Moving to Berkeley in 1978 at the fabulous UC Hotel (where tenants were coming and going)

I moved to Berkeley in 1978, age 22, and rented out a room at this place on 10th and University for a month. I believe it was called the UC Hotel back then (though I doubt it had any actual connection to the UC Berkeley university). It’s was one of them SRO (Single Room Occupancy) hotels. But we just called them flophouses. . .

I was half crazy back then (perhaps a generous assessment of the actual percentage of sanity that I had at my disposal). I’d been living in San Francisco for the last two years, mostly on the streets in the Tenderloin district. Most of my high school classmates (from the mighty Class of ’74) were in the process of graduating from college, and embarking on careers, and getting married, and so forth. While my life had already sunk like a stone. And I’d sit there on skid row on 6th St with the other bums and winos wondering how my life had already seemed to have flamed out so early. . . And then, after coming precariously close to being killed on multiple occasions, I decided that perhaps a change of scenery was in order. That perhaps I could pull myself out of the subhuman funk I was mired in. . . and Start Over.

So I hitched across the Bay Bridge with my meager possessions stashed in my frame backpack, and — for lack of any better plan — I rang the buzzer at the front desk and rented out a room at this joint. If I remember right, the rent was $75 a month (1978 prices). The manager gave me a key and took me up to show me my room on the 4th floor. . . As we were walking down the hallway, I noticed the front door of the room right next to mine was covered up with all this yellow police tape that said, “DO NOT ENTER.”
“What’s up with all the tape?” I said.
“Oh,” said the manager, “the other day the guy who was living there jumped out his window and committed suicide. Landed right on the parking lot down there. The police roped the room off while the were investigating it and figuring out what to do with his stuff.”
“Oh,” I said.

I figured I would fit right in at this place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.