THIS IS PART II ON NORMA'S STORY. In Part I she describes what life was like for her family and other Italiani "su per la costa" during WWII. In Part II she vividly describes what it was like for a little girl growing up on the Coast after the War.
I started school at Laurel School in l946 and did not know a word of English. I learned a little from Ida and Lea Grossi (Lea Lambert) and the Santos kids – Don, Alice and Betty but after I stared school. Serafina Beltrami took my mom and me to the first day to register, etc. Many women from the Coast did not drive and of course my mom did not know English either so Serafina helped out as so many people helped each other out in those days. I soon learned some English but it was hard at first. I remember wanting “American lunches” with American bread and lettuce which was white bread and iceberg lettuce. I had sandwiches made from thinly sliced French bread with cut up meatballs or fried zucchini or salami. I really yearned for bologna or peanut butter and jelly. The kids would say “what’s that?” Today they would probably like my lunch better. This was crossing of the cultures and learning about other ways of doing things.
My most memorable memories of course are with the Coast Road kids – the Rodonis,
And of course going to the beach with Ivano’s mother Valentina (she was one of the few women of the coast that drove). My Dad would drive us to her house or if it was Serafina she would drive to the beach after stopping at her house. She would also pick up my Aunt (Zia Elvira Neri ) and my cousin Laura and the old Carrettone would head for the Cowell or Main Beach area. What a treat – a day at the warm, no wind beach in town(protected because it is in the bay). The Coast beaches are out there all exposed to the Pacific Ocean and the winds – beautiful even though windy.
All ranches had cookhouses and a cook. We only ate at home on the weekends during Brussel Sprout picking season. Christmas we spent at Pietro & Ida Bargiacchi Ranch with Flora & Leo and at least 30 other people (family and friends) – all in the cookhouse. Easter was at the Tambellini Ranch in “montania” – just south and overlooking Davenport. Albert Tambellini was the cook and again over 30 or so people in the cookhouse. Occasionally we spent a holiday at the Giulio and Emma Bargiacchi Ranch (one of the last ranches on the Coast before entering city of Santa Cruz) with Don and Mary and an overflow in the cookhouse.
The Trovatore Hotel was a place where all Italian occasions took place: weddings, baptisms, confirmations, lst communions, etc etc. I can’t remember the year it burned – Beach Liquors is next to where the Hotel was located. My parents were married at Holy Cross and the dinner was at the Trovatore. Many happy and memorable occasions I remember there – just like the old BBQS at Laguna. After some wine there was always the singing and dancing.
I was baptized at the Santa Cruz Mission, received my lst Communion at St.Vincent de Paul in Davenport and confirmed at Holy Cross in Santa Cruz but every event was celebrated at the Trovatore. My baptism was with Julio Rinaldi and his sister Alma Rinaldi Rogers and my cousin Laura Neri Gularte were celebrating their lst communion.
There were always kids celebrating occasions together – very festive. The families were close and enjoyed doing things and celebrating as a group.
All the Coast kids took the schoolbus to school – I believe it was #9 and Mr. Bruce was the driver. It was the old, winding road and it took forever to get to school and back home. (so it seemed). We were all happy and adjusted well – so many of us did not speak English when we started but learned and did quite well.
The Red White and Blue Beach was the Scaroni Dairy (and everyone was clothed). Bill, Arnold, John and Katie – they are a story in itself. I helped Katie clean her big house in summer. She later taught me to drive. Ted Templeton and other kids from Santa Cruz came up in summer to help with the hay baling. The Scaroni’s also had to stop traffic on the highway twice a day at milking time to get the cows from the north field down to the milking barn. The Borges did the same in the next Dairy south of the Scaronis. When Mr. Borges was sick, his daughters Vera and Della and I would stop traffic and get the cows across the highway. It is hard to see that happening today on the “new Coast Road”.
As we graduated and some of the oldtimers left the Coast for different reasons and we went our separate ways there was always the keeping in touch and commradere. Change is gradual and before you know it – the past is a memory and wonderful adventure.
There are some neat things happening with the next generation(s) coming up: when my kids started high school they would come home and say I met so and so and his Mom or Dad or whatever is Italian and they know you!!! So even though Santa Cruz and the Coast and Davenport are changing – so much is the same.
Now my grandchild said he has a friend who is very close to him and they play sports, etc. and it turns out that it is Alice Santos Ponzas grandson!!!!! How cool is that??!!
And some of Patty Morelli’s graddaughters communicate with my granddaughters via the internet (we’ve come a long way!)
Also Lea Grossi Lambert and I have kept up our friendship and had our old Boss and friend in common – John Battistini. If I was to cover everything this biography would be the size of a thick book!!! John asked me to work for him right out of high school because I spoke Italian and his insurance business was 80% Italians.
Patty and I married a day apart and moved next door to each other in the Live Oak area in l962. Our boys were born a few months apart and it was a continuation of Newtown. Now we live very close in Scotts Valley and in 2002 we visited Italy and Germany together.
Some of us have never left and some of us have just gone a little ways away. And those that have gone far away now are in touch by internet – what a grand technology!!!!!
For me Ivano’s book has brought back so many memories – some I had forgotten and some were refreshed in my mind. Now as it gains popularity, more people are reading it and responding – everyone is coming out of the woodwork and it is gaining momentum. It is reliving so many things and hearing from so many people. WHAT A SPECIAL THING FOR ALL OF US TO BE ‘FIGLI DELLA COSTA’
-Norma (Dinelli) Wilson