Posted on by Lee Richmond
As a Chronicle copyboy, my wages were better, and I moved to a one-room apartment in the Haight-Ashbury District. This would turn out to be an historic move, though at the time it just seemed like a welcome relief from the Tenderloin wino hotel. Gary already lived in “the Haight,” as it was known, with his wife and son. His high school friends Bill (another copyboy), Clif and Marty shared an apartment nearby. It was a spectacular beautiful place on the top of one of San Francisco’s famous hills, one of the few neighborhoods to escape the disastrous 1906 fire that followed the disastrous ’06 earthquake, so its beautiful Victorian houses were still there, now painted in outrageous gaudy colors. In Victorian days, Henry Haight had given his name to one of the streets, Munroe Ashbury his name to the street that crossed it; together these men were instrumental in planning the neighborhood and the spectacular Golden Gate Park next door. The artists coming to San Francisco in the Beatnik era but too late to find an apartment in North Beach had settled in the Haight, and they were still there. The street was lined with ethnic grocery stores. You could climb up from Haight Street to the top of Buena Vista Park for a view of the city and the bay spectacular beyond description. Sunny days, cool breezes, friendly artists, happy grocers with fresh fruit … light up a joint and the colors explode as you walk down casual easygoing Haight Street to the towering eucalyptus trees, winding pathways and scantily clad damsels of the most beautiful park on earth — in 1964, it was as if I had died and gone to heaven!