* Calendar 2008" This Date in
San Francisco, Historical Calendar; Over 320 entries in the fabulous
history of a fabulous city"
* Historical Presentations
* A Documentary movie
of San Francisco on line is produced by Lana Ralston and new
entries are coming.
This Date in San Francisco
Calendar 2008, illustrated with antique and contemporary photographs,
is available to order. Click here
to see some of the illustrations in Calendar 2008.
book version "This Date in San Francisco History" will
have an entry for every date of the calendar year, and will be available
Please click this link to order the
calendar for your store or organization.
1. October 23, 2003 ---- " The Incredible Case of
Warren Billings and Tom Mooney". Presentation of a unique
program of original films, stills, and narration at the San Francisco
History Association meeting. Read here
more about this story.
2. June 8, 2004 --- "Fremont Older" ---- Presentation
of a unique program of original stills, and narration at the San
Francisco Museum and Historical Society meeting. Read here
more about this story.
3. September 12, 2006, 7:00 p.m.----- "This Date
in San Francisco " --- Presentation of a unique program of
original stills, and narration at the San Francisco Museum and
Historical Society meeting.
The location: Hiram Johnson State Building, Milton Marks Conference
Center, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco.
4. August 21, 2007, 1:00 p.m.----- "Character References:
Famous San Francisco Men and Women" --- Power
Point program, Palo
Alto Lions' Club meeting.
The location: University Club of Palo Alto
3227 Miranda Avenue, Palo Alto. Telephone 650-493-3972
5. September 11, 2007, 7:00 p.m.----- "Character
References: Famous San Francisco Men and Women"
--- Power Point program at the
San Francisco Museum and Historical Society meeting.
The location: Jewish Community Center of San Francisco,
3200 Califirnia Street at Presidio Avenue
John is working on a new book "This Date in San Francisco
History -- 366 Days That Made Our Fascinating City".
He will finish a biography of Fremont
Older, a famous nineteenth and twentieth-century editor. A
saying of Older's that I really like is "You accomplish so
much more with love than you do with hate."
Documentary "The Incredible
Case of Warren Billings and Tom Mooney."
History lovers can enjoy reading about John's project Making
a Documentary "The Incredible Case of Warren Billings and
Researching, writing, and producing
The Incredible Case of Warren Billings and Tom Mooney
has put us physically in touch with San Francisco's history in a
way we never felt before.
Mooney's and Billings' innocence of the Preparedness Day Bombing
of July 1916 was established by simple geography. Both men, and
their co-defendants Rena (Mrs. Tom) Mooney, and jitney driver Israel
Weinberg were proven by defense attorneys to have been over a mile
away from Steuart Street at the time the prosecution claimed they
were placing a suitcase loaded with explosives there; yet two juries
succumbed to popular hysteria - and to perjured testimony - and
returned guilty verdicts (all the living members of Mooney's jury
later signed an application to the governor in support of his pardon).
Billings' presence in what is now called Maiden Lane was corroborated
by multiple defense witnesses, and the prosecution witnesses who
testified against him later said that they had either lied or were
mistaken. Tom and Rena Mooney were 7,000 feet away from Steuart
watching the parade on the roof of a building that still exists:
on the south side of Market Street just east of Sixth, stands the
Wilson Building, known in 1916 as the Eilers Building, where Rena
Mooney had her music studio and where the Mooneys lived. In May
2003 the company that manages the property let me go to the roof
to photograph the spot (color photo, left) from which the Mooneys
watched the parade. On Preparedness Day the Mooneys were photographed,
Tom leaning against the parapet, Rena to his right (tinted photo,
Roof of the Wilson Building (Eilers Building) today.
Roof of the Eilers Building, July 22nd, 1916. Tom leans
in the corner as Rena, to his right, holds her hat in the wind.
White arrow, left middle, points to clock.
District Attorney Fickert claimed the photo had been destroyed.
The defense threatened legal action and the judge compelled the
police to produce it. The defense saw in the photo a street clock
in front of Albert Samuels jewelers (white arrow, right picture,
above), it being common for jewelers to advertise that way. A prosecution
witness claimed to have seen Mooney at Steuart Street, almost a
mile and a half away, at two o'clock. The photo was enlarged until
the clock could be read: one minute past two; the defense's
case was ironclad.
What the defense did not know and could not imagine was that the
prosecution would produce a psychopathic liar to testify that he
had seen Billings, Mooney, Rena Mooney, and Weinberg drop a suitcase
at Steuart Street - the infamous Preparedness Day bomb! That witness,
like all the prosecution witnesses, was utterly discredited after
Billings and Mooney were convicted, but both men spent twenty-three
years in jail.
The clock (below, left) that established Mooney's alibi was later
moved 300 feet down Market Street. In beautiful condition, it shows
time today as it did on that fateful July 22nd. Lana was photographed
there on October 25th, 2003.
One minute past two: Mooney's alibi.