1090 Page: The House Where the Haight Began

Sometime in the spring or summer of 1964, Rodney Albin’s uncle acquired a twenty-two room Victorian boarding house on the corner of Page and Broderick Streets in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The place had seen better days. Built in the 1880s by the owner of a high-toned downtown haberdashery, it had all the modern 1888 conveniences – speaking tubes, a doorbell that rang on each floor, and gas lighting sconces on the walls for when the electricity went out. Its pearl, though, was in the basement: a full-sized ballroom with a stage in one alcove. The entire room was lined with glowing virgin redwood panels.

But in the 1940s, 1090 Page Street was downscaled from a mansion to a boarding house.  Life Magazine mentioned it in a 1961 story titled “The Irish in America.” It featured a full-page photo of thirty ‘typical Irish’ working stiffs and Mrs. Minton, their landlady, all leaning out the windows of 1090 Page waving madly.

For Rodney’s uncle, the building was strictly a business investment.  He was planning to tear it down and replace it with federally funded senior housing.   But the deal was bogged down in Washington somewhere, so Rodney approached him – he knew a way his uncle could make some money on the place while he waited to finalize the deal.  Why not rent rooms to San Francisco State students? Why, it happened that Rodney himself was a State student.  With his connections he could easily fill the place with the most respectable type of student, earnest and studious.   Rodney guaranteed him $600 a month, and was soon installed as landlord of what would become possibly the most renowned proto-hippie/scruffy student  pad in San Francisco’s short history.  By fall, the place was jumping.  Since rooms began at $15 a month, it was affordable,  to say the least.

Experimental filmmaker Loren Means lived there during those first few months.  “The psychedelic thing and rock and roll hadn’t really happened yet.  1090 was more a community of artists and students.  We supported each other and took an interest in what each other were doing. I was in the Film Department at State and also was about to teach a class on Non-Objective Literature at the students’ new Experimental College. I planned to assign Finnegan’s Wake.  I was talking to Rodney about it and he said the Wake was a failure. That brought me up short. I’ve never heard anyone else say that about Joyce.”

That was part of the fun of hanging out with Rodney: He would spout that stuff out continually.

Loren told me about another time on campus.  “There was some kind of protest going on against the new Student Union because the administration had rejected the architect the students wanted. The protesters started selling hamburgers in competition with the cafeteria.  They claimed it was overcharging. Rodney bought hamburgers from both sides and weighed them, and said that the cafeteria hamburgers were a better deal because they weighed a few grams more than the protesters’ hamburgers.”

Dammed iconoclasts, anyway.

Sixties rocker Peter Kraemer told me about the night at 1090 when a critical moment in modern cultural history took place: “Jim Oshita, who used to drive around SF State in a golf cart full of TV sets, supposedly dropped one of those from the top of the great central staircase (he lived up there somewhere); must have been at least five floors down to the ballroom level. This might have been the seminal TV drop; the next one I heard about was in ’66 when The Blues Magoos threw one out an upper window of the Albert Hotel in NY.”

I wonder where Rodney was.  He may have been playing his banjo for musical accompaniment.  More likely, he wasn’t there.  As the landlord, he was supposed to look askance at these irregular and potentially destructive activities.

It’s funny how freaks hated television in those days except, maybe, the Smothers Brothers.   Television was the insidious voice of the enemy whispering to America what to buy next.  Good riddance!

Rodney, to keep the house full, began renting to people from the local hipster community as well as students.  For instance, there was George Shea.

George was an actor.  One afternoon, he taped up a poster in the kitchen advertising “Social Realism Tonight — in The Ballroom!”  He was working up a one man production of Clifford Odet’s 1930s play Waiting For Lefty. The play, about a taxi drivers’ strike,  required actors in the audience to shout out questions and rude remarks to the actors onstage.   Since this was a one man show, George had to portray all the characters on stage, then quick hop off the alcove into the ten or fifteen people who’d come down to see the fun, scream an obscenity, then rush back onstage to answer himself.  It was a memorable performance, but George’s true fame came a little later.

