John-Ivan Palmer writes about the Tenderloin in SF.
Late one night in the Tenderloin, 1968, my girlfriend (if you could
call her that) was talking to one of her topless-bottomless dancing
friends at an unlicensed bottle club deceptively called Coffee Ron. I
ignored the riffraff staring at me for reading a book. Suddenly three
men pulled a gun on the manager, and beat up the bartender who tried
to intervene. Panic, screaming. My two lady escorts rushed behind me
for protection. I held the Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism (1947)
over my chest in an equally absurd attempt to protect myself from bullets.
It was horrible what happened next. The manager, a naive ex-prize
fighter named Gene Echols, was beaten almost to death. In the
hospital for weeks. Of course no one called the police, and when they
asked questions afterward, no one talked. This was a typical night in
the Tenderloin shortly after the Summer of Love.
Around the time I was living in that black hole, a San Francisco
journalist wrote, "The Tenderloin seems overwhelming and eternal and
no one can really say for sure what is happening within its sprawling
reaches." As close as most people got was reading about it in the
paper - salacious stories of sordid sex, thug wars, and murder.
Having lived there, I can tell you it was indeed a horrific place.
But the cost of living was cheap.
Posted By johannes to
at 3/05/2007 01:44:00 PM
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