Contributed by: Elizabeth
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My grandmother remembers going to the presidio during the earthquake and she told me about waiting in the bread lines and I remember she was crying when she told me.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Hearing my mother talk about living on The Presidio; the sounds of a military base in operation; the cold fog rolling over the hills; walking past the sand dunes where the Marina is to get to Galileo High; getting bread daily from the bakery on Alcatraz. It sounds like a magical place to have grown up. My personal highlight experience is July 4 each year and the parade to the cemetery where my grandfather and grandmother rest.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I was born at Letterman Army Hospital in November of 1951. My father (William E. Allen) was, at that time, the pipe major of the 6th army bagpipe band. Although I was very young, I do remember the bagpipe band. The drum major, Dan Healy, was my godfather.
Humorous memories: Most of the stories I have are my fathers stories that he told us. When my brother was born, the entire bagpipe band was at my parents’ home in San Francisco. They were playing the pipes and drums and when they finished, my dad went outside to make sure they weren't disturbing the neighbors and the entire neighborhood was in the front of the house listening to the music. They were good. I do remember that. We have may photographs of the band.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I have found and bought a desk that was used at headquarters by Pfc. Thomas J. Bradburn during WWII. What makes it of intrest is on the bottom of one of the drawers is a note from Pfc. Bradburn, it reads 4:00pm 14th August 1945. The War Is Over. I have been lucky enough to have found the widow and son of Pfc. Bradburn. Yes, he was posted at the fort during WWII. I'm sorry to say Pfc. Bradburn passed away in Jan. 2008. I am happy to be able to tell you that this wonderful piece of American WWII and Fort Scott history is safe and will be well taken care of.
Most vivid Presidio Memories:Sitting on a blanket on a weekend afternoon, listening to a band concert.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: This will probably be one of your earliest reminiscences. My father, Col. L.L. Deitrick, was stationed at the Presidio from 1926 to 1930 as post quartermaster. I was 7 years old when we arrived there and 11 when my father was transferred to a new assignment as commanding officer of the Columbus General Depot in Columbus, Ohio. What a great place the Presidio was for children in those days. We had the run of the whole post and used to hike out to old Fort Point to explore the old structure, and all over the rest of the post. We built log cabins in the woods, and had a grand time.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The absolutely stunning beauty of the location. Being awed by the officer's wives I'd see while shopping at the PX or commissary (their clothes, furs, and auras of superiority).
Humorous memories: My husband, El, was a SP-4,in C&A. He never wanted to pull duty in the kitchen or any other un-pleasant areas, so would pay others to take his place.
There was a fellow SP-4 in his area who had married a French girl and who, when he had Post Police duty would collect and ask others to collect the many snails on the grounds so he and his wife could have escargot.
Other Memories: El was one of the members of the"cannon firers" who saluted officers and dignitaries coming into S.F and/or the Presidio. Nikita Kruschev visited S.F. during this time and El and his fellow members of the group were designated as the "luggage carriers" for the Russians. On this particular day I was at work in my office at the Federal Reserve Bank, so didn't get to see this particular happening.
I attended other ceremonies at the Presidio, however, during which the cannons were fired and never ceased to be impressed. We have some pictures of this group and will keep them always.
On a more personal note, all service personnel and dependents at this time were ordered to have polio shots, given at the Presidio. After riding a bus from SansomeStreet back to the Presidio during a work day, I was given my shot in my left arm by a WAC who unfortunately broke the needle off in my arm by striking the bone. Very sore arm for awhile!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I used to play around the brook where the little brick bridge goes over, where the eucalyptus groves are. There was a small patch of palm trees across the field with a neat little opening where a kid could hide and we pretended it was our fort. It has been removed now. I miss hearing the trumpet and cannons firing at the end of the day and seeing my dad come walking across the parking lot from his office to our home on Funston Ave.
Humorous memories: One Halloween night my sister and I were out trick or treating and came upon a house that offered a Hostess type pie or 45 rpm record all set out on a table with a dark cloth on it. A man's voice came out and said to choose only one or the other. After thinking for a moment my sister went to take a record and a pie and from the dark behind the table the man's voice issued forth a warning, "uh-uh-uh-take only one." My sister, surprised she was busted quickly returned the pie and took the record of Haley Mills in the Parent Trap and we took off.