One morning, George and his girl friend Marilyn woke up bored.  So they decided to rob a bank.  What the world needed now, clearly, was an Art robbery, a Dada robbery, a Happening robbery.  They planned it over a nice cup of Folger’s Instant, then strolled down Divisadero Street to the local Bank of America branch.   They had the foresight to scrawl a note that read “Put the money in a bag.” They walked into the bank, waited in line, and when they got to the window, shoved the note through.  Of course, they didn’t think they’d actually need a bag.  They had other, more interesting plans.

Unfortunately though, we’ll never know what those plans were.  The branch had endured a spate of robberies lately, and this morning the teller was a cop.  He took one look at the note and pulled his gun.

“Wait!  You don’t understand!  This isn’t really a robbery.  It’s living theater!  Help!”

After a couple days in jail, Marilyn’s family paid their bail, hired a lawyer, and eventually got the charge against them reduced to malicious mischief.  The story ends even more sadly: the Examiner ran a front page story about the robbery – and spelled George’s name wrong.  You just don’t do that to an actor.

Then there was Jones.  Jones  was a pork pie hatted cool guy who lived in one of the basement rooms off the ballroom.  He was older, in his thirties, had fought in Korea, smoked a lot of dope, and, memorably, Jones was a ping pong shark.  He never lost!  He could have been a champion if they’d had Olympic table tennis in 1965.

“Hey, let’s play some ping pong.  Maybe for a nickel…hey, I know, how about twenty-five cents?”

“I don’t really feel like playing tonight, Jones”

“Aw, c’mon, man – I need the exercise.  But we have to have to play for something here.  How ’bout fifty cents?”

Then, if the unsuspecting resident gave in,  Jones would ram ball after ball down his throat.  After a while, everybody knew Jones was invincible.  But somehow he would manage to wheedle them into one more game.

What did it feel like to be a vet in your thirties surrounded by kids from an entirely different background?  Big Brother and The Holding Company’s Peter Albin lived at 1090 Page in Jones’ time.  He told me Jones was a kind of big brother himself to the younger, less experienced kids.  He taught them how to not get mugged when they were out on the streets late.  How not to get rousted when they were holding.  How not to get rousted at all if possible.  We needed guys like Jones.  We didn’t all grow up on the mean outskirts of the Fillmore District, but now we were there.

Next door to Jones lived a big girl from Eureka.  She found a good way to make a living but she wouldn’t tell anybody what it was.  Arlene (we’ll call her) would eat dinner in the ballroom with everybody else, then put on a nice dress, say “Well, I’ll see you guys later…” and head out.  Where did she go?  It was a subject that entertained people for weeks until one night she came back to the house in tears.  She’d been busted!  For hooking!  She had to pay a fine.  Turned out crime paid, but it was against the law.  Who knew?  That was the end of her prostitution career.

1090, in spite of contemporary rumors, was never a crash pad. Street people found snoozing in the bathtub were shown the door, forcefully if necessary.   One morning Peter Albin got up and headed for the bathroom.  There he found a scuzzy-looking stranger sleeping in the bath.

” Hey!  Wake up!  You can’t sleep here.”

“Huh? Whadayamean?  Allen Ginsberg told me it was okay!”

As if that clinched the deal.  Somehow Ginsberg had gotten the idea 1090 was open housing for poets and street people who came his way and was sending them to 1090 find a snoozing corner.  It probably was quite a helpful stratagem for Allen, but it completely ignored the facts.  Bathtub sleeping accommodations were not available at 1090 for complete strangers.

Part of the issue, aside from the fact they might be creeps, was –  Rodney had to come up with $600 every month.  Besides freeloaders, from time to time he found himself in conflict with deadbeats.

