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Streetwise: This or That

by Frank Dunnigan
February 2018

Frank Dunnigan, WNP member and columnist. -

Growing up in San Francisco in days gone by, we had choices for everything. Like the old Ford vs. Chevy rivalry, local residents once debated the following preferences—mostly either/or—but sometimes with a few extra options thrown in:


  • Richmond District house vs. Sunset District house?
  • Parkmerced apartment vs. Stonestown apartment?
  • For the well-to-do, St. Francis Wood vs. Forest Hill?
  • Fireplace used regularly vs. never used?
  • Hire housepainters vs. do the work yourself?
  • Buy Sunday’s paper on Saturday night vs. Sunday morning?
  • Kodak vs. Polaroid cameras?
  • Chronicle vs. Examiner in the morning (pre-1965)?
  • News vs. Call-Bulletin in the afternoon (pre-1959)?
  • Gas vs. electric range?
  • White vs. pastel color kitchen appliances vs. stainless steel (today)?
  • Shoes-on vs. shoes-off inside the house?
  • One phone in the hallway vs. extension phones?
  • Rugs vs. wall-to-wall carpeting?
  • Hand-wash dishes vs. dishwasher?
  • Clothesline vs. machine dry?
  • Kids mow the lawn vs. adults mow the lawn vs. hire a gardener?

Aerial view of Golden Gate Park looking east from above Ocean Beach, 1963 -


  • Bank of America vs. Wells Fargo vs. Hibernia?
  • Do your own taxes vs. H&R Block vs. CPA?
  • Always have a written will vs. “someday”?
  • Carew & English vs. Arthur J. Sullivan vs. McAvoy-O’Hara?
  • Holy Cross Cemetery vs. Italian Cemetery?


  • Nightly dinner at the kitchen table vs. dining room table?
  • Television on vs. television off during dinner?
  • “Sauce” vs. “Italian gravy” on pasta?
  • Larraburu regular vs. dark bake?
  • Homemade vs. store-bought cookies in the kitchen cookie jar?
  • Take-out from Johnson’s Tamale Grotto on Vicente vs. The Hot House?
  • Hamm’s vs. Burgie?


  • The Hot House vs. Bull Pup for Mexican food at Playland?
  • Tia Margarita vs. El Sombrero for Mexican food in the Richmond?
  • Eppler’s vs. Schubert’s for a bakery in the Inner Richmond?
  • Adeline vs. Baronial for a bakery in Parkside/West Portal?
  • Sugar Bowl vs. Wirth Brothers for a bakery in the Outer Richmond?
  • Fairmont vs. Mark Hopkins for a drink with out-of-town guests?
  • Alioto’s vs. Sabella’s for dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf?
  • Sun Hung Huang vs. Kan’s vs. Kuo Wah for dinner in Chinatown?
  • Caesar’s vs. Fior d’Italia vs. Green Valley for dinner in North Beach?
  • Polly Ann Ice Cream on Noriega vs. Baskin-Robbins on Irving?
  • Pirro’s Pizza on Taraval vs. Pasquale’s Pizza on Irving?
  • Red Chimney-Stonestown vs. Red Roof-Ocean Avenue/California Street?
  • Tennessee Grill on Taraval vs. Zim’s for breakfast in the Sunset?
  • Seal Rock Inn vs. Louis’ on Point Lobos for breakfast in the Richmond?
  • Herb’s Deli on Taraval vs. Herman’s Deli on Geary?
  • Blum’s vs. Fantasia for cakes?

View north to Fisherman's Wharf. Tokyo Sukiyaki, Alioto's, Fishermen's Grotto., Aug 1964 -


  • Neighborhood doctor/dentist vs. downtown location?
  • Chicken soup vs. tea/toast/soft-boiled egg for minor ailments?
  • House calls from doctor vs. office visits?
  • Children’s Hospital vs. French vs. Mount Zion vs. St. Mary’s?


  • Easter brunch vs. Easter dinner?
  • Shaw’s vs. See’s rocky road Easter eggs?
  • Ham vs. lamb for Easter dinner?
  • Stay home vs. go out to eat for Mother’s/Father’s Day?
  • Homemade vs. store-bought costumes for Halloween?
  • Open presents on Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning?
  • Noodle kugel—sweet vs. savory?
  • Real vs. artificial Christmas tree?


  • Acquired from a breeder vs. pet shop vs. shelter vs. neighborhood litter?
  • Goldfish from Woolworth vs. Nippon Goldfish Company on Bush Street?
  • Parakeet vs. canary?
  • Guinea pigs vs. “there will be no rodents in this house”?

