When I started driving a car at sixteen, and around that time or seventeen, I began smoking. I think the long Pall Mall unfiltered was my favorite cigarette. I would like to go into cafe eateries, sit at the counter, drink a cup of dripped coffee and smoke a cigarette.
Everybody smoked and nobody minded. The coffee was not all that good and it varied from place to place.
When I started reading the beatniks age nineteen and twenty, I began reading about real coffee European style, like they made in North Beach San Francisco at the MDR Minimum Daily Requirement, pea soup, French bread and coffee, and Cafe Trieste the neighborhood of where I would one day live. It was then I learned something about coffee houses and the kind of people that frequented them. They used whole beans ground and steam squeezed for an Espresso, of a quarter filled tiny white cup of thickish coffee very strong but not something to dawdle over all morning. The average American may have thought, all that money for a teaspoon of coffee.
So I had read about beatnik coffee house hang-outs and writers, poets, painters, artists who hung out in them. According to James Burke the documentarian, the first coffee houses were established in Britain to sell wooden sailing ship insurance before steam and oil. And in San Francisco in those days of early seventies, there were no coffee houses as such except in particular neighborhoods like the Haight or North Beach, in which we had to travel across town for the experience.
It was called the Cafe Commons and it was on the east side of Mission Street between Precita Avenue and next to a used car lot on the corner at Powers Street.
(1 of 26)