After my summer trip to San Francisco in August '77, I was itching to get back to the Bay Area. The Grateful Dead provided the perfect excuse—their fabled year-end concerts at Winterland. As a young Dead Head who never got to see shows at the Fillmore, Fillmore West, or Avalon Ballroom, Winterland represented the last of San Francisco’s legendary venues.
Armed with my new camera—a Minolta SRT101 with a 50mm f1.8 lens—and a load of film, I left New York City solo on Christmas Day, taking Amtrak to Chicago and switching to a Greyhound Bus that took me to San Francisco. I was to meet my childhood friend Joel, who was traveling separately.
After arriving late at night, I lost my wallet in the San Francisco Greyhound bus terminal. The wallet contained all of my money, plus a pair of tickets to each of the three sold-out shows. I freaked out! What was I going to do now?
A hippie I met on the bus let me stay at his place that night, and the next morning, December 29th (the second day of four shows), he drove me to the corner of Post and Steiner Streets, home of Winterland!
It was a rainy, dreary morning and here I was standing outside the venue with no tickets and no money. Not only did I lose my own tickets but my friend Joel’s as well.
Fortunately I still had an ounce of Thai sticks that I had carried cross-country, and selling a few sticks gained me some cash.
When my friend Joel arrived, I gave him the bad news about our predicament, and he wasn’t very happy about it to say the least. We decided to take a cab to Winterland Productions’ offices downtown, since that was where the tickets had been mailed from. I remembered the name of the woman who had originally helped me get them—Gloria Pulido—and asked for her when we got to the offices. She helped out again by selling us a new set of tickets to all three sold-out shows.
The year 1977 was a great one for the band, and they closed it out in style with three fantastic shows at Winterland. The first night, December 29th, is one of my favorites, and it was released on CD as Dick’s Picks, Volume 10.
Sadly, Winterland is no more, and condos now occupy the corner of Post and Steiner Streets. However, up Geary Boulevard a couple of blocks from the late Winterland, the original Fillmore still stands. The Fillmore has been hosting shows since the mid-1980s, so I did eventually get to visit that legendary venue as well.
— Bob Minkin