I seem to get a lot of hits on 1960s stuff and thinking maybe I should do some San Francisco stories.
The Blue Unicorn
Remembering the 60s
Had a place on Oak Street—it looked out on the panhandle, block east of Stanyan and Golden Gate park. Two blocks east of Ashbury. A block off Haight in 1964 I think. I’d landed there by accident, a lost lease where I’d been and lack of funds. The place was cheap. The Hippy thing was in full swing, but I was fairly straight. I’d held a steady job, the last 3 years, a good job located downtown. Financial distinct, top floor—Shell Building. One day a fellow engineer gave me some Sandoz LSD to try. He didn’t like it, but I loved it and was fascinated. I was reading lots of Carl Jung at the time and the acid took me to places he wrote about. He was way out there. I digress.
The Blue Unicorn was this funky little coffee shop, I think on Grove Street, maybe Fulton, two or three blocks west of my place. It was run by Herb, a nice guy, honest, in his early, maybe later, thirties. The Unicorn was a place where hippies could hang out, leave notes for each other on a bulletin board, drink decent inexpensive coffee—sandwiches and snacks. Herb looked out for people and a lot of his customers needed that. It was the Summer of Love. Teenagers were pouring into the bus station downtown and often getting mugged, raped or robbed before they ever got to Haight Street. I was loaned to Bechtel for a while and worked in a building next to the bus station. I ate lunch there sometimes. You could see guys sitting on benches where the buses came in, waiting for prey. Pimps and con-men, watching to see who got off the bus.
“Hey honey, welcome to San Francisco. Home of peace and love. You need a place to stay?”
Most of them did. They came with flowers in their hair, believing in free love and expecting free rent, and food . . . and drugs. All were available, for a price.
Herb looked out for some who had been had, or had some other problems. He also looked out for young girls, but only on at a time I think. You’d see him with the same one for a month or two, and then another. He had some kind of partner, Tom I think his name was. He played a fairly good guitar and had a motorcycle. He later broke his leg on it and was in a cast from him to ankle on one leg . . . for a long time during which he became one of the best classical guitarists I’ve ever heard. It just takes practice. Tom had lots of time and there was not much else he could do but play guitar.