I would finish my nine-to-five stint writing unreadable releases about locomotives and then—most likely humming Little Things Mean a Lot—start a meandering stroll to my new home atop the hill. I would first stop at Paoli's bar a few blocks away from the office for a drink and a generous sampling of the free hors d'oeuvres served there. An enterprising youth such as I could pop back enough of those appetizers to render any thought of dinner irrelevant.
Properly gorged, I would resume my odyssey, stepping briskly up Kearny Street, the wind and the fog invigorating me. I would smile at the pretty girls who seemed then to be everywhere and nod politely at ordinary passersby. I was glad to be part of this passing parade, and my heart was as full as my stomach. I would turn left on Columbus Avenue, pass in front of Vesuvio's, the forerunner of the beatnik bars that were proliferating in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Then it was up Grant Avenue to the top of the hill and the tiny, underfurnished, overpriced apartment I shared with an old Cal fraternity brother, Bob Vance.
Something wonderful and strange was happening on Grant Avenue then. The beats had arrived, and the street was suddenly alive with poets, musicians and artists. Jazz seemed to issue from every window. Was that Charlie Parker? Of course. And Diz? And the new guy, Miles?
The sounds mingled with the scent of pasta and wine that wafted out of all the little Italian restaurants on the street, holes-in-the-wall where a customer could eat all he wanted for less than a dollar. Maybe later, when the Paoli's hors d'oeuvres had been finally digested, Vance and I would take a couple of girls to one of these joints for dinner. Who cared how late we stayed?
Late at night, I would fall asleep to the reassuring moans of the foghorns on the bay. Tomorrow, I knew, would be rich with possibility.
It doesn't seem all that long ago. I rather think it never will.