Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls

Discussion in 'Flashbacks' started by madcat11, May 14, 2005.

  1. madcat11

    madcat11 Member

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    Does anybody remember the great old hotel on the corner of Sutter and Laguna (I think it was on the northeast corner, but that's hazy) in San Francisco that - in the sixties - was called the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls? Another name for it was the 'speed palace'

    It used to be a grand old hotel with long staircases on one end that led up to all the different floors, probably five, at least - from only one long hallway. All the stairs left out of that hallway, is what I mean, kinda like they were each a doorway, but they were openings to stairways up to the upper floors.

    There was a little courtyard in the middle and most rooms had a fire escape down to it. It must have been fairly old 'cuz the bathroom was down the hall on a particular floor, not in any room (any room that I lived in, anyway...). A guy named Sebastian lived in the basement.

    Peter, Paul and Mary referred to it in a song, as I recall: "... my name is Jack, and I live in the back, of the Greta Garbo, home for wayward boys and girls" (can't remember the song name... maybe that was it?)

    Anyway, the reason I ask is because I lived there a while in the late sixties, and when I returned years later it had been torn down - it was just a parking lot when I saw it. Maybe now it's somethng else.

    I would love to hear if anyone remembers it....:eek:)
     
  2. purplesage

    purplesage Ah, fuck it...

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    My Name Is Jack was by Manfred Mann

    Didn't realise that was a real place
     
  3. madcat11

    madcat11 Member

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    Thanks purplesage. I didn't know about Manfred Mann's recording it also - just that it was on an album by PPM. And, yes, it existed for sure. We didn't refer to it as that, every day, but others did in the community. Like, when I was first taken there, I was told, "hey, you wanna go to the "Greta Garbo...etc."! And, I guess it became kind of a legend... Thanks for the new info!

    I see that there are quite a few of the new generation of hippies who post here but not many of us older ones ...too bad. I'd hope to run into someone who had been around then and knew of it... Oh, well, I guess, like me, they're all on their own trips... e...
     
  4. Flight From Ashiya

    Flight From Ashiya Senior Member

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    "My name is Jack & I live in the back of the Greta Garbo home.....".

    Yes definitely Manfred Mann.
    & likewise I didn't know it was a hippy hotel in San Francisco.

    I wonder if the song was about that then?.

     
  5. purplesage

    purplesage Ah, fuck it...

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    Hi Madcat, you seem like a really nice and friendly person. Lots of love to you.

    I agree, it's sad that there aren't all that many of the original 60s hippies posting on these forums. I hope they eventually find their way here. Surely there must be plenty of kindred spirits floating around in cyberspace or in the "real" world!
     
  6. gourmetbather

    gourmetbather Member

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    I remember it well. The guys who opened it were enamored of the beats and want to recreate that era. When they were first opened (with very little in the way of renovation) some of the residents found a cache of old but never worn high buttton shoes in the basement and soon hippie chicks all over the bay area were wearing them. The last time I was there, I went to see Betsy, a skinny southern girl and a quy I owed 20 bills to and had lost track of for 2 years. Someone told me Betsy knew where he was and, indeed, he was living on the same floor as she. By then the building was overrun with hippies and the lobby was full of runaways just hanging out (must have been 50 or 60 young kids there). There were two SFPD detectives walking around with a poster board covered with photos asking: "Have you seen any of these people". People were freely smoking weed in front of these cops. I was told the floors of the building had been informally divided up by drug of choice with potheads on the first floor, acidheads on the second and ending up with the Meth Monsters on the 5th. As you walked the hallway you could see that every door had been kicked in at least once (management? cops? thieves?) and had hasps and padlocks on them.
    I came to S.F. while LSD was still a legal item and by the time California passed laws against it, I had tripped 302 times. I was pretty spacey for a couple of years after that, but a sojourn in algeria and morrocco taking heroin (freely available then) brought me back to coherence. I remember it well...
     
  7. The Mad Doctor

    The Mad Doctor Member

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    I was one of the first residents at the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Girls and Boys and I lived there through the spring and summer until a medical condition required me to spend a couple of weeks in San Francisco General Hospital.....I can remember Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) pointing his Bolix Rex Camera into my window one bright seven o'clock in the morning as I was fixing up. Your memory of the Hotel and many of the details are different from mine....but I am certainly not willing to bet any money that mine are accurate.....I recall the neighbors complaining to the police that drugs were being advertised blatantly on the outside walls of the building and that people were fixing up in plain view.....oh yeah and they didn't appreciate the wide open sexual carrying on in plain view of their children.....The Greta Garbo was equi-distant from both the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms and I believe that the two men who owned the hotel believed that it would be a destination for folks looking to party...and that it was.......The Mad Doctor
     
  8. The Mad Doctor

    The Mad Doctor Member

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  9. pegbray

    pegbray Guest

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    I lived at the Kirkland Hotel during the summer of '66. I was there the day that Peter, Paul and Mary filmed the movie "You Are What You Eat." Did anyone see the movie. I just found out about it myself.

    I lived with 5 others in a room on the second floor facing Laguna St. The whole thing was quite an experience!
     
  10. rusty_apache

    rusty_apache Guest

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    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed reading the responses.
    I just wanted to chime in and add that "my name is Jack" was actually written by John Simon, and performed by many, including myself. Such a fun song.
    There are some great video images of the hotel, and it's inhabitants in "you are what you eat". Along with images of all the characters mentioned in the song. They even show a mural of Garbo on one wall.
    The personal accounts mean a lot to me. I assumed it was just a big old house.
     
  11. balisonr

    balisonr Member

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    I spent a few months at The Kirkland in 1966 and after it was closed down by the health department we found a way in and stayed there off and on. Anyone remember the poster of Greta Garbo that was in the lobby giving the hotel the nic name Greta Garbo's?
     
  12. popLrchik

    popLrchik Guest

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    Spent a week or so there in summer 1966, as hayseed hippies from Ohio, come to see the Haight and check out the light show at the Fillmore.

    We got one of the rooms with a bay window - on which we painted a picture of HULK. We were scared to death that heavy dopers would crash through the thin wooden door - but the Hulk seemed to scare them away.

    Our room overlooked a little deli that sold tiny loaves of bread for like a nickel. I think we lived on those. We drove a VW bus of course.
     
  13. SpacemanSpiff

    SpacemanSpiff Visitor


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYAZE6ZQt3Y"]Manfred Mann My Name Is Jack - YouTube
     
  14. BeauBrummel

    BeauBrummel Guest

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    Just a few memories: The song "My Name Is Jack" was written and sung by John Simon, featured in a documentary about the San Francisco/ Los Angeles hippie culture of the '60s, "You Are What You Eat" (you actually see little-boy Jack running around the hotel in the movie during Simon's song!). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142005/

    It was produced by Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary), who also sings a couple of songs on the soundtrack. It was directed by Barry Feinstein, though it is pretty directionless :) . http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142005/.

    The characters in the song were real-life. Amazing and odd that English band Manfred Mann would even choose to record it! Their record company made them change the lyric "Super Spade" to "Superman" for their American release - that's why you can find versions with both lyrics. One is American, and the other is for Britain/Europe.

    Super Spade, featured prominently in the film (even has a soft-core porn scene in there!), was a friend of my older brother, who lived at 408 Ashbury, a block-&-a-half north of Haight. Bro told me Super got into dealing drugs, and got himself killed in an unsolved crime.

    The Kirkland Hotel, at Sutter and Laguna in San Francisco, was an 1800s Victorian-style hotel that had even been a brothel at some point in its past. It was affectionately known by the colorful-types that lived there as "Greta Garbo's Home For Wayward Boys And Girls" - there was even a large poster of Greta in the main lobby.

