John McDougall and Jack Nottingham ran a fencing club in San Francisco in the early 1960’s called the San Francisco School of Fencing, or SFSF.  It was the first club John had formed, although he had worked for Hans at Halberstadt’s.  It was the second for Jack, as he had started a club in Portland prior to moving to San Francisco.  (I think that timeline is correct.) Both had spent time training with Aldo Nadi in Los Angeles, so they had that in common.  Here’s the outside:

Club outside

It was on Clement St.  Here’s John’s card:


McDougall SFSF card

That’s about a mile and a half west of Green Apple Books, heading towards the Sutro Baths, if you’re driving.

John contributed a great deal of material to the Archive, for which I will be eternally grateful.  There was one group of photos, classes, individual fencer, etc., that I couldn’t place or identify after collecting them as part of the Selberg estate, so I sent some to John for help.  Here’s what I wanted help with:



Maybe you’d guess this right away, but I did not.  They’re on the deck of a boat.  As the story goes, John and Jack decided (or were convinced by someone) that they needed some good publicity stills to promote their new club.  On top of that, having a celebrity, even a minor one, would make it even better.  So, this:


Fencers 2

This was the picture that really sparked my interest, because, dang!  That guy’s a snappy dresser and he’s surrounded by women saluting him with foils!  How cool is that?  John was able to fill me in.  The man was a popular columnist, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, who went by the name of Count Marco and he ostensibly wrote advice for women, but it was pretty outrageous advice.   Here are just a couple of examples of the titles of articles he wrote: “You Wives Don’t Own Your Husbands”, “Your Mirror Can Also See Inside You” and “A Chance Of Elegance Tomorrow”.  He caused quite a lot of talk among Chronicle readers, as it seemed people either loved or loathed his work.  But, he had style, I will say that.  This is the only picture of him that survived from that photo shoot that I’ve been able to find, but it’s a winner!

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