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3 1 A Personal History As a third-generation San Franciscan, I still reside here with my wife after almost eighty years. We have seen many changes in lifestyles , environment, and political infrastructure—and have been blessed with amazing views of hills, a magnificent bay and its bridges, extraordinary dining, and a population made up of every ethnicity in the world. This is a rare and unique city in every aspect, and I am proud to be able to say, “I am a native son.” As part of living so many years in San Francisco, I read The Argonaut, a journal published by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. The Argonaut prints many fine historical articles that are especially valuable to those of us who have resided here for a long time and can relate to that wonderful history. I especially enjoyed Ken Sproul’s excellent article, “Growing Up in San Francisco: Boyhood Recollections from the 1940s and 1950s,” published in the spring 2012 issue. While The Argonaut has covered almost every aspect of San Francisco’s unique and special history, it has never referenced the city’s waste-collection services, possibly because it’s not a glamorous or exciting subject, or maybe because no one pays much atten­ tion to this service. After reading about Ken Sproul’s experiences in San Francisco, I felt the need to share my experiences. My article, “Everything You Wanted to Know about Garbage and Were Afraid to Ask,” was published in the summer 2014 issue of The Argonaut. But there is more to my story, and in this book I will share what I have experienced and the respect I have for all the men and women who made it all possible. Childhood Memories I was born in the Haight-Ashbury District on May 6, 1934, at 1822 Fell Street. When I was three, I moved in with my grandparents , Lenora and Harry Corbelli, who lived in a grand, threestory Victorian home at 117 Cole Street. My grandfather worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. 4 A Personal History My uncle, Pasquale “Pas” Fontana, lived around the corner at 2122 Grove Street. He was a scavenger who would play an extra­ ordinary part in my future life, starting when he gave me the task of “Collecting the Book” when I was seven years old. Every scavenger was responsible for “Collecting the Book”— collecting the fees for picking up the garbage. At night, a scavenger would ring a customer’s doorbell and when the door opened, he would say “Garbage bill!” and be paid accordingly. At that time, the fee was $1.10 for two months’ service. When I was seven, Uncle Pasquale taught me how to ring the doorbells and make change—probably giving me a better math education than I could have had in school. Around the corner from my grandparents’ house was Andrew Jackson School, where I attended elementary school. My teachers were Ms. Shea (kindergarten—a young woman), Miss Anderson (first grade—also a young woman), Mrs. Wendell (third grade— she acted like a mom), Mrs. Daniels (fourth grade), Miss Sanders (fifth grade—she had a wedding band), and Mrs. Walsh (sixth grade—she also had a wedding ring). I have no idea why I remember all these names and details at this stage in life, but I do, especially Mrs. Walsh, who had the worst case of body odor anyone could imagine. Most of us tried not to ask Mrs. Walsh too many questions because when she would come to our desk and look over our shoulder to respond to a question, the odor was severe. It was better not to ask for help. Myrtle B. Ozer was the school’s principal. I got to know her because I was sent to see her more times than I want to admit, because of “problems” over the years with my teachers (or because of my teachers’ problems with me). I remember a little wooden stool that I would be told to sit on in the corner, awaiting the call to come into her office, anticipating and dreading the stern warning of impending disaster if I did not get my life in order. In his article, Ken Sproul referred to building wooden coasters to ride down a hill. We made ours with a long flat board and two 2 x 4 pieces of wood. We nailed one 2 x 4 on the rear, which extended outside the board; and we would...


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