Henry Behrenst's diary

Unfinished History

55 Anderson (built 1908), west side between Jarboe and Tompkins. Edwardian cottage that looks very similar today. Man poses in front wnp37.02688.jpg

55 Anderson, built in 1908, on the west side between Jarboe and Tompkins, a few blocks south of where Henry Behrenst lived on Elsie and Santa Marina.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp37.02688

Henry Behrenst's Diary, 1921-1931

Henry's diary was found in the attic of a house at the corner of Santa Marina and Elsie streets in Bernal Heights around 1995. The woman who lived in the house recognized the name of her neighbor, Elizabeth Hird, and passed on a copy of the diary. This was transcribed verbatim (all idiosyncratic spellings are Henry's own) by Vicky Walker from a photocopy of the notebook that was kindly passed to BHP by Elizabeth's daughters, Janet Thompson and Betty Kancler. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was unaware of Henry's heartbreak! We would love to know more about Henry and what happened to him.

Henry Behrenst 273 Oakdale Ave., Salt Lake City


April 6

Whent slay riding and fell and sprained my arm and ankle.

April 10

Tried to learn to swim got the cramps. Raymond and Bob carried me out.

April 28

Whent up into the mountains with my father and mother and some friends and was lost for two hours I sure was scaired.

April 28

My sister Erna and Rose Bils [Bels?] ran away and got married the dirty bums.

May 1

When riding horses saw three coyotes kill a stag.

May 20

Whent up in the mountains with a sheep herder and his wagon and on a steep grade the horses started to back up and hit my mother on the shoulder all most breaking it the wagon whent over a bank and hit a tree my mother was in it.



Got sore at my mother and father so ran away for one week I stayed at [illegible -- could say Kiples or Riples].

Ran some wild horses across a trestle and a train came and hit them killing two of them while the rest jumped off into the water so I sure got in trouble for that.


January 2

I had a fight with Harry Nailer and gave him an awful beating so he got his big brother after me and I busted his arm with a baseball bat.

January 27

Dog chaced me and tore my shirt and pants and bit my arm and leg until they bled so I had to stay in bed for three weeks.

My father shot the dog.

January 29

Was snowed in for 2 days I was sitting by a big fireplace when I wrote this.

January 30

My father said he was going to California so we left good old Salt Lake and came to Frisco.

February 2

Arrived in Oakland in the morning and when saw the Ferry boat I thought it was a house.

February 5

Came over to Frisco and was so surprised when I saw the big skyscraper that I didn't know what to do. We lived on 5th and [illegible -- Brannan?]

August 15

Started school at St Peter Catholic School I didn't like it one bit.

August 26

Moved from 5th to Rold Island [Rhode Island?] liked it better there it quiet a bit of fun.

August 27

Ran a nail in my foot and have to go to school or I who what luck!

September 15

Came down a hill on a coaster and turned over cutting a gash in the back my head. My mother was scaird stiff.

September 21

Almost got kidgnapped by some man but I was to smart for him.

September 27

Went riding rafts and [at] the foot of Army St and fell in and almost drowned.


July 4

Got my whole side burned by fire crackers.

July 17

Learned how to roller skate and lots of fun skating around.

July 28

Moved from Rohalios [Rhode Island? Illegible] to Army and we stayed there for 3 month and went to Scotia.

October 21

Like Scotia very much. Have a girl by the name of Virginia Dorsey.

October 25

Went swimming and lots of fun. I know how to swim now.

October 28

Cut a big tree down and fell on my arm spraining it.

December 24

My sister Mary met Axel Jensen and went with him three months and got married without father or mother knowing it what damn sap she is.

December 24'

I was monkeying around a house with matches and it caught on fire did I run.

Back to San Fransico Capp St.


January 13

Joined the YMCA and boxed and went swimming. belonged to the baseball team.

January 15

Fell out of a window and sprained both of my ankles in bed for 2 wks.

February 27

A kid hit my hand with a bat and sprained all my fingers.

Geneva ave February 14

My father died early this morning and my mothers in historics everybodys crying there heads off.

February 17

They buried my father today at the Woodlawn cemitory.

February 21

My little brother got by a machine and busted his collar bone.

October 23

Met a swell kid Ralph Castaldo and had lots of fun with him.

November 3

Fell off of the quarry on top of Bernal Heights spraining my collar bone I thought it was sprained but it was broken.

December 1

Went to the hospital to get operated on my neck was over four weeks.


March 2

Went hunting ducks! And caught hamonia [pneumonia] was in bed for two months.

March 20

Jumped on a freight train at the Embarkadaro and broke my wrist.

April 6

My birthday I am 15 years old.

[date obscured]

I was pallbearer Elizabeth little sister Janette. [ According to Elizabeth, this was in late 1929.]


Lowell St. January 7

I am working for Will Andersen.

February 27

Machine ran over my toe and broke it.

July 24

Ralph and I went to Scotia on the bus almost froze to death.

August 27

Moved up on Elsie St. And I met a very nice girl her name is Elizebeth Hird she is a blonde and I like her very much in fact I love her.


Jan 1

I got drunk and sit in Elizebeth steps 1 hr. in the rain.

379 Highland Avenue circa 1909 wnp27.0323.jpg

379 Highland Avenue, c. 1909.

Photo: OpenSFHistory.org wnp27.0323