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Best Cable Car Gripman 

Frank Ware

Powell-Mason line, 673-6864,

Don't take our word for it. Veteran gripman Ware, a native of the Philippines, is the defending champion in the annual cable car bell-ringing contest sponsored by Muni, which operates the cable cars. And while he doesn't claim to be a crooner, it probably didn't hurt that during the competition last July Ware sang -- what else? -- the Rice-A-Roni jingle that has, over the years, become synonymous with his beloved cable cars in the minds of many tourists. What began as an effort to pick a bell-ringer to accompany one of the city's cable cars exhibited at the 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair has become something of a San Francisco tradition, in a competition held annually in Union Square since 1955 (except for a couple of years in the '60s and '70s). On workdays you'll find Ware clanging his way up the impossibly steep hills of the Powell-Mason line, which, of course, begins at Powell and Market streets and runs over the top of Nob Hill to Fisherman's Wharf. And remember, two clangs mean, "Let's go."


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