Other Memories: In later years after we moved, my dad still had Army medical coverage and I stayed in LAMC hospital when I was 18 and though I was ill I have fond memories of staying there. I met a young G.I. in the solarium and we hit it off and walked around the hospital talking in our hospital issued clothes/pajamas something you don't do in civilian hospitals. After 5 weeks in the hospital the bill came to something like $108.00 total (for the food) All the tests they ran on me must have cost the taxpayers quite a bundle since they took a while to diagnose me. It was a strange case and at one point they had some kind of APB out all over the country for other people in military facilities with similar symptoms, but in the end it just turned out to be mono with a secondary hepatitis infection.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I and my sister were born in Letterman General (Army) Hospital. Being a return patient in LGH in 1957 with a sprained ankle. Walking and riding across the GGB, going thru Bunker Road Tunnel to Fort Barry. Having to wait outside the PX and Commissary due to a ban on underage dependents being allowed in. Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners in the Letterman Hospital dining facility (Mess Hall In those days).
Humorous memories: Having parents chase me and older brother around the parking lots. Getting lost in the hospital.
Other Memories: Transferring from military Housing Fort Barry to new Capehart/Wherry Quarters at Fort Baker. Saddest time was when Father received orders to Germany April 1960, enjoyed being in Germany, though. Returned to States April 1964 to Fort Ord. My Father tried to get his orders changed back to Presidio or Fort Baker without success. While in San Francisco, visiting Fort Baker and finding that the Capehart/Wherry housing had deteriorated so badly in four year period.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Attended Alamo School in 2nd grade with Carol Miller, Renita Mock, Stanley Van Dyke, Russell Turner, and others. Father died unexpectedly while on active duty there - my mother and I returned within 2 days of the death to the hometown of each of my parents' families in South Carolina so I was not able to tell my friends/neighbors goodbye. Friends of my parents includedMavis and Don Black, our neighbors, the Jane and Jim Pittaway, and civilians Rene and Archie Mock of San Mateo.
Other Memories: Orange California poppies blooming on the hillsides.Gateway Market, where my parents shopped.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Riding the Army bus to the back gate and walking to Sutro School and back from there; walking through the Cemetery down to the Post theatre for Saturday movies.
Other Memories: Halloween parties at the NCO Club were always a lot of fun, and turning-in our collected pennies for UNICEF; watching the Fourth of July fireworks over Crissy Field. I remember seeing the hospital ship 'HOPE' come through the Golden Gate; getting the Salk Polio vaccine on a sugar cube at the Dispensary; looking through the little 'hatch' at the original adobe wall of the Officer's Club; getting to go up to Lt. Bill Nieder's room at the BOQ (also on Kobbe Dr.) and him showing us his Gold Medal for the Shot Put in the 1960 Olympics.
Most vivid Presidio Memory: I am writing about my grandfather, Frank M. Koch who was a Lt. Colonel at the Presidio during WWII. My mother, Jeanne Koch Hall, was working in San Francisco, and she and her friends would go to the Officer's Club at the Presidio and act as hostesses there. She met my Dad who was in the Navy at the time at the Officer's Club. Her father, Frank Koch, is buried at the Presidio.
Humorous memories: My father is from Hollandale, Mississippi, which is a very small town in Mississippi. My mother had already met him when another Naval officer came in one night, and he said he was from Mississippi. He said he was from Greenville, Miss. which is a little bigger than Hollandale and about 25 miles away. Mama asked him if it was anywhere near Hollandale? He couldn't believe she would have heard of Hollandale in San Francisco. It ended up he and my daddy had grown up together in Hollandale. My dad has since passed away, but the other man still tells this story to people. Small world!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: I grew up and in the Marina; played in Presidio. After WWII the Presidio was open to civilian kids. We played all over the place. Army kids were bused to Winfield Scott Grammar school on Divisadero Street and I knew kids whose fathers were in the Army, from sergeants to Colonels. Some lived off base.
Humorous memories: During Korean War friend’s father had a printing business and couldn't get lead or copper for type. Going to the .45 pistol range on bikes with out newspaper saddle bags and mother's colanders and straining the sand for bullets. Loading up with as much as we could move, walking home and avoiding M.P.s. Getting $.05/pound.
Other Memories: Many. A wonderful place with many mysteries. Haircuts for $.50, trying to buy stuff at the P.X. The enlisted men's club with Dr. Pepper machines, only place in SF with D.P. "Clubhouse" in old brick gun batteries near GG Bridge toll plaza. Entering forbidden buildings/area. Ft. Point, range finder emplacements (with equipment),AA batteries with what appeared to be stored ammo. All 'off limits'. Fishing off Crissy pier, riding bikes everywhere, talking to lonely soldiers from all over the US. Picking up discarded Coke bottles and returning them for deposit. Having friends whose fathers did not come home from the war. Climbing down cliffs to the beach between FT. Point and Baker's Beach. Finding 'souvenirs', shell casings, etc.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My father, Robert Oberhouse passed away this Feb. (2005) at the age of 80 years old. He was a soldier during WWII, and was blinded and wounded on the island of Bougainville. When he was sent back to the states in 1944, he was at the Letterman General Hospital. I found your site because I was looking up the history of this place that so many wounded veterans passed thru. Although I have not a specific story to tell, I do have my father's address book, full of names of people he met during that time of recovery. Some were listed with rank, or with an address of the Nurses Quarters, others without title. I assume were either nurses or volunteers who visited the wards and brought friendship and cheer.
