On Dia de los Muertos, Memorializing a Neighborhood

Oct. 31, 2013 / By

Commentary, Edgardo Cervano-Soto

It was in 1987 when my mom, dad and two older sisters moved out of their apartment unit on South Van Ness and 22nd Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. The rent had become too expensive to afford, despite my dad holding down two full-time jobs as a dishwasher and a busboy, getting only a few hours of sleep a day. While he worked, my mom raised my sisters and cared for other family members’ children. For my parents, it wasn’t exactly the American Dream they had imagined.

And so, they followed the path traveled by many Latino immigrants before them who had settled in the Mission District — long a haven for refugees, exiles and newcomers – by searching for another place to call home. Taking a risk, they signed off on a loan and purchased a home just across the bay in San Pablo, where my youngest sister and I were born and raised. Yet throughout my childhood, the Mission remained a destination for our family. My tias and tios still lived there and we visited them frequently. For me, the Mission felt like home, despite the fact that it had never been mine.

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