Per his telling, Enrique “Kiko” Presentación Barreto Holder is a Forrest Gump of the Mission.
He was there at the opening of the 24th and Mission street El Farolito in 1983. I ask him if he prefers the al pastor or the pollo, but he’s moved on.
“Mayor Breed is a supporter of mine. Ed Lee was too.” He calls his wife to see if she has the pictures. She sighs, sounding puzzled on the other end of the line. “In 2001, Willie Brown helped me out,” he says. I’m curious, but he’s already talking about his old crab shack on the pier.
He makes another U-turn, motioning for me to lean in: “When my dog died, you’d never guess what we did.” They broke into Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma and buried the pup by moonlight.
And so the stories go on, and you can hear any number while sifting through T-shirts at 24th and Harrison streets, where Holder sells his “Raised in the Mission” gear on the corner.
The tented stand is piled high with T-shirts, hats, Peruvian ponchos, faux Ben Davis gear and all manner of clothes bearing Mission pride.
He and his wife, Violeta, founded the Mission District Family clothing company in the ‘80s. But Holder’s history with screen printing started way back, when he was a child growing up right at 24th and Mission streets.
The Holder family immigrated to San Francisco from Peru in 1972 when Holder was seven years old, settling in the Mission. His father, also Enrique, started a screen-printing business called Viva, selling shirts to tourists on Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf. The shirts bore slogans like “I got crabs in San Francisco” and drawings of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“I was a Catholic boy,” says the 58-year-old Holder. “I went to school at Mission Dolores, where the church is. There’s a rumor Zorro is buried there.”
Put away your shovel, Holder says. Zorro’s not there.
In 1982, Holder printed his first solo tee. “It was just for friends and their kids. It said SFM: San Fran Misión,” he says. SFM refers to the gang he was in, which consisted of friends who also grew up around 24th.
Violeta rolls her eyes. “They weren’t a gang; they were just friends.” Holder whispers confidentially: “Oh yeah, we were a gang. I was a crazy cholo. My wife saved my life.”
Now, Holder travels in an electric wheelchair, scarred by diabetes and the complications that come from a life lived on the edge. The day before talking to Mission Local, he had just gotten out of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital after a “minor” heart attack.
Holder and his friends spent their teenage years hanging around the neighborhood, getting into fights or meeting girls at the $2 “You and I” dances put on by the Tiny Locas, a group of girls who “ruled” the Mission.
“We used to fight Daly City guys. East Side Daly City, Fog Town. We couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t come here.” When the 49ers won their first Super Bowl in 1982, all the gangs “went crazy on 24th Street. Breaking cars, trying to run each other over.”
Cruising around the street, Holder greets everyone, yelling out in Tagalog and Spanish. Youngsters respond, waving and calling him “OG.”
Because of her husband’s health problems, Violeta usually holds down the Mission District Family tent. Right next door is Temo’s Cafe, where workers and the family who own it are fond of Holder and indulge his penchant for cortados.
“Thank you, beautiful. Put it on my tab,” he says to a barista as she drops off a second drink.
Violeta met Holder when his family — tired of his troublemaking — sent him back to Peru. He was 17 and Violeta was 19. They returned to San Francisco, where they had two sons. The youngest, Giovanni, is training to be a police officer in Sacramento. Their older son, Enrique, died suddenly in 2021. At his mention, Holder tears up, heartbroken by the loss. “I cry every day,” he says.
SFM designs had to go in the late ’90s, when Holder says he was rebuked by the SFPD as the city cracked down on gangs. “One year,” says Holder, “at a lowrider show, the sheriff came through with parole agents, picking guys up.” So he packed up his shirts and left. Another year, at Carnaval, police shut his T-shirt stand down, claiming it was gang activity.
So, the design was adapted, running to this day as a small “SFM” here and there; on the chin of a Día de los Muertos skull, or in the mouth of a character, or hidden in tiny script at the edge of a graphic.
Though Holder is at home in today’s Mission, he misses its wilder days. “I can’t bring the city back,” he says. “We’re the last of the Mohicans, the last ones.”
Find Holder and Violeta selling Mission District Family apparel at 25th and Mission streets, at the upcoming Selena Tribute Cruise on April 8, at Carnaval May 27 and 28, and most days under the big tent at 24th and Harrison. Follow them on Instagram @missiondistrictfamily.