Fellow Book Benders
View this email in your browser
    This is the 24th edition of Fellow Book Benders, a free monthly online newsletter about the ridiculous truth and historical tidbits of San Francisco, the Russian River and beyond.    This venue allows me to promote my novels, etc.  New followers are deeply appreciated.  Spread the word and feel free to share.  This month we return to Telegraph Hill in San Francisco for Part II.  Enjoy!
         April, 2018                                               Vol. 3, No. 4
Telegraph Hill, Part II
      The east side of Telegraph Hill is my favorite hideaway in San Francisco.  If you’re seeking an adventure, find the path near the statue of Christopher Columbus at Coit Tower and head down the Greenwich Steps where you’ll be wowed by the neighborhood forest and lush gardens. Along the way there are benches to take a break and absorb your surroundings.  A fun flower to watch for is the Angel Trumpet as well as bee boxes, vegetable plots and some of the craziest rose bushes ever.  
       Make a right when you hit Montgomery Street to continue your journey. Soon you will spy one of the most beautiful Art Deco apartment buildings in the state. From here head down the boardwalk, known as Filbert Steps (photo upper left), which is actually an extension of Filbert Street and thus the lone wooden boulevard in northern California.  Enjoy the architecture of this living, working community that seems frozen in time. The homes are built on the steep hillside and many have grand views of the bay. Napier Lane showcases a half-dozen residences, which date back to the 1880's (photos upper right). Earlier homes were reputedly used as holding pens for drugged sailors during the gold rush era until they could be loaded onto vessels below the hill at the wharf (now filled-in land along Battery Street) and shanghaied back out to sea.
        Once you reach the bottom of the Filbert Steps, you can make a right to the Embarcadero, trolley line and Ferry Building. Make a left to Fisherman’s Whart and Pier 39. The trip is worth the effort.

       There are 248 steps in all.
       The two homes pictured above are currently on the market for $2 million each.  No parking is available, which may explain the owner turnover rate.
       Tony Richards grew up on the hill and knows every secret passageway.  Once, a Chinatown street gang was chasing him, but because of his local knowledge he was able to evade his pursuers.
   Julius' Castle restaurant, founded in 1922, combines fairy-tale elements, such as pointed arched windows and medieval-style battlements on the upper balconies, all mixed with Gothic Revival and arts-and-crafts influences (photos on left). Interior wood paneling was purchased from the city’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.
           At the time, Montgomery Street was little more than a dirt trail wide enough for one vehicle. Because the street was so narrow, a turntable was installed in 1931 at the dead-end in front of the castle to enable attendants to park your car. During Prohibition, Julius’ Castle became a speakeasy for the carriage trade. During more modern times, it was a popular destination for such celebrities as Robert Redford, Cary Grant, Sean Connery, Marlon Brando, Ginger Rogers, Sir Edmund Hillary, Gordon Getty, Sally Stanford and others. But the king of the“castle” was longtime proprietor Julius Roz, an Italian immigrant restaurateur. According to a 1939 city guide, “To taste [Roz’s] fish sauce supreme, his tagliarini and his banana soufflé is to have a glimpse of an epicure’s heaven.”  
        From 2007 until 2012 it became a private residence.  The current owner wishes to return Julius' Castle to its former glory as a restaurant, but he is receiving stiff resistance from well-connected locals who would prefer the peace and quiet.        
        The House on Telegraph Hill was filmed there in 1951.  The interior sets for the home were built and filmed at 20th Century Fox studio but the exterior was created by building a facade around the entire structure (Photo top right).  Other movies found Telegraph Hill to their liking such as Dark Passage in which Humphrey Bogart plays an escapee wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder who splits the bounds of San Quentin’s walls and lands into Lauren Bacall’s residence on Montgomery Street. The Art Deco apartment building featured in the movie  is designed to resemble a ship (photo bottom right).

Other movies that found Hollywood visiting the area were Hitchcock's Vertigo as well as The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.
Humphrey Bogart lived on a sixty-foot yawl, berthed at St. Francis Yacht Harbor, while filming parts of The Caine Mutiny and the T.V. series Sam Spade.  The vessel is the Santana and is still there.
       Gordon Getty's mansion at 2900 Vallejo St. is currently on the market for $14.5 million.



