891 Post: The Mystery of the Boarded-Up Window


Sure, I guess I could take a picture of the boarded-up window in Sam Spade’s apartment, but it is just so sad and kind of pathetic that I don’t want to add the image to the social media — someone less sensitive to the feelings of literary site mavens can do the deed, like some cheesy Hollywood news channel.

The window in question is shown in the shot above — top floor, window at far right, just above the glasses. Next one to the left looks in on Sam Spade’s kitchen. The others have nothing to do with Sam Spade.

If you’ve gumshoed past 891 Post in the last week you may have noticed that the two main panes in the middle are gone, replaced — for awhile — by a plywood panel.

On Wednesday June 18 I noticed that the two panes were open, swinging out a little bit over Post Street. Didn’t think much about it. While the apartment is preserved as a shrine, of sorts, sometimes an Elite Visiting Writer/Seeking Inspiration/Thinking Deep Thoughts is allowed to stay for a few days.

The windows remained open on Thursday.

Ditto Friday.

On Saturday I pointed the still open windows out to some people and said they’d been open for days. It seemed kind of odd, but since it isn’t raining any more in Noir Town, not an emergency.

Then I gave the tour on Sunday June 22 — among other people, a guy named Mark Murphy came out — a longtime resident of 891 Post and a pal of Bill Arney from the era when Bill was the tenant of Sam’s Place.

In that bygone time they began referring to 891 Post as The Maltese Arms. . . .

I asked Mark if he’d noticed that the windows had been open for days. Nope, he hadn’t looked up. I told him we’d check when we rolled in to Post and Hyde.

The tour got there. Of the two bigger panes that had been open, the one to the right was GONE. Nothing. I looked around on the street, but the debris had been removed.

Only the mystery of what the hell happened remained.

I had been thinking of looking into it, but with Mark there decided to do a handoff to an actual Maltese Arms resident. He made a lateral inquiry to Bill Arney, who worked his sources — and here is what happened:

On June 15 someone — a cheesy Hollywood type, let’s say, kind of careless, like Wilmer Cook was with matches on La Paloma — shot some promo or whatever in the rooms. Maybe it was hot and stuffy, and someone opened the windows.

Maybe they wanted a breeze to roll in and make the currents billow, and opened the windows.

They left. And didn’t close the windows.

The panes hung open for a week and on the night of Saturday June 21 or early a.m. Sunday June 22 winds picked up (winds are the Main Suspect here), swung the panes back and forth and tore one off the hinges.

Broken glass spilled onto the mean streets.

And so another tidbit of history is added to the saga of 891 Post.

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