Vignettes of San Francisco eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 93 pages of information about Vignettes of San Francisco.

“Booze-fighters” are Western.  Oh, they’re Eastern too, but under a different name.  It’s a misleading term, that.  As though one were fighting against booze like an anti-salooner.  I actually know of a woman who came West and thought for or a long time that a “booze-fighter” was a “Dry.”  In the East he is a “rummy” and when he’s drunk he’s “tight.”

“It’s a fright,” is Western.  “Ornery,” is middle-Western.  That’s a wonderful word.  Sometimes, I wish I could live my life over with “ornery” in my vocabulary.  It describes so many people I never knew just how to classify.

There are no “T” bones in the East.  And scrambled brains are not common.  Oh, of course, we have them but not as something to eat.  Personally, I was brought up to reverence brains and when I see them lying pale and messy on a plate in a Greek restaurant, I confess it gives me a start.

Hot tamales have never crossed the plains East.  And baked beans have never come West — not real ones.  The difference between the Eastern baked bean and the Western is all the difference between a tin can and a religious rite and it is the same with succotash.  A cruller is only a fried doughnut when it gets out West.  Tea is more subtle in the East, but out here the waitress will ask “Black or green” in a black or white tone and stands over you until you decide.  Maybe you don’t want black tea, maybe you don’t want green, but just “tea,” but there she stands in her unequivocation — “Black or green?”

Silver money has never traveled East.  A man told me recently that he didn’t like silver money when he first came out here and that it was always wearing his pockets out but since he’d gotten into Western ways it never wore a hole in his pockets any more.  In the East a change purse is scorned by anything masculine, but here all the men carry one, I don’t know why not in the East, nor why in the West.  Blessed old “two-bits” and a “dollar six-bits” are the only woolly things left over from the old wild West.

What else — oh, I could keep on for pages.  “Stay with it” is Western and has lots more feeling I think than “stick to it.”  A Westerner when his wife and babies were going back East to visit her relatives, telegraphed to her brother — “Elizabeth and outfit arrive Tuesday.”  And until she arrived the brother spent his time in conjecturing as to just what an “outfit” would mean.  Rhubarb plant is “rhubarb” in the East and also “pie plant,” and one day I was in a fruit store and when the man — he was a Greek — yelled “Wha else?” I could only think of “pie plant” and so I didn’t get any.

It’s all the way you are “brought up,” Eastern, and all the way you are “raised,” Western.

Portsmouth Square

“To be honest, to be kind.”  Loiterers, vagabonds, slow-going Orientals, poets and blackguards, all day long come and drink at Stevenson’s fountain.  Some of them look up and read it all and some only get as far as “to earn a little, to spend a little less” — .

Project Gutenberg
Vignettes of San Francisco from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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