As 99-year-old Angela Little joins 102-year-old Frank Brucia on the Galileo High Hall of Merit, the two reminisced with the Chronicle this week about their combined 201 years of watching San Francisco evolve.
This weekend, Galileo High School, an institution that itself is nearly 100 years old, will hold its annual Hall of Merit induction ceremony. This year the school is honoring notable Galileo grads like the late Levi’s CEO Walter Haas (Class of 1932), Mr. Big frontman Eric Martin (Class of 1976), and curiously, October 1958 Playboy Playmate of the Month Patricia Sheenan (Class of 1949). But the oldest living inductee in this year’s class is 99-year-old Angela Little, and the Chronicle tracked her down along with her inductor, 102-year-old Frank Brucia (both Class of 1935), to talk to two of the oldest living San Francisco natives.
“I’m so appalled at what’s happening now": Together, Angela Little and Frank Brucia have lived 201 years, the majority of them in San Francisco, but they're convinced the old SF had a big leg up on the current version.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) April 23, 2019
Read more from @HKnightSF:https://t.co/GvvgT4TwgA pic.twitter.com/wPI4mV0vnV
Both graduated from Galileo in 1935 and attended UC Berkeley. The Berkeley experience in the mid-1930s is part of their fascinating, century's worth of memories.
- UC Berkeley: Back in 1935, tuition to UC Berkeley was only $27 a year! Little found herself something of a black sheep as a woman studying biochemistry at Berkeley, and her male colleagues routinely mansplained her down. “I don’t get furious like I used to, but it annoys me,” she told the Chronicle. “We were invisible. It was just, ‘Shut up and make the coffee.’”
- Cobblestone Streets in San Francisco: Yes, main drags like Market Street were paved with brick and cobblestone back then, and streetlights were lit manually by lamplighters. Neighborhoods didn’t have different names, they had no names at all. “They call it Russian Hill now. We didn’t call it anything,” Little said. “Noe Valley was nothing!”
- The Golden Gate Bridge was a work in progress: It’s hard to believe that some San Franciscans remember a time before the Golden Gate Bridge even existed. Construction of the bridge began in 1933, and it was not completed until 1937. Ground was just being broken on the project (and the Bay Bridge, completed a few months earlier than the Golden Gate) when the two entered high school.
- The Transamerica Pyramid was not particularly popular at first: Brucia sees an analogy between the mixed-bag reaction to the Salesforce Tower and the 1972 opening of the Transamerica Pyramid. “Maybe with time, I’ll get used to the Salesforce Tower, too,” Brucia said. “It’s a big phallic symbol!” Little added.
Their full interview with the Chronicle’s Heather Knight is a great read, and takes you back to the days when South of Market as full of slaughterhouses. That was, of course, before a different breed of transplants arrived in town, hoping to make a killing of a different kind with IPOs and tech stocks.