Peter told me about one time his brother had to get serious. “Somebody in the house stole my Martin 000-18. It was a beautiful pre-war guitar.  We suspected a guy on the third floor had grabbed it and sold it to buy drugs.  He was a deadbeat, hadn’t paid his rent in months, was stoned all the time, and, small problem, he carried a knife.

“Finally, my brother went upstairs and literally kicked the door down. I don’t where he got it – but Rodney borrowed a rifle somewhere, pointed it at the guy and told him to get out of the house right now. He obeyed quite meekly, he was so stoned some people had to help him down the stairs.”

Rodney Waiting By The Door.  1090 Page Street. 1965.

One night in, I guess, early ’65, I walked over to 1090 to see what Rodney was up to.  I found him in the big front room with Skip Henderson, a folksinger I knew slightly from State, and three or four other folksingers I’d seen around.  They were practicing to sound just like the Limelighters, an energetic and hugely successful folk group of the day.  Rodney was tired of being a scruffy old-timey musician.  He and Skip and the rest of the hopefuls were jumping on the bandwagon to fame and fortune.

They called themselves the New Tradition Singers. Rodney was singing in his usual thin, nasally voice and playing fiddle and banjo.  Actually,  I despised the Limelighters –  they sounded like a group you might hear at a Barry Goldwater rally — but I admired the New Tradition Singers’ dead-on commercial instincts.  Why not cash in?  What could go wrong?   And tonight they were extra excited.  Somehow they had scored a demo tape of Bob Dylan doing his new song  Quinn the Eskimo.  Bobby had decided not to record it.  It was being shopped around to other groups.  Could they do something with it?

They sniffed it long.  A successful Bob Dylan cover would be a feather in their cap right at the beginning of their career. Look what it had done for The Turtles!  You couldn’t get bigger than The Turtles!  But, darn it, the song just wasn’t  “Drill Ye Terriers, Drill!” (This was a popular folk song about fierce fox terriers.  The lead fox terrier is urging the others to dig their way out of a dog show.) It wasn’t “This Land Is Your Land'” either.  Or any of the other crowd-pleasers the Limelighters were known for.  It was Quinn The Eskimo! It was about an Eskimo who would make you jump for joy when he got here.  No, this won’t play well in Peoria.  They wouldn’t know what we were singing about.  Neither do we.  Sorry.  We pass.

It was a group decision and normally Rodney would have been unhappy, because he liked the song.  But at the moment there was something even more exciting in hand.  They had suddenly obtained an agent.  Somehow the agent had heard their demo tape and decided they really were going to be the next Limelighters.

And amazingly, she was able to book these unknowns onto baritone John Raitt’s upcoming concert tour, purely on the basis of their demo tape.  This agent must be good!  They got down to serious rehearsing.  They not only practiced the songs, they practiced their banter, they practiced jokes and they practiced comments to the ‘critics’ in the audience.

Loren Means told me about one night when he was alone in the house. “Around midnight the phone started ringing.  It must have rang thirty times.  I knew it wasn’t for me but I finally forced myself to get up and answer it.  Turned out it the woman who was their supposed agent.  She had to speak to Rodney right away! I told her Rodney wasn’t there and she just flipped.  Eventually it turned out the woman was insane.  John Raitt had never heard of her — or them.”

Meanwhile, jamming in the ballroom was becoming a regular ad hoc activity.  For one thing a pretty good jug band named the San Andreas Faultfinders was practicing there and they attracted other players, including Pigpen McKernan.

Loren decided to hold a premiere screening of his new experimental film in the ballroom.  He invited a lot of people besides the 1090 regulars, and it was going to be a big night.  Jack Welpott, a well-known photographer from the SF State Art faculty said he’d come, and –  very cool – artist and fellow filmmaker Bruce Conner said he was coming.  Conner’s star was high at the moment, so Loren and Peter – who knew who he was – were pretty jazzed.  Loren spent the afternoon setting up his 8mm projector and getting the details right.  It would be interesting to see the film, if it still exists, because in a way it was the seed for Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Loren had cut together an ancient short subject (He described it to me as about ‘a chimp who saves a child from drowning’.) with footage from a nudie film he’d bought in one of those sleaze stores on Market Street.  I think you had to be there.

