EARLY HISTORY OF THE CLUB
The Golden Gate Breakfast Club founding mission was to "foster interest in San Francisco and to create good fellowship and understanding among its members." The Breakfast Club increased its membership to 108 by the end of the first year. Early in its first year, however, the Club's Motive Committee proposed the Club assist the Log Cabin Ranch School for Boys. This philanthropic motive of the Club, first assisting the wayward youth of San Francisco to find a straight and narrow path, has expanded continually over the past 65 years. The Club has contributed thousands of dollars to help boys and girls clubs, veterans and many other worthwhile charities.
Officers in the original club were colorful personalities. One of the most colorful was Gardiner Blackman. He was an excellent public speaker. Even though the founding purposes of the Club were serious, the club has always emphasized the humorous aspect of our daily lives.
Membership was controlled and limited for several decades. There were restrictions preventing members from competing businesses. Up until the early 1990's, there was a waiting list to join. Interestingly, it must have truly been a wonderful Club to belong, since originally, only one lawyer was allowed! As the Bay Area had 12 military bases, the most senior Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps officers stationed here were active in the Club.
All of the San Francisco-based large Corporations have had members in our Club. At one time the CEO of GAP, Stan McGinnis, was a Club member. One very significant aspect of this Club was the fact that the most senior Civil Servants in the City were members, including all city and county service organization heads, and the City's Fire Chief and Police Chief. In 1983, the Bylaws were changed to allow women to join, although it was 15 years before the first woman was admitted as a member!
Today, the Club has 102 members, including 13 women, representing San Francisco's core businesses, government and many worthy non-profit organizations.
Many traditions of the Club have survived over all these years. There is an informal, historical agenda for each meeting. Each Wednesday, between 0630 and 0730, the Club members and guests gather for social discussions and coffee, then pass through the breakfast buffet and sit down to eat by 0730. Soon thereafter, Club President Bert Hill calls the meeting to order and welcomes the members and guests. First, guests are introduced. Following, the members introduce themselves, giving their names and the business, profession or organization they represent. This is a time when many of the members will tell their latest jokes or rehash old ones. Laughter often drowns out any comments. Clean jokes are the order of the day, although some members will risk being shouted down for telling a slightly off-color joke.
After the self-introductions, our Sunshine Committee Chairman, Joel Panzer will provide the status of any members who have experienced medical problems. Then, it's time to announce the birthdays. Judge Mike Hanlon will announce those members who have a birthday during the current week, and the entire Membership will sing “Happy Birthday”. In recent years, the Club’s rendition of this traditional birthday song has evolved into being a truly "eye-watering event", demonstrating how dysfunctional a group can become when trying to sing a song.
Next is time for announcements. Here the members disseminate information on any special activities and events for the Club.
Then Secretary Jill Hoffman comes to the podium to deliver the minutes of the previous week's meeting. Over the years this has also evolved into a humorus presentation that often has only the slightest connection to what transpired at that meeting.
Finally, the Chairman of the Day will introduce the Speaker of the Day. Ideally, the speaker is a senior member of a local corporation or service organization who will present on a topical and interesting subject. Over the years, some of San Francisco’s most famous and notorious characters have been speakers at the Golden Gate Breakfast Club. From City Supervisors to community leaders, to members of the US Navy Blue Angels have kept the Breakfast Club crowd spellbound week after week.
The Club has a practice of giving a speaker a standing ovation when he or she is introduced, rather than after the person speaks. This seems to relieve the pressure to recognize the less-dynamic speaker with some kind of standing ovation after he or she has spoken. One cardinal rule prevails. The speaker must conclude by 0830 so that the Membership can adjourn to get to work.
Our Club yearly celebrates “heroes day”, honoring the most heroic firefighters, police officers, paramedics or civilians that have performed a heroic act. Each year, individuals from these services are presented to the Club and honored, with their respective Chiefs present. This is a very well received event by the ‘first responders’ in the City.