I return this week to one of my favorite haunts. It being just past Halloween here in the US, it seems an appropriate time of year to do so. Thus, back in time we go to the Halberstadt School of Fencing – which is how the sign read that was painted on the door in gold letters at 3145 Fillmore Street in San Francisco.
These photos were taken sometime after 1963 and before 1966, the year Hans passed away. One of the captions below will explain how I came to this date range.
Hans Halberstadt relaxes in a comfy chair while a couple of women look on. What is it with smoking and fencing? I’ll need to do an expose the ‘bad old days’ with smoking being so pervasive.
I can’t identify either of these two for certain, but I believe the fencer on the left is Emily Johnson. We’ll see her in another below.
John McDougall standing, Eleanor Turney sitting. Eleanor gave me my first lamé and was the nicest, most helpful person to young fencers. Also, she was an outstanding armorer and held various jobs in and around the USFA for many, many years. Now, if you look at the poster she’s seated in front of, you may notice the date. It’s from the 1963 Pan American Games that were held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from April 20th to May 5th. So these photos were taken in 1963 or later.
There’s Emily Johnson. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s Emily Johnson on the left. I know there will be some folks who can look at this and correct me if I’m wrong. And, I hope they can help me with the identity of the woman on the right. And anyone else I can’t put a name to!
Hans giving a lesson to the woman sitting in the picture above whose name I don’t know! I so wish this was a lesson where Hans was wearing his legendary ‘mask with a hole for his cigar’, but alas, it is not.
Once again, I think that’s Emily Johnson on the left. I do not know the identity of the woman in the middle, and there isn’t enough of the person on the far right for me to have any idea.
All mysteries, and not a few questions! Who’s that in the black jacket? And why are their buttons on the back of the jacket for the person on the right on the far strip? How would you get in or out of such a jacket?
As always with photos of Halberstadt’s or other fencing clubs, I love seeing all the photos on the walls. But in the case of Halberstadt, it’s of particular interest to me, as I know many of the pictures we see in the frames here are lost to history. John McDougall, who took over the running of the club upon Hans’ death, told me recently that for as long as he ran the club all the photos that were up when Hans was alive remained on the walls. But clearly some photos have been lost to time. The club has moved, there have been floods, and frankly a whole lot of other things have happened in the 50-odd years since these pictures were taken.
I’m really just thankful that the club has maintained what history it still has in its hands. If you’re from outside the San Francisco area and/or you have never stopped by Halberstadt Fencers Club, stop in and check it out. You’ll see some of these photos are still up and gracing the walls of the Bay Area’s oldest club.