The city of San Mateo is embarking on another examination of its general plan. It’s a regular exercise designed to address municipal needs and anticipated changes with an eye on the future.

For some of us of a certain age and disposition, the late 1950s and early 1960s, a simpler time to be sure, were about as good as it gets when it comes to suburban ambiance and a general way of life.

The Peninsula, at least in those blissful days and nights, was a place where all that a kid could ask for was right there in front of him or her. San Mateo was right up there with the best of them.

The downtown commercial district was Exhibit A in that regard. Within a tight, well-defined 15-square-block area just east of El Camino Real down to B Street and from Fifth Avenue north to Baldwin Avenue, a youngster could find just about anything necessary to satisfy the mind, the taste buds and even the soul.

It was a self-contained village atmosphere that welcomed kids with open arms. There was lots to do and see. Many of those options are long gone, victims of progress and other factors.

For openers, there were two large, single-screen movie houses (the Baywood and the San Mateo), both able to seat more than 1,000 customers. Saturday kids’ matinees were huge.

For a quarter, you could view a couple of feature films, previews, a news reel, an adventure serial or two and cartoons. It was an all-afternoon affair. Parents were enthused about the matinees as well.

Hungry? F.W. Woolworth’s had a lunch counter where you could purchase an egg salad sandwich and a vanilla milkshake for the grand total of 55 cents. Other options included Blum’s, Carter’s Creamery and the House of Blimp (memorable hot dogs).

Got a yen for music? Hankering for the latest from Fats Domino and Elvis Presley? Ross Radio was your mecca. That tidy establishment had individual listening booths in which you could sample all of the hits of the day in privacy. Hello, Jerry Lee Lewis and “Great Balls of Fire.”

There were toy stores, a sporting goods outfit, a Catholic church (if you were so inclined in a papal way), a bike shop and even City Hall itself. An Episcopalian church is still there.

If you wanted to get a head start on local news with an early edition, the headquarters building of the San Mateo Times was right across the street from the main public library.

And, of course, Central Park and, if necessary, Mills Memorial Hospital were (are) readily available too.

But things do change, sometimes not necessarily for the better.

PREP FOOTBALL INTEREST LAGS: Last week’s stunning announcement that South San Francisco High School cannot field a varsity football team this fall follows a dismaying pattern in the North County.

For decades, neither Oceana High School in Pacifica nor Westmoor High School in Daly City has provided students with a football program. A lack of interested participants has been a primary reason.

Mills High School in Millbrae was unable to come up with enough players for a viable varsity during last spring’s pandemic-shortened football season (the Vikings are fielding teams now). It’s a local public school trend that shows few signs of abating.

Some of the obvious causes for football’s local public school decline are:

• A lack of full-time teacher/coaches who can commit to the time and energy that football requires;

Significant demographic changes within communities and student bodies;

A lack of priority on the administrative agenda;

Injury (concussion) worries among parents;

The competitive impact of private and parochial schools;

Recently, a pandemic that has kept pupils off-campus for months at a time; and 

Increasing options, athletic and otherwise, for teens. 

Opening games are set for Friday.

A WEDNESDAY BRAIN FREEZE: The relentless drivel in this Wednesday space contained a ridiculous brain freeze last week.

The new Maserati MC20 is projected to cost in excess of $210,000, not $210 million as printed. That should ease fiscal concerns for potential buyers of the ultra-fast machine. Or not.

Oh, what’s three little zeroes among friends anyway? 


You can get in touch with John Horgan by email at

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(1) comment


We need some personal stories about the Black Egg albeit away from down town at 16th and South B. street.

How about groundskeeper George Ford - he of Boxing acumen - and while taking care of Fitzgerald Field, single handedly duked it out with a band of non-conforming hippies. Before Rick Monday, there was George Ford.

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