      The feral parrots of Telegraph Hill (photos on left) are primarily red-masked parakeets, descended from escaped or released pets. The flock was popularized by a book and subsequent documentary (2003), both titled The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.
         Filmed in 2005, the movie won 4 awards at different film festivals for best documentary. Through Mark Bittner’s own words, we learn of his life as a frustrated, homeless musician and how he came to live in the area where he decided to explore the nature around him. That lead him to discovering the parrot flock and the individual personalities of it.     
         A coyote has taken up residence alongside the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. There has been an increase in urbanized coyotes around the City in general, causing Animal Care & Control to put up warning signs on popular walking paths. The critters have shown they can survive in a surprisingly small territory such as the five-acre Pioneer Park, which surrounds Coit Tower.
        The sudden increase in coyotes likely started when they ventured across the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County and began thriving in the Presidio before migrating south toward Golden Gate Park. The coyote of Telegraph Hill possibly arrived there around 2005, seeking a higher class of people. It has become comfortable with humans, strutting around during daylight hours in an area ripe with foot traffic.  Fruit trees, rodents and pet food have encouraged the animal to stick around. Judith Henderson says that rats come down from the hill at night to raid the garbage bins of North Beach and Chinatown.  On their return trip, the coyote is lying in wait. Hopefully, he doesn’t strap himself to a rocket and become airborne like his distant relative Wile E. Coyote.

      A controversial San Francisco city ordinance passed on June 5, 2007, prohibits the feeding of parrots in public spaces. The feeding ban was championed by Mark Bittner, the birds’ most outspoken supporter who fed them for years.
Theresa Schnell remembers teaching at Galileo High School when the little charmers would do major "fecal fog" damage to parked cars.  Also, they're very loud little buggers.

       If you have enjoyed reading one of my novels, a short review with Amazon would be appreciated. 

Next Time:
   In May we will visit Guernewood Park along the Russian River when it was one of the most popular resorts north of San Francisco. Do you have a favorite historical tale or personal adventure relating to Guernewood Park?  If so, I would love to publish it next month in Fellow Book Benders. You can reach me through my website or email me directly at  Thanks and stay tuned. 

        If you spied a film crew along the banks of the Russian River recently, they are shooting scenes for Katrano, a documentary inspired by my first novel, Memories That Linger.
       On another note, Don't Stop the Music is a finalist in a national writing contest.  Keep your toes crossed.

Where to purchase my latest novel:
      Don't Stop the Music is an action/adventure story that celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love.  It is a wild ride through the streets of the Haight and Fillmore Districts of San Francisco culminating in the historic Grateful Dead concert in Rio Nido along the Russian River in 1967.
         The paperback as well as the kindle version are available on Amazon.  If you want to save on shipping and handling charges, you can purchase a signed copy through my website at

          My novels are also available at Hand Goods, Occidental; Gold Coast Coffee, Duncan Mills; Jenner by the Sea Gifts, Jenner; Larks Drugs, Five & Dime, and Russian River Art Gallery, Guerneville; Bia's Coffee, Monte Rio; Gaia's Restaurant, Santa Rosa.
Reviews are trickling in for Don't Stop the Music:
        “For those who remember the era (Summer of Love), Don't Stop the Music is a delicious summary of memory.”
         San Francisco Museum and Historical Society
        "John McCarty has put together a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love (1967) that is cheerful and entertaining and even pays tribute to the beauty of west Sonoma County..."
          Sonoma County Historical Society

          “A trip back in time to the 1960’s San Francisco Fillmore District, up through the Marin & Sonoma coastline to the Russian River hippie heyday and the peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.  A nostalgic read.”
            Russian River Historical Society

            "Somehow McCarty manages to build sympathy for his motley crew as they embark on a classic road trip from San Francisco to rural northern California."
            Northern California Fulbright Association

         "Familiar folks, home-grown scenery, and candid attitudes will put you happily in the middle of all the action."
            Stephen Gross, The Press Democrat

           "All along there is danger, excitement, budding love and a number of unrighteous brawls.  The author knows what he writes about.”

            Bob Jones, Sonoma West Times & News

Attributions & Asides:
       A special thank you is due to anonymous subscribers for sharing their memories of  Telegraph Hill.   Also, a note of appreciation goes to the following individuals and organizations: Tony Richards, Theresa Schnell, Judith Henderson, The Press Democrat, Card Cow Vintage Postcards, Sonoma County Historical Society, Russian River Historical Society, San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, and Wikipedia.
                To subscribe a friend to this newsletter go to and scroll to the bottom of any page to "Subscribe To Our Newsletter".
                 Your privacy is important to me.  Be assured that I am not sharing your email or any other personal information. As Red Skelton used to say, "Good night and may God bless."   JMc
Copyright © 2018 John McCarty, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp