Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A walk down Memory Lane. I mean Second St.

My first job out of college was in magazine publishing. Like pretty much everyone else I knew, I lived in one part of San Francisco and worked in another. SOMA, where I spent the first three years of my career, was a neighborhood in transition back then. It had none of those cute work-live lofts it has now, and none of the hip wine bars and high-end nail salons. South Park, (nee 1855) had homeless people on its benches instead of the mothers and strollers it has today. Moscone Center was just one building back then (it's now four) and the further south you went, the grittier it got.

I worked in one of the nicest buildings around, 501 Second St. There was security in the lobby and both a deli and Gold's Gym on the ground floor. I belonged to the gym for a time, the years of high-impact aerobics, but then quit because I couldn't work out and clean up in the hour I had for my lunch break. And that neighborhood was not safe enough after dark to stick around!

Fast forward twenty years. I have a client meeting in the city. And it's in that same building, on the same floor I worked. Gold's Gym is gone. So is the deli. There's no 20 foot tall Christmas tree in the lobby with turquoise and salmon colored ornaments. (So early 90s!)

The walk down Second Street from Market is a walk down Memory Lane. Eddie Rickenbacher's, where I spent many evenings is still there. The Flytrap now serves Persian food. Patelco, where I got my first car loan, remains. Adolph Gasser, the iconic camera and photographic rental house is still there. The San Francisco Dancewear outlet is gone. Boy do I need it now! So is the three-story Chinese restaurant. Chaiken & Capone's first offices were on Second Street. It's now just Chaiken and Julie moved a few blocks over to New Montgomery last I checked.

Just four of us were in my client's offices that morning. I hoteled in a large open space with a view toward the west, a view I never had from my windowless cube back in my publishing days, the days I had to take my lunch from exactly 1pm to exactly 2pm. The 5th floor patio was still there, the patio where Scott, Cynthia, Guy and I ate many deli lunches and soaked up the occasional San Francisco sun.

I was so naive back then, so green in business. I took it all in, realizing that the editorial side of a magazine would never hire someone who had worked on its advertising side, figuring out how to work with prima donnas and high functioning alcoholics. Playing with one of the first NeXT computers, moving up to traveling around the country on the trade show circuit. Learning how to plan $100K corporate holiday parties from two executive assistants. Met Caryl, who I am still close with today, and Callie, whose husband became Gina after they moved to Seattle.

Ah, the good 'ole days ...


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