Monday, July 31, 2006


Lido Cantarutti (Right) with his mother, Evelina and brother, Reno (Left). Photo take at the Cantarutti family home in Richmond in 2002. Evelina celebrated her 95th Birthday last December 2007.
From time to time I will be posting interesting Bios of Figlios e Figlias della Costa (Sons and Daughters of the Coast).

Lido Cantarutti was born in Santa Cruz, at the old Sisters' Hospital, which was located at Bay and West Cliff Drive. His parents Guido and Evelina Cantarutti with their first born infant son Carino (Reno) immigrated from Italy to California in the mid-1930s. For the first couple of years of his life, Lido lived in a wind-blown shack which was located about 7-miles north of Davenport. ("La Nostra Costa" p.140). From these meager beginnings (All they had according to Evelina, was the clothes on their back and that infernal coastal wind in their faces), emerged a most honored "Figlio della Costa."

"Born of an Italian family from the Friuli region, Lido Cantarutti grew up in the Bay Area. He attended U.C. Berkeley, earning a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Romance Languages and Literature, and "Highest Honors" and Phi Beta Kappa recognition.

After college, Lido served as a U.S. Army officer, followed by a corporate career in marketing administration and human resources. Throughout his career he has maintained and enthusiastic interest in Italian cultural activities. In 1980 he assumed leadership of a fledgling Italian film program at the College of Marin. His presentation of the program, as a "festival" and not just a movie, with live entertainment, informative and entertaining introductions, and personal "family style" greeting of guests, produced a winning formula for popular success.

Since 1985, most Festivals have been sold out. Special series featured great neorealist (1985) and comedy classics (1986 and 1987) of the Italian cinema. In 1988, Mr. Cantarutti offered two shows in the open-air setting at Dominican College's Forest Meadows Theatre. In 1989, the Festival moved to the Showcase Theatre at Marin Center in San Rafael, affording improved patron conveniences and 35 mm film projection.

Also in 1989, Lido was honored with Italian knighthood, and the title of "Cavaliere", or "Knight" of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He was named Marin County's Italian American Citizen of the Year by the Cristoforo Club of Marin in 1995. In 1996, he received two awards in Italy - tbe Merit Furlan and recognition from the Friulian branches of the Alpini national soldier association. For the academic year 1998-1999 at the College of Marin, Lido was honored for his teaching of Italian with the award as Outstanding Faculty Member (Part-Time). In addition he has served as the host of Northwest Airlines' inflight video program showing Italian films.

More recently, Lido was again honored by the Italian government with a promotion to "Cavaliere Ufficiale" or "Knight Officer", and by his family's native to family's native town in Italy with the conferral of honorary citizenship."

Well done Lido! All those honors and please add one more :"Figlio Della Costa - Speciale", conferred onto you this day by your 'amico della costa" Ivano Franco Comelli.

BTW: The Italian Film Festival is held annually (usually in October). New releases for this year's festival will be posted soon on Lido's website: .

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I recently received this letter from RoseMarie Giannandrea. She is related to the Modolo family who lived and worked in the Swanton Valley, "su per la costa." (La Nostra Costa-pages 354-357.)

"What a wonderful surprise! I had no idea someone wrote a book about growing up on the coast road, where my mother, Mary Modolo was born and where my grandparents started their lives in America.

When I was a little girl my mom would tell me all about her childhood on the coast road, the ranch and all of the families. My Nonna and I would work in the vineyards or in the kitchen and she would tell me so many stories about the ranch where she would cook all the meals for thirty men everyday and how she got to the coast from Italy.

I lived with my grandparents from the time I was four years old and they had just moved to Dinuba, CA. Because of our long and many talks I feel like I know so many of the families mentioned in your book. I have to tell you of all the tears that came with reading it as well.

How it makes me miss my Nonna and my mom. (Mom passed away five years ago from cancer). Mom was visiting Nonno and Nonna for Christmas when mother went into labor with me and that's why I was born in Sant Cruz! I can still remember the long wooden tables on the ranch where Nonno would stand me on the table after the the dishes were cleared, but of course not the wine and I would sing along to all the Italian records.

I remember when I asked Nonna why they left Davenport, she told me it was because of Uncle John's death (Johnny Modolo-La Nostra Costa- page 356). Nonna showed me all the newspaper articles of his death. My grandparents never got over the death of my uncle. Both my grandparents and Uncle John are in the mausoleum in Santa Cruz and I still go and put the flowers there.

It's amazing how the death of my uncle did sadden a whole community. About ten years ago or so there was an article written about the ranches on the coast highway and a picture of my grand parent's house; the old torn and tattered curtains were blowing through the broken windows and there was mention about my Uncle John and "was his spirit still in the house?" My Nonna told me when my son was born, "If his name (isn't) John don't bring him home." I think she meant it!