Peter suggested it would be cool if  the film had live musical accompaniment.  That sounded like a good idea to Loren.  Chuck Jones, a  surfing style drummer who lived  at 1090, already had his drums set up, so Peter grabbed his new electric bass, then called his friend Sam Andrew, who lived a block away.  When Sam got there, they both plugged into brother Rodney’s Gibson amplifier, the only one in the house, and fiddled around with Chuck for a while.  Then they were ready.

Funny to think.  As the three improvised to the flickering images, the spirit of Janis Joplin might have been seen by one of those psychic kind of people.  She was whispering very loudly, “Go, you guys!  I’ll see you next year.”

That night Chuck became the so far unnamed Big Brother’s first drummer. And it was the earliest rumbling of the partnership between Peter and Sam, which has endured, by my count, some forty-four years.  They still tour today.

Calligraphy by R. Albin

According to Chet Helms, a hippie named Chris Newton had the idea to formalize the jams, and make them a weekly event.  The Wednesday Night Jam Sessions.  Charge a quarter.  (Jones said, “How ’bout fifty cents?”)  Put up signs.  Invite everybody.

Chris was good at ideas but, typical hippie,  terrible at follow-through – so Chet ran with it.  Rodney drew up the 49-cent discount coupon on a ditto master.  Chet ran it off,  and handed it out down Haight Street.  Sam, Peter and Chuck became the house band.  If you were a singer or a harp player, they would back you up.  If you had your own guitar, you could plug into their amplifier.  If you were a singer, you’d better be a shouter, because no one owned a microphone, and if you brought your own, you’d have to plug it into the same amplifier the guitar and the bass were already overdriving.

In the summer of 1965 the Warlocks (soon to be Grateful Dead) were based in Palo Alto.  The Jefferson Airplane was already playing every night at their house club, The Matrix.  The Charlatans had gone to Virginia City for the summer.  But the other musicians who would create the anti-commercial, improvisatory San Francisco Sound were showing up at the 1090 Page Jam Sessions.

The music got so hot in fact that Chet risked raising admission to seventy-five cents.  And the hippies kept coming.

It was fun, but it was short.  Teenagers from the Avenues crashed the parties, they got rowdy, they tried to start fights with the longhairs, they broke beer bottles on the sidewalk.  It got to be a drag. Chet began looking around for the next big thing.

Chuck, Peter and Sam decided to form a real band.   Chet Helms was looking for the next big thing and, he decided, it just might be managing this exciting new rock band, soon to change their name to Big Brother And The Holding Company.

Chet brought a couple of interesting contacts along with him.  First, he knew a very interesting, self-taught, and slightly bizarre lead guitar player named Jim Gurley.  Local legend had it Gurley had taught himself by locking himself into his room and learning John Coltrane solos off a record.  He sounded like he had, anyway.  Second, Chet knew Bill Graham, and Graham agreed to help them buy equipment.  He cosigned the loan.

They went back to practicing in the ballroom, except now they had two really big, really cheap Danelectro amplifiers.  Peter hated those amps.  “We bought Danelectros because The Great Society had them, and we wanted to be just like the Great Society.  But they had stupid little heads that kept falling over.  What a pain they were.  My bass and one mike went through the first amp.  The guitars and the other mike went through the other.   We weren’t getting many jobs yet, but we were practicing a whole lot.”

Rehearsal with the two Danelectros was now twice as loud as before.  After a few weeks of this, Rodney had enough.  “One night we were so loud Rodney got pissed off,” Peter said. “He came down to the ballroom in his shorts and a tank top with a Superman logo on the front.  He was waving  a pistol.

‘You guys are so fucking loud!  You better stop now or I’m going to kill you all!’

