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
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
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!"

1 comment:

  1. I remember the old Lowell High. I went to Dudley Stone in the Haight Ashbury in the early 1950's and my Aptos Junior High friend, Bob Lee, attended Lowell. Lee later became an NFL quarterback and punter and holds the distinction of playing on five Super Bowl losers (four Minnesota and one Los Angeles). Bob's father later hired me to work for the Associated Press in 1968 as his father was the AP Bureau Chief in San Francisco. I attended Lincoln High and was a classmate and friend of Jeffrey Tambor.