Opening Day. Traffic Jam leaving park to 3rd Street. Aerial view from above 3rd Street., Apr 12, 1960 -


  • Baseball at Candlestick vs. football games at Kezar? (Or both?)
  • Downtown movies vs. neighborhood movies?
  • Fleishhacker Pool vs. Sutro’s (pre-1954) for swimming?
  • Legion of Honor Museum vs. old de Young Museum?
  • Coronet vs. Alexandria Theater on Geary?
  • Jewish Community Center vs. Rossi Pool for swim lessons?
  • Ice Follies vs. Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey Circus?
  • Ice skating at Sutro’s vs. 48th Avenue rink vs. Legg’s on Market Street?
  • Playland vs. Fun-Tier Town?
  • Ocean Beach vs. Baker Beach?
  • St. Brendan’s Teen Club vs. St. Cecilia’s?
  • Lincoln Park vs. Harding golf course?
  • Olympic Club vs. Italian Athletic Club?
  • “O” gauge electric trains vs. “HO?”
  • Gambling at Tahoe vs. Reno?


  • Public vs. private vs. parochial elementary school?
  • Wide-rule vs. college-rule binder paper?
  • Pica vs. elite font on typewriters?
  • Bring lunch from home vs. eat in school cafeteria?
  • January vs. June graduation for SF public schools?
  • Assigned neighborhood high school vs. Lowell?
  • St. Rose vs. Mercy vs. Presentation vs. Star of the Sea for girls?
  • S.I. vs. S.H. vs. Riordan for boys?
  • City College vs. SF State vs. UC-Berkeley vs. USF?


  • Downtown vs. Stonestown?
  • City of Paris vs. White House for better items?
  • See’s vs. Shaw’s for candy?
  • Lucky vs. Safeway vs. QFI vs. Petrini Plaza for a supermarket?
  • Pine Lake Market vs. Fairlane for a Parkside neighborhood grocery?
  • Seabright Market vs. Carriage Market for a Noriega grocery store?
  • Day-Lite Market vs. Mount Davidson Market for West Portal groceries?
  • Lick Market vs. Littleman for groceries in the Inner Richmond?
  • Sutro Super vs. Cala for groceries in the Outer Richmond?
  • GETs on Sloat vs. USE on Alemany for discount store purchases?
  • Gillon Lumber on Geary vs. Goodman Lumber on Bayshore?
  • Reis’ vs. Overland Pharmacy on Taraval?
  • Wakelee’s Pharmacy vs. Ace Drug on Clement Street?
  • Woolworth’s vs. Walgreen’s at Stonestown?
  • Flying Goose Sporting Goods on Taraval vs. Dekker’s on Irving?
  • J.C. Penney at 5th & Market vs. Sears-Roebuck at Geary & Masonic?
  • I. Magnin vs. Joseph Magnin?
  • Bruce Bary-Stonestown vs. Young Man’s Fancy-Laurel Village?
  • Auto Row on Van Ness vs. neighborhood shopping for cars?
  • Borden’s vs. Sun Valley Dairy for home delivery of milk?
  • Sears at Geary & Masonic vs. neighborhood hardware store?

Stonestown Shopping Center sign, Merced Heights, Brooks Park in background, May 1966 -


  • NBC’s Today Show vs. CBS Morning News?
  • Romper Room with Miss Nancy vs. Captain Kangaroo?
  • Game shows vs. soap operas during the day?
  • Captain Satellite vs. Skipper Sedley for after-school TV?
  • Bugs Bunny cartoons vs. Marshall J. on Saturday mornings?
  • Flintstones vs. Jetsons?
  • Walter Cronkite vs. Huntley & Brinkley for the evening news?
  • Perry Mason vs. Bonanza on Sunday nights in the 1960s?
  • Johnny Carson vs. Dick Cavett for late night?


  • Lake Berryessa vs. Lake Temescal for a weekend getaway?
  • Marin Town & Country Club vs. Russian River?
  • Guerneville vs. Monte Rio vs. Rio Nido?
  • Camping vs. motels?
  • Disneyland vacation—car vs. train vs. plane to get there?
  • Side trip to Knotts Berry Farm vs. Marineland vs. Universal Studios?
  • Camp Mather vs. Yosemite Valley?
  • Clear Lake vs. Lake Tahoe?
  • Pan Am vs. TWA vs. United for flying?


  • Drive to work vs. MUNI?
  • Pack a lunch for work vs. go out to eat?
  • Dress up for work vs. a uniform vs. “Casual Friday” every day?

Night view, Twin Peaks Tunnel from Ulloa St & West Portal Ave. K-line streetcar #1144 exiting the tunnel., 1965 - John Harder

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