Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kip Carr, Hair Saint of 1970's Berkeley

To honor Hairstyle Appreciation Day, I thought I'd yank these 37 year-old snapshots out of my box. That came off dirty, but this small collection spotlights my first haircut by a gay hairdresser. So perhaps some ribald humor is in order.

Kip Carr cuts my hair at The Hair Saint, a salon that used to be located on College Avenue in Berkeley, California

These pics were taken at a hair salon called The Hair Saint that was located somewhere on College Avenue in Berkeley, California. Kip Carr was the owner, operator, and hair saint in residence.

Fox Photo datestamp, January 1979, Oakland

The Fox Photo stamp on the back says they were developed in January 1979.

Kip Carr cuts my hair at The Hair Saint, a salon that used to be located on College Avenue in Berkeley, California

I can't find much info about Kip Carr, the Hair Saint of Berkeley. I know he was a Gemini (b. June 17, 1936) and around 46-ish years old in these snapshots.

Kip Carr cuts my hair at The Hair Saint, a salon that used to be located on College Avenue in Berkeley, California

Kip was our neighbor, and lived at 4523 Pleasant Valley Court N in Oakland, California. In the early 1980's, he closed The Hair Saint and built an all-service salon in his backyard. I remember his contractors yelling at me because I was "making too much noise" playing in my sprinkler. But I'm not bitter.

Kip Carr cuts my hair at The Hair Saint, a salon that used to be located on College Avenue in Berkeley, California

For years, my friends and I would ding dong ditch Kip because we liked to see him enraged. We thought he was a kinda bitchy, ill-tempered man—and, thus, super-fun to annoy. I remember hearing that he died of HIV/AIDS complications at some point in the mid-to-late 1980's. Oh, well. We'll always have Paris—or rather, College Avenue in Berkeley.

The Hair Saint was a salon located on College Avenue in Berkeley in the 1970's.

And here we are—post-haircut—in front of The Hair Saint. Information about the late Hair Saint business is virtually non-existent, but I did find this interesting clipping in the Berkeley Barb, dated the week of May 10, 1979. Apparently The Hair Saint was also a performance venue?

Ad in the Berkeley Barb in May 1979: "Back on College by popular demand—Gershon. Performing at The Hair Saint. What's inside his shows outside yours."

The only thing I knew about the Berkeley Barb was that the blind guy in Butterflies are Free (1972) liked to read it. But according to Wikipedia, the Berkeley Barb was also a weekly underground newspaper and "one of the first and most influential of the counterculture newspapers ... covering such subjects as the anti-war and civil-rights movements as well as the social changes advocated by the youth culture." This particular issue advertised an upcoming show at The Hair Saint.

"Back on College by popular demand — Gershon. Performing at The Hair Saint. What's inside his shows outside yours."

Gershon? Who was this mysterious 'Gershon,' and what does "what's inside his shows outside yours" mean? That sounds like it could be dirtier than my "box" comment. I can't stop picturing some drag queen decked out as Cristal Connors from Showgirls, doing Goddess for a bunch of queens getting haircuts—although I know that'd be historically inaccurate, as well as anachronistic as hell.

If you'd like to share a story about The Hair Saint, Berkeley in the 1970's, the mysterious Gershon, or you are, in fact, Gershon—drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fast Times at Lowell High: San Francisco in 1959

The third week in April is Organize Your Files Week. Since I'm not a big fan of organization, I peeked into my overflowing box of eclectic snapshots to see if any had organized themselves—and I was lucky to find this small collection, dated February 1959. I love it when photo developers from 57 years ago do the work for me.

Since it's also National Zucchini Bread Day, I thought I'd start today's post off with some vintage cheesecake. Now, that may be what Hannibal Lector would call a ham-handed segue, but they're both made from eggs and sugar. So they're sort of vaguely related. Anyway, this is the youngest of the Seoul Sisters, Lena—the one who later became a model. Here she is on vacation in Beautiful Downtown Burbank.

Helen Vasilev in Burbank, California in 1959

The rest appear to have been taken at the old campus of Lowell High School in San Francisco, California. Before it was re-established on the "outer dunes" of Lake Merced in 1962, Lowell High was located at 1860 Hayes Street in the Panhandle. The move was ostensibly prompted by the building being seismically unsafe, yet it somehow survived—and is now known as the John Adams Center, part of the extended City College of San Francisco campus.

