The Survivor: and other tales of Old San Francisco by Steve Bartholomew
An Easy Read, but Not an Easy Life
This 141-page selection of short stories about the Old San Francisco (first called Yerba Buena) is an easy read.
In a conversational style, Bartholomew’s main character tells the reader interesting aspects about the growing pains and tragedies of this great American city. His often self-effacing accounts about his own success and life in the emerging West are interlaced with dry wit and a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor.
It makes for a pleasant time spent, and whether or not there are a few liberties with the facts is irrelevant. Each of these entertaining short stories can stand alone, but the recurring characters of Hiram Courtenay and his wife Lisbeth provide continuity, and I grew quite fond of the intrepid pair as they endured fires, loss and social upheaval around them.
Indeed Hiram, although a successful businessman, can be found reaching out to those less fortunate, providing them not only with counsel but a helping hand. He owns warehouses along the docks and sees first-hand those huddled and befuddled immigrants being disgorged from the bowels of arriving clipper ships. He and his wife are quick to ask them to their home and to provide a meal.
I am still grateful I didn’t live then and there.
Definitely worth a read for those interested in life in the Old West, and in San Francisco’s past in particular.