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Made in California

Made in California

Robert Frost was a San Francisco Kid

By Robert Roper

In 1884, Robert Frost visited saloons all over San Francisco with his father, who was running for City Tax Collector. The future author of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “Birches,” “Mend- ing Wall,” and “The Road Not Taken” was ten years old. He had never climbed a birch, never been snowed on, and the roads he took each day were San Francisco’s streets, some paved but others muddy or dusty depending on the weather.

He had been born in San Francisco (1874) and raised in cheap digs on the backside of Nob Hill. His father, William, was a newspaperman; his mother, Isabelle, a fey spiritualist poet. The family moved often, probably for reasons of economy; when flush they liked to live at the Abbotsford House, a small hotel at Broadway and Larkin.

Robert was a street kid. He hated school and manipulated his mother into letting him stay home, with the result that by age ten he had yet to complete a single year of formal schooling. Belle taught him, but he resisted her; he was lazy about homework, and he didn’t like to read.

Written: Monday July 13th, 3:42pm 2020