Thursday, December 28, 2006


BLAGGA FANS: You must forgive me for sending the below message to Corrado Poletti via the Blog. I have tried on several occasions to reply via e-mail and have received returns of "undeliverable" mail. I know that he is a BLAGGA FAN. My hope is that he reads the below message. Also you will have to forgive my imperfect Italian, however, I think Corrado will be able to make it out.

In his message Corrado asks for the e-mail address of Alverda Orlando.
He Is still seeking information on Davenport and Louis Poletti. I have replied that he should send his letter to me and I will forward to Alverda.

Corrado: Spero che questo e-mail arriva a tu porta. . Alverda Orlando sa la historia di Davenport molto bene. Su marito era Elio Orlando del Friuli. Pero lei no legge il Italiano e Elio ha traversato "Il Ultimo Ponte" anni fa. (Manda mi la lettera e io faccio un 'giro' a lei.) La presentazione del libro in il Capitola Book Cafe e Jan 17; 2007 , 730 PM. Buona Fortuna in su ricirca: Sempre Avanti per il Anno Nuovo. Auguri a tutti. Ivano

----- Original Message ----- > Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 10:40 PM> Subject: Corrado from Italy> > >

Hi Ivano, How are you ? come è andata con la presentazione del libro in quel caffè/bar ??? Spero bene...

senti...le mie ricerche mi hanno portato al nominativo della Signora Alverda Orlando....sembra che sia una memoria vivente della storia di Davenport. Mi potresti dire come posso contattarla via e-Mail ? Sai.. sono sempre alla ricerca di conoscere la storia di Louis Poletti e qualche
info mi ha portato anche a San Francisco tra il 1910 e il 1914... ma non sò se si tratta della persona che stò cercando io. Intanto ti saluto e ti mando gli auguri per un "Happy New Year"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


IN “LA NOSTRA COSTA”, I WRITE ABOUT TWO HOUSES THAT STOOD SIDE BY SIDE ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE COAST ROAD about three miles north of Santa Cruz. One house belonged to the Gemignani Family and the other to the Comelli Family (my family). The two houses are no longer there having been moved off the Coast by the Tony Landino Moving Company, C. 1953. Today they stand side by side (much like they did ‘su per la costa’) at 1505 Bulb Ave in Capitola, not too far from the Capitola Mall.

The house my family lived in was originally built by ‘‘Baffi” Campioni and Constantino Gemignani. The Campionis were the first family to live in the house and eventually sold it to my parents in 1937. Gino Campioni relates some early memories of living in that house and what he thinks might have been his first Christmas.

Last Tuesday, while waiting for my friend I amused myself by studying a map of Santa Cruz. (and made myself more homesick) I discovered two things:
1. Mission Street in front of Mission Hill School does not run exactly East and West as I had always thought. 2. Bulb Avenue, where your old house and mine is now located, is less that a mile from where Baffi is buried (Holy Cross Cemetery).

(H)ere are my earliest memories of the house: My mother told me I began talking at 6 months of age. My first words were, "Mamma", "Pappà" and "Che è?" ("What is it?" This became my most frequently repeated phrase.)

When I was just toddling around, Baffi gave me a taste of his Royal Anne cherries he had preserved in bourbon. He said, "you have a cherry and I'll have the juice" I remember the good taste, followed by the startling zing! Happy baby!

I remember standing at a window and watching a Caterpillar tractor pulling out stumps. The driver was Tony Checchi. (pronounced, "cake key") I would call out, "Tira, uomo del trette!" Isn't that what you call a tractor? After all it would be another 4 years before I ever heard about English. At that same window were several shiny things that got my attention. They were iridescent and looked tasty. I tried one. This horrified my mother, who got that horse fly out of my mouth. Non fare mai piu così! Is that phrase familiar, Ivano?

Tony had some harrowing experiences. Once while driving that Caterpillar by the cliffs, he got too close to the edge, and the thing gave a lurch and flung him off. He tumbled down to a ledge, and was seriously hurt. Then he watched in horror as the tractor was still moving slowly and also tumbled over, headed right for him. Somehow it took a bounce, and landed SMASH beyond him. I don't remember who rescued him, or how, but he got out of the situation. Later on, he went back to Italy to find a bride, as Baffi had done, and instead received a beating for his trouble, presumably from a relative of his intended. I don't know what became of him after that.