Kids goofing around at Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1959
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High School girls on a break at Lowell High School in 1959

Although the precise year is never mentioned in the musical and film Grease, its polarizing sequel Grease 2 retcons events to about 1959. That seems about right. These girls don't look like Pink Ladies or paper shakers, though. More like studious background dancers. I suppose, at a school like Lowell, you'd have to be.

Kids at Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1959
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Girls at Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1959

Lowell is one of the two public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (along with Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts) that only enrolls students who meet special admission requirements. The admission process is based on test scores, GPA, extracurricular activities, and a writing sample. In other words, these were some smart-ass kids.

Girls at Lowell High School in San Francisco in 1959

As Dana Carvey's classic "Grumpy Old Man" character on SNL might say: "In my day, we didn't have fancy camera phones! We didn't have Instagram, and the Facebook! When we wanted to take pictures, we saved our allowance, and bought Brownie Hawkeyes! Then we had to buy film! And we didn't get to see how we looked right away, oh no! We took that film to get developed, and we waited and waited! And when the pictures came back, it was a month later—and we didn't even remember who we posed with! We didn't get to 'tag' and 'share' our photos! You know what we did? We took one look, and then put them away in an album for 57 years! And we only got to see them again half a century later, if some blogger put them on the internet! That's the way it was, and we liked it!"

Saturday, April 16, 2016

There Goes the Neighborhood: Piedmont, California in 1980

A bunch of my Icelandic friends are talking about Barnamenning, which is some festival celebrating children's culture. Or something. So to honor that, I thought I'd post some truly anxiety inducing childhood snapshots. Kidding. They're actually quite pleasant. For me, anyway.

They were taken in and around 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California—and, according to the stamp on the back, they were developed in March 1980. Since it's also National Stress Awareness Day, I'll try to remember something stressful about each snapshot.

Jessica Butz poses with a cat in her lap in the kitchen at 19 Ramona Avenue in March of 1980.

This was my babysitter, Jessica Butz. She always seemed like such a big ol' grown-up. One time, she put on Eight Days a Week by The Beatles and forced me to lipsync with a hairbrush mic. I remember being really confused because I thought a week only had seven days.

Yoorah Lee poses with a cat in her lap at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980.

This was our neighbor, Yoorah Lee. Her brother, Laju, was my BFF and partner-in-crime. Perhaps influenced by the 1962 British sci-fi classic Day of the Triffids, Laju and I thought we'd "scare" Yoorah by ripping a bunch of Canna plants out of a neighbor's yard and stashing them in her bed. Yoorah did scream when she pulled her blankets back to discover a rotting pile of cannas, but I wouldn't say she was scared. We thought it was hilarious; Yoorah, not so much.

Laju Lee poses with cat at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

This was Laju. Not sure what's stressful about this photo. Probably his pants.

Heather Horne aka Heather Clark poses with a cat at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

This was another of our neighbors, Heather Horne. She actually lived in Corte Madera, but would visit her grandparents on our block for the weekend. I remember she would stage these elaborate pranks—like faking a Southern accent for an entire day, insisting she wasn't Heather, but rather her look-alike cousin from Georgia. I was definitely jealous of her flair for the dramatic.

Jessica Butz poses with a cat on her ass at 19 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1980

Not to be outdone, my babysitter Jessica poses with the cat on her ass. This is actually a little-known stress management technique, and quite effective.

Frank Russell and Alex Brooks on Ramona Avenue in Piedmont, California in 1980

Not everyone in our neighborhood was a kid. We also had old guys in cowboy hats. These gentlemen were named Alex Brooks and Frank Russell. Alex is the one with his pants hiked up to his ribcage. That seems rather stressful, honestly.

Alberta G. "Maggie" Blatt eats soup in bed at 23 Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

Eating soup in bed can also be a stressful experience. This was our next-door neighbor, Alberta "Maggie" Blatt. This snapshot fascinated me as a kid because I thought the cat was passed out with a cartoon bump on the head.

Yoorah and Laju Lee, and Dionne ride bikes on Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

Long before the hipsters invaded Oakland, we were definitely the coolest neighborhood gang.

Natalie Pavloff Powell, Chrissy Myers Austin, Yoorah Lee, Heather Clare Horne Clark, and Tanya Pavloff Rockwell terrorizing Ramona Avenue in Piedmont in 1980

I'm not sure whose idea it was to buy me a plastic shopping cart. It seems like a weird toy for a kid, right? It's, like, "Here, pretend you're grocery shopping and/or homeless."

