The STory

  • Sally was born 1903 in Oregon
  • 1917 - Sally married her first husband at the age of 14, LeRoy Snyder and left him the night of their wedding after she learned of his intentions.
  • Shortly thereafter, Sally moved to Eaton, Colorado and married Dan Fairbanks. Dan would be arrested for fraud and Sally was soon collected for a confession. With a promise of probation if they pled guilty, she was given two years at the Oregon State Penitentiary which at the time did not have female prisoners. They made a place for Sally and she took care of the sewing promising herself never to be broke again.
  • At age 18, Sally was released from prison.

"A man got you into this,you dope, and from now on, don't take men seriously...Just 'take' them!"

  • Sally left for Santa Paula, California to live with an Uncle and soon began a bootlegging business in Ventura California.

"A lot of jokes have been made about bathtub gin, but there never was a container more convenient for the production of high-class hooch"

  • To fill the gap in her education, Sally would read everything she could get her hands on. By the time she was 20 she was the smartest lady bootlegger around.
  • Ernest Spagnoli, an attorney from San Francisco visited her house for some hooch. After some conversation, Ernest offered to try Sally's upcoming traffic case for free. They spent three days in LA together when Ernest proposed and they returned to San Francisco to live in 1923.
  • 1929 Sally and Ernest adopted a son and then shortly divorced leaving Sally with nothing but the remaining profits from her bootlegging business.
  • Sally purchased a small hotel at 693 O'Farrell Street. The cops set her up and a headline ran 'Wife of Prominent Attorney Arrested for Running Disorderly House'.

"I had been put in the business of being a madame without being consulted. i vowed to be the best damn madame in town. and I made it."

  • After the divorce from Ernest was final, Sally needed to change her name. After her constant scuffles with the law, it was the day of the UC Berkeley - Stanford football game which Stanford ended up winning.

"I noticed the headline on my newspaper - stanford beats cal...i was all for stanford, and suddenly i had a new name."

  • 1931, Sally took over an apartment building at 610 Leavenworth Street. She made sure that her 'house' would have the finest furniture, soft music, quiet plumbing, soft lights and Beauty Rest mattresses.
  • Sally fell in love again, this time with Lou Rapp. The relationship lasted 13 years and Sally claims these were 'the good years'.
  • The Mayor of SF and future governor of California, Sunny Jim Rolph began entertaining politicians at Sally's house and they became friends.
  • It was 1940, business was good. 

"war, depression and trouble have always boomed the sin-for-sale business."

  • Moving up in the world, Sally bought a palace at 1001 Vallejo Street and then went on to buy 1144 Pine Street in Nob Hill. 1144 Pine became the finest and most distinguished pleasure house in the world.
  • Sally adopted two orphaned children and took their name to become Marcia Owen.
  • Many of Sally's girls became successful and ranged from homemakers to marriage counselor to social bigwigs in Marin County.
  • 1949 Sally left the business and became a 'legitimate square'.
  • 1951 Sally married Robert Livingston Gump and they divorced nine months later.
  • She purchased the 'Valhalla' in nearby Sausalito where she offered fine wine and food.
  • After becoming immersed in the Sausalito community, Sally decided to run for Council. Her campaign platform was built on two issues: building a public toilet and giving more money to the Police Department. She lost. 
  • On election day, when asked if she'd run the following election she was quoted saying 'It just started honey, ... sinners never give up.'
  • Sally ran six times for city council before winning as mayor in 1972. She remains an icon in the City of Sausalito and in 1985, a fountain was built in her honor. It is located at the Sausalito ferry pier.