Herb Caen wrote a book titled “Don’t Call it Frisco” in 1953. He called it an “uncomfortable” reminder of the Barbary Coast days, adding that it “shows disrespect for a city that is now big and proper and respectable.” The city is named for Saint Francis, the beloved Catholic saint.
Caen, who was a friend and former colleague when I worked at The Chronicle for 12 years, called it “Ess Eff.”
We are on a quick getaway to “Ess Eff,” celebrating the holiday season. We are staying at the Fairmont on Nob Hill — one of our favorite spots — which happens to be next door to the handsome apartment building where Herb lived. (John Sias, who led The Chronicle during its transition in ownership to Hearst Corp., also lived in that building).
Our trips to San Francisco are often a visit down memory lane: We go to restaurants that have stood the “test of time,” such as Sam’s Grill, Swan Oyster Depot and Yank Sing; show our son my first apartment on Nob Hill; and the “flat” on Telegraph Hill where his mom and I lived when we were married; the hospital where our son was born; and The Chronicle and CNET offices south of Market.
We walk our dog in Huntington Park on Nob Hill, visit the Presidio and the Walt Disney Family Museum, and grab some fresh crab on the Wharf or at the seafood shops at San Francisco Ferry Building to bring home.
It is a glorious weekend in “Ess Eff.” We are doing all those things, and enjoying the Christmas decorations. The streets are packed with tourists and locals — a sign of a thriving economy.
This time, we have to cut the trip short, because our son has a “friends giving,” with his high school friends at home. But we’re going to grab some crab before we hit the road.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
(Photo: Sam’s Grill)