Remembering ‘Pay Dirt!: San Francisco, The Romance of a Great City’

My late uncle Maury B. Campbell edited this lavish, spiral-bound love letter to San Francisco in 1949. As a child, I was a little scared of the old prospector on the cover but found myself drawn to the photographs inside. If you search for the book on Google, you’ll find it for sale (used) for $30 to $50.

Like Tony Bennet, I left my heart in this town and saw Pay Dirt as a book of dreams about the place where, one day, I would return. After all, the Campbell family could be found in multiple cities throughout the Bay Area where I was born.

The book comes to mind today because there was a thread about it in Facebook’s “San Francisco Remembered” group that my brother Barry and I follow. I said something like “nice to see the book edited by my uncle showing up here.” Barry did me one better, he posted the news release that came out when the book came out. That was a surprise to everyone but me (since I know Barry has scanned in copies of everything).

The book was, I believe, well received by the city’s movers and shakers and is in demand today by people who love Frisco. As for me, I went back a few times and briefly had an apartment there in the Mission District when my ship was in port in Alameda. The J Church streetcar ran past my front door (and still does). I looked at real estate values lately and see that the three-flat building where my aunt lived is now valued at over a million dollars. That’s why I never went back for good.

But, I digress; The news release begins like this:

After all these years, how nice to see people are still talking about it and looking for copies.