Castro Memories

Uncle Donald Presents

submitted by Ken Oldfield, NSW, Australia, April 1. 1997

As a 19 year old Englishman from a small Dorset village, Castro of 1979 was somewhat of a cultural shock. Equipped only with a phone number of a friend of a friend, I arrived late at Oakland International Airport jet lagged from my first ever long haul flight.

keno2s.JPG (3567bytes) Erich, who lived four blocks from Castro's main drag, answered the phone and assured me it was okay to stay a couple of nights and to make my way right over.

Unfortunately I got the street numbers mixed up and after knocking on the unanswered door I made my way through the empty house, and after using the John for a much needed crap, I met Erich outside who told me I was in the wrong house and could have been shot as a prowler.

Erich's house overlooked downtown Castro and Bay Bridge. It was built, he told me, by his landlord in the 60's who was off his scone on LSD most of the time. After a cold beer (definitely NOT Coors who would not employ gay labour) and a home grown joint, Erich led me up to his bedroom via an enclosed spriral staircase with the skin of a reticular python stapled to the wall. In my condition of total disorientation the spiraling walk up the stairs seemed to be lasting longer than my flight from London.

Once in his bedroom Erich displyed his pride and joy which was enormous and dripping with potency. On suite was a glasshouse accomodating the biggest crop of homegrown grass I could imagine. Each plant at least 6 feet high and oozing vitality.

By now the effect of jet lag, beer and grass was overwhelming and Erich kindly offered the floor of his lounge for me to crash on. That night, he explained, he was entertaining in his bedroom!

Lying in Erich's borrowed sleeping bag, that smelt strangely composty, I listened to the sounds of a San Francisco night. Wailing sirens, the thumping rhythm of the Village People in the distance, a gun shot (or backfiring car) and the strange accents and movements of Erich's guest/s.

For me, this was the start of an incredible eight day experience of the Castro of '79 which included drunken revelry at the Elephant Walk by night and exploring the streets by day.

keno1s.JPG (4900bytes) My last night in Castro Erich invited me to sleep in his bed, "I'm not gonna rape you" he promised. What a dilemma, to insult my host's integrity or risk my uncompromised sexuality. Later that night, lying in Erichs bed listening to his gentle snores I looked out over the bay and downtown San Francisco in wonder. What would my Mum say? Here I was, in the gayest part of the homosexual capital of the world, in bed with a queer!!

But for Mr. Straight there were absolutely no worries.

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This page created April 8, 1997 and modified August 12, 2000
• Text © 1997 • Ken Oldfield •

If you would like to say 'Thanks' to Ken, urge him to tell
some more stories, or just say 'Hello!', You may write to Ken at

Ken and his wife Cathy and 2 daughters live in Australia and operate an Espresso Bar, Gift Shop, and manage Lakeview Cottage, a rental unit on Wallis Lake, NSW. Check out their website LAKEVIEW COTTAGE and COUNTRY PALINGS.

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