The following article by Katie Niekerk of the Gilroy Dispatch also appears on Craig Kille's Bonny Doon Website: www.bonny-doon.info .
'La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)' offers glimpse into older Italian generationSaturday, May 20, 2006 … By Katie Niekerk, Lifestyles editor for the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance, and Morgan Hill Times
Comments or questions for Katie Niekerk can be directed to (408) 842-9404 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the recent debates surrounding immigration, it can be easy to forget that those who travel here from other countries have stories, families and beliefs that have molded them into who they are today. But Morgan Hill resident Ivano Franco Comelli has made it his goal to share the personal histories of Italian immigrants who sought their American dream on Santa Cruz's northern coast.
Comelli, a retired San Jose police officer, is the author of "La Nostra Costa (Our Coast): A Family's Journey to and from the North Coast of Santa Cruz, California (1923-1983)." The true story begins in Nimis, a small agricultural village in the northeast region of Italy. Benito Mussolini had just seized power, and Comelli's father, Gervasio, had to make a choice: re-enlist in the army or seek a new life in America. He chose the latter.
"La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)" narrates Gervasio's beginnings in a new place, from his early days as a ranch hand to his return to Italy, where he met his wife, Valentina Bressani. The book goes on to depict the true stories of other Italian immigrants who settled and worked up the coast. Comelli also describes what it was like to live in Italy under Nazi occupation forces and what it felt like to be declared enemy aliens during World War II.
Comelli's life as an adult has also been full of adventure and life-changing experiences while working with the San Jose Police Department.
Comelli, born in Santa Cruz, lived in Monterey County for the past 11 years before moving to Morgan Hill about a year ago to be closer to his seven grandsons, all who live in Morgan Hill. His daughter and son-in-law, Madeline and Chris Fritter, are longtime residents of Gilroy.
"I had a lot of memories about the coast, and the prime reason I wrote the book is I wanted to put them down so that future generations will know about the coast as it was, especially coastal farming," Comelli said.