Other Memories: I'd like to share this list, in case any of these nurse's family members are searching for a small detail of their story:
Nina Brandt, 2Lt, ANC
May God Bless these people who served our soldiers!!!!
Most vivid Presidio Memories: My dad was a commissioned officer assigned to the Marine Hospital from 1947 thru 1954. He was promoted to MOC (Medical Officer in Charge/Commanding Officer) in the early 1950's when the new wings were added to the Marine Hospital. As I recall it was a 5 million dollar expansion. The construction project gave him an ulcer but he saw it through to completion.
The Marine Hospital, though not technically part of the Presidio, was on the edge of it and I often roamed the Presidio as a boy of age ten and into my early teenage years. Access for me was usually on my bike either through the Arguello Blvd gate or more often by a disused road immediately west of Park Presidio Blvd. My buddies and I explored the whole Presidio from Baker Beach, to Fort Point, to Crissy Field on foot and on our bikes. We used to hunt lost golf balls on the golf course and got chased off a number of times by irate golfers who thought we shouldn't be on the course. That is the only hassle I can recall in our hiking and biking around the Presidio.
A couple of memories stick in my mind. First was the wonderful 25 cent malted milk shakes available at a canteen adjacent to the parade ground. Next was the summer day in 1949 or 1950 when, having heard that the USS Boxer would be coming through the Golden Gate the next morning, I got up extra early, rode my bike to a vantage point somewhere up high in the Presidio and watched in awe as this huge aircraft carrier came out of the fog under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Aside from the natural beauty of the area my most vivid memory of the Presidio is the smell of Eucalyptus trees and Monterey Pines and the crunch of ice plant underfoot. To this day whenever I visit California and get a whiff of Eucalyptus it brings back fond memories of a kid cut loose in the Presidio in a kinder and gentler age. It must have been equally grand for the kids of army personnel who actually lived on base and not on the edge of it as I did.
Humorous memories: My most humorous memory is of the dread of the long uphill climb from the parade ground to the Arguello entrance. I don't recall ever making it to the top pedaling my one speed bike -- always had to stop and rest about halfway or less and then walk the bike to the top.
Other Memories: It is so nice to see that the Presidio has been preserved as a National Park. When it closed as an Army base I had an ugly vision of it being sold off to the highest bidder and redeveloped in the same style and density as the Sunset District! Also, it is great to read that plans are well advanced to rehabilitate and reuse the buildings in the PHSH area. I visited both the Presidio and the PHSH grounds a few years ago and though the Presidio looked well preserved it was sad to see the PHSH facilities so run down and vandalized.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: Making our way down to the beach to collect sand crabs. Going to Palace of Fine Arts and feeding the ducks. The Palace itself was fenced off due to structural damage. Walking across the huge parade ground on our way to and from the movie theater.
Humorous memories: Getting picked up by the MP's for going down to the beach by myself.
Other Memories: Walking through the woods in the back of our quarters. At night looking out my window and watching the Oakland skyline. Going to some fancy restaurant off post where it rained on stage during the shows.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: When the fog was coming in, sun was setting and hearing the canon shots as the flag was being lowered on the parade ground.
The beauty and peaceful nature of the fort was unlike any other place we had been stationed.
Humorous memories: Not really humorous, but, well, you decide. A neighbor learned to time a rifle shot at the same time as the end of day canon salute when the flag was lowered...to kill and eat the many pheasants or were they quail, that were everywhere. He wasn't on the base very long and I wasn't sorry to see him go.
Halloween is a funny happy memory; a bunch of "us" teen age kids rigged up a microphone in one of the above ground basements with a speaker hidden in the grill of a car parked, backward, in the driveway. As the little kid trick or treaters would come by the car would talk to them. The "voice" could look out the basement and talk about the costume, candy, etc. The little kids were in awe...you have to remember this was around the era of the TV show "My Mother The Car".
