California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
from Mamas and Papas song “California Dreamin’”

It didn’t take a winter’s day for this Jersey girl to dream about the Golden State. Even before becoming a teenager and the blooming of Haight-Asbury, California held allure. It was enchanting but at the same time, unimaginable, illusionary, a Shangri-la of sea, sand, sun, palms, and redwoods.

Bob Chandler wearing Hawaiian shirtsailing from San FranciscoIn 1965 I had my first encounter with the 31st state on a family trip that included Disneyland (we four kids totally dug it) and San Francisco. My mother drove us across the Bay Bridge and down Lombard Street while my father did business in Sacramento. Then all six of us sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on the Lurline (a Matson Line ship) to Hawaii. A golden family time. Here’s the picture of Dad in his Aloha shirt to prove it.

I returned to the city on my own five years later.

You’re moving to San Francisco where you think the streets are paved with gold and you’re going to become a hippie.
Mary Chandler, 1970

Mom and Gael near San FranciscoMom did everything she could to prevent me from dropping out of college and heading west. But the lure of independence and my desire to join the women’s movement were too strong. I landed in Pacific Heights, then lived in the Fillmore and various parts of the Mission and the Castro.

And that was only my first year in the Bay Area.

Mom visits after 2 months &

we put a good face on things.

In 1971 I moved north of the Golden Gate to Sonoma County and went back to school. I broke gender lines in being admitted to Santa Rosa Jr College’s auto mechanics program and becoming a union Gael as a projectionist near San Franciscoprojectionist at the drive-in and walk-in theatres around the county.

My parents and I mended our relationship which became strong and close.Gael with parents near San Francisco

In 1979 I left the Bay Area for Los Angeles, seeking a career in Hollywood as a film editor and scriptwriter. It was a long chapter in my life that had it’s up and downs but resulted in many an editing job (mostly on TV comedies), three books on editing, teaching work in editing and software (digital editing systems and TV broadcast software), and instructional design work creating eLearning, videos, and editing a radio show at a couple of corporations (including the now notorious Countrywide mortgage company).

The lights of the Golden Gate will lead her home.
Judy Collins, “Holly Ann”

In 2010 I moved back to the Bay Area, to Marin County which is just across the bridge from SF. In October 2012 I went back east and my mother died. Gael at Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Four hours after she passed I received an unexpected email from a friend. He had written Chronicles of Old New York, the first in series of books on history for Museyon publisher. My friend said that if I was interested in writing Chronicles of Old San Francisco, he would recommend me to the publisher.
My father passed suddenly nine weeks later. I dedicated the book to them.

companions in San Francisco
So Chronicles of Old San Francisco is a homecoming and a new spiral in my life in many ways. I learned about my new/old city during the research phase. And I had a lot of fun tramping every step of the book’s eight walking tours with my faithful companions. And it led to my new endeavor – creating book trailers for other authors.

I hope it will enrich your life and lead you down a few paths you didn’t expect.

Gael

Tour 7: Wave Organ and

faithful companions

Feel free to contact me with your SF stories at info@theSFstory.com or use the convenient contact form.