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HOW LUCKY CAN YOU GET? Kate’s Journal


The summer after high school was warm and lazy, and I took advantage of each day at the beach; no boyfriend to worry about, no time schedule, but also no money. I began to feel disapproval from Great Aunt Helen as I trudged home tired and sunburned after my day in the sun. I felt the ominous suggestion that I get a job.

My two choices for employment in the City were Matson Line and American Hawaiian Steamship Lines in the same building. I snatched the opportunity at the latter and received the staggering salary of $95 per month as a mail girl. Uncle Fred and I rode the bus each morning and were greeted with the wonderful aroma of fresh roasted coffee drifting from the Hills Bros. plant located just under the Bay Bridge as we approached San Francisco.

Now a mail girl’s job is better than it sounds, because I delivered mail to places up and down the Embarcadero, plus the mayor’s office and offices within both Matson and Amer.Hawaiian.

What a magical city San Francisco was. Not the crowded skyline it has now, but the epitome of sophistication and panache nonetheless. Chinatown, Playland at the Beach with its gigantic rollercoaster, and wonderful carousel, crooked Lombard Street, the Mission District, The impressive PG&E Building,restaurants and hotels, the waterfront with the piers where my father was apt to come in. The largest office I ever saw was that of Mr. Roger Latham, whose place of employment I can’t recall, but he received a lot of mail, and never seemed to be in his office. There were so many things to choose from to have a good time.

Hats and gloves were expected and were worn, thus taking one from a schoolgirl to a grownup in the length of time it took to traverse the Bridge. I moved up from the Mail Room to the Reception Desk with no more salary, but loads more distinction,. It was also a good place to meet people, and I met and dated several young officers who, upon reaching port, stopped off in the office.

Me at 17

A heart can be heavy thing, and slowly but surely, mine mended. I wanted to go on to college, but there was no money, and life was not treating me too badly at that time. My grandmother and Aunt Corinne and Judy, who was now seven, had moved to Alameda, taking an apartment right around the corner from us. Grandma had married Mr. Fred Lessing by this time, and with my Alameda relatives nearby as well, we were a family again.

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16 comments on “HOW LUCKY CAN YOU GET? Kate’s Journal

  1. A great post once again. Making the best of everything and enjoying it, seems to be your speciality,Kate. What a charming girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww! Good current news too. We have decided not to move. Silly at our age to buy another house and go through all that mess. So here we stay, happily doing our thing until we can’t do it anymore. It’s raining here too so the garden is smiling.

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  3. San Francisco is one of my favorite city’s to visit. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of it from another time.

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  4. Our grandson lives in a small apartment in the Marina looking out at the Bay. He works downtown and walks or bikes everywhere. When they want to leave the city they either use uber or rent a car. He calls me as he is walking 30 minutes home from work.

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  5. You had to wear a hat and gloves for delivering the mail? Wow. Then again, you look so fetching in them. I love your stories.

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    • Of course not silly! But I did wear a dress and nice shoes. When I stayed in the office I wore heels always. People seemed to dress up more then. Boys even had short hair and dressed up for a date. But shopping in the City demanded a hat and gloves.

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  6. Well! Varnish John’s advice won’t be necessary for moving, I see. OK! Mental adjustment made.

    I love the mention of hat and gloves. I had them, too — short for Sunday and tea, and elbow length for formals. If you flew on an airplane, you dressed, by golly. There was none of today’s tee-shirts and sandals. (Actually, that’s upper end in airports these days.)

    I loved San Francisco. When I was in school in Berkeley, you can bet we made tracks there whenever we could. One of the professors I worked for was Chinese. I used to go to Chinatown with him and his family. We’d wend our way down those streets, go into a restaurant, pass through the public dining area, then go up two flights of stairs to another small dining area where there were no menus, and not much English spoken. I have no idea what I ate there, but it always was delicious — and no fortune cookies at the end!

    I was back in the City in…um… about 1997. It had changed, but not as much as it apparently has today. I have a great photo of me from that trip, standing atop the Marin hills. I should dig that out.

    Wonderful post. It raised so many memories — and of course there’s always the fun of seeing my maiden name again! (Does anyone even talk about maiden names these days?)

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    • I was a Campfire leader and took my girls to Chinatown a number of times to all the tourist places and then to a restaurant which sounds like the one you went to. A Chinese girl who worked for my husband took us there the first time. Wonderful food and so much nicer than the tourist restaurants on the street. We also went to Johnny Kan’s a lot.

      I remember meeting my daughter and small grandkids on the tarmac as they came in all dressed to the 9’s. Now you see children still dressed in pj’s.

      Do dig up that photo it would be fun to see you at the Marin headlands.

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  7. A highly entertaining post! I remember hat and gloves, but I was never a good hat person, whereas you look perfectly at home and dashing in yours. I can certainly understand your decision to stay in your home. I’m determined to do the same. I had an aunt who lived to the age of 94 and managed to stay in her own home. She’s a great role model for me.

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    • One friend of mine at 93 still drives everywhere, lives alone, cleans her house and has a vodka tonic every evening before dinner. She fixes 3 meals a day and goes to bed at 7. My mother in law stayed in her home till she passed at 93.
      We may still make the change but not just now. As long as things are comfortable stay.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is just wonderful, I so enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to the next episode …… 🙂

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