Cows, Sharks and Charles Dickens

By HOWARD BERGER

SAN JOSE (Dec. 21) — ‘Tis the season to be confused.

Don’t feel badly if you haven’t a clue about the headline to this blog. Saturday here in the San Francisco Bay Area was quite the mixed bag for me and my son, Shane. Accordant with this western holiday — conceived out of nowhere last Monday and booked on Wednesday — we sort of winged it and found ourselves in at least one peculiar situation.

A 45–mile drive up US–101 to Daly City in south San Francisco brought us to the venerable Cow Palace — original home of the San Jose Sharks. Or, as former Sharks radio analyst Dennis Hull called it: “Palais de boeuf.” The arena was 50 years old when the Sharks moved in for their first two NHL seasons — 1991–92 and 1992–93 — while the SAP Center was being built here in San Jose. Figuring the place to be empty, my son and I came upon a plethora of remarkably strange–looking people. Our luck, the Cow Palace had been booked for a Charles Dickens Christmas Fair. We begged off but took some photos of the arena exterior. 

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CENTER–ICE AT THE HOME OF THE SAN JOSE SHARKS.

Practically adjacent to the Cow Palace, on the opposite side of US–101, is Candlestick Park — home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers from 1971 til the end of last season. We stopped there as well and looked at the old stadium, scheduled to be demolished early in 2015. We could almost hear the ghosts of Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and the dynastic 49er Super Bowl teams of the 1980’s and early–90’s.

And, Saturday was hockey night in San Jose. Sharks’ media relations director Scott Emmert was generous enough to provide me and Shane seats in the press box for the game against St. Louis. The Blues led 2–1 with less than 30 seconds to play but wound up losing 3–2 in overtime.

My trusty NIKON accompanied us all day and night:

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SAN JOSE LANDMARKS: HOTEL (LEFT) AND EATERY (RIGHT).

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MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE SAP CENTER — HOME OF THE SHARKS.

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YOURS TRULY WITH BAY AREA SPORTS LEGEND AND LONG–TIME PAL LEN SHAPIRO — PERHAPS BEST–KNOWN IN THESE PARTS FOR BEING THE LAST PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR OF THE CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS IN 1975–76. QUITE THE HONOR, HUH LEN?

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SHARKS PLAYERS EMERGE FROM FIERY JAWS TO START THE GAME.

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SHARKS WORE THEIR CLASSIC TEAL HOME JERSEYS.

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HOCKEY IN MINIATURE FROM THE SAP CENTER PRESS BOX.

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JOE PAVELSKI AND KEVIN SHATTENKIRK IN FRONT OF BLUES GOALIE JAKE ALLEN.

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STILL LOOKS ODD: MARTIN BRODEUR WEARING THE BLUE NOTE.

TO COW AND CANDLESTICK

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NORTHBOUND ON US–101 CAN BE MILDLY CONFUSING IF ONE IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

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YOU GET PLENTY OF WARNING HERE IN THE BAY AREA.

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ON A HILL NEAR THE COW PALACE AND CANDLESTICK PARK.

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THE COW PALACE ?? OPENED IN APRIL 1941 — 18 YEARS BEFORE I WAS BORN; 55 YEARS BEFORE SHANE ARRIVED, AND 56 YEARS BEFORE THE HARTFORD WHALERS MOVED TO NORTH CAROLINA IN 1997. THE EXTERIOR OF THE OLD BARN HASN’T CHANGED.

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THERE WAS NO HOCKEY AT THE COW PALACE ON SATURDAY.

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A SHORT DRIVE TO THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF US–101…

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BROUGHT US TO VACATED CANDLESTICK PARK. THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ers HAVE MOVED INTO NEW  LEVI’S STADIUM — IN SANTA CLARA, 10 MINUTES NORTH OF SAN JOSE.

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THE BEATLES’ FINAL LIVE CONCERT WAS AT CANDLESTICK PARK IN AUGUST 1966. PAUL McCARTNEY WOULD CLOSE OUT THE STADIUM 48 YEARS LATER.

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CANDLESTICK PARK IS SO NAMED FOR ITS LOCATION ON CANDLESTICK POINT, WHICH EXTENDS EASTWARD INTO SAN FRANCISCO BAY.

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DOWNTOWN SAN JOSE SATURDAY AFTERNOON…

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AND AT 2:45 A.M. PST TODAY.

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