Oral History: Joe Jachetta
Joe is a third generation Hill dweller. For over fifty years he owned and operated the Parkview Beauty Salon across from Washington Square Park:
JOE: My grandfather worked at Fior d’Italia restaurant when he first arrived from Italy. Then he and his sister went into business for themselves. They opened a boarding house and restaurant and bar. I remember my mother describing a free lunch. Imagine going into this bar — all these cold cuts, free. It was down around Front Street somewhere. And here’s one of the stories told more than once in the family — the 1906 earthquake. Yes! The story goes that the earthquake hit when everyone was asleep. And there was a big chifforobe that had fallen in front of the door. And this captain of the barge, who was one of the boarders, pushed the door open and took my mother and brought her down the stairs, which were all crooked. And they finally got downstairs. And he herded my mother and her family down to the waterfront and they all got on his barge which anchored in the middle of the Bay and watched the City burn.
INTERVIEWER: How old was your mother then?
JOE: Six years old.
INTERVIEWER: And the barge captain rescued her from the room where she was sleeping where the furniture fell down and blocked the door?
JOE: Yes. You know, Fior d’Italia is the oldest Italian restaurant in the United States. When my grandfather cooked for them, that was in 1886. I don’t know how long it was before he and his sister went into business for themselves. But by the time of the earthquake they had this boarding house/restaurant down on Front Street. And the captain of the barge was a tenant. . .
Restaurant and Boarding House owned by
Joe Jachetta’s Grandpa Gallo, c.1901
Would you like to read this interview in its entirety, or any others from our collection? The full transcripts are available at the North Beach Branch of the San Francisco Public Library and at the San Francisco History Center, Main Branch. They are also available at the Bancroft Library at U.C. Berkeley. Or, if you are a member of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, you are welcome to borrow any of the transcripts from our own Oral History Lending Library. Call Audrey Tomaselli at 391-1792.