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Looking back atSan Fran

Michele Thomas

Today I'm packing for a trip to San Francisco. I'm attending the California Newspaper Publishers Association conference at the Fairmont Hotel next week. As a new(er) publisher, I'm eager and anxious to learn more.

Forty years ago this summer, I took my first trip to San Francisco, also with educational pursuits in mind. A high school classmate and I accepted an invitation by the University of San Francisco to attend their recruitment weekend. In the summer before senior year, like most of my classmates, I was scoping out colleges.

Summer of Love

That summer of 1967, Diane Booth and I flew into San Francisco to stay in a dorm room at USF and try the school on for size. That same summer in San Francisco is referred to now as the "summer of love."

For two young ladies from a small private high school in safe Los Angeles suburbs, San Francisco seemed pretty edgy. Diane and I participated in the obligatory tour of the campus from dorms to classrooms to library to cafeteria, but our eyes wandered beyond the ivy walls, and soon we were on a bus and riding cable cars taking in as much as we possibly could in our too-short two days.

USF is on Fulton Street, the street that runs parallel to Golden Gate Park – site of free concerts and legendary love-in's at that time. Haight and Ashbury Streets are within easy walking distance. Stanyon Street, made famous by poet Rod McKuen in his 1966 book, "Stanyon Street and Other Sorrows," is just a block from campus. Beyond the university district, we discovered neighborhoods like North Beach with City Lights Bookstore of Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg fame. Everywhere we went we were dazzled. San Francisco was a magnet with a very strong pull. I made up my mind.

My parents approved. USF is a Jesuit university with an excellent reputation. Mom and dad considered San Francisco sophisticated, with good restaurants, good views and good manners. "The women still wear hats there," mom told me. The song "San Francisco (Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" did not play on the radio station my parents listened to!

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I returned to the city in fall 1968 accompanied by my mother, my father and several footlockers filled with skirts and sweaters. The doors of Hayes-Healy Hall opened and I never looked back. For the next four years, I lived in San Francisco – first in the dorm, then at 2450 Fulton St., a few doors down from the Jefferson Airplane. I have dear friends now who were with me then, and we marvel at the convergence of circumstances that transformed San Francisco into an icon for an entire generation while we were there. As an English major, I considered a career involving the printed word. But never once, as a college student, did it ever occur to me that I might return someday as a newspaper publisher and stay at the Fairmont.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at mthomas@

triplicate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

 


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