After World War II, Gordon and Mary Jensen bought this house at the top of Congo Street on the 700 block. They were then in their thirties, and had two young daughters. Gordon had an adventurous working life in midcentury San Francisco, being part of the historic construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and teaching Muni bus drivers for many decades.
But the story starts much earlier, in another house two blocks down the street; the couple had met while they were teenagers living across the street from each other.
A Lifetime on Congo Street
Gordon grew up in a house on the 500 block—a tiny shack that had been built after the 1906 Quake. The family had moved to San Francisco from Arhus, a small village in Denmark, by way of Canada, arriving in 1922. They bought this house from another family who were from the very same Danish village. (Read more about them in this piece by the late Murray Schneider here.)
House on Congo Street where Gordon Jensen grew up in the 1920s. It used to have wrought-iron fences in front, made by his father. Google Streetview, 2014.
Gordon Jensen’s childhood home, the family’s tiny first house on Congo Street. Mid-1920s. Courtesy Judy Simpson.
With five kids, the cottage was quite a tight fit, with no bathroom, no electricity, and no refrigerator. Fortunately, Gordon’s father quickly met a man at church who helped them built on and get a bit more room. Still, the conditions were difficult; Gordon slept on a sofa in the living room, with his toddler brother Henry. His younger sister Phyllis slept on a couch in the kitchen, with fixed arms, and later recalled that as she grew, she just curled up more.
On Tuesday 29 January 2019, at the meeting of the San Francisco History Association, Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project reprised our blended presentation ‘America’s First Suffrage March & the Glen Park Women Behind It,’ which traces the women of Glen Park who were instrumental in the first suffrage march in the United States.After Evelyn Rose’s talk about the background of the event and the women’s involvement with this under-documented historic event, the evening concluded with the short play ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices,’ written by Amy O’Hair and performed by Valerie Fachman and Haley Roth-Brown, and introducing Christine Konkol.
On Sunday 4 March, at noon in the ‘Theater’ at the Old Mint, Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project will present a lecture on local suffragist Johanna Pinther and the first suffrage march in the United States in 1908. This includes the short play ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices,’ about the involvement of Glen Park women in this history-making event. This is a reprise of the GPNHP presentation in December 2017at the Sunnyside Conservatory.
As part of the Special Holiday Meeting on Saturday 2 December 2017, Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project presented a short play ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’about the Glen Park women involved in the the first suffrage march in the US, written by Amy O’Hair and performed by Valerie Fachman and Haley Roth-Brown. The meeting and social began with a talk by Evelyn Rose about the subject of the drama, Glen Park activist and suffragist, Johanna Pinther.