Our pal Mike Humbert sent a couple of images winging around the net, with the info line:
“Two pics from me taking the Dashiell Hammett tour for the first time, October 27, 2002.”
Twenty years ago and change. Image at top features Mike on the left and me on the right. We’re standing on the sidewalk in front of John’s Grill in the first block of Ellis Street.
Image below features the late great Bill Arney, in his short-lived mustache era, allowing the Hammett Tour that day to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the apartment in 891 Post where Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon.
Clews suggest Bill hadn’t been in the room all that long by that point. He’d barely begun scraping and uncovering the woodwork, as witnessed by the frame of the Murphy bed, revealing its original stain. Eventually the mirrored door part would get the later white paint pealed away, too. And other woodwork would emerge.
For those who care for such things, the stain in the photo would be the stain on the woodwork Hammett lived with for a couple of years. Authentic.
After over a decade in the apartment, Bill moved out and the guy who took over the rent paid a crew to polish the place up. Superficially, the restoration is very nice — surf over to check out a pic of Mike, me and Bill standing in front of the Murphy bed.
But the stain is the wrong stain.
Probably no one but me — well, maybe Mike, too — is bothered by the restoration, but I’d have preferred to see Bill’s meticulous work kept intact.