We live in a neighborhood of San Francisco called Monterey Heights. It was built in 1928-29 and has about four hundred, mostly large homes. From time to time, some of them go on the market. Since the original buildings are old, they need to be updated, which sometimes involves stripping it down to the studs. Lately, when I’ve walked in the neighborhood with our dog Max, I saw quite a few remodeling projects going on. Passing by, I was not surprised to hear that the construction workers were speaking in Spanish, the language that I’ve tried to learn over the years; particularly before traveling to Spanish speaking countries like Mexico and recently to Spain. But I never progressed very far, probably because in every country we visited, people spoke in English. Nevertheless, I remembered a few phrases. While walking by one of the construction projects, I greeted the foreman, ”Buenos dias, mucho trabajo.” To which he responded, “Mucho trabajo, paco dinero.” A lot of work, but little pay.” But then he added in English, “Thanks God, there is work.” According to linkedin.com, there are 2000+ Spanish jobs in San Francisco. About 10% of the Spanish speakers, close to 90,000 people reside in San Francisco. It is one of 112 languages spoken in the Bay Area.
Nowadays, we constantly hear about issues with the illegal, especially Spanish speaking immigrants. However, our city’s history has been connected with Spain for a long time. The first Spanish missionaries arrived in Yerba Buena (it became known as San Francisco only in 1847) in 1776. California and Mexico were part of Spanish territory until 1821. By the 1920s, at least three quarters of California’s 200,000 farm workers were Mexican or Mexican American. During the Great Depression more than 500,000 Mexicans were deported from the United States. And then during the 1940s through 1960s, large numbers of Mexicans moved to San Francisco’s Mission District, giving it the Latino character it is known for today. Our city’s DNA is tied with Spanish speakers, as well as with many other immigrants living in our city. Regardless what we do or what is our occupation, we all serve each other, and are part of the large puzzle, known as San Francisco.
P.S. I do not know where the four people I encountered came from, but all of them spoke Spanish and English.
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