And the printing that high lights each building is an achievement in modern art. Who but Americans would dream of using printing instead of gargoyles or classic medallions as ornamentation. Some of it is very beautiful and almost none is ugly. The use of the word “Paige,” the printing of “Buick,” the “H” of Hupmobile, the Mercury “A” of Arnold are to me very beautiful.
Van Ness avenue. It is exactly like its name. A long wide sweep for the regal motor car, the most wonderful and proudest automobile row in the world. The ghosts of the old, aristocratic and residential before-the-fire Van Ness have seen to it that even commercialized it shall still be — Van Ness.
You live in San Francisco and I live in San Francisco, and so does the man who owns the peanut wagon on the corner, and none of us live in the same San Francisco — funny. We’re like the blind men who each gave a different version of the elephant.
To some, San Francisco is always eight o’clock in the morning or six o’clock at night, swinging on the straps homeward, swallow their dinners and to a show in the evening. Such people never have wandered through Golden Gate Park of an afternoon or sunned themselves on the benches of Union Square. They have never seen San Francisco by week-day sunlight.
Then there are home women and leisure women to whom San Francisco is always afternoon, down-town in the shopping district with ladies in pretty clothes passing each other on the street or in and out of the sweet-scented stores.
To some, San Francisco is always night. A taxi-driver who used to be a newsboy down on the old Barbary Coast. He has never seen anything but the night life of the city. Not bad, but night provincial — a sort of male version of Trilby.
The neighborhood of Merchants Exchange on California Street is San Francisco to hundreds of men. They ride out to the golf links and into the country on Sunday. Occasionally they go to New York, but when they return San Francisco is limited to the neighborhood where men inquire anxiously — “Is she picking up any in the East?”
No matter how wealthy, no matter how poor, to each of us San Francisco is very much limited in the confines of what each of us is interested in. It’s funny when you stop to think about it. How the Master of Marionettes must laugh at us when he sees us together. Perhaps some night after the show, the traffic cop raises his imperial hand and there, waiting to pass, the taxi driver of the night and a dear little home woman with her husband, and Mr. Chamber-of-Commerce and close to him a man who has never seen San Francisco by week day sunlight. There they all wait looking out of their eyes on San Francisco and each seeing it so differently.
San Francisco is one thing to you and another thing to me and something entirely different to the man on the peanut stand.