• 01/18/23 Growing up at 70 Cerritos - posted by Megan Blu

01/18/23 - posted by Megan Blu
I recently came across this site and I’m thrilled to see a group dedicated and interested in preserving not only SF history but the particular neighborhoods of my childhood- in particular Ingleside Terrace. I was born in 1979 and grew up at 70 Cerritos (some say this was a model home for the neighborhood). We moved there in 1981 (before that we lived at 29th & Lawton but I don’t have any memories from there).

My parents sold the home in 2013 so we spent many years there. They moved to the Napa Valley to enjoy the warmer summer climate and slower pace of life.

70 Cerritos was a larger than life home in my eyes growing up. Typical of houses built in that era there were a lot of rooms compared to modern day “open plan” homes. There was a bedroom and half bath on the first floor off the kitchen that would have been the original servants room that we used as our TV room.

The staircase had multiple landings which we would race down on our bums. In retrospect it hurts my tailbone just thinking of it.

The living room in that house was very formal with miles of views on the Cerritos side- much too fancy to place a big chunky tv in. It had a giant heavy single pocket door with the original brass push button hardware. I’m not sure we ever saw it closed. It was at least 8’ wide. Nothing like a modern flimsy pocket door.

There was a full walkout basement but it wasn’t very useful. It had low ceilings and in rainy years it would flood. We kept wine in the cellar there and some random storage but it always smelled of mildew.

Years later coming back with children of my own it didn’t feel nearly as big as I had remembered it growing up. As a child it felt so grand with its formal living and dining room, service entry, and many built in nooks. It made for excellent hide and seek.

I was an only child but there were tons of kids in the neighborhood. Most of the houses on Cerritos have their main entrance on Cedro. Originally that would have been the service entrance but the truth is that people rarely used the Cerritos entry because it was fairly steep and had many steps. The 1912 photos somehow don’t look as steep as it is today.

People ended up terracing those front yards facing Cerritos or had ice plant covering it to prevent erosion.

They said those houses were built into bedrock so when we had the earthquake in 1989 the houses were unscathed. Maybe a picture was crooked but that’s all.

In particular I’m still close with our neighbors, the Drake family, at 54 Cerritos. They had 4 children my age so I never lacked for playmates. The parents still live there. We were thick as thieves growing up- the Drakes were East Coast transplants who had both grown up in large families so I was like the 5th kid around their house. They owned several restaurants in Russian Hill and always had a modern kitchen with gas appliances. Nobody else on our block had gas stoves then. They seemed so modern.

On Cerritos the original homes were mostly built in 1912. There was a vacant lot between each of those homes which supposedly people used for their horses and carriage until cars became the norm and those lots were developed into homes in the 20’s.

We all attended Commodore Sloat for elementary school. We mostly walked as a group together and took the Ingleside cut through off Ocean, that led to Moncada and then Cedro.

Sometimes we would ride our bikes to the little island on Moncada. The rule was we couldn’t ride past Ocean Ave. which cars would speed down.

We belonged to St. Stephens parish. I went to Convent of the Sacred Heart from 5th grade until high school then Sacred Heart Cathedral. Most of my friends went to SH or SI for high school. A few went to University, Lick, Lowell or Lincoln. I didn’t know any of the Mercy girls but I often saw them in their uniforms at Stonestown.

So many fond memories of my childhood growing up there. Somewhere in my mid 20’s the demographics of San Francisco changed. Growing up it had a much more middle class vibe. My parents both worked as did most of my friends parents. Many of my schoolmates and friends were very proud of their Irish heritage and went to Irish Dancing school on Taraval.

It was definitely a different era but one that I cherish. I knew almost all of the families on Cerritos and Cedro. I hope whomever lives on those blocks enjoys it as much as we did.

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