Oakland Resident Is A Rambling Man

A senior housing resident, whose life included 30 years as a salmon fisherman and decades riding the rails, now does his rambling along a bay shoreline.


Signal Hill


Wrote and photographed profile article for ABHOW Words, an e-newsletter published by American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW).

Francis Estrella says he’s ridden the rails in every state except Hawaii, where he was born, and Alaska, where he was a salmon fisherman for 30 years.

From the time he left home at 12 until two years ago, when he moved into ABHOW’s E.E. Cleveland Manor in Oakland, Calif., Estrella has been a rambling man.

These days, the taut, energetic 67-year-old confines most of his rambling to walking or cycling San Francisco Bay’s eastern waterfront, where he collects and disposes of washed-up plastic junk that could be hazardous to sea or bird life.

He takes pride in his Native Hawaiian heritage and feels a kinship with the natural world nourished by a lifetime as a fisherman, farmer and outdoorsman.

But he still hears the call of the railroad. “When I see tracks, I see freedom,” says Estrella, who also claims Chinese and Portuguese ancestry.

To free himself from an abusive mother, Estrella left home at 12.

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