Those of you seeking more information re: "La Nostra Costa Day", on Saturday Oct 14, between 1-4pm, at the Swanton Berry Farm, on Highway 1 at Swanton Road, (2 miles north of Davenport) the successive three articles posted below, will give you a pretty good idea what it is all about. The first article is a Santa Cruz Sentinel News article by Tom Ragan who vividly discribes what I am trying to accomplish, the second article gives you information on the Davenport Roadhouse at the Cash Store and the third article gives you a brief history of Davenport and a self-tour. So scroll down the BLOG and become informed. IVN0
October 9, 2006
Son of Italian immigrants farms background for bookBy TOM RAGANSENTINEL STAFF WRITER
With shovel in hand and old-country hat on head, Ivano Comelli re-enacted a scene of what it was like to be an Italian farmer in Santa Cruz County at the start of the Depression in the late 1920s.
His theatrical performance was delivered before Agri-Culture's Focus Ag class, which had gathered Friday at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds to listen to Comelli.
Comelli, the son of Italian immigrants, grew up on a farm three miles north of Santa Cruz. He's written a book based on his experiences.
The book is called "La Nostra Costa," or "Our Coast."
Of course, the title is a play on the phrase, "La Cosa Nostra," made famous by the Sicilian mafia and which means "Our Business" and don't meddle in it if you know what's good for you.
With about a dozen black and white photographs and nearly 400 pages, Comelli's up close and personal account of what it means to be Italian is refreshing in that it paints a different portrait of Santa Cruz's Italian community — one of farmers instead of more well-known fishermen.
"It's basically the story of my mother and father and our family — as told to me by them and as seen with my very own eyes," said the 69-year-old Comelli, a retired San Jose police officer who now lives in Morgan Hill but whose youth was spent among Italian immigrants near Davenport.
Comelli said he still remembers how his father, with nothing but a shovel and bare hands, would section off ditches as the water came in, making sure it flowed properly to the Brussels sprouts and artichokes.
"It was hard work," said Comelli. "But he'd sing a lot of Italian songs as he did it — usually World War I military songs."
Comelli, a graduate of San Jose State University, describes the hard times that all Italian immigrants faced living in Santa Cruz County shortly after World War I.
In one passage, Comelli writes of his father, "They called him Bronco. That, of course, wasn't his real name. It was the name given him by the Italian ranchers who worked on the rugged north coast of Santa Cruz County. The ranches were known as "rancios" and the ranchers were identified as "ranceri."
So what we've got in Comelli's book, which took him four years to write, is a vivid historical biography of the Italian community, both in Santa Cruz County and in Nimis, the town in the northeastern Italy, where many of the Italian farmers came from.
Comelli walks us through his family's journey to the United States and what it was like for family members who stayed in Italy to live under Nazi occupation during World War II.
Contact Tom Ragan at tragan@santacruzsentinel
WHAT: Ivano Comelli's book, 'La Nostra Costa.'
WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Oct 14.
WHERE: Swanton Berry Ranch cook house, at the Highway 1 and Swanton Road, two miles north of Davenport.
Price: $18 for soft cover; $23 for hard cover.