Written by Jennifer Maerz, photographs by Abby Wilcox and designed by Sasha Gainor for The Bold Italic

sf

San Francisco has often been called a transient city, a destination for young creative types and techies before they bounce off to places unknown. But to stereotype this city as a way station is to ignore the families who set down roots here generations ago.

We did a callout for multigenerational San Franciscans and were flooded with responses from people wanting to tell the stories of their clans.

This photo essay spotlights six “native” San Francisco households who have some special stories to share. The word native is in quotes, though, because even within these groups, the original homesteaders initially arrived here from another city or country. But they all are proud to call San Francisco home.

embellishment

wongs3 WHO ARE YOU, AND WHO IS REPRESENTED IN THIS PHOTO?

I’m Jennifer. In the photo are my mother, Donna, my father, Weng, and my brother, Stephen; my uncles, Richard, Henry, Toby, and Alvin; Alvin’s wife, Bette; my uncle Ebert and his daughter, Kimi; my grandmothers Corinne (maternal) and Kim (paternal); my grandmother’s sister, Sharon Tam (程慧红), and her husband, King Bor Tam (譚敬波), and their son, my mother’s cousin, Tony Tam (譚立志), with his wife, Katherine Toy, and his daughter, Cate Tam ( 譚天慧); and their grandchildren, Martin Tsang (曾文天) and Carmen Tsang (曾嘉敏). This photo doesn’t even cover half of the family I have in the Bay Area.

WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY TO COME TO SAN FRANCISCO, AND WHAT YEAR DID HE/SHE ARRIVE?

My great grandfather (mother’s mother’s father) in 1918. He brought my grandmother and her older brother to San Francisco on June 2, 1949.

CAN YOU GIVE US A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF YOUR FAMILY?

My maternal grandmother immigrated to San Francisco from China with her father and older brother in 1949, while my maternal grandfather immigrated under a false last name to San Francisco in November 1949. While he was in SF, he met my grandmother. They married in 1955 and had four children, including my mother. My grandmother tells stories of living on Union Street, hearing the sea lions all day long.

My father, his parents, and eight siblings moved to SF in 1970 from Singapore. My grandfather had suits tailored for my father and Uncle Richard just for the move. The family had just a few dollars to their name. My paternal grandparents worked to keep the family afloat and they moved into a house in the Richmond District. That house is still in the family and several of my uncles, aunts, and my grandma still live there.

My mother and my father met at Downtown Bowl on Eddy Street in 1973 – they were just teenagers!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO?

My favorite things about San Francisco are its beauty, its proximity to nature, and especially that it houses a huge portion of my family!

embellishmentmuller WHO ARE YOU, AND WHO IS REPRESENTED IN THIS PHOTO?

Celisse Renee Muller – I am a third generation San Francisco native. In the photo are Steve Muller (Dad), Lynne Herman (Dad’s girlfriend), Ivy Moon Muller (little sister, daughter of Steve and Lynne), Paris Jonell Warr-Muller (older sister, daughter of Steve), Eugene Hood (Paris’ boyfriend), Rose Indigo Hood (niece, daughter of Paris and Eugene), Akilah Sade Ancheta (niece, daughter of Paris and step-daughterish to Eugene).

WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY TO COME TO SAN FRANCISCO, AND WHAT YEAR DID HE/SHE ARRIVE?

My paternal great grandparents, George Beyer and Agnes Meek Beyer. They came all the way from Saratoga Springs, New York.

WHAT’S A GOOD SAN FRANCISCO MEMORY FROM THE OLDEST MEMBER OF YOUR CLAN?

Dad was working as a painter, sandblasting steel plates underneath the new roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge and saw Humphrey the whale cruise into the bay.

CAN YOU GIVE US A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF YOUR FAMILY?

My dad’s grandparents came to San Francisco in the early 1920s and had my Grandmother Lois. Lois met Joe while working in a department store in the city. They made their home in the Marina and started their family. Dad and his younger sister were born in San Francisco. Dad attended Mission High School and could tell you stories of a girl with a broken heart jumping from the bell tower to her death, or the days of segregation. As a teenager and young adult in the 1960s he spent his days in the Haight, trading Spider Monkeys for Samurai Swords and doing all the things that we all know went down then. He had my sister, Paris, in the ’80s and married my mom, who was a college student at SF State at the time, in Stern Grove. Then came me. My mom’s sister, mother, and aunt all lived nearby and the family continued to grow and expand. My sister and Eugene now have two girls, Akilah and Rose, and Dad and Lynne just had our newest little sister, Ivy. And here most of us are in all of our glory!

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO?

Each street, building, and corner has at least one distinct memory for me, whether it be from childhood or adulthood. I know the streets like the wrinkles in my palm and learned all of the coolest back roads and side streets from Dad.

embellishmentWhat more stories of native San Francisco families? Read the rest of the story on The Bold Italic.

  • Byron Gordon

    I was born and raised in San Francisco. Still live here, no thanks to the manhattanization of the city and it’s becoming solely a city for the 1%.

  • urbancutie

    As a San Francisco born and educated, what I love most about San Francisco is how much of a melting pot it was. A different culture in every hood if you wanted to partake. There are still remants of it, but not many.

Author

KQED Pop

KQED Pop is a daily blog edited by Emmanuel Hapsis that critically examines the social and cultural impact of music, movies, television, advertisements, fashion, the internet and all the other collective experiences that make us laugh, cringe and cry. We focus on local, national and international experiences with a Bay Area lens. We don’t do reviews.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor