How about another 891 Post post?
Eighteen people hauled out for the walk on September 21, including Warren Harris of Midget Bandit Week fame (so naturally I had to do lots of extra coverage of Edwin Ware) and a guy named John Fox, who just popped me a note to say that the four-plus hours “was a long time on my feet for an old man” — but John seemed to enjoy himself. He’s even planning to read some Continental Op tales now.
John rolled down from the Tri-Cities in Washington state after seeing the write-up in the New York Times — specifically the mention of 891 Post Street. He had a connection to that address, so when we got to the apartment building of Sam Spade, I pulled him in as a Guest Lecturer:
“From fall 1935 to summer 1937,” John told us, “I lived with my uncle, Raymond B. Powers and his wife. I have found no record of the address in anything I have, but I’m almost certain from looking at the buildings that it was 839 Post.
“We had an apartment on the east side of the building facing the street but also a window at the rear facing a very small courtyard. I think it was the second or perhaps third floor. I was in the 4th & 5th grades at Redding School.”
Same block as 891 Post, 79 years ago — but here’s the cool part:
“Ray’s office on the corner at 895 Post St. was the Chamberlin Metal Weather Strip Co. and had a small storeroom and shop in back with a side door on Hyde. I’m not sure how long it was there, but by 1939 or 40 when the exposition was on, he had moved to Russian Hill and the office moved to 119 S. 9th. It closed shortly after Pearl Harbor as there was no more metal and we moved back to Portland (I was then living with them again).”
So that business space in 891 Post — that has been some kind of laundry the entire time I’ve been doing The Dashiell Hammett Tour — used to front a weather stripping shop. John mentioned that during that period he can’t recall any mention whatsoever of Hammett once being a resident of the building.
How would they have known Hammett once lived in the building, anyway?
Still, some living history along for the walk — got to love it.
And any fan of the fiction will appreciate the reality of “895 Post” as a street address. Back in 2011 I went nuts with a discovery found in the Op story “Death and Company,” which specifically uses 895 Post.
(Inspired by Warren Harris’ sleuthing out of an I.D. on The Midget Bandit, John even has made some tentative moves to uncover the real life model for “the Joel Cairo character, based on a 1920 forger in Pasco, WA” — Pasco, one of the Tri-Cities:
(“I visited the small Franklin County Historical Museum in Pasco this week, discussed it with a volunteer there and gave her a copy of the statement by Hammett which mentioned this very briefly. She is referring it to their archivist to look into. I have no idea what resources they have to trace this.
(“This might be another ‘claim to fame’ for what was then a little railroad town of a couple thousand and now a fast growing city of 65,000.”
(Yeah, it would be swell if the model for Cairo could be uncovered, too.)