Perhaps it was at the first Christmas in that house that someone brought me some gifts. One was a ping pong set, which nobody knew what to do with. I thought the little white balls were nice, but what was the rest of the stuff for? Another was a beautiful shiny silver toy Caterpillar with black rubber cleated treads. I was able to get them off the wheels, but putting them back on only served to severely pinch my fingers. I was not strong enough to wind the spring motor, so my dad would do it. I was fascinated to watch that toy move so slowly and realistically and with power. Baffi put an overturned apple box on the floor and a plank on each side so the tractor could climb up to the box and down the other side. To show how much power it had, he hooked a little red wagon to the tractor, and loaded it with a 25 pound bag of sugar and a kitchen chair. The thing marched right up and over with no effort. I don't know what became of that toy. I don't remember seeing it in our next house on Laurent Street in Santa Cruz.

I probably already told you of my mother shooting doves through an open window, and my trying to see where "our dinner " was standing, or how it fell when she fired. (looking through the gap in the wall) I still had that single shot 22 in the house on Bay Street, but never dared to try it. It looked so rusty that I thought it might fly apart if fired. You had to pull back the hammer, lower the firing pin holder and insert a cartridge. After firing, you did the same procedure and had to use pliers to remove the spent shell. After Baffi died, I sold his fine Browning automatic shotgun. I really should have kept it, but as I knew I would never use it, I felt somebody would take better care of it. I sold it for $75. Had I any brains, I should have gotten ten times that much. I live and learn, but learn too late.

Best wishes to you and yours, especially at this holiday season.

Saluti, Gino

Thanks Gino. Here is wishing one and all a Merry Christmas and Happy New year. Ivan0

Reminder: The "Old Rancere" will be at the 'La Nostra Costa' Book Signing at the Capitola Cafe Bookstore, 1475 41st Ave, Capitola, on Wednsday, Jan 17, 2007, starting at 7:30PM. [-831-462-4415- ]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


IN 1955, MY FRIEND KEN OLSEN AND I were watching a movie at the Rio Movie Theater in Santa Cruz. It was during our Christmas break from College. All of sudden we hear heavy rains hitting the roof of the theater. The noise was so great that it almost drowned out the sound of the movie. The name of the movie; "Rains of Ranchipur". Later that night Ken and I found ourselves helping the Red Cross, warning people living along the San Lorenzo River to evacuate. Many older residents refused to leave their homes, only to be rescued later as the River flooded over its banks.

The aricle below is submitted by Robert Lemmon Jr. .He is requesting information regarding the major disasters occuring this Century in Santa Cruz County:

Of the three major natural disasters to occur in the 20th Century in Santa Cruz, those of us who graduated from SCHS in the 1950s likely remember the last two, the 1955 Flood and the Loma Prieta Quake in 1989. But for many of those who left the area permanently after graduation and didn't return, they best remember the 1955 Flood -- unless they didn't return to Santa Cruz for Christmas that year. My 1957 SCHS Faculty & Staff web site, which currently covers the genealogy of the families of those who taught and worked at SCHS from 1952-57, contains a section on the 1955 Flood. You'll find links there to some articles on the flood as well as the 50th Anniversary piece done by the Sentinel last December. Here's a link..... But of main interest may be the recollections of former SCHS students of the flood. Since most of the comments are from the classes of '54 and '57, I'd like to solicit other recollections from those in your class -- or any other class, for that matter. Also, someone might describe what happened "up the coast," for the Big Flood, as the California Dept of Water Power termed it in a book still in the SC Library, affected almost all coastal streams, not just the San Lorenzo.-- If, after reading the recollections on the web site, you would like to describe what you remember, you can send me e-mail to me at the address on the web site. Or, send it to Ivan, who'll likely forward it on. Will consider most for inclusion in future updates of the web site. (Am hoping to post the next update by the end of Jan 07.)

