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Yuen Hing & Co.: 1921

Yuen Hing & Co.: 1921

"REO Speedwagon grocery truck, San Francisco, 1921." Compare with our previous Speedwagon. Glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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A Hundred Million Miracles

"Grant Avenue San Francisco" was in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway hit "Flower Drum Song" from 1958. The film version released in 1961 was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.

Western street with Eastern manners,
Tall pagodas and golden banners,
Throw their shadows through the lantern glow.

You can shop for precious jade
or teakwood tables or silk brocade

Or see a bold and brassy night club show,
On the most exciting thoroughfare I know --

Grant Avenue, San Francisco,
California, U.S.A.
Looks down from Chinatown
Over a foggy bay.

You travel there in a trolley,
In a trolley up you climb,
Dong! Dong! You're in Hong Kong,
Having yourself a time.

You can eat, if you are in the mood,
Shark-fin soup, bean cake fish.
The girl who serves you all your food
Is another tasty dish!

You know that
You can't have a new way of living
Till you're living all the way
On Grant Avenue --Where is that?--
San Francisco, That's where's that!
California, U.S.A.!

Chinatown Telephone Exchange

On the side door of the truck you can see the letters "PHONE CHINA" and the beginning of a numeral. San Francisco's Chinatown had its own telephone exchange from 1887 until the 1940s when dial phones replaced the switchboard operators. How it all worked is explained here.

Stopping distance

I wonder what the stopping distance was for one of these trucks when fully loaded, using rear wheel only mechanical brakes, on a steep San Francisco hill. Lots of smoke, then right into the Bay!

Can't fight this feeling anymore...

I like this truck.


Lots of mud splatters. Could be from riding the storm out.

Musically speaking,

We're on Grant Avenue, San Francisco, California, USA.

[Most interesting. I wonder how one would travel there. - Dave]

[Ideally in a trolley, but you have to settle for a cable car. -tterrace]

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