Tuesday morning six San Francisco natives gathered to speak with Grade 2 students. Our girls are learning about the history of San Francisco as part of their social studies curriculum. Speakers shared fond memories and favorite San Francisco places, while also describing how various neighborhoods have both changed and stayed the same. Throughout the session our students asked every panelist thoughtful and specific questions to gain more information.
Below are a few highlights from each panelist:
Juan Oseguera (Hamlin Parent):
When I was a child the Bayview neighborhood demographics were mostly Black, Irish, and Italian. We had some of the best in the City, when it came down to Delis, Bakeries, Donut shops, Cafes, Soul food, Barbecue, Dinners, Drive-ins, and also one of the most Legendary Stadiums (Candlestick), which housed the Giants and the 49ers.
Elizabeth Dawson (Hamlin Parent):
I was born and raised in Presidio Heights. Two of my favorite shops were Dottie Doolittle, which is still around, and the Land of Counterpane, which was a wonderful children’s bookshop that all of the neighborhood kids went to. The owner of the bookshop, Marilyn Welch, used to invite many of the leading children’s authors and illustrators of that era to come to the shop and read to us.
We tended to stay in our own neighborhoods, and I stayed near the Marina District, and Chinatown mostly, though sometimes we would go downtown to go shopping. I would take my little brother and sister on the cable car, and buy Pizza and ice cream at Woolworths, which was like a giant mall. In fact, we took the bus everywhere we went – we could get on any bus or the cable car for 5 cents!
Jarrel Phillips (Hamlin Hub Teacher):
I was born and raised in San Francisco in the Fillmore district… just 4 blocks from City Hall. My parents were also born and raised in San Francisco as well. My neighborhood was always busy. It was once known as the “Harlem of the West” because it was a thriving community for black people, arts and culture.
Jocelyn Combs (Hamlin Class of ’67):
I was born and raised in the Richmond District and lived 3 homes away from the San Francisco Presidio, which was my playground when I was a child. My parents met at the Presidio during the Second World War and are both buried there. The Presidio looks the same as it did 70 years ago; it is one of the only parts of San Francisco that is the same as it was.
Marina Chan (Hamlin Parent):
I was born in the same hospital that I gave birth to my children in San Francisco. I grew up in the Outer Richmond District, a couple of blocks away from the Cliff House/Sutro Baths/Land’s End/Ocean Beach area. I went to school in the Inner Richmond at a Catholic school named Star of the Sea (which is closing down next month). My parents owned a chain of photo and video stores in San Francisco.