But whatever. Happy Barnamenning and National Stress Awareness Day to you and yours!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Johnny Handsome: Actor John F. Kearney in the 1970's

This was an interesting find in my seemingly endless stash of forgotten family photos: my first cousin, once removed, the actor John F. Kearney. I thought I'd post these snapshots in honor of National Sibling Day. Technically he's not my sibling; but he's close enough.

Actor John F. Kearney reclines on a Herculon couch at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California in the 1970's

I believe these photos were taken at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California, sometime around 1976. John definitely belongs in what Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock referred to as the "Smiling Irish Bastard Hall Of Fame." But in a good way, of course.

Actor John F. Kearney smokes a pipe at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California in the 1970's.

John has told me, time and again, that he thinks smoking is a dirty habit—and yet, here he is, with a big ol' pipe in his mouth! Oh well, it was the 1970's, after all.

Actor John F. Kearney frowns on a Herculon couch at 1776 Sweetwood Drive in Broadmoor, California in 1976

Speaking of the 1970's. That couch. His collar. Those Erté prints. A few years later, John would star as "Professor Atkinson" in one of the weirdest, tackiest, and most curiously grim 70's horror films ever: the karate-torture-porn "classic" Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon of Death (1979). It's a scary flick, let me tell you. Even scarier than this Herculon couch.

If you're interested, check out this interview with John F. Kearney, courtesy of The Eerie Midnight Detective Agency.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

American Beauties: Immigrating to the United States in 1953

April 9th is Name Yourself Day (not to be confused with Middle Name Pride Day). That got me thinking about the immigrant experience, reinventing yourself in a new country, etc. Actually, it did no such thing—but I need an excuse to post these 63 year-old photographs featuring the Vasilev Family en route to their new life in San Francisco.

Natalie Vasilev, Lana Thomson, Tanya Sarsfield, Captain Robert "Bobby" Ford, Lena Vasilev, Stephany Mitrofanenko, Mrs. Triantafillidis, and Ann and Bill Schwarz on board the SS Pacific Transport in January 1953

I believe this snapshot was most likely taken on January 25th, 1953, on board the SS Pacific Transport before it set sail from Yokohama, Japan to San Francisco, California. Pacific Transport was the name of a transpacific cargo line operating from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Hawaii and ports in Asia.

Pacific Transport Lines 1953 calendar

The SS Pacific Transport made the news in 1954 when it famously brought the decorated war horse Sergeant Reckless from Japan to San Francisco. However—according to the Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Maritime Industry by Kenneth J. Blume—competition from Japanese lines and the Matson Navigation Company proved too much for Pacific Transport to challenge, and that same year, financial backer Paul I. Fagen sold his shares to other investors. Three years later, the company was merged with States Steamships Lines.

Natalie, Tatiana, Svetlana, and Helen Vasilev—Harbin Russians on board the SS Pacific Transport en route to America in 1953

I'm not sure what cargo was on board, but on this trip, the SS Pacific Transport also brought the Vasilev Family to America. The matriarch, Natalie Feodosievna Vasilev née Mitrofanenko, was born into the Russian Community in Harbin in 1915, and lived in Korea and Japan before bringing her family to the United States in 1953. You can read more about her here. According to this SS Pacific Transport manifest, Natalia and her daughters were "stateless."

Lena Vasilev, Tanya Sarsfield, and Stephany Mitrofanenko on board the SS Pacific Transport in 1953

Natalia's mother, Stephany Mitrofanenko, was on board to see them off. You can read more about her here. Although she didn't accompany her family on this particular voyage, she sailed into the United States (via the same ship) one year later. I like to think she made the trip with Sergeant Reckless, and they had a wild steamship romance.

Lena Vasilev, Lana Thomson, Natalie Vasilev, and Tanya Sarsfield on board the SS Pacific Transport in 1953

These were the Vasilev women—Lena, Svetlana, Natalia, and Tatiana. By all accounts, immigrating to the United States on a steamship could be a horrible experience, but these broads look pretty comfortable. However, knowing this was taken in January, all I can think is brrr.

Lena Vasilev, Tanya Sarsfield, Natalie Vasilev, and priest on board the SS Pacific Transport in 1953

It appears there was even a priest on board, perhaps to offer absolution in the event of a sinking?

Lena Vasilev and deckhand on board the SS Pacific Transport in 1953

This able seaman appears to be a deckhand (?) of some sort. I admit my knowledge of maritime occupations is pretty bad. Somewhere out there, a devotee of all things nautical is reading this, and wants to punch me in the face.

