Fellow Book Benders
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    This is the 23rd 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.   I've listened to your requests and appreciate your support.  Therefore, Fellow Book Benders will forge ahead and continue for the foreseeable future.  Please, if you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, you can unsubscribe (scroll down to the very bottom of this page).  On the other hand, this venue allows me to promote my writings.  New followers are deeply appreciated.  Spread the word and feel free to share.  This month we take a peek at Telegraph Hill in San Francisco.  Enjoy!
         March, 2018                                               Vol. 3, No. 3
Telegraph Hill
      Telegraph Hill is one of San Francisco’s 44 substantial mounds.  The many Irish immigrants who settled there formerly knew it as Goat Hill.  Interesting enough, it soon became a burial ground for non-Catholic seamen.  Hmmm (I’m not going there).  The hill owes its name to a semaphore, which would signal the townspeople as to the nature of ships and their cargo.  If a merchant didn’t have this advance knowledge, he might be hoodwinked into paying too high a price for his product. 
    Sailing ships brought cargo to San Francisco, but needed ballast when leaving.  Rocks for this purpose were quarried from the bay side of the hill (photos on right). One hundred and fifty years later in 2007, a massive slide on this exact spot forced the evacuation of many residents.
   Lillie Coit was one of the more eccentric characters in the history of Telegraph Hill, smoking cigars and wearing trousers long before it was socially acceptable for women to do so. She was an avid gambler and often dressed like a man in order to gain entrance into the highroller establishments that dotted North Beach.   She loved to chase fires and on one incident at age fifteen, she threw her school texts down and ordered bystanders to pitch-in to help put out a blaze.  Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5 made her their official mascot, rendering her a perpetual Hall Pass to miss school when “duty” called.  Her Last Will and Testament funded the monument following her death in 1929.
          The intention of the design is still debated today.  Many argue that it mirrors the image of a fire nozzle.  Alfred Hitchcock insisted that Coit Tower be visible from his lead actor’s boudoir in the movie Vertigo (photos on right).  When asked why, the director said because “It’s a phallic symbol,” and he showed a rare grin.   As a devout sinner, I prefer the later version.
        Fresco murals inside the tower were done under the auspices of the Public Works Art Project as part of F.D.R.’s New Deal to help combat the 1930’s depression.  The artworks depict the socialist and Marxist views of the day.  In the photos on the left is an artist’s cynical view of city-life.  The upper image includes an auto-pedestrian accident (which looks fatal) while the lower pic shows a man being robbed by a team of thugs amidst the hustle and bustle of the urban streets.
        The first photo on the right depicts the artist (self-portrait) reaching for a copy of Marx’s Das Kapital while the far right photo illustrates racial equality within the working force.  Viva la revolucion!

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

Next Time:
  In April we will revisit Telegraph Hill to discuss some of its famous restaurants as well as a hidden paradise dating back to the 1850's. Do you have a favorite historical tale or personal adventure relating to Telegraph Hill?  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

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: 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.

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