Thursday, March 31, 2011

Journey of Awakening – 27: The Exploration

September/October 1974. I packed my lunch and headed out on my job-finding, San Francisco-exploring adventure. The 24th Street BART station was only about 5 blocks from our house. I picked up a San Francisco Chronicle on the way. But I figured I’d better get familiar with the transportation system, so I’ll just ride it while looking in the want-ads for likely jobs.


This was cool. The Daly City line went downtown and continued on through a tube under the Bay to Oakland and ended in Richmond. You could even change trains in those days at no extra charge and go all the way down to Fremont in the South Bay. As long as you didn’t exit the turn-styles you could ride all day. But after 3 days of that it occurred to me that I should get serious about the job search. We were asked each evening at dinner to report on our results, and I had none.

So I began getting off at the Market Street/Embarcadero exit and hitting some of the office buildings, a couple of employment agencies, and some leads I found in the newspaper. Then I discovered the other forms of transportation offered by the ‘city by the Bay’. There were the streetcars that ran up Market Street, and the Geary Street Line that you could take all the way out to Golden Gate Park and the Sunset District. Best of all were these cute little cable cars that you could ride all the way to the wharf, Ghirardelli Square and the Cannery for a quarter.


There are so many sights and experiences in San Francisco: Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower,


snake-like Lombard Street, the Tenderloin, Castro Street, Nob Hill, California Street, Chinatown, North Beach, Broadway, the Golden Gate, etc., etc.



The Hyatt Regency at the bottom of Market Street was brand new and had this incredible lobby with three open bar/restaurants and a large crystal-clear water fall right in the middle. I found I could end my day of job searching there for Happy Hour and a glass of chardonnay for $2 (the original Two-buck Chuck) and still hop on the BART, making it back to the House in time for dinner.


On some Saturdays after House assignments were completed, and on Monday family nights I explored like the ultimate tourist, taking pictures of everything. When I could borrow one of the House cars I would drive out to the Sunset District and find a spot to just sit and watch the sun go down, then listen to the waves crashing below me. Occasionally, when I had saved enough from my $85 a month stipend, I would go to what became my favorite Greek restaurant on Broadway (across from Carol Doda’s place) for dinner and to watch this amazing belly dancer. I always managed to have a couple of dollars to stuff in her belt. Jimmy, the owner, got to know me as a regular over time and would invariably get up and dance to the Zorba tune and have all of us up circling the restaurant at the end.

I was falling in love with San Francisco, and learned one bit of trivia—no one who is actually from there ever calls it ‘Frisco’. But I still did not have a job.

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