Thursday, June 16, 2016

The 400 Club, 400 1st Street, San Francisco, CA

John J. Lerman owned a three story plus basement building here in 1909. This was an 18 family dwelling costing $20,604.78. There were nine stairways located in the front and rear of the building. The lot had 115’ of frontage on First Street. It was on the corner of First and Harrison.[9]

On May 13, 1952, the building was five stories with a thirty family occupancy. Three sets of rear stairs were to be replaced. It was owned by Herman L. Vogel.[10]

An application for building permit additions, alterations or repairs, dated 12/12/53 was submitted by Mrs. R. Garcia. Ground floor was 2200 square feet. Present use was Apartments (six families) and store.[8]

“Then Union Oil decided they wanted to put their office building where the bar was,”, Tiff says, “so the business moved across the street again, to another corner. There was a seaman’s hotel there, too, and on the ground floor there was the 400 Club. The original 400 Club had been a bawdy seaman’s bar, but my Mom turned that into a typical ’50’s nightclubish-type place with the emphasis on the little restaurant. It had red naugahyde stools and a solid mahogany circle bar. It was classy, a nice place considering the other one she had.
When I was in the service, my Mom turned the top floor into this real flashy apartment-three bedrooms with a total view of the downtown and the Bay Bridge.”[7]

After the Garcia's moved across the street to 400 1st Street in 1954[5], and thus renamed the bar "The 400 Club," and then moved into the top floor apartment, Jerry got to work on spending his day's hanging out downstairs with the sailors while his mom poured beer and kept the bar rollin'. You can just imagine a young 12-year old Jerry sitting down at the bar listening to tales from sailors about being Shanghai'd and whisked away, off to sea and to distant and exotic well as hearing sea chanties being sung day and night by drunk seamen....Yes, Off to Sea Once More!! [1]

In 1953 there was also a 400 Club at 2562 3rd, San Francisco.[6] There was also a 400 Club on 17th Street, San Francisco, where Sally Rand performed.

8/1/57 Solo
Jerry plays a Sears Silvertone, Harmony model guitar.[4]
"I grew up in a bar," Jerry said. "And that was back in the days when the Orient was still the Orient, and it hadn't been completely Americanized yet. They'd bring back all these weird things. Like one guy had the largest private collection of photographs of square-riggers. He was an old sea captain, and he had a mint condition '47 Packard that he parked out front. And he had a huge wardrobe of these beautifully tailored double-breasted suits from the '30s. And he'd tell these incredible stories. That was one of the reasons I couldn't stay in school [later]. School was a little too boring. These guys gave me a glimpse into a larger universe that seemed attractive and fun and, you know, crazy."

Jerry talks about the accordion."Oh, it was a beauty!" he said. In the heat of conversation, his voice rises, and he grins with the relish of a man who's sinking his teeth into a steak that he shouldn't be eating. "It was a Neapolitan job. My mother bought it from a sailor at the bar."[3]

The 400 Club, San Francisco, CA 
3.)^Barich, Bill, Still Truckin', 1993-10-11, New Yorker.
4.)^White, Timothy, From the Beatles to Bartok, Goldmine, 1990-11-02, pg. 122, Joseph Jupille Archives.
5.)^Polk's City Directory, 1954-1955.
6.)^Polk's City Directory, 1953, pg. 2237.
7.)^Garcia, Tiff (Jerry’s brother), Jackson, Blair, Garcia: An American Life, pg. 15.
8.)^application for building permit additions, alterations or repairs, 1953-12-12, City and County of San Francisco 
9.)^Application For Building Permit, 1909-04-16, San Francisco 
10.)^Application for permit to make additions, alterations or repairs, 1952-05-13, City and County of San Francisco 

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