‘But Rodney, we’re just playing music’

‘You call that music? I call it driving me insane!”

After he stomped back upstairs, we all just looked at each other.  We had to find a new place to rehearse.”

Had all this time Rodney (gasp) secretly disliked screechy rock music played over cheap amplifiers  by guys who were still figuring out how to do it?

Peter Kraemer of another early San Francisco Sound band, The Sopwith Camel, had this to say.  “He (Rodney) was one of our earliest players, I think he was playing bass but we had dreams of him playing hot viola. He was a wonderful guy and great player, and had either fear or loathing (or both) of rock and roll. He also said he had an ulcer and wouldn’t consider going “on the road”. We of course being younger and brash were raring to go.”  So they ended up with a young Londoner named Martin Beard on bass.  And Rodney went back to playing folk music.

Looking back on it now, it seems Rodney’s establishment of 1090 Page Street created a center of gravity for the underground that had been missing since they were priced out of North Beach years before, and re-established it in the Haight-Ashbury.  Until then,  the hippies had lived scattered across cheap neighborhoods of the city – the Fillmore, the Mission, Potrero Hill, Bernal Heights.  But once 1090 was in place, the kids who would live out that foolish, divine vision a psychedelic Aquarian Age – and the music that went with it –  began to congregate within walking distance of each other.

Take The Pondering Pig for example.  In the Fall of ’64 I was looking for a place to live.  I dropped in to see Rodney.  He told me 1090 was full at the moment, but he knew a guy named Allen Cohen who had a flat six or seven blocks further up Page Street.  He thought Allen had a room available, try over there.

Allen did, I moved in, and, I was ‘in’ in a much bigger way – as one of the first denizens of the burgeoning Haight-Ashbury, I would take part in its wondering adolescence, its creative full bloom, and its untimely demise.

There’s a lot more to 1090 Page Street’s story, but I won’t tell it here.  The house followed the arc of the neighborhood.  It climbed higher and higher, but then, its descent was brutal.  By the last days of the Summer of Love – only a few bricks in a vacant lot showed where the famous building had stood.

Graphics credits: 1090 God’s Eye: Dennis Nolan; El Teatro Campesino poster: Wolfgang’s Vault; jam session ticket: Pigfiles; Photo Rodney in the doorway Peter Albin; Photo pre-Janis Big Brother and the Holding Company © 2008 Michael Rachoff; photo 1090 Page St. SF Pub Library.

30 thoughts on “1090 Page: The House Where the Haight Began

  1. I like this piece. What alot of research and memory filing boxes you must have had to rummage through to come up with all this great detail. How did you manage to never mention any of this stuff (basically this whole 60’s section of your blog, not just this post) in your past to us piglets while we were growing up??? I’m glad you’ve found your thing in writing these reminisces- I always knew I had a cool dad,now I find out how much even more so than I knew!


  2. Aw, Jeeze. I was reading this wonderful tome and was amazed at Pig’s remembering. Then I wondered how he could leave out the cats and, ack, the dogs. I know there were 16 cats that lived at 1090 between ’65 and ’67. Most of them ran off. That I know for sure. I would have too, if i hadn’t had a good gig in Dryden’s drum case down the street.

    Hdere’s the story of Elliot, the tom of toms. He tried to play into the 1090 story from the beginning.

    Elliot hopped a freight from Des Moines in ’64 and ended up in Denver. From there he thumbed, as best a cat can do without a thumb, to Sacremento and ended up finally in a fruit market in Carmel about a week later. He had an all-the-mouse-you-can-eat kinda diet, so the gig was a good one for sure.

    Elliot was a sensitive sort, given to enjoying high tenor songs or the alto voice. I heard he ended up at the Baez house for a while and freaked when Joan went east. He was, to say the least, a bit miffed.

    See, Elliot had a sensibility that’s hard to explain. He was a cat, yes, but was first and foremost an artiste. Joanie left town and Elliot went, well, north.

