Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A 1950's Christmas in San Francisco: Family Car Tour

Last year I took readers down memory lane by talking about my memories of a 1950’s downtown San Francisco Christmas experience
We bundled up in the back seat of
our Studebaker, not unlike this one.
But we had another tradition… cruising the Christmas lights and displays of San Francisco.
We were frugal. We didn't go out to eat before our special outing. We had a simple meal at home served from the stove-top in our small kitchen. We bundled up and got into the car giddy with anticipation.

Our favorite place to cruise was in the Marina District along Marina Boulevard. The large homes facing the yacht basin and Marina Green opened the curtains of their huge (at least as a child they appeared huge) picture windows. We oohed and ahhed over the life-size moving Santa all decked out in a gold Santa suit.
We marveled at the floor to ceiling lighted trees, some with color coordinated decorations. Some even had flocked trees. For a little girl who went home to a traditional live green tree with heirloom ornaments, these trees were always a source of amazement.
The homes in the Marina often had large
picture windows to take advantage of the Bay views.
In one window, there was a beautiful shiny black grand piano next to the Christmas tree. I though how marvelous it would be to practice piano with a view of the Bay.
There was much more than the windows to see. We wondered how the homeowners got the displays and lights on their roof-tops… stars, twinkling lights.
The boats in the harbor often had lights too… and Christmas trees affixed to their masts. 
To me, the homes along Marina Boulevard were always full of ostentatious Christmas spirit. It was fun to see them from the warmth of our Studebaker sedan.
Before we returned home in the Richmond District, we went through Golden Gate Park to see the living nativity scene in Lindley Meadow. The brightly lighted scene was a special one. The costumed people and the real animals were a big draw. I especially liked seeing the donkey and sheep. We admired this special San Francisco display, often rolling the windows down in the car and slowing to a crawl.
Christmas in San Francisco was magical. The traditions we developed as San Franciscans were simple ways to enjoy all the season had to offer in The City By the Bay.