San Francisco : Portola Elementary School, San Bruno


This is my elementary school. Back in 1988-1989, I made the trip across the Pacific from Malaysia via Hong Kong to San Francisco. This was to be my home. I lived 10 minutes walk away from here. It was up in the hills of San Bruno overlooking the bay. From here, you can see the San Francisco International Airport and watch planes carrying travelers land day and night.

I love San Francisco. This is my home. We left the USA in 1992 and against my wishes, was hauled back to Malaysia. I was 10 at the time and was too happy to stay in the US.

Some 20 years later, I realized my dreams of returning ‘home’.

I stayed with my aunts who now lived outside of San Bruno and they made this trip specially for me to go down memory lane.

Home on Lassen Drive.

My uncle used to park his boat here in the grass. I spent some time ‘helping’ to clean up the place before the boat arrived.

I will have to dig up the photos of me in San Francisco.

Thru those doors, turn right and head down the corridor and you will come to my 1st grade and 2nd grade class. If you turn left, it is the cafeteria. So to get to class from the cafeteria, you need to walk across the main entrance and front office. I would run and then stop to a walking pace and then continue my running to the classroom. The teachers were not amused at us running and I was reprimanded once by the principal. I ran and got caught.


If you look at the stones on the left, there used to be a tree whose branches would branch a Y.

Being mischievous, I remember trying to climb it. I stuck my knee into the Y and yes, my leg got stuck. I stood there and decided to ask for help (cry).  A couple of student helpers came and after much analysis, they decided to cut the branch. One guy went in to get a saw. My mum was nagging me and telling me they were gonna cut off my leg. Another guy decided to hang on the branch and yanked. My knee was free. I ran away and thank goodness they did not have to saw my leg off. A sigh of relief Mr.Tree?

The tree does not seem to be here anymore. Must have been another asian kid who wanted to climb and got his knee stuck in it as well. Maybe they actually had to saw off his leg, branch.

During recess, the doors will fling open and we would run really hard to the playgrounds. The doors in this picture are the doors to my 1st Grade class. I remember my teacher Mrs. Aqualino, who took real good care of me during those days. I miss her.

Basketball with Daniel Dawkins. I sucked at it and the ball always landed on my fingernails. There were so many times I was bleeding from my fingers. I never grasped the basketball concept at that age. I traveled a lot and there were a lot of air balls. I was the last guy picked for teams. Not many people wanted to play with me as I sucked.

Sometimes, I would spend time playing in this small area. I picked up the wood chips and throw them.

My mum will walk the fields after sending us to school. She will discover gopher holes and tell stories to me.

This area was for the pre-schoolers.

As we left, I can still see a smaller me, running around, screaming and up to mischief, sitting in class, studying and playing hard. I struggled with Maths and probably still do. I was and still am the same boy. It was good to finally see you Portola. Thank you for the memories. To my friends who I remember, Daniel Dawkins, Danielle, Sam. I wish we had Facebook back then.

20 years have gone by. It was as if only last week, I was getting my knee stuck. I am thankful for good memories.


One thought on “San Francisco : Portola Elementary School, San Bruno

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s