    Elliot did his first important work in Palo Alto, making a poop in the doorway of a Robert Irwin installation. To walk into Irwin’s storefront required the viewer to step into or over Eliot’s crap to see the installation. It was, according to all accounts, a most dynamic poop and an unforgettable project for Irwin He said, “I couldn’t have done it without that cat”.

    Elliot was destined for greatness and he knew it.

    When he heard about the digs at 1090, when he was visiting a cousin near Stinson Beach, he thought he’d go urban. Now that was a rough thing to do, since everyone was starting to green out around then, going the opposite direction. The city was getting mean and a little too overwhelming for a cat from Des Moines, but it didn’t stop him. Pig, do you remember that Orange cat that live across the street at 1087? Well, that was Elliot.

    Anyways, Elliot tried many times to land a crib at 1090, but always ended up back at 1087. He was, to say the least, depressed. The basement was all he wanted, but he realized early on that everyone wanted the basement. It was kinda like moving to Chicago and not knowing anyone named Daley. Elliot was pissed.

    In ’66 he finally got his chance. There was a new girl in town, Friskie, and she was living with Woz, Mike Wozniak, the Oakland Bard, as he was monikkered back then. Friskie and Elliot hit it off right out of the chute as they used to say. He and Friskie were an item for quite a while and, eventually, Elliot got set up to move across the street with her.

    Woz lived in a second floor room, no more than a closet under the stairs that ran up from the kitchen. Friskie and he had almost not enough room but they were fine with that.

    It was a September weekend, around 5pm when Elliot crossed the street for good. It was busy, but he weaved his way through the traffic. Who could blame him?

    Anways, he was crossing with his bandanna full of Kitty snacks and his catnip stash. He was happy as a lark, at least a lark without a cat on his tail.

    Elliot got as far as the south curb. He went about 10 steps into his new life and WHACK! he got hit by a Studebaker Lark. The end , you might say?

    Well, he had 7 more lives and he decided to go back to 1087. He still lives there, as far as I know. We lost contact around ’73. He was still pooping in doorwas, looking for lost glory. He missed Friskie, but knew he was destined for other things.


    Well, very wonderful people post, Mr. Pig. It took me back to places I’ve never been but still wish I could visit. But next time think about us animals and how we figure into your legend. You couldn’t have done it without us.


  3. Hey Desert Piglet – Thanks! My guess is that when you kids were growing up, I was doing other things and not thinking too much about the past, and how it didn’t last. Although those years certainly formed who I am. Also, it could be that, as normal teens – you were more interested in your own present than your parents’ ancient history. Now, at 66, I have the leisure to look back and try to figure it out.

    Hey Jinx – thanks for the update. I did meet the odd cat roaming the hallways of the Haight, but mainly I met dogs. Dogs dogs dogs everywhere. And they were all named Shiva. You couldn’t have a dog unless you named it Shiva. And they were always let out on the sidewalk when they had to go. You really had to be careful walking down Haight Street in those days.


  4. Interesting reading, bro’. Thanks for sharing your vivid recall of these past events. I laughed at the pretend robbing of the bank being foiled by a real cop with a real gun. I’m glad the kids got out of court with such a minor charge.


  5. I read this 1090 piece with huge interest and came away with a nice perspective of the goings on in, and the resident population of, 1090 Page, but not a concrete sense of what the fabled ‘jams’ were actually like. I realize that the folks who coalesced into BBHC soon became the centerpiece of the events, but were there other musicians who wandered in and performed for the gathered hordes, like, say, a SF State Psych major who butchered Woody Guthrie songs, or a group of kids from Balboa High who thought they were the second coming of The Beach Boys? Perhaps a Joan Baez Jr.or two, warbling folk tunes in a sweet falsetto?

    And did the Pig himself, ever display his legendary guitar virtuosity and mellifluous vocal stylings, alone or in concert with others, during a Wed. night jam?

