LNC: THE HISTORY OF 'LA COSTA' MUST INCLUDE THE IMPACT THAT ALL THOSE NON-ITALIAN PEOPLE IN THE CITY OF SANTA CRUZ (AND THE COAST) HAD ON THE "ITALIANI DELLA COSTA". IN THE BOOK I INCLUDED SUCH NAMES AS ROGER BAER,CHARLES DERBY, JOHN EVANS, EDITH KING, VIOLA MEINTS, DONALD YOUNGER, VIC CALHOUN, MILO BADGER, DON SANTOS, KIM NOVAK AND OTHERS. LEN KLEMPNAUER'S ARTICLE BELOW REMINDS US HOW DIFFERENT YET HOW SIMILAR OUR FAMILIES WERE DURING THIS TIME PERIOD.
Reading your bit about how the FBI showed up to check your radio during WWII, I am reminded of a story a cousin told me about my family. Although we were living in Kansas City during the war and my family was of German descent, the FBI showed up at my grandfather's home sometime during the war to question his loyalty. (My cousin, a year older than I, was raised by my grandparents.) My grandfather, born Heinrich Johann Klempnauer in West Prussia in 1878, had become a naturalized American citizen before the war and his name was now Henry John Klempnauer. According to my cousin, my grandfather, who was a fairly big man, was so outraged that he wanted to take on both FBI agents until cooler heads -- particularly my grandmother, also of German ancestry -- prevailed. He was so irate because three of his sons were in the Army, one an officer in the Pacific and the other two in the European campaign. Also, one of his younger brothers, who was born in the U.S., had fought in World War One. My grandfather was in his 60s at the time. My grandfather was 3 years old when his father, who fought in the Franco-Prussian War, and his mother came to the U.S. with him and his 5-year-old brother in 1881. After my parents moved to Santa Cruz in 1946, we lived one year on River Street, next to Petroff's Motel, and I attended Mission Hill Elementary for one year. Some of my classmates' names were Marlene Spezia, John Biondi, Nilda Bertolli and Jim Scoppettone, son of the muni court judge.
A couple of blocks down the street lived a fellow by the name of John Maranta, but he attended Holy Cross Elementary and High Schools and I never met him until we played on the Santa Cruz American Legion baseball team together in the summer of 1953. We became good friends and shared a duplex together at San Jose State with Scoppettone and five other guys from Santa Cruz. I was best man at John's wedding.
In the sixth grade (1947-48), we moved to the corner of Lighthouse Avenue and Gharkey Street, right in the midst of the Italian-American community of Santa Cruz and I attended Bay View Elementary. My classmates included Mary and Margaret Ghio, who were first cousins; Yvonne Herman, who was a granddaughter of Cottardo Stagnaro; Aldo Mazzei, and Rose Neri.
Later, at Mission Hill Jr. High, my first girlfriend was Esther Frizza, who lived a couple of blocks away and was in your class.
Santa Cruz was quite a different mix for me, for the surnames in my Kansas City neighborhood, were, for example, Rader and Schaffer and Keller. (Missouri had more residents of German ancestry than any other state then.)
After the war, when the Italian fishermen were allowed to have boats again and fish Monterey Bay, they all would eat at my parents' restaurant, the Cross Roads Drive-In at the foot of West Cliff Drive next to the SP Depot, after making their nightly catch. Their names included Bossano, Bregante, Canepa, Carniglia, Ghio, Oliveiri and Stagnaro. I remember especially the Canepa brothers -- Augie, Danny, Robby and Louie.
Of course, I attended the March 8, 2003, dedication of Via Riva Trigoso, the alleyway that extended between Lighthouse Avenue and Laguna Avenue from Bay Street to Gharkey Street. The street was named for the area in Italy that most of the Italian fishing families came from. There were three of us there from the SCHS Class of 1954: Mary (Ghio) Stagnaro, one of the main speakers; the late Jean (White) Giudici, a former Cross Roads carhop who married into a local Italian family and whom I dated a couple of times; and myself. [Photo Attached] My parents actually started their drive-in in an old building on the same site that probably went up in the 1920s or 1930s. They then moved across the street to the VFW 888 Hall (now a motel) about 1950 until the "new" Cross Roads, the one still standing, was built in 1951 and opened in January 1952. The Fifties were the heyday of the teen-aged drive-in restaurant, carhop and cruisin'-the-drag culture in the U.S. A lot of Santa Cruz High students worked at the Cross Roads -- especially girls as carhops -- and at Santa Cruz's other drive-in, the 5-Spot at the corner of Ocean and Water Streets. Virtually all teenagers hung out at the drive-ins after games, dances or the movies before heading out to West Cliff Drive to neck.
The old Cross Roads is now the retail sales outlet for the Homeless Garden Project in Depot Park. The City of Santa Cruz plans to raze the structure and replace it with a new Natural History Museum instead of incorporating the building as part of the museum complex. The building withstood the Christmas Flood of 1955 and the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. The 5-Spot was torn down years ago and replaced by a two-story bank building.
Incidentally, I have a web site devoted to my failed efforts to try to save the Cross Roads building from demolition. It's the only remaining drive-in restaurant building left in Santa Cruz County and one of the few in Northern California. It was built in 1951 and opened in January 1952. (The first 5-Spot -- in San Jose -- has been declared an historical landmark.)
The Cross Roads web site is at:http://www.webspawner.com/users/crossroadsdrivein/index.html
Finally, Ivan, may I add the following. I attended a rather conservative Protestant church in Kansas City, mainly because it was the only one in the neighborhood. After we moved to Santa Cruz, I attended that same Protestant denomination here. But I stopped going after the sixth grade. When my mother was in her late 70s, I happened to ask her why I stopped. Here's what she told me:
"You told me the church believed only Protestants would go to Heaven and everyone else would go to Hell. So you said that if all your Italian friends, who were Catholic, were going to Hell, then you wanted to go to Hell, too, so you could be with them."
-- Len Klempnauer