San Francisco boasts price and contentment |

San Francisco boasts price and contentment

The location: Chinatown, San Francisco. Lily motions me to her barber’s chair, spins me around, wraps a tissue around my neck, and for 6 bucks, transforms me from a shaggy senior into a dashing cavalier. With all the money I’ve save, I immediately hustle next door to a bakery and buy a lemon tart, and apple pie. Quixotically, just blocks away, up on Nob Hill, your money won’t stretch nearly as far. At your hotel, it’ll cost you $54 to park your car for 24 hours.

Huntington Park, is a tiny, one block-size park. It sits regally atop Nob Hill. Surrounded by lofty townhouses, the Grace Cathedral, and the Fairmont Hotel, this is where doggies, and their owners come to enjoy the cut grass, pretty flowers.

For years, I’ve admired an archaic townhouse on one side of the park. Squeezed in between two tall buildings, it has a varnished wooden exterior, opaque windows, and intricate iron filigree. I go to my computer. “This lovely home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and is 3,410 sq.ft. It was built in 1908. The price is $2,720,313. Similar homes in this area have recently sold in the $2,700,000 range.” Quite obviously, we won’t be pulling up stakes here in Smith Valley any time soon.

Tony, our grandson, joins us for dinner. Tony is a high-rise property manager. When I was his age, that job designation didn’t exist. “Grampa, there are five jobs for every place to live, in San Francisco. That means 4 out of 5 people who work here, have to commute,” he says. Tony is very bright, and tells us how he resolved this issue.

“I went online, and my roommate and I went to an apartment interview. The line was very long. Some people even brought flowers, and a bottle of wine to the Realtor, just to better their chances of getting the apartment,” he says. Because Tony is blessed with charm, and a persuasive personality, he and his roommate got the apartment. Then, they in turn, held an interview for a third roommate. “What were you looking for?” I ask, and he gives me a litany of requirements a mile long, including “someone who isn’t crazy.”

Today, Tony lives happily in his lovely apartment, which is on the ocean side of the Golden Gate Bridge. “At night, I can hear the crashing waves as I fall asleep,” he tells me proudly.

Bright and early one morning, I climb up Sacramento Avenue, to the little park. With cup of coffee in hand, I plant myself on a low embankment that looks out onto California Street. I drop bread crumbs for the pigeons. A cable car clangs past. It’s a San Francisco moment. My eye falls on an attractive young lady coming my way. Knowing I am the picture of contentment, I say, “This is what retirement looks like.” She glances up, pauses, gives me a big smile, and says “Enjoy.” And I do, every time we visit San Francisco.

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at