    Did Rodney ever join his brother in performance at the jams, or did he stay in his room, covering his ears to block out the sound?

    So many questions.

    I think we need another 1090 Page installment.


  6. I would love to do a follow-up. It would require finding a certain Larry Johnson, who took over the management of 1090 after Rodney moved out. He would know the story of its later years.
    My memory of the jams is foggy to non-existent, but they were actual jams, rather than hoots (where people took turns performing). So the music quality could be dreadful, depending on the ability of the players gathered.
    I do remember one night a year later. Larry Johnson resumed the jams, but called them rock parties and had a featured house band, called Freedom Highway. People were dancing by then. I don’t remember dancing at the ’65 jams. By then Big Brother was already climbing fast. Before Freedom Highway’s set, Johnson featured a jam session and it was ghastly – pure screeching horrible noise. Kids with no idea of what it meant to listen to the other musicians just blasting away. And there was a crazy guy (a regular in the Haight at the time) who dominated the event altho he could not play an instrument. He danced about on stage grinning and playing his air guitar and basking in the attention. It was grim. Freedom Highway itself was an okay band, although I can’t remember much about their music.


  7. Hi!
    I love stopping by here, i learn more about the Haight that i love every time i read the stuff you write! Only this time you’ve left me hanging!
    What happened to 1090? The way you ended the piece (the line about the bricks?), just made me yearn to know the rest!
    Are you gonna write how the house fell down? Please?


  8. Hi Angie, nice to see yuh. I can’t go on with the story of 1090 until I track down the mysterious Larry Johnson – who ran 1090 in its last years. I have a good lead but I haven’t followed up on it yet. Meanwhile I intend to write the later history of Rodney Albin.

    Been kind of dry lately. I’ve been waiting for my writing tank to refill. Meanwhile, for kicks you must click on ‘Mojo Navigator Archives’ in “A Few Relevant Links” on my sidebar. The Mojo Navigator was a fanzine that covered the early rock scene in the Haight week by week starting in 1965 and running through 1967. It is a complete trip to read the issues today. It is like being there again. Check it out, kiddo.


  9. LOL Thanks!
    I love reading about the 60’s, i really feel like i was there… or at least should have been there.
    How are you anyways?
    Happy Thanksgiving!


  10. I have to admit I came too late and was too yound.. When 1090 page finally drew it’s last gasps it had the door taken off and a condemned sign in the front. It became an open crash pad for anyone who wanted to spend the night inside. I was 17 years old then and one of those runaways who ended up there in the haight. The most memorable thing for me at that age was when a moman I had seen earlier in the night at Tracy’s donuts, sitting amidst the local Hells Angels and drawing with pen and ink showed up there to crash one night all stoned on acid and decided she wanted to be the only woman in a all night orgy. That was in the Basement and she kept it up till dawn. At 17 years I was very impressed with her prowess and determination that everyone partake of her gift… This was a month or two befor it was demolished. So I can fill in a small amount of time betwinxt the two periods of Fame and the bricks laying in the vacant lot.. It served it’s last days giving a simi safe haven for those of us who had no place to go and didn’t particularly want to stay up all night at Bobs Big Boy drinkin’ that harsh supercaffeinated mud they called coffee.. Duckin the cops and tryin to stay alive in a very dangerous scene at night…I take a deep bow to a place that though in it’s final hours held such memories to a young man living in a constant state of confusion..


  11. …and sorry for the dreadful typing.. I have been working on my artwork all night and through the day as well and I can barely see the keyboard in front of me so please forgive my terrible spelling and grammar


  12. Few hippies left in those big SF victorians, eh: they were way too pricey starting in ’80s. Now mostly owned by chinese, or cronies of Feinstein & Blum, maybe a few persians and a guppie here and there.