Other Memories: My mother having her life saved at the old Letterman wooden building; roller skating (4 wheels on each foot) around the circle planter in front of Letterman; watching the concrete Letterman be built; having my mother die there in 1980; standing in line at the dispensary (now the museum...I think) waiting for the polio sugar cube; working as a civil servant at post HQ above the snack bar (best fries in the world); working as a clerk at the old MP Station (little building across of the old and new Letterman); meeting my husband and getting married at the Post Chapel on the Hill; walking to swim at Letterman indoor pool and coming out exhausted because the water was super heated for hospital patients; playing in the old boys scouts building below the hills of Portola Street. It was vacant and was a kick to crawl up through the open floor boards to play on the stage; digging caves in the red clay hills behind the vacant building on MacArthur Steet (I think that was the name); walking to the PX, to the movies ($.25 a show); walking all the way to the GG Bridge and walking across it; waving to all the guys when the fleet came in; walking through the cemetery reading all the old tombstones; catching the Muni #45 and all the transfers to get to Marina Jr. Hi. and Lowell Hi;
My husband's grandfather had served with Gen. Pershing and was one of the men who helped try to save the General's family when their house (now where the Flag Pole is) caught on fire; then meeting my husband at flag pole long before we knew this story...like fate! Karma!
Sunbathing (like there was ever a really warm day) on the roof of the quarters; swinging on the rope swing in the ravine between Liggett and Portola Steets; skateboarding down that big hill long before you could buy skateboards; (we made our own); so many memories! What a place to grow up!
Contributed by: Bob Eastin
E-mail address: email@example.com
Year(s):1956 - 1961
Age at the time: Age 4-9
Lived on the post at 1556 Pershing Drive and 338-B Infantry Terrace.
Was an Army Brat. My Father retired there as a Lt. Colonel
Later, I was drafted US Army 72-74
Most vivid Presidio Memories: View of the old, long-gone lighthouse from Wherry Housing on Pershing Drive. Then the view of Alcatraz (and searchlights) from my top floor bedroom at Infantry Terrace. The memories are vivid and rich and endless about the Presidio. The website isn't big enough to hold all my thoughts! The Parade Ground, Officer's Club (with fish tanks and all the popcorn you could eat), the Little League baseball diamond, the old commissary, the "big" gas station under the highway superstructure, salamanders and lizards, grass stains from sliding down iceplant hills, 25 cents would get you a matinee ticket AND popcorn at the base theater, the base barber shop close to headquarters, the haunting fog horns, the "secret" tennis court below Infantry Terrace, the little "toy store" open only during Christmas season in Fort Scott, the ramps and corridors of old Letterman, the beach by Crissy Field, the children's playground by the Presidio Wall, the old "roundtable" restaurant at the entrance to the GG Bridge, Saturday morning lessons at the golf course, Fort Point (who got to live in housing down there?), a Pet Cemetery with the best view in the country and the solemn National Cemetery in the mist at twilight.
Humorous memories: Grade school was off base first at Alamo School and then at Grant School in Pacific Heights. The military bus would take us only to the gate. Once, on the bus home from Grant School, the bus driver thought I was being too rowdy. So, he dropped me off at the MP Station. Keep in mind I was all of 7 years old. The MPs had to call my Dad at G4 Headquarters to send someone to pick me up. I never uttered a peep on any future bus trip!
Other Memories: The trees now, 50 years later, block the view from the housing on Infantry Terrace. But I can see the view in my memory at this very moment. My Father was allowed his choice of duty after WWII and Korea. My one brother was born in Tokyo (Camp Zama) and the other in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Myself, and my sister, were children of Fort Ord (later, my site of basic training). I'm a grandfather now and my heart echoes in cadence to the 5:00 cannonade. God bless all who served, all who are serving this nation now. The Presidio is hallowed ground. May all who walk there do so in reverence and joyous peace. . .through the eyes of a child.
Other Memories: Walking down to the beach, crossing Lincoln Blvd. at the bottom of the hill, finding old sandbags turned to stone.
Most vivid Presidio Memories: The trees close to JK playground. We used to dig forts under the tree roots. The old rope swing at Mountain Lake. Going fishing with my best friend Jim Walker down at Fort Point. (Both Jim and I joined the Army and were assigned to PSFC)
Humorous memories: Almost backing my brother's car from garage driveway at back of residence into the extra garage building behind it. I managed to turn it enough to miss the brick building, but it rolled down the hill beside it and ended up in the field of tall grass where we kids would also make a fort to play in.
Oh, I'm simply going to have to submit a longer version of things and get an okay. My humorous memories could fill several pages.
Other Memories: Again, far too many. But the Presidio, from my earliest years until the military service, was like my front yard, my back yard, and my living room. Nearly twenty years, both on post, and living in nearby San Francisco, were where I developed into what I am. I thank the US Army for that chance.
Last updated: February 28, 2015