José Carranza moved to San Mateo from Guatemala over 50 years ago. His mother worked as a maid for a wealthy family and took her with them when they moved. The Bay Area has since been home to Carranza. He built a family, worked for the post office, and retired. Decades later, he’s struck by the ways San Francisco has changed.
“I first came to San Francisco in 1967, if I can recall,” said Carranza. “It was different. It was cleaner. There weren’t as many homeless people and as much drug use. I really worry, and it’s sad to see.”
“I have a lot of nice memories from working there,” said Carranza about his time at the post office. “It was a lot of pressure, but good people. I used to like the food drives we had because we were helping the community.”
Carranza is 74 and lives with his wife, daughter, and 8-year-old grandson. They go on walks, play soccer, and Carranza sees himself in the boy as he grows. His relationship with his daughter is special too. She looks out for him, especially since he’s getting older.
“I try to stay active. My daughter is happy about that. I walk here and in Golden Gate Park,” said Carranza.” I used to walk from Fell and Stanyan Street to the ocean and back. It’s a long walk but beautiful.”
The memories of long city walks brought a smile to Carranza’s face. He’s always turned to staying active and interacting with nature to maintain his health and happiness. About 10 years ago, he struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. Today, things are looking up for him, but unfortunately, his wife struggles with dementia. Acting as a caretaker is hard on Carranza and his daughter, whom he lives with, but breaks like this one in Dolores Park keep his spirits up.
“We just take it day by day,” he said.