Monday, January 25, 2010

Small World

Thursday night I flew up to San Francisco in the midst of all of last week's rainstorm. You know it's a bumpy flight when the Purser's in-flight welcome announcement is interrupted by her shouting "wham" and "hello" in the middle of her sentences. It was funny and disconcerting at the same time.

Safely on the ground, I headed to Max's in Burlingame for dinner. What a delight to recognize my waiter, Richard, from many years ago at Original Joe's in San Francisco.

Original Joe's, which used to be on Taylor Street, was one of my longtime favorite San Francisco restaurants. Sadly, a serious kitchen fire a few years ago closed the restaurant and they've never managed to re-open.

Richard had been my Original Joe's waiter many times and he has a friendly personality that is hard to forget. He seemed genuinely pleased that I remembered him.

Side note on Original Joe's: My late boss, Jack McDowell, was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist prior to becoming a well-regarded political consultant. The article that won him the prize was about blood donations during WWII. Prior to WWII, the technology didn't exist to transport blood over long distances. Soldiers were about the only source of blood available for donation on the front lines.

That changed during WWII and for the first time civilians were called upon to donate blood as part of the war effort. For many at the time, donating blood was a scary concept. Jack followed donated blood, including his own, from the Bay Area to near the battle lines in the South Pacific. His reporting, for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, was widely credited with giving the Bay Area the highest blood donation rate in the nation.

Jack interviewed soldiers, including many from the Bay Area, who had received donated blood and asked them what was the first thing they were going to do once they got home after the war. One soldier told Jack he couldn't wait to get home to have a hamburger at Original Joe's on Taylor Street.

What a treat to have found this restaurant on my own some 50 years after Jack included it in his article. And I can tell you, that many decades later, the hamburgers were still terrific.
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