    Pray for the holy earthquake and tsunami, brutthrrr


  13. Pingback: The House On Divisadero Street (Part 6 of 6) « the pondering pig

  14. Hi there,

    I had heard stories about this house from my mom and dad. you would probably recognize my dads name, alton kelley…one of the main poster artists and founding member of the family dog. my mothers name is gretchen golden. I heard about being there when janis tried out for big brother, crawling around their loud amplifiers. I’ve never really gotten enough info to make it seem like anything but a distant dream or an imagined camelot before the fall.

    I’m not sure if we stayed there on occasion or actually rented a room. I also heard stories about the actual “Family Dog” – Sancho…who apparently would cruise around San Francisco on his own and stop by different people’s “digs” and hang out for a few days before once again making his way to the next group of hippies home.

    Just curious if either of those names ring a bell for any of you that were there.

    thanks, yossarian golden kelley

    ps: my dad nicknamed me pig after porky pig


    • Jeez, of course I remember your Dad! He was one of the key figures, and I was so sorry when he passed on so young. I was subscribed to the online updates on his condition. I never heard about you guys renting a room there but it’s entirely possible. Good luck to you, Yossarian, and please keep in touch. And keep reading! I’m not doing the Pig at the moment but I have a long story I’m getting ready to put up about the post-beatnik pre-hippie era in SF.


    • Yossarian, I asked around concerning your possible residence at 1090 as a baby. Peter Albin said your parents never lived at 1090, but Janis auditioned for Big Brother at Kelly and Mouse’s studio on Henry Street. So that part of the story could well be true. Best of luck, PPig


  15. I lived across the street on the corner of Page and Broderick that faced the old grocery story owned by Asians that had been on the opposite corner. I had an apartment with a bay window on the second floor that overlooked Broderick and down the hill toward Oak and Fell. I remember the Albin Bros basement, though too drugged to recall much else back then. No music. Just drugs. What a time. What a place. It was 1969 then, when the decorated vans and bread trucks were still parked all around the panhandle. The local Safeway had huge intimidating security guards, though I watched a young guy dumping large packages of meat down the front of his pants who went noticed. Within a year or so the vans and trucks were gone and what was left were pimps and hookers and people who were battling addictions to heroin. A time held in memory. I went in to pound in Pacheco and got a dog since I living alone there. Just the experiences of hitchhiking around the bay area would fill many pages. Enjoyed your site, your article, the memory lane thing. Thanks!


  16. Thank you. Spent many a Wednesday night playing there, downstairs, charging 50 cents to see my band Freedom Highway..and when Bill (Graham) came in to see us he brought us over to play his joint after joining us in the union.


    • Hey, I remember you guys, and I’m trying to nail you down better. 1) You were CSM alums, right? (Or was that The Wildflower?) 2. Did Mike Lamb play with you for a while? Forgive any faux pas – I’m thrilled that you popped by.


  17. Freedom Highway was my band..Larry (Johnson?) had an Gibson amp so that made him an honorary member but we had other plans in 1966..myself and my high school mates +Mike Lamb got a gig at Fillmore after Bill Graham came to 1090 Page St on a Wednesday night and hired us..I was the baby at 17..


    • Hi Jacob and thanks for dropping by. As I’m sure you know, 710 Ashbury was the Grateful Dead’s house. Although it’s possible the Warlocks (their pre-Grateful Dead name) were performing together by the Fall of 1964, they were still based in Palo Alto. I don’t remember any psychedelic influenced “San Francisco Sound” bands formed yet. Big Brother and The Holding Company was definitely part of the early 1090 scene but it at least was mid-’65 before they came together.


  18. When I got out of the Army and came to SF, one of the first places I wanted to check out was 1090 Page St. Unfortunately, by then the beautiful Victorian that is shown in the above pictures had been replaced by a horrid 1970-ish box.
    I was sad until I went to 2400 Fulton which at the time was still wearing the Airplane’s flat back livery. That lifted my spirits.


  19. Pingback: Lato miłości '67 | spiskologia.pl

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