Christopher Caen: You know you’re really a San Franciscan when…

OK, so one more nod to the Great Earthquake anniversary and then we are done with it.

My reader known only as “Raz” checks in with the following tale: There is a story of the San Franciscans caught in an earthquake down south at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Everyone immediately heads out into the halls and the San Franciscans state in a large voice, “We are from San Francisco and when there is an earthquake we stand in the doorways!” From down the hall they hear, “I’m from Portland, Ore., where the heck do I stand?”

Now, back to the “You know you are a San Franciscan when …” game. Yes, I know we did this exercise last week, but given the response, a couple more are going to sneak in. And then we are putting game back in its box, I promise. But if you are suitably irked, blame Heather Tanner, not me. She fired off the following in her quest to find 1,906 items for the game. Get it, earthquake reference. See, I brought it up again even though I said I wouldn’t. You know you are a San Francisco when (number 41) you have found Polly Ann Ice Cream on Noriega, (42) you actually know what a “wave organ” is, (49)you have gotten to the point where you don’t even notice the naked guy in the Bay to Breakers anymore, and (75) you have discovered that you can go play on the Coke Bottle at the ballpark even when the Giants are on the road.

But all is not wine and roses here, folks. Two of the items popped right out at me, and for all the wrong reasons. First off, item No. 93. Can you believe Rice-A-Roni made it onto the list? Sorry Heather, but you are one item short; It’s gotta get tossed like the bad egg it is. And this item No. 11: Yes, a native knows where Herb Caen Way is, but calling him “the most famous non-native?” Now, as our family historians have proven and world-class geneticists and scientists have confirmed, my father was conceived at the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, so he is considered a native on the basis of this loophole. We will not talk of this subject again.

But we have more characters from our collective past thanks to Sherry Posnick-Goodwin. Sherry’s grandfather was none other than auto dealer Ed Shapiro, better known to the Bay Area as Horsetrader Ed. This was back in the days when gigantic auto showrooms ran from one end of Van Ness Avenue to the other. Ed was known for his flamboyant cowboy outfits, outrageous radio and television commercials, world’s record flagpole-sitting contests and, of course, his sporadic problems with the criminal justice system.

Sherry is in the hunt for anyone who has stories about him as well as any information about his first wife, who apparently was a showgirl in San Francisco during the 1920s and had the maiden name Rose Beatrice Markowitz. E-mail me the information and I will send it on to Sherry. I have a suspicion a great local book could be in the making.

Another great e-mail of the week came from Susan Raymond. Several years ago she was snooping up and down the aisles of a local flea market when she happened upon what looked like an editorial cartoon in the style of newspapersof the 1940s. The cartoon shows a man knocked to the ground by a baseball thrown by Cupid. He is wearing a baseball uniform and is lying on the field of a baseball stadium. (Could it be the old Seals Stadium?) A nurse hovers over him, saying, “I’m afraid you’re out dear — out of circulation, that is.” Yes, it seems our hero is about to head off to his matrimonial fate. The cartoon is signed by dozens of people with numerous newspaper references. And here was the odd part for me: He looks an awful lot like my father. Could this be a lost document of the last days? I am combing the names trying to find one to confirm the provenance, but none are popping out at me. Well, we’ll never know, but for all of you wondering about how this chap felt about his impending fate, an outfielder states: “He never even ducked!”

But my favorite e-mail this week came from Catherine Beauchamp. She sent quite the entertaining e-mail about her adventures after moving to Lodi and memories she had reading the elder Caen column. One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that even in Lodi you can get your daily dose of The Examiner, and pulls up the column every week. Now, what I love about this e-mail was that little Internet phrase, “pulls up,” came from none other than a little old lady who lives in “a delightful retirement residence.” She may consider herself elderly, but she sure doesn’t write like it. And I think I just expanded my demographic base to boot. In fact, I’ll bet ya she even bought a car from Horsetrader Ed.

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