Fast Changing Times


Sometime in *39 or ’40, during the San Francisco World’s Fair, I received a fat envelope in the mail from Emma Lindquist, postmarked Honolulu, Hawaii.

In the envelope, along with her letter, Emma enclosed a glossy Pan-American Airways brochure, The cover featured a soul-stirring photograph of a China Clipper flying boat heading out over the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island, Guam, Manila and beyond. “Wings to the Orient.” That brochure became a memento I treasured for years.


 In San Francisco Bay, on a narrow, knife-like shoal, politicians and engineers created a mile-long island that became the site for the 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco’s own World’s Fair.

The city fathers named the site Treasure Island.

The harbor at Treasure Island also became the American terminal for Pan-Am’s graceful China Clippers. Those huge but stylish 21-ton flying boats were the largest aircraft in the skies at that time. And it was on a romantic China Clipper enroute to Honolulu that Emma Lindquist traveled in white linen luxury, headed for a two-week Hawaiian honeymoon.

In her letter, she told me of her marriage to an older man who owned a small chain of furniture stores in San Jose and along the San Francisco peninsula.

I’ll be damned if I can remember his name.


I liked the lilt of her name, Lynn Lacy. Fascinated by the way she walked. She would sashay down the central aisle of Meier & Frank’s main floor like some super model on a Paris runway. In reality, she was a vain, good looking, empty headed sales clerk in the M&F cosmetic department. I found out soon enough that she was also one flashy dancer.

I dated Lynn occasionally that year, usually when one of the big-name bands booked into McElroy’s or Jantzen Beach Ballroom.

One sweltering summer night I remember best. Count Basie and his band were in town, playing at McElroy’s, downtown. The Count was in his prime. You could feel the vibrancy of the beat as we cavorted to the sassy wail of Lester Young’s tenor sax.

Then, toward the end of the night came the slow blues. Basie’s gutsy, growling, low-down blues, On the darkened dance floor, you could feel the mood shifting.

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