As I begin to compose this post, I am listening to the stories about the tornadoes in Oklahoma, and I’m so sorry for those of you who are dealing with those horrendous storms. I have to stop writing and watch the news. This post will have to wait until tomorrow. The tornadoes are more frightening than anything that Hitchcock imagined, and more urgent for you to watch and read as well. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering there.
This morning I am going to take you out of the aftermath of the storms virtually to San Francisco where 67% of you voted to hear about in my next posts.
Back to the recent past, our walk up to Huntington Park. First of all, if you’ve never been to San Francisco, you don’t get the FEEL for how steep the hills are. On a 3D video, you might lose your stomach riding in a virtual car. It’s not that bad in real-time, but almost, especially from a back seat where you can’t see the road as you start downhill.
The reaction on foot is different! Trust me, on foot, going up, those same inclines feel more like a heart attack. Of course, we were almost late. We had no idea it would take us almost 20 minutes to walk up three measly blocks! Bending forward, noses nearly touching the ground to ward off wind resistance, we climbed at top speed up Taylor to Huntington Park across from Grace Cathedral on the corner of California and Taylor. There we met up with our group.
I had to rent the movie Vertigo after this walking tour. I never realized how few Alfred Hitchcock movies I had seen until I took this tour in San Francisco with Robert. Granted in 1958 when this film was in the theaters, my parents would not have allowed me to watch it anyway! Most of you, were probably not even born by that time. So, I watched the entire movie until the last two minutes, and the movie stopped and the annoying loading circle took over the screen. It never finished loading. If YOU haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want to take the time to watch it, the link above will give you a plot summary and a list of the buildings as well. They changed the ending for European viewers. The English particularly, weren’t as into murder as we were. In the US, the murderer got by with it. Yikes! I’m moving to Europe before THAT happens! Oh, right that was almost 60 years ago. Wake me up!
Robert is the #1 Vertigo/Kim Novak fan. He had a signed picture from her. No, he didn’t let us see the real one. He made copies of everything. Just like our other tour guide, he had a binder of pictures to show us while we stood in the wrong place listening to his story. He held us spell bound over hill and dale for over two hours!
We learned a wee bit about Grace Cathedral and Hitchcock, who, in one movie kidnapped a priest for effect. A real priest, I don’t think so, but it made an awfully good story to start a tour.
Robert told us a great story about the condo where Kim Novak and her husband lived, “The Brocklebank” at 1000 Mason Street on Nob Hill, but all the time he was talking I thought he was talking about the Fairmont Hotel, so I took more pictures of that and of the fog at the end of the street. What I remember was Ms. Brocklebank, the woman who owned the hotel and had an apartment in it as well, was late on her payment, so they repossessed it. In addition, since she lived there, they also repossessed all of her personal goods. Now the rents there are fairly low for some of the renters. Some of them have been there since the seventies price freezes. Their rent is only about $1,200 a month. Normal rent is between $5,000 and $14,000 a month!
The Hitchcock movies filmed in San Francisco created quite a bit of work for set makers, and videographers. The few things that were filmed inside of actual buildings were done so for odd reasons like he liked the floor. OK, that’s important! Hitchcock recreated most of the buildings in a set so that the walls did not inhibit the videographers. In one scene he hired the chef, and the extras ate real restaurant meals for 8 hours straight. Then it was time for lunch! :) My kind of job! :)
This was one of the hotel rooms that Kim Novak entered. This is one of the VERY few buildings left standing after the 1906 earthquake.
Here is another famous place to which Jimmy Stewart followed Kim Novak. It’s been renamed and renovated now. You might like to stay at the Vertigo Hotel. Robert showed us pictures from his binder that looked like the picture I just copied from the internet. The rates are all over the place – $79-$550 per night! hmmm. Our rooms were pretty small. I think I’ll transfer.
The last place I’ll take you is the “Argosy” Bookstore which is really the Argonaut. It wasn’t open when we were on our tour, so Jean and I went back the next day, and spent half the day there. Amazingly, when we walked in the first book that caught my eye was a 1895 Atlas of TULARE COUNTY! Now why in the world would a famous SF bookstore have a Tulare County atlas? Well, they had just made a huge purchase from a Tulare County estate. “Who was it?” I asked.
“Stan Barnes,” answered the Bob Haines at Argonaut. Stan Barnes is the man in Tulare County that was responsible for getting Tulare County Historical Society involved with Tulare County Office of Education History Day. He passed away just before the Society named the first scholarship for $500 in his name this March. We spent the next hour or more looking through much of Stan’s collection, and trying to find information on Bravo Lake. What a bonus to our amazing Mother’s Day trip.
I hope you are all safe, and hope you enjoyed the tour. :)