Dear Rain,

What hospital were you born in? When did your family arrive in SF?


I'm a first generation San Franciscan, born at San Francisco General, in 1970.

My family's ties are not quite as deep as those of numerous other native families, that's for sure. But the city did seem to lure members of my family here for years.

My father's mother lived in San Francisco for a little while in the 1940s, both before and after she married my grandfather; (she continued to live here after he had been drafted). The photo at the top of the post shows the two of them walking down Market Street in what I am assuming is 1941, judging from the release dates of the movies on the marquee in the background. (They also went to the premiere of Citizen Kane in SF that same year, and my grandfather wrote a review of the film for the Stars and Stripes.)

My father was born in Los Angeles, and soon after the family moved back to Minnesota, where my grandparents had originally met. (Jokinen is a much more common name up there, believe me!) Eventually my grandfather got a teaching job that brought them to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that's where my father eventually met my mother.

My mother came to Louisiana via a much more circuitous route. She was born in Indonesia, lived in Holland, and her family immigrated to the U.S after her father got an artist job with American Greetings in Cleveland. They eventually ended up in Baton Rouge as well.

By the late 1960s some of my mother's sisters had moved to San Francisco — teenagers moving to San Francisco in the 1960s? How novel! — and that played a large part in bringing my parents out, since it meant they had a place to crash. (Well, that, and it was the 1960s and it was San Francisco!)

So in 1969, my parents made the move. They took over an apartment one of my aunts had been living in (on Potrero and 17th), when she decided to move out, and in 1970, I was born a few blocks up the street at SF General.

We lived in that Potrero Avenue apartment until the mid-70s, and then moved into the top portion of a two-story Victorian on Folsom and 20th. The owner was a friend of my parents, and he lived in the bottom flat. Eventually, he took over the entire building, to remodel it, and we moved to an apartment on Potrero Hill. My parents still live there.

By the mid 1980s, all four of my mother's sisters had made the move to San Francisco, as well as my maternal grandparents, who both lived the rest of their lives here (the majority of those years, also on Potrero Hill, a few blocks from us).

I have two first cousins who were also born in San Francisco. One still lives here. Two of my maternal aunts still live in SF, but two others had to move back to Louisiana, (New Orleans this time) after being priced out of the city.

So there you have it: my family's San Francisco ties, in summation. I've lived here my entire life, and I've never really wanted to live anywhere else.

I sure hope I never have to.

Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.

In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!