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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Smoke and Hipsters: 1958

Smoke and Hipsters: 1958

April 1958. "The 'Beatnik' community of San Francisco's North Beach district, socializing at a local coffee house and bagel shop." (The Co-Existence Bagel Shop at Grant Avenue and Green Street.) Photo by Cal Bernstein for the Look magazine article "The Bored, the Bearded and the Beat." View full size.

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Oh, what a time.

My grandfather had a real estate office 2 or 3 doors down from the Bagel shop at 1356 Grant Ave. I used to visit him often when I was 10 or 11 years old and was absolutely fascinated by the folks who hung out there often there was some guy reciting poetry.

There was another joint across the street on the 1300 block of Grant which was popular among the "artsy" crowd in those days, too, but I can't remember its name. It was next door to Figone Hardware.

I wonder how their kids turned out?

Remember, Ned Flanders' parents were beatniks.

Bagels Be Gone

Same street corner, then and today. The Co-Existence Bagel Shop has been replaced by Henry's Hunan cuisine restaurant. This neatly reflects the North Beach neighborhood's continuing evolution from Italian-American to artists/Beats/hipsters to Asian-American.

It just HAD to be there --

the pennant "BE SQUARE," man.

Free coffee

Wonderful that the posters and signs on the wall have been preserved in this photo - ephemera like this is so often lost to history. I especially like the jazz concert being held at 1 am on January 1, with free coffee on offer.

Ten years later

Their male counterparts would have hair as long as the women and you wouldn't see men as nicely groomed as those in this photo. These people would be seen as those who couldn't be trusted as they would be over 30 by then. They are however the vanguard of what came to be known as the New Left.

Investment in the making

The posters on this wall would bring a pretty penny on the collector's market nowadays. There's no shortage of well-heeled people with a nostalgic affection for their bohemian and radical youth.

Self-Marginalized Youth

Actually the word Beatnik was a writer's invention that stuck in the public's mind. The disaffected youth and ex-soldiers of the day who felt like outsiders called themselves “hipsters,” or sometimes “beats.” The term “beatnik” wasn’t coined until 1957-8 when a magazine writer came up with the term. He combined “beat” with the Space Age Russian word “Sputnik.” In Europe a similar group of young people were called "young Bohemians." They lolled on the banks of the Seine drinking coffee, eating bread and cheese, reading Marx, living off money from home, waiting for the proletarian revolution to start.

Rainier Ale

A.k.a. the Green Death, an old favorite of mine. I haven't been able to find Rainier Ale for the last two years. Originally a Seattle brand, it was last being brewed at the Miller plant in Irwindale, California.

Crazy, man

I guess Bagels hanging from the ceiling was a happening thing in these Hipster joints.

Waiting to be Discovered

I'm guessing Sidney Poitier and Ali MacGraw.

[Sidney was already a star in 1958. But look, there's Ralph Meeker! - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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