Living in the Bay Area has so many different meanings especially depending on your exact location. Growing up in Hayward, CA there are some community proclaimed landmarks that show if you’re really from here or a newcomer. There could be an endless list but here are some identifiers to determine you know you’re from Hayward. Take a look at this list of things that will make you think, “you know you’re from Hayward when”…
1. If You Announce It Every Chance You Get
Something learned at quite a young age, you rep where you’re from. You quickly learned the hard way that if you said you’re from the bay people assume SF or Oakland leaving Hayward in a blurred grey area. To remedy this, you started throwing up Hayward in every photo you took with your friends and continue to do it as an adult. You love when you get to talk about your city to new friends, classmates, and even strangers! This is another one of the signs you know you’re from Hayward when you relate to this.
2. If You Ate At Superway Kitchen
I’m talking about before the current new ownership when Sue and her family ran the restaurant. You knew the minute you saw these orange booths that it was Sue’s and you can see the path to the bathroom in the back. It was only a nickel to weigh yourself and for whatever reason this was exciting for kids. You’d give anything to go back with cash only and get some chiclets on your way out of the restaurant. This is one of the features that will make you say, “you know you’re from Hayward when”…
3. If You’ve Gotten A Bulky Burger
Or maybe you preferred a bulky burger with cheese from Cecil’s Famous Burgers. Your family would frequent this roadside joint on weekends or sometimes they would stop by for a root beer float. Sometimes you’d wait for your mom to get her eyebrows done at Top Ten Nails, so you would walk across the parking lot to Cecil’s for some French fries. This is another one of the signs you know you’re from Hayward when you relate to this. This is one of the features that will make you say, “you know you’re from Hayward when”…
4. If You Skated At Valle Vista
Roller skating seems like an exclusive ‘70s activity but most people from Hayward know this was not the case. You remember the elementary school trips you took to the roller skating rink and how lucky the kids with personal roller blades were. From couples’ skate to speed skating, you know you’re from Hayward if you remember doing the Hokey Pokey countless times at Valle Vista. Even if you’re from the later generation when Valle Vista closed, your parents told you stories about it.
5. If You Went To Dollar Mornings At Holiday Bowl
The one bowling alley that had something for everyone in Hayward. From classic lanes to Dance Dance Revolution at the arcade, this place was always packed. You know you’re from Hayward if you went bowling on Sunday mornings before 12PM when it was only $1 per game. You woke up, pulled your hair back, and headed to the lanes. This is another one of the signs you know you’re from Hayward when you relate to this. This is one of the features that will make you say, “you know you’re from Hayward when”…
6. If You Rode The Train At Kennedy Park
Since Hayward does not have a lot of fancy businesses, it relies on parks to fill up a lot of free time. Whether it’s Weekes Park in front of the library or watching little league games at Robot Park, the most famous is Kennedy Park. A great place for birthday parties and a Hayward landmark, it was a rite of passage to ride the train. Those few times your parents actually agreed, and you ran to catch your seat that most likely burned your legs from the heat. Maybe you rode the carousel instead or visited the petting zoo hidden in the back but whatever the case, you know you’re from Hayward if you heard the train whistle rushing by.
7. If You’ve Ever Had A Casper Dog
Not to be confused with Kasper’s, this Downtown Hayward establishment with terrible parking has always been a go-to if you’re from Hayward. You can see your Casper dog wrapped in white parchment paper with a twist on the end if you special ordered for someone else. You can taste the orange fizz drink and remember dealing with those no-nonsense cashiers. This is one of the features that will make you say, “you know you’re from Hayward when”…
8. If You Know Spaghetti And Chicken Go Together
Don’t forget the garlic bread! Caesar’s Chicken let you know that a combination of foods can flourish together. You know you’re from Hayward if you remember getting ravioli with drumsticks and not thinking anything was strange about the combination. This has always been a convenient dinner spot after visiting Kennedy Park.
9. If You Went To Southland Mall
Sure it still stands today but you know you’re from Hayward if you remember the original arcade downstairs. Hidden behind the escalators, you spent countless hours on racing and claw games only to end up winning fluorescent bouncy balls. You remember buying outfits for dances at Basic and admiring all the shoes at Foot Locker. Before you could go outside of the city, this was your primo shopping destination and hangout spot afterschool.
10. If You Listened To Sunday Night Oldies With Tony Sandoval
You know you’re from Hayward if some of your best memories are a boombox blasting in the front yard while your family sat around listening to Sunday night oldies. Maybe your little cousins were playing in the yard and your aunts were gossiping while sitting in lawn chairs, you knew once Tony Sandoval came on the radio that you were bound to hear some Lowrider hits. This is another one of the signs you know you’re from Hayward when you relate to this.
Shout out to all the 510 folks who instantly connect and the small-town residents who know the struggle of “you know you’re from Hayward when”. Leave us comments on your hometown below.
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Rebecca was born in Hayward, CA and still resides there today. She received her BA in English Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is the first in her family to graduate from university. She is a Poetry student in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and is furthering her involvement in the literary community. In her spare time, she likes to lose her voice at Giants games, read Young Adult novels, make lists, and aims to cross become a writer off it.