmark plate there. A California landmark plate.

David: Right.

Woody: And it, I think the best way is if you get to the bottom of the lake, it's just on the east side…

David: Yeah.

Woody: Of the bottom of the lake. That's where you can find it. So, what happened that morning? So, they go out there, the two are going to duel. They get their pistols. They use French dueling pistols.

David: Right.

Woody: Because Terry has French doling pistols.

David: Of course, of course. And by the way, those pistols are in the Union Bank of California museum, I think in the basement.

Woody: Oh, neat. They have a museum.

David: California Street.

Woody: Yeah.

David: Go in the big old Granite Bank and go downstairs and you could see those pistols.

Woody: Okay. So, they get their pistols, they go their paces apart.

David: They pace apart. And it's even, it's weird because it's like, you don't just, it's not like. western gunfight, like quick draw thing. It's like, somebody, they decided who would fire first and who would fire second.

Woody: Right.

David: And [00:17:00] I believe that Broderick had the, got the lucky coin flip.

Woody: Yeah.

David: And he raised his pistol and some reports say that he, he fired into the ground on purpose. Some reports say that his gun went off accidentally.

Woody: Right.

David: And fired into the ground. Like, you know, he was like, okay, we're just doing this for show and I'm gonna shoot it into the ground.

Woody: Because some people would do that.

David: Yeah.

Woody: They'd go to the duel and the whole point was to show up for the duel. And then they're like, okay, now we've made our point.

David: We’re not really gonna kill each other.

Woody: I'm gonna shoot in the air or shoot to the ground.

David: Yeah.

Woody: So, some people say he did that, other people say it just went off accidentally.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Like he's lifting, and then what happened?

David: And then Terry…

Woody: The hothead.

David: Well, raised his gun and shot Broderick right in the chest.

Woody: Yeah, no problem.

David: Yeah.

Woody: It's like, right through the lapel. And at first everybody thought, cause this would often happen in the duel too, the people would get wounded, but you know, it wasn't about…

David: Right.

Woody: Killing somebody necessarily.

David: Right.

Woody: And they all thought Broderick was gonna be [00:18:00] okay. But the bullet grazed or hit a lung, unfortunately.

David: Yeah.

Woody: And so, he was, ended up being gravely wounded and they took him to the Presidio of all places.

David: Is that where they took him?

Woody: Yeah. There was a house of a friend and Baker I believe was there too. Maybe Baker arranged this and the house is still there. The building where Broderick died is still in the Presidio, like at Black Point.

David: So, the Black Point is at Fort Mason.

Woody: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You're right.

David: Yeah. Yeah.

Woody: I didn't mean Presidio, I meant Fort Mason.

David: Is it like Montgomery's House or something?

Woody: It's over there. We should do...

David: It's up on the top of the hill in Fort Mason.

Woody: Yeah.

David: Yeah.

Woody: So, where he died is still there at Fort Mason. And, and you just imagined this guy's wounded and they basically take him seven miles to this.

David: Yeah, over through the countryside on the bumpy roads. I mean, we don't really know what their route would've been, but.

Woody: Yeah, so he dies there three days. It wasn't a quick death, you know, it was a slow and agonizing death.

David: Right.

Woody: And, of course, Terry, who's already got a reputation and a lot of people don't like him, although he has a lot of supporters, is vilified. And then, this is when what this duel means comes up. Because it was the last duel, it was a highly political duel. He got a senator shooting at somebody. This is crazy, [00:19:00] right?

David: Right.

Woody: And, but then what happens after this is 1859, the whole idea of slavery, the whole issue in the United States, that's in the air, that's what everybody's fighting about before the Civil War has even started. And a friend Edward Baker, who's a well-known guy in San Francisco too, was a friend of Broderick. And he at the funeral made the address of which you read part of to start this podcast.

David: Right. I believe…

Woody: Because it takes on a bigger life than just some guy got shot.

David: Right. It becomes a flashpoint for, for slavery, for abolitionists and, and the non-abolitionists. And it kind of draws the lines for California's position in the Civil War really.

Woody: Yeah. And that's how Baker took it. Baker. I mean, Broderick was a Democrat, you know.

David: Yeah.

Woody: He was, they were both Democrats and then, this new party, the Republican party that Abraham [00:20:00] Lincoln went to the presidency with.

David: Right.

