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History 1, NIMBY 0

February 17, 2011

A grand debate is brewing over at Bernalwood over a classic Coca-Cola mural and NIMBYs who shall remain nameless. The NIMBY has complained to the city that the (to me) obviously classic mural is an “unauthorized billboard”.

While we think the whole thing is ridiculous won’t pass judgement, we will present historical documentary evidence on the possible provenance of the mural at 601 Tompkins.

Per Bernalwood, “If some evidence can be produced that the sign was in place prior to 1965 (when the City’s operative sign ordinances went into effect), the matter may be resolved pleasantly.”

First, Sanborn Maps. The 1950 Sanborn map series clearly shows 601 Tompkins marked with an S for “store”, not a D (dwelling) or F (flat/apartment).

Next, SF City directories. The 1963 Polk Directory for San Francisco shows a Tipton’s Grocey at 601 Thomkins (owned by a Inez Tipton).

The first reference I can find to Tipton’s is the 1948 directory with E B and Inez Tipton. (He and Inez show up in the 1945/6 directory at 307 Barlett @ 24th.

EB seems to be listed as both Emim and Edward. If so, he was listed as a caterer in the 1943 directory at 828 Church St @ 20th (pre-Inez). The first reference I can find of E.B. is the 1934 directory where he’s listed as painter at 1121 Guerrero @23rd. In 1936 he was at 975 Capp @25th. (The Mission is strong in these two.)

The Tiptons lived next to their shop at 617 Tompkins and then moved to 629 at the corner of Prentice in the mid 1950s. Inez is shown with the store and Emin is listed as a contractor.

The last reference to Emin is 1959 — Inez is listed as a widow in the 1961 directory.

Tipton’s Grocery is last listed as a distinct address in the 1967 directory. While it’s still included with Inez’s personal listing for a few more years, I think that’s more a database update than anything — in 1972 she’s listed as retired. (She was still in the 1982 directory, the last I have access to.)

(My, late 1960s, what horrible fonts you have.)

As for the date of the mural — I kind of doubt Inez laid out cash for a new mural two years before she retired. The style certainly seems 1950s to me, which is supported by their ownership of the store.

Also, since Emin was a painter / contractor, he very well could have painted the sign himself, but that would have been before 1960.

Feel free to comment.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    February 17, 2011 6:32 pm

    BEAUTIFUL! Thank you, sir!

  2. February 17, 2011 11:36 pm

    It’s like seeing the cavalry come riding over the crest of the hill…

  3. February 17, 2011 11:53 pm

    Tip of the hat, sir. And I think you have something to talk about in your upcoming Bernal History Project presentation!

    • February 18, 2011 12:23 am

      Oh trust me, it’s not for a lack of material!

  4. February 18, 2011 12:06 am

    Emin Tipton: 10/7/89-2/17/61. Born in Oregon.
    Inez Tipton (nee Pomeroy): 8/22/05-9/28/93.

    • February 18, 2011 12:21 am

      DAMN. You’re good. I didn’t have time to see when they got married.

      Any idea if Edward/Emin are one and the same? Or when he moved from Oregon? (Gotta love people with unique names.)

  5. February 18, 2011 10:46 am

    I think they’re one and the same. Emin Bay Tipton is in Alameda in the 1920 Census with a different (starter?) wife called Elinor. He was then a switchman. In the 1930 Census, he’s still in Alameda, now an interior decorator. He and Eleanor now have two sons, Richard (10) and Terence (8). I found a childhood pic of Inez and her siblings on, plus some family tree info — shall I drop a line to the family and see what else they might want to share with us?

    • February 18, 2011 1:10 pm

      That would be fun to hear from them.

      Yeah, a 16 year difference between Inez and Emin, so it makes sense on the 2nd wife. Moves from Alameda to the Mission in the early 30s, meets Inez?

      I found Grace and Inez in the 1936 directory, but not 1935. I see them there in 1939, but not 1940.

      She would have been 30 then — any idea what year they got married?

  6. February 18, 2011 10:52 am

    Looks like Inez (sometimes Ina) was the one with grocering in the blood. She and her mother (?), Grace, had a store at 2053 Divisadero in 1938. Grace is the storekeeper, Inez is the saleslady. I don’t have time to do more digging today, but if someone else wants to …

    • February 18, 2011 1:23 pm

      Well well well, check this out.

      Until 1939 Grace and Inez lived at 2053 Divis.

      Guess what E Tipton the painter’s address is in 1941? 2053 Divis!

    • February 18, 2011 1:48 pm

      OK, this is interesting: In 1942, Inez and Grace live at 2930 Sacramento, and Inez is listed as a widow (husband was named Frank).

  7. February 18, 2011 2:11 pm

    That address has had a grocery in it as far back as 1933 when the “Paul Revere Grocery” occupied that address:

    You’re welcome.

  8. February 18, 2011 2:25 pm

    I compiled that, Don — thank you for reminding me!

    So it looks like we can posit how the Tiptons met now.

    I just got an email from Inez’s cousin-in-law, who says her husband, Ken Pomeroy (aged 92), remembers the store and might talk to us if we want to dig deeper.

  9. Jonathan Lammers permalink
    February 18, 2011 2:36 pm

    There are several historic photos in the SFPL collection that provide tantalizingly close views of the area, primarily because it is located adjacent to the Paul Revere School. But only image appears to include any portion of the Tipton building. The rear of it is visible at extreme right of this photo, but it cuts off almost exactly where the billboard would be located.

    There is a possibility that more photos of the school exist in the library’s holdings, but are as yet unscanned. The school itself may also have some old views in its library, or perhaps in old yearbooks if they issued them.

  10. February 18, 2011 2:37 pm

    Dangit, I just remembered that we interviewed a former teacher at Paul Revere who lived on Gates St. I’ll see if we have any of her photos.

  11. Brillo permalink
    February 18, 2011 4:39 pm

    Will evidence of the existence of a store at that time & location be enough, or evidence of the sign itself?

    • Erik permalink
      February 18, 2011 8:16 pm

      Yeah the question wasn’t whether there was a grocery store there, it was whether the ad predates the law against billboards.

    • February 18, 2011 10:23 pm

      step 1, my friend.

  12. February 20, 2011 9:36 pm

    Amazing research — wow!


  1. Good Morning, Mission! – Mission Loc@l : News From San Francisco's Mission District
  2. NIMBY vs. Vintage Sign: The Lost History of the Former Tipton’s Grocery Store | Bernalwood
  3. It’s Really Old, Really: Evidence Proves Historic Provenance of Threatened Coca-Cola Mural | Bernalwood
  4. Coca-Cola, Refreshingly Historic « Burrito Justice
  5. Meet Burrito Justice: Citizen, Cartographer, Historian, and Rebel Propagandist, TONIGHT | Bernalwood

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