On this last Sunday in September, The Max and I braved the sunny skies and waded past the homeless conglomeration at the Main Library to join up with Don Herron's Dashiell Hammett tour of the city. Don's website had mentioned the meetup point, along with the requisite $10 per person, but made no mention of the tour's length. A jaw-dropping 4 hour tour was proposed as soon as we had gathered. After ponying up the cash, we were in for a few hours, before hunger got the best of us, and we left the group at the midway break point.
Some really great stuff gleaned along the way, and a great tour overall-- Don is worth every penny.
* The Max called out as being intrepid enough to give Bill a call to tour the Hammett/Spade apartment on Post street.
* The occupant of the Hammett/Spade apartment is listed in the phone book as S. Spade
* Blanco's was built in 1907 and one of the first quality restaurants rebuilt in the burn zone (post-earthquake). The Continental Op ate his meals at Blancos. You can see "Blancos" written very faded on the brick in an alley off O'Farrell street. Current occupant of Blancos? Great American Music Hall.
* If you're lucky, you'll hear about the crazies who have taken the tour before you (Don's been doing this for 30 years)-- Wyatt Earp fans, Raymond Chandler defendees, Cleveland police chief, etc.
* If you're unlucky, you'll hear the "Shut up cookie" story. Maybe it was just Don warming up, but it was a terribly long winded story about Elisha Cook Jr. coming to town as a 90 year old man with his entourage of nursing home workers, one of whom told him to "shut up, cookie" when he started screaming.
* Hammett felt he didn't get the story right in some of his Continental Ops pieces, so basically rewrote them as the Maltese Falcon.
* John's Grill had a recent publicity stunt with the missing statue (Don maintains it's not true)