Woody: Starts, comes out, and suddenly this loyal Democrat Broderick starts being the champion for the Republican party

David: In death.

Woody: Yes. Because Baker takes his name and makes him a martyr and makes him the person who is on the side of right in this whole thing. And that Terry, the Southerner is the evil, you know, side on slavery.

David: Right.

Woody: And so, it becomes this bigger issue

David: Yeah. So, and what happened to Terry?

Woody: Terry.

David: Went on killing people.

Woody: Yeah.

David: And slapping people with gloves.

Woody: Yeah. I think now I might be wrong about this, cause I should have looked this up, but my memory is he gets in some kind of issue at a train station.

David: And he gets killed, right? I mean, in an altercation.

Woody: Yes, I think, I think that's right. He gets into another altercation at a train station again, over some honor issue, I believe. And yeah, meets a bad end. Lincoln wins the presidency. Baker becomes a big wig in the Republican party, and Broderick has a giant memorial.

David: Right. Up in Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Woody: Yeah. Right over here.

David: We got lots of pictures of it.

Woody: It's right in the [00:21:00] top of the hill.

David: Yeah.

Woody: It's right, you know, just the up the hill from Trader Joe's.

David: Yeah. It's kind of on the hill above Trader Joe's is where it was.

Woody: At Masonic and Geary. And it was there until they closed the cemetery, but…

David: And where did they move him? Do we know?

Woody: I think they moved him down to Colma, to I think Cypress Lawn.

David: He must have a…

Woody: He does.

David: A memorial there too.

Woody: I believe he does. I think that's all true. And it, the area where we think this all happened, you talked about it, it probably isn't the exact spot. Also, a bunch of trees have been planted. Golf courses.

David: Right.

Woody: Apartment buildings.

David: Yeah, later on, around 1922, there is some, ‘22, ’25, there's a whole other discussion that I've read about the location of the duel, and it says that it's more south of the lake, kind of nearer to the Olympic Club, think.

Woody: It was just too much, the wide open countryside.

David: And it's all changed so much over there that you can't, there's really no way to figure out exactly where it was, but I'm happy with the spot that it's in. It's a nice [00:22:00] place to go and eat your lunch.

Woody: Yeah, it's quiet.

David: Yeah.

Woody: And it's neat and it's kind of, it makes you think about it too. It's a very important event in California history and it's in the west side of San Francisco or maybe a little bit over the county line. But well, we'll claim it. Our friends down at the History Guild of Daly City and Colma…

David: Yeah.

Woody: Did a great reenactment on the 150th anniversary. And we have a video of that on our website.

David: Right.

Woody: So, they can claim it too. We'll share it. But it was a big event and, and this is a big day, 155 years ago this happened. David.

David: Yes, Woody.

Woody: I hear we have hundreds of people who listen to this podcast.

David: That's right. According to my calculations, we have hundreds.

Woody: And we have hundreds of members of the Western Neighborhoods Project too.

David: That's right.

Woody: But I would venture to guess there are more podcast listeners.

David: It’s possible. I think it's likely that more people listen to the podcast than our actual members of the Western Neighborhoods Project.

Woody: So, I think we should encourage the people who aren't members of the Western Neighborhoods Project, [00:23:00] but who like our podcast to join.

David: I would encourage them too.

Woody: How would you do?

David: Join.

Woody: Oh, no.

David: I know you're listening.

Woody: Specifically, how would you do this?

David: How would you, how would I join?

Woody: How can you join?

David: How do they join? They go to the website. Now, you may be listening to this on the website, and if so, just look up at the top of the page and there's the link that says, become a member. And you can click that link and then fill in all your information and then you're a member.

Woody: Yep. And you can get all the benefits and, and support our efforts here.

David: That's right.

Woody: Well, Thank you David. Is there anything else you have to say about Broderick-Terry, the duel, the, all that stuff or are we…

David: We here are of every station and pursuit every creed and character, each in his capacity of citizen to swell the mournful tribute, which the majesty of the people offers to the unreplying dead.

Woody: All right. I'll see you next week.

David: Yeah. Okay,

Woody: Okay. [00:24:00] Learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more about San Francisco history at outsidelands.org.

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    In the early days, Playland's carousel was called the Hippodrome. The oceanside attraction has an intriguing history and a wonderful happy ending. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Jun 4, 2022)
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