Carol Doda. (via Wikipedia)

#TBT: Scandalous Moments and People in San Francisco History

By

For this week's installment of #TBT, we focus on some of the obscure, shady, and downright criminal goings-on of the San Francisco yesteryear.

The Barbary Coast, for instance, was full of vice. Bootlegging and gambling were commonplace in speakeasies during Prohibition, and a slew of shocking crimes—before and since—have made spines tingle all across America.


1. The Muni Streetcar Conductor with 18 Wives

1930s photo of Van Wie

Vintage Press Photos/eBay

Francis H. Van Wie, dubbed "The Ding Dong Daddy of the D Car Line," the "Car Barn Casanova," and the "Trolley Toreador," was actually the Muni streetcar conductor of the 22 Fillmore (but the former sounded catchy to the San Francisco Chronicle). In the 1940s, Van Wie took advantage of the shortage of men in San Francisco during WWII, wooing and marrying several women, bothering to divorce none. His matrimonial spree started in 1904, and in 1945, he was found guilty of bigamy (serving time in San Quentin, only to be arrested for bigamy again in Los Angeles in 1952.) In total, Van Wie is said to have had 18 wives.

DON'T MISS A BAY AREA BEAT! SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER.

Follow Us On