The Bad Characters of Bernal Heights
Some question the necessity of La Lengua demanding autonomy from Bernal Heights. This article from the 1884 Daily Alta California should prove the need of our independence (if only because of the keg):
Perhaps young Alfred Lewis was on his way to buy some Bernal-brewed moonshine. Let the 1888 experience of Bernal Heights Ranger Jeremiah Buckley prove a sober warning for such a trap:
All La Lenguan residents should consider this fair warning when traversing Precitaville, as Consular services may not be available.
As to the location of J.T. Graham’s saloon, we suspect a Bernalian disinformation campaign that spreads even to the 1888 city directory level since 27th and Alabama did not intersect in the 1880s.
Here’s an 1880s era map showing 25th, 26th, Serpentine, Precita…
Nor did 27th cross over to Bernal back in 1869.
Or 1859 for that matter:
And the 1886 Sanborn maps don’t make any reference to 27th on the other side of San Jose/Valencia/Mission either:
Could this address deception could be a ploy on the part of Bernalian Hegemony to hide the discovery of gold atop the hill? Or perhaps something more benign, like people just not wanting to call it Precita Avenue? (What we now call Precita Park was called “Bernal Park” when it was carved out of “Precita Place” in 1894.)
As such, we can assume J.T. Graham’s saloon was probably near the location of today’s Precita Park Cafe. Alabama seems to have stopped at Precita Place — unfortunately the 1886 Sanborn maps do not extend east of Alabama or Columbia (which no longer exists…)
Despite the garrulous nature of Bernal residents, it seems that Thomas Graham ran his grocery at the corner of Precita and Alabama for quite some time.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood in 1890 and need a piano, John Graham’s your man:
John was trying to rent out a house in 1891:
Note that “cars” were running down Folsom as early as 1878…
Jumping back, a four-room house rented for $12 a month in 1892:
It looks like he owned a fair amount of property in the area, though in this 1898 ad, it is interesting he chose to live on the other end of Alabama St (278 is near 16th…)
(Note the ad for a wonderful investment opportunity in La Lengua at Cortland and Mission.)
In 1905 he was renting out a 5 room cottage for $20 ($510 today, adjusting for inflation). By this time references to 27th were dropped for Precita Ave.
In 1906, their dog Noodles got lost.
The reward was about $125 adjusted for inflation (or one-quarter the rent of the 5-room cottage…) Poor Noodles.
That same year, John was looking for help with his stable.
We still see references to Graham’s Grocery in 1910:
The first specific address, 431 Precita, shows up in the city directory in 1900. We can see the building in the 1899/1905 Sanborn Maps — Precita is on the left, Alabama is on the right.
His son. John E. Graham, starts showing up in the 1900 city directory as a clerk. But by 1915, his father John T. is no longer listed. The long-standing John T Graham company changes hands, and by 1917 it looks like John E. Graham has a different job.
By 1920 there’s a John E Graham at a different address, and in 1921 he’s selling cigars (maybe changing jobs with the coming of Prohibition?) And maybe there’s something happening with the John T Graham Brothers, though I am not sure how that connects to F & W Graham taking things over in 1916…
It turns out Bernalwood inadvertently covered a bit of the history of 431 Precita a few years back.
But today, 431 Precita is Bernal Bark, something Noodles the dog would have appreciated.