Seoul Sisters Lena and Tatiana Vasilev with Natalie Vasilev on board the SS Pacific Transport in 1953

What ocean voyage would be complete without a snapshot of kids sticking their heads out portholes? Seriously, as a fan of vintage photographs, I can attest that I've seen this shot repeated in about 17 different family collections. In this particular pic, the original Seoul SistersLena and Tatiana—goof around while their mother, Natalia, looks on.

SS Pacific Transport in San Francisco

The Vasilev Family landed in San Francisco on February 5th, 1953. I believe their descendants still live in the Bay Area to this very day.

If you've got a story about the SS Pacific Transport or immigrating to the United States on a steamship, drop us a comment! We'd love to hear from you! :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Working Girl: Bay Area Workplace Fun in the 1960's and 1970s

It's officially International Fun at Work Day! I found out when my boss handed me a floppy plastic paddle ball, and said I could feel free to go nuts on it as long as it didn't affect my productivity. Yes, that's right—I'm a private detective, and a temp in a light-industrial warehouse shipping gourmet chocolate to fancy people all day. Speaking of, feel free to go nuts on this six-piece classic assortment of honey drizzled snapshots from the late 1960's/early 1970's that celebrate fun in the workplace.

Lena Vasilev works the chow line at a Holy Trinity Sisterhood function at the Richmond District YMCA in the 1960's.

Volunteering is work, too. In this photo, the youngest of the Seoul Sisters, Lena, enthusiastically works the cake table chow line at what I think was a Holy Trinity Sisterhood function at the Richmond District YMCA in San Francisco. A little stamp on the back says the photo was developed in October 1967.

Kodacolor Print, made by Kodak, October 1967
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Russian Orthodox gathering held at the Richmond District YMCA in the 1960's.

Here's another one from the YMCA where she appears to be working the punchbowl. I wonder if that guy to her left was named Higgins. He looks like one. Or a Jeffrey spelled G-e-o-ffrey. A Joffrey, if you will.

Photo taken of Sisterhood women, along with Nina Merzlyakova and Marie Rhea Thomson of Pacifica, California

More Sisterhood gals. I believe this photo was taken in the kitchen at the Christ the Saviour, a Russian Orthodox church at 2040 Anza Street in San Francisco. The youngest member (center, bottom) is one of the first-generation American daughters born to the oldest Seoul Sister, Svetlana. She's clearly having fun at work.

Mystery photo of vintage skin cream advertisement, 1960's or 1970's

Lena also did some modeling for a bit—as most big-city 1960's women with Lithuanian/Ukrainian cheekbones were wont to do. Thank you, From Russian With Love, Natalie Wood, et al. I found this portrait that was possibly used in a skin cream ad, although I don't know what skin cream, or when. If you know anything about this photo, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! :)

DiGiorno annual report cover photo from the 1970's. Godfrey Mezirka.

This photo was used for the cover of the DiGiorgio annual report (year unknown). I love it; it's so The Ice Storm (1997). I'd have fun at work, too, if I were surrounded by wine and processed meat products. Maybe I should temp for DiGiornio .... Maybe I should set my sights higher? Life is full of mysteries.

Arthur Gough, photographer, and Peter Neufeld, artist, in the Brightside, Sunday supplement to the Fremont Argus, 1974
Speaking of mysteries, here's a cool one. I found this newspaper clipping tucked away in my photo collection. It boasts an authentic, vintage coffee ring, and was originally published on August 4, 1974 in the Brightside, which—according to my research—may have been a supplement for the Sunday edition of The Argus, a paper originating out of Fremont, California.

Arthur Gough, photographer, and Peter Neufeld, artist, in the Brightside, Sunday supplement to the Fremont Argus, 1974

The accompanying photo (taken by Arthur Gough) features Seoul Sister Lena—savagely decked out in forks and flattened spoons—marching past a construction worker. The jewelry was designed and created by artist Peter Neufeld, who—along with his wife, noted photographer (and eccentric) Patricia Oberhaus, were part of the art scene in Berkeley, California in the 1970's. You can read more about them here and here.

American dorm room poster celebrating feminism in the 1970's

The article says Peter Neufeld's pseudo-tribal adornments are for "the new woman. It is her. A leader not a follower, unafraid of change and above all individual, she is the modern aborigine for whom Peter with all the skill and cunning of an Indian is working. And she is proud of it."

According to legend, photographer Arthur Gough later sold this snapshot to a poster company, and it was successfully marketed as a wall-covering for Women's Studies majors across the country. If you, or your feminist dorm mate, tacked this poster up about 30 years ago, please let us know.

We'd love to hear from you! :)