New article out on Hammett today in The Sacramento Bee, if you want to keep up with what’s trending.
The idea — the suggestion — is that Hammett lived in room 505 of what is now the Hotel Union Square, for quite awhile, and wrote who knows what there, on a typewriter found in the basement. Or something like that.
His known biography says otherwise, of course — that hotel is where his wife stayed briefly before they were married in summer 1921, then they rented rooms in 620 Eddy and other places until leaving San Francisco late in 1929.
But if they have guest ledgers with Hammett’s distinctive signature to show otherwise, hey, I’m willing to listen. The typewriter keystrokes can be compared to surviving typescripts to see if his Frisco writing was done on that machine, or not. He used one typewriter for everything written in this burg, then got a new one in New York, and others after that.
If they have the authentic typewriter on which Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, it’s worth many thousands, and they might want to consider locking it up.
You’ll notice the Spade and Archer logo in the window, based on the 1941 film. I usually point it out to people on the tour, and everybody loves it. (There’s been one in a window on Pine between Powell and Stockton for many, many years now, and there have been others in the past, here and there — everybody loves a Spade and Archer logo.)
Yeah, people in general love the Mickey Mousification of history, and as long as I’m not expected to believe it, let them eat cake. I remember a manager in the hotel, probably twenty years ago — very nice guy, we were there for some charity event they were hosting — who said they didn’t know for certain, but they felt Hammett lived there for many years and wrote all of his most famous books there. (Back then they didn’t have the Hammett room, they had a penthouse suite called the Lillian Hellman Suite — yes, Hammett’s wife stayed there, not Lillian Hellman).
And I remember going back in a time machine with Bill Arney, we got Hammett drunk, fed him some swell lines, and then he wrote The Maltese Falcon.