    I worked at Playland-At-The-Beach (S.F. ocean-front amusement park) in the '60s. Two of my best friends, George & Mike, also worked there. They introduced me to a ride operator nicknamed "Catman", who lived at the hotel. He recommended they rent a room at the "Garbo", which they did. They were slightly underage at the time, and used the room to hang out in and get drunk on their illicitly-obtained alcoholic beverages. Never went there, myself, though I did get an earful of stories about the eccentric environment they found themselves in the middle of.

    I must have seen "You Are What You Eat" a dozen-or-more times. It had an extended run at the Richelieu Theatre on Geary Street in S.F... This was a small "art" theater in the base of the Richelieu Hotel at Geary & Van Ness. My best friend, Terry, was the theater manager there, and I used to go hang out with him, because I really had nothing better to do than stay home. I practically knew the dialog and songs by heart! Tiny Tim was featured in the film, and a lot of familiar faces popped up in the movie. I probably have seen this movie more than any living individual, and never paid a penny! :daisy:
     
  15. SF Mike

    SF Mike Members

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    Yes I stayed there for part of the summer of '66 I think it was...67 maybe, when Peter Yarrow was filming there and making a dick of himself...lots of strange people there, we really had a room like a flop house there on an upper floor , but I didn't want to stay with my parents on the Peninsula... There were too straight and I wasn't...neither was ANYbody at the Greta Garbo House.... Yes, one poster of her on the wall, that was it....folks noddng off in the lobby at ALL hours...people around were the PCP Capeman, Ziggy the dealer, Serge the junkie who NEVER cane out of his room or saw the light of day, and various girls and travelers.. drugs, yes, are you crazy??....mostly speed...the Greta Garbo House was not primarily a heroin place, but a mixed bag...sotra fun...for a while, anyway...I guess I wised up and...perish the thought...went back to college!! More to come.....the memories just getting started....
     
  16. marlene_madcat

    marlene_madcat Members

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    'Had to create a new account since in the time I was here before, my email got hijacked, so I couldn't remember my password and they sent the reminder to a defunct email anyway. Ah well. (this is madcat11)

    Anyhoo, about the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys & Girls, where I stayed while in SF in 1966, another story...

    The first person I met, after coming through the big lobby was a guy named Sebastian, who asked if I wanted to accompany him to his place in the basement. I said, "sure!" and he asked if I wanted to experience something, a drug, that was "better than sex."

    Sure! Up 'til now I'd been smoking pot, doing 'shrooms, peyote, LSD, but nothing much stronger, so when he pulled out his fit, dissolved some white powder in a spoon then draw it into an eyedropper, I was mesmerized.

    Then he shot me up and it was just as "better than sex"! Methamphetamine hydrochloride - whew!

    Having been a very laid-back person, I knew this was the drug for me...and for the next six months I hardly left the "hotel", only sleeping in short naps, barely eating, and getting my fix from one tenant or another, in exchange for sex...it was a win-win all around—except for what meth was doing to my body.

    I will finish the story later...I would love to hear from anyone else who was in the scene at the Haight in the sixties...
     
  17. marlene_madcat

    marlene_madcat Members

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    By the way, I've been looking all over the 'net for the entire movie, "You Are What You Eat" the one that Frank Zappa made that includes shots of the GGHWGB.

    Anybody know where to see more than just the trailer?
     
  18. Frank L. Ludwig

    Frank L. Ludwig Members

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    I just came back to this thread after Greta Thunberg said, ‘we’ll be watching you’, which reminded me of the phrase ‘Greta is watching you’.

    I remember that in 2013 I wrote a poem about the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls but found information to be very scarce. This thread, besides the film ‘You Are What You Eat’, were the main sources for the poem. (If anyone is interested in it, you can find it in my collection at Big Train from Memphis - The Rock'n'Roll Poems ( Frank L. Ludwig)).

    And Marlene, if you’re still looking for the film, it’s on YouTube at
     
    drumminmama and ZenKarma like this.
  19. ~Zen~

    ~Zen~ Dreamer Administrator

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    Thank you for posting the link to the movie. Important bit of history there...
     

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