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.