The year before Nonna's death, I took her to her one and only Coast Highway Reunion in 1987. After 40 years every one knew exactly who she was when we entered the room and of coure they told me how much I looked just like my mother and everyone made mention of my uncle.

I remain very close to my Aunt Rita. It's kind of like still having my mom. She and my mom were very very close friends and had been since the age of four. They were more like sisters. When mom passed away, I wrote her obituary, listing her surviving family and also put "One life long friend, Rita (Franceschini) Giannandrea". Uncle Deno and my step-father were the best friends and that's how mom and dad met."

Thanks RoseMarie. What a wonderful letter. "La Nostra Costa" has 1001 stories. A few I was able to recount in the book. The story of Johnny Modolo and his untimely death, and the "Ghosts of the Coast" were included. ivno

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tessie's People Article

The article below was written by Tessie Kennedy, who writes a column (Tessie's People) for the Banner and Valley Press , , which covers Scotts Valley and the San Lorenzo Valley, Jim Reed, Editor.

Tessie, unlike some reviewers, actually read the book from cover to cover. Being from the mid-west, she found the history of Santa Cruz and "La Costa" of particular interest to her. Her comment that the book read like a novel, was particularly gratifying to me.

"Former Scotts Valley resident, Ivano Franco Comelli, is the author of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), newly published in March. It tells of his growing up years on the coast along Highway 1 as a member of an Italian immigrant ranching family and then as a police officer. He graduated from San Jose State and worked there in the San Jose Police Department while living in Scotts Valley. His wife, Mildred was a real estate agent and later a broker. She worked briefly for Coldwell Banker in Scotts Valley. They had three daughters and lived in Scotts Valley almost 20 years. It was while living in Scotts Valley, that then Police Sgt. Comelli, received a devastating phone call informing him of the killing of his best friend, Officer Richard Huerta, while he was writing a traffic citation. He dedicated his book to his seven grandsons and his nieces and nephews

A book signing and reading will be held on Tuesday June 27 from 1-4 at Agnes Dei Christian Bookshop, 134 Walnut Avenue. Ivano Comelli graduated from Santa Cruz High with the part-owner Esther Wilson.
Friends from Olympia,Washington and Maryland are attending the book signing and Ivan Comelli, as he was known in Scotts Valley, hopes to see more friends from his past. He is still gathering material.

Since being published Comelli has been on the radio, TV and in the newspaper. He has been contacted by News Italia, a paper in Italy, by a 2nd cousin in Italy he hadn't seen since '78, and by a police officer he hadn't seen in 20 years. It took four years to write this interesting life story which tells the hardships of being Italian here during World War II. There are interesting local history items. Comelli's father immigrated to the United States when he was 23. His father, called Bronco, was a Brussels sprout rancher and his mother, Valentina, worked cleaning sprouts and for a time as a cook at the ranch. Ivano Franco Comelli attended Laurel School, now the Louden Nelson Community Center. One summer the family rented a vacation house in Felton by Henry Cowell Parek. Any local history buffs will find this a great book. The arcade at the Boardwalk used to be called the Penny Arcade. Although a true life story, I found this book to read like a novel. I read it in three and a half days. The history in the book is fascinating. The daily life details of the 40's kept my interest. I related to his mother who he says was a great cook.

Now Ivano Franco Comelli, is known as Ivan Comelli or Grandpa and is busy going to Little League games and promoting his book.

"La Nostra Costa"(Our Coast is published by Authorhouse, and is available through their website, ,or order by phone 1-888-280-7715. It is available at the Agnes Dei Christian Bookshop and the Capitola Book-Cafe."

Thanks Tessie for a great article. 'Con Un Bacin D'Mor. ivn0

Thursday, July 27, 2006


July 27, 2006. La Nostra Costa Blog has been created . As many of you already know my book "La Nostra Costa" (Our Coast) is the story of the Italian immigrants who settled on the North Coast of Santa Cruz, located about 75 miles south of San Francisco, California. Although this is an historical account of my family's journey to and from the Coast, it is written in an narrative form, describing how a young boy growing up, saw certain historical events develop before his eyes.

This is an intial entry. More details about the book will follow. La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) by Ivano Franco Comelli, is published by Authorhouse Publishers, and is available on line at , or by phone at 1-888-280-7715. In the Santa Cruz Area it is available at the Agnus Dei Christian Book Store, at 138 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz, Telephone 1-831-457-2636 and the Capitola-Cafe Bookstore on 41st Avenue in Capitola,1-831-462-4415