Chris Ramos

A Resident's Reflection on South San Francisco  

Recently the City had a chance to talk with Chris Ramos, long-time active resident of South San Francisco and grandfather of City Clerk, Krista Martinelli.  Ramos worked for and went on to retire from Smith-Blair, a waterworks supply manufacturer (located at 535 Railroad Avenue at the time) as a water meter installer.

Prior to that, Ramos and his wife, Delia, ran a family upholstery style shop, Ace Bedding Co., at 469 Grand Avenue.  These are his reflections about South San Francisco.

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When did you move to South San Francisco?
I moved to South San Francisco in 1945 when I married my wife Delia Garbarino.  Delia was born here and raised by Stephen and Domenica Garbarino, Italian immigrants.  Domenica was born in Battifollo, Italy and Stephen in Genoa.  We were married and moved to SSF, across the street from her mother.
What is one of your favorite memories of South San Francisco?
My favorite memory is our wedding day at All Souls Catholic Church on January 14, 1945. But I also have many more...

As Vice President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, I led a project where we repainted the letters on Sign Hill, carrying all of the paint up the hill by hand.  It was a big project, very hard work, but we were all very proud to be part of something that makes our City special.
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Another memory, that which is also shared by my daughter Linda Martinelli, is when the Colonial Bakery truck would come through the neighborhoods on Sunday morning and you could go out your front door and buy fresh baked doughnuts.  Those were the days!

My wife and I also have many warm memories of walking to Oyster Point Beach on hot nights in South San Francisco with our family to roast hot dogs over make-shift BBQs with rocks and sticks.
Chris Ramos Bedding Co.
What is one piece of history that I think most people don’t know about when it comes to South San Francisco?
I've got a few interesting pieces...
• One piece of history people might not know is that there were tunnels under the bank buildings in South San Francisco.  I'm not going to mention what went on down there!

• Also, there were at one time 26 bars within a two block radius of downtown. All of these bars were owned by local families. I bartended at a number of these bars to help put myself through college while raising my family.
• You also can drive through town and see an occasional home that has bricks that were from the ovens at Bethlehem Steel, these bricks are built into their exterior existing structures. According to Delia they would have to change the bricks often after melting the steel to build the ships. Nothing was wasted and men would bring the bricks home and recycle.
What is your favorite thing to do in South San Francisco?
Our favorite thing to do is continuing our family dinners and talk about the old days to pass on all of our cherished memories of the building of this great community.

The City's ethnic diversity has continued and there is still a new, young, educated and vibrant group of families who are returning to raise their children in South San Francisco.  Our family loves seeing them come back, some returning to their family homes and reinvesting their futures in South San Francisco.  We are seeing friends of our children's children moving into South San Francisco from other cities and this is wonderful to see.  We have seen a lot of change and growth over the last few years that will make South San Francisco an even more desirable place to live.

Chris Ramos Smith Blair