Donate a Memory to the Bernal History Project

The Bernal History Project is working on a collection of stories from the neighborhood, and we are extremely interested in hearing about some of your most vivid memories and experiences living or working in Bernal Heights. We plan to accumulate and preserve these stories for future generations. They can be from last week, or from your earliest memories.

NEW in July 2011:

Albert Bernal, a direct descendant of the Bernal family who gave their name to our hill, shares his own life story and promises more to come on six generations of Bernals.

January 2011:

Bob Searle shared excerpts of an oral history interview with his father, George, who was born at 35 Elsie Street in 1897 and who remembers the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Jenner Davis remembers her first bartending job at "a bucket of blood called Charlie's" (now the Stray Bar) on Cortland.


John Rubino, who grew up at 207 Banks before World War II, remembers his teenage years: "Mama and Papa would buy fish from Mr. Frank's Fish Shop on Cortland. Mr. Frank would have a huge pot on the sidewalk in front of his store and cook fresh crabs. I remember sometimes going to Jack-s grocery store, located at the end of the No. 9 streetcar line [at Folsom and Cortland]. In those days, Jack would get the items himself – self-serve came later. He used a long pole with a gripper to get products from the top shelves. Mr. Battaglia, who ran the All American Meat Market, was a wonderful friend to everybody. He used to give me a free hot dog from the case, and I would eat it right there and then. It was a delicious raw beef hot dog -- still cold."

Walter Feyling, who was born at 274 Andover in 1914, remembers when the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center was the Nickelodeon Theater, and getting a doughnut from a sailor when he went there as a toddler with his parents to buy war bonds. Back then, the ceiling and walls were covered in embossed tin in intricate patterns to make the building fireproof. The building was later chopped in half -- one side became the Iudice family barber shop, and the other was Bill Johnston's hardware store. "Stick on the Hill and Trade with Bill!" was his slogan.

If you have a story to share -- no matter how small or local it may seem -- we would love to hear from you. You will be helping tell the story of Bernal Heights.

To donate a memory, please e-mail us. Remember to include your name and contact details if you would like to be included in our Memory Book.