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March 4, 1864: “The Saint of the Pacific Coast” Lays Down His Burdens

That’s what contemporaries call Universalist and Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King, who  lies on his San Francisco deathbed, 160 years ago.  According to Charles Wendte’s 1921 biography of Starr King, the resonant orator — whose passionate sermons are instrumental in keeping California in the Union during the Civil War — tells his wife, Julia:

Starr King’s Tomb

“Don’t weep for me.    Read more »



On February 25, 160 Years Ago…

As soon as lawmakers deliver him the approved bill, Gov. John Bigler ends California’s five-year game of musical capitals by signing legislation making Sacramento California’s permanent seat of government.

The current capital is Benicia. Previously it’s been Monterey, San Jose, briefly Sacramento and Vallejo. Benicia’s representatives are eager to have Benicia remain the capital.    Read more »



“Never Sleep With Anyone Whose Troubles Are Worse Than Your Own.”

That’s one of the more memorable of the many memorable lines penned by mystery novelist Ross Macdonald who was born Kenneth Millar in Los Gatos on December 13, 1915.

Many of Macdonald’s one-liners and hard-bitten observations came from the mouth of his most famous character, private investigator Lew Archer. Macdonald named him after Sam Spade’s dead partner in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, Miles Archer, and Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur.     Read more »



Forty Five Years Ago, Everything Changed

On December 9, 1968, at a San Francisco Civic Center exhibition hall  that no longer exists,  engineer and inventor Douglas Engelbart unveiled personal computing.

Engelbart’s Mouse

Engelbart, who died in July at 88,  never used the phrase “personal computing” in describing the hardware and software he and his team created but his presentation to 1,000 computer professionals at Brooks Hall demonstrated the core elements of personal computing including the mouse, networking, hypertext, video conferencing, word processing and multiple windows.     Read more »



Thirty Five Years Ago On November 27…

Angered that he wasn’t to be reappointed to the Board of Supervisors slot he resigned from on November 10, Dan White enters San Francisco City Hall at 10:30 a.m. through a basement window.

Mayor George Moscone agrees to meet with White after a meeting with Assemblyman Willie Brown concludes. Brown leaves.    Read more »



A Generation Defined — California’s First Drive-In Opens

On October 22, 1948, newlyweds Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first In-N-Out burger stand. Demolished during construction of the Interstate 10 freeway, the stand was California’s first drive-thru restaurant.

The Baldwin Park site at Garvey and Francisquito — across the street from Harry Snyder’s childhood home — was barely 10 feet square.    Read more »



A Different Side of Jerry Brown Revealed at Memorial for Fresno Lawmaker

 On Saturday October 19, Gov. Jerry Brown attended a memorial in Fresno for former state senator and appellate justice George Zenovich.

The event, not listed on the Democratic governor’s public schedule, was supposed to begin at 11 a.m., shortly after Brown arrived. It didn’t conclude until nearly 2:30 p.m.

Jerry Brown at a memorial for Fresno lawmaker George Zenovich.    Read more »



An Icon Is Born — In The Back of a Real Estate Office in Los Feliz

Ninety years ago on October 16, 1923, brothers Walter Elias Disney and Roy Oliver Disney founded Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.

The studio was located in the rear of a small office occupied by Holly-Vermont Realty at 4651 Kingswell Ave. near Vermont Ave. in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles. Rent was $10.    Read more »



Ten years Ago Today — California’s First Recall Election

On October 7, 2003, California voters removed Gov. Gray Davis from office and replaced him with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Davis, a Democrat, was the first California governor to be recalled although previous governors, including Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan, were targeted.

It was the first time in 92 years enough signatures were gathered to call a special election under the state’s recall process, enacted by voters in 1911 ostensibly as a way to break the stranglehold of Southern Pacific Railroad and other business interests on the Capitol.    Read more »



Jerry Brown Repeals California’s Subversive Organization Registration Act

 Obscure Statute Recalls the Golden State’s Red-Scare Years and Its Grand Inquisitor, Jack B. Tenney

During California’s 1941 January-to-June legislative session, Germany had conquered Western Europe and was preparing to invade Russia.

America had not officially been drawn into World War II because Japan had yet to bomb Pearl Harbor. But it had approved the Lend-Lease program to aid Great Britain and Russia.    Read more »