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Storied: San Francisco

May 5, 2022

In this podcast, Doug picks up where he left off in Part 1. He shares stories of his Jewish family's escape from Nazi Germany and their journey to the U.S. His dad went to Basel, Switzerland, first. So many of his friends died in World War II that, after the war ended, he came to New York.

Being highly educated and speaking five or six languages, he got a job as an editor at the Academy of Sciences. An uncle had immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s, landing in Minnesota first. An ambidextrous artist, he could draw with either hand. He was also a storyteller and puppeteer. Eventually, he made his way to North Beach.

Despite having eight or nine different names and honoraries, people knew him by the name Wolo. He did some work in the Central Valley for the WPA, caricatures here in The City, and was a fixture in his neighborhood in the '20s and '30s.

Wolo had a regular spot in the Chronicle pre-Herb Caen. "I Saw You There" was a caricature of the day from somewhere around town. Readers who spotted themselves in the art could go to the Chronicle and collect a prize. Wolo is perhaps most famous for his designs at the now-shuttered Van Ness restaurant Hippo Burger. His nephew (Doug's dad) came to join him here, and that's how the Salins arrived in San Francisco.

Doug considers his mom, who was born and raised in San Francisco, to have been a Bohemian. She was a poet and an artist herself. His dad was quite the dresser. Doug isn't sure of the exact story of how they met, but those factors make sense for the two of them to have connected in North Beach.

​However they met, they got married and moved up to San Rafael, where Doug and his brother were born and raised. His dad was a printer and his mom came into San Francisco to the binderies that were here back in the day. Doug has fond memories of coming to The City and going to Playland at the Beach. He especially loved the enchiladas at the Hot House.

As a kid, Doug loved walking around with the postal-delivery guy and later got his own paper route. He hung out with a lot of adults whose jobs he was curious about. He went to college at Santa Clara University, as mentioned in Part 1. He shares a wild story of driving to The City from the South Bay in 1974 and almost running out of gas during the fuel crisis that year.

​After his time at Macy's (also covered in Part 1), Doug went out on his own as a photographer, specializing in architectural lighting.

We end this podcast with Doug's thoughts on San Francisco losing its color and his hopefulness that it can get it back.

We recorded this episode at Doug's house in the Sunnyside in April 2022. Photography by Michelle Kilfeather