When my wife and I bought the house which originally sat on the lot we still occupy * in Kensington in 1976, we didn't know any of the neighbors. This neighborhood had been settled in the late 1940's and early 1950's, and many of the residents were the original owners. Most of their children had grown up and left home by that time; we were the harbingers of the second wave of "settlers" (baby "Boomers") following the post-War boom years. They looked down their noses at us. It's certainly no surprise, then, that I wouldn't have known that a man named Don Ross lived two blocks South along our street, straddling the edge of the Sunset View Cemetery. Ross had been smart with real estate in the '40's and '50's, buying up lots and building rental housing on them. Eventually, he owned enough to live off the rents. It turned out that Ross's best friend was Brett Weston, the son of Edward Weston, and a world-class photographer in his own right. Ross's next door neighbor, and his renter, was Allen Covici.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, for me, I did just that. Before long, Allen and I had become fast friends. I'd go over to his place and we'd talk for hours about books, and about some of his life experiences. We often went to lunch together in Berkeley. Allen was the nephew of Pascal Covici, who had been Allen's Father's Brother. Allen's Father had died when he was very young. Pascal, who owned a bookstore in Chicago, would eventually go into the publishing trade as an editor, starting a firm which became first Covici, then Covici-Friede,** and ultimately an important editor with Viking (famously associated with Steinbeck and other figures of note). Allen had grown up in the Chicago of Studs Lonigan, among sharply defined ethnic neighborhoods.