May 11, 1953
The richest homosexual in San Francisco is a private investigator.
Nick Williams lives in a modest bungalow with his fireman husband, a sweet fellow from Georgia by the name of Carter Jones.
Nick's gem of a secretary, Marnie Wilson, is worried that Nick isn't working enough. She knits a lot.
Jeffrey Klein, Esquire, is Nick's friend and lawyer. He represents the guys and gals who get caught in police raids in the Tenderloin.
Lt. Mike Robertson is Nick's first love and best friend. He's a good guy who's one hell of a cop.
The Unexpected Heiress is where their stories begin. Read along and fall in love with the City where cable cars climb halfway to the stars.
The events in this book take place between Monday, May 11, 1953, and Saturday, May 16, 1953.
The primary characters are all fictional. There are, however, several historical persons portrayed in a fictional manner.
Eddie Mannix was the infamous fixer who worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was recently portrayed by Josh Brolin in the Coen Brothers' movie, Hail, Ceasar! I first heard of Mr. Mannix through the most excellent podcast You Must Remember This, written and narrated by Karina Longworth. Neither Ms. Longworth nor Messrs. Coen has any responsibility for my particular portrayal of Mannix. His mistress and his wife's relationship with George Reeves, apparently with the consent of Mannix, are generally well-known.
George Hearst was the oldest son of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. His youngest sibling was Randolph Hearst, now most famously known for being the father of Patricia. The San Francisco Examiner was called, "The Monarch of the Dailies," and was known to be the flagship publication of the Hearst Corporation.
In 1953, there were four newspapers published daily and distributed throughout the City: The San Francisco Examiner, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco News, and The San Francisco Call-Bulletin. There was a fierce rivalry between the four newspapers, so the idea of individuals rooting for one paper or despising another is very much in keeping with the times. The use of sordid headlines and the publishing of the names, addresses, and employers of men arrested during raids on gay bars during this period has been documented extensively. This happened in newspapers all over the United States. I borrowed the phrase, "Homo Nest Raided," from the New York Daily News, which used that phrase in its headline for the July 6, 1969 story that it published following the riots at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. My depiction of George Hearst is completely fictional although consistent to the time period.
San Francisco Mayor Elmer Edwin "Rob-Rob" Robinson was in office from 1948 through 1956.
Most of the locations referenced are correct, as far as I could verify. I consulted Polk's San Francisco City Directory for 1953 to verify business names and addresses. There is, however, no building at 777 Bush Street in the Tenderloin nor is there an unassuming bungalow at 137 Hartford Street in Eureka Valley. I verified both through the City & County of San Francisco Office of the Assessor-Recorder using their online property search database.
Eureka Valley is a neighborhood name that some readers may not recognize. It is the older name for the area now commonly referred to generally as The Castro.
The Shell Building stands today, in all its understated glory, at the corner of Bush and Battery. According to Polk's, in 1953, the 10th floor was occupied by a division of Royal Dutch Shell, which was the primary tenant of the building until the 1960s.
One anachronism that eagle-eyed readers will immediately see is the use of the 4-digit local telephone number. PRospect-7777 would not have existed in 1953, as Pacific Telephone had already migrated to the 5-digit number for their exchanges in San Francisco to allow for long distance direct dialing. I did this on purpose so that I wouldn't have to use KLondike 5 as the exchange for all the phone numbers, not wanting to inadvertently use a current phone number.
One final thing: Owning or driving a 1953 Buick Skylark is now on my bucket list! That looks like one sweet ride!