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Model Tea: 1918

Model Tea: 1918

San Francisco, 1918. "Buick at Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park." The styling: Early Perpendicular. Glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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The Original Fortune Cookie.

Makoto Hagiwara, the designer and longtime caretaker of the Japanese Tea Garden pioneered what we now know as the fortune cookie here in the early 20th century. It was essentially a sweetened, secular version of Japanese tsuji ura sembei crackers, which are curled around religious "fortunes" and served at several Shinto shrines in the Kyoto area.

These treats, which were served with tea in the garden, soon became quite popular and were picked up by San Francisco Chinese restaurants. The rest is American culinary history.

Makoto Hagiwara died in 1925, but the Hagiwara family continued to tend and live at the garden until WWII, when they were dispossessed and removed to a camp in Utah as part of the shameful forcible internment of Japanese-Americans. The garden was renamed as the "Oriental Tea Garden" until 1952. The Hagiwaras were not allowed to return to the garden, but the street in front was renamed in their honor by the City of San Francisco in 1986.

Louis XV

I remember my grandmother telling me she used to wear Louis Quinze heels when she was young, in the early 1920s.

Another name

During WWII it was known as the "Oriental Tea Garden" for obvious reasons.

Under the Hood

Early Buicks had an overhead valve engine with external tappets, push rods and rocker arms as invented by the founder. Thus the serenity of this dignified setting and sophisticated outfits of the women would be joined by a rather coarse automotive racket when the motor was started.

Soldier, Buick and Ladies are MIA

But the entrance is still there:

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