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4 March 2015

We escaped the bunker Monday and walked from Mount Davidson to the Cliff House. We took the long way, about six miles through Golden Gate Park, coming back on the bus with 49 new images.

We didn't start shooting until we'd gone about halfway. Some hikes are like that. We saw plenty of things to frame but we just felt like passing them by this time.

Until we got to Portals of the Past. Sitting at the far edge of Lloyd Lake, these marble columns were once the front door to the home of A.N. Towne, who was vice president and general manager of Southern Pacific Railroad. His residence at California and Taylor Streets on Nob Hill was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906 but the columns remained standing. His wife gave them to the city.

We walked over to the Portals and took this shot as if we were arriving on horseback a century or so ago. It isn't a remarkable photo in itself. But the angle gives it some life. It's less a monument than a welcoming stop on the road.

We ran it through Photoshop CC's Fresco filter before resizing it for this story. We really liked the way that immortalized the scene.

They are an elegant statement, easy to miss if you're driving through the park. But we had been following the stream from the waterfall at Prayerbook Cross to Lloyd Lake, where the water is pumped back up to the falls.

And anyway, we've known about it for a very long time.

Every now and then, we'd spend the day with our mother's father, which gave Mom a little break from raising four boys without recourse to restraints. He would take us in his bright and beautiful car on a little ride to get a hamburger at Zim's or see the U.S.S. Enterprise come in under the Golden Gate Bridge or just to visit some special place. Like Portals of the Past.

So every time we see its marble columns we think of him.

He arrived here as a boy with his older brother and his parents just a few days before the 1906 conflagration. They lived in tents in Golden Gate Park as the fire swept through the city.

We told a bit of his story recently. Things turned out pretty well for him, as we noted.

Portals of the Past must have meant something special to him as the stone of the old country surviving the conflagration. And not just surviving but becoming, at the edge of Lloyd Lake, the happy setting for many weddings over the years.

A symbol of beauty fortified by hope.

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