La Nostra Costa Book Signing Event (hopefully not a disaster ), at the Capitola Cafe Books Store on 41st Avenue on January 17, 2oo7. Telephone 831-462-4415, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Saturday, December 09, 2006


the Editor of the '54/'04 Cardinal, The 50th ReUnion Memory Book of the Santa Cruz High School Class of 1954. A copy is available for viewing in the Santa Cruz Alumni Association Office and in the Genealogy Section of the main Santa Cruz Public Library

Alien Italians
(Margaret Ghio-Hartmann, a retired San Francisco policewoman, divides her time between her homes in Santa Cruz and in San Francisco.)
By Margaret (Ghio) Hartmann

World War II caused difficult changes in the lives of Italian American families in Santa Cruz. My father, Tom, a commercial fisherman who was born in Riva Trigosa, Genoa, Italy, and had come to the United States as a babe in arms, was declared an alien even though he was married to a U.S. citizen.
Most of the Italian fishing families lived in an area of the city bounded by Bay Street, California Street and Monterey Bay. For the men, the wharf was not only their source of livelihood but also was the center of their social life.

On Dec. 7, 1941, I had scarlet fever, and my mother, my sister and I were quarantined. There was an alert that the Japanese were going to invade Santa Cruz, and everyone in our area was evacuated, except for a paralyzed man and us.
My father, the so-called alien, wasn’t allowed to fish anymore but, ironically, was sent up to guard the Bay Street Reservoir . . . as if his little fishing boat could cause as much harm as someone poisoning the drinking water or signaling from the hills. He was armed with a stick — not even a baseball bat — to protect the reservoir.
My father appealed his alien status, but to no avail. He had to sell his fishing boat and move us from Mason Street to the other side of Mission Street, where we lived across from Bay View Elementary School. So we always had plenty of kids to play with.
My father found work at the cement plant, a vital industry, eventually passed the citizenship test and returned to fishing.
Our camera, radio and shotgun were confiscated, although later they were re-turned. My parents bought a multi-band radio but before it was delivered, the short wave band was removed.
There was a lot of misinformation spread during the war. At school we were told that the government was going to have all students collect milkweed seeds to be used as a substitute for kapok. Another time we were warned about balloons that would spew poisonous gases upon landing with a buzzing noise. It was really scary stuff for an 8-year-old.
There also were blackouts. I remember sitting in the dining room with all the windows covered with black paper. The air raid wardens would get upset if they could see any light. There were shortages, and food and gasoline were rationed. There were not many toys for kids.
I experienced minimal problems because my mother wasn’t Italian and I was fair-haired with blue eyes. But my cousin, Santa Cruzan Mary (Ghio) Stagnaro, wasn’t so lucky. Her mother, Emma, also was born in Riva Trigosa, and her family spoke Italian at home. I can remember Mary being teased about her grammar, for example, “foots” for “feet.”
Mary’s family also was forced to move, and they went to the East Side, as did our grandparents. Her father, my Uncle Tony who was my father’s younger brother, was able to continue fishing because he had been born in the United States.

Mary and I were very young when the war broke out (we entered kindergarten in September 1941) and have only dim recollections of its beginnings. Other than the kids teasing Mary about her grammar, which probably would have happened whether or not there had been a war, we don’t remember any personal discrimination. But we lived in an area that was predominantly Italian and attended a school with a large Italian population.

We know of some men who were interred but, fortunately, not in our family.

When my father returned to fishing, he brought home a football, a basketball and a baseball that he found in the ocean. Supposedly they had been lost when they went overboard from military ships in the area.

LNC: As I was doing research for the "La Nostra Costa" book, I came across articles in the Monterey Herald regarding the sufferings of the Italian fishermen and their families because of the imposed WWII restrictions, in the Monterey Bay Area.
For more information on the history of these restrictions read :"Una Storia Segreta: The History of Italian Evacuation and Internment During World War II, published by Heyday Books 2001. Also Chapter 2, in my book,"La Nostra Costa" (Our Coast), 'La Costa E La Guerra' (The Coast and the War).


Monday, December 04, 2006


THIS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, IS THE 65TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF PEARL HARBOR. Immediately after the bombing, America declared war on the Empire of Japan. As a consequence Adolph Hitler declared war on the United States and Italy’s Benito Mussolini followed suit. As a result of Italy’s involvement in World War II on the side of Japan and Germany, many Italians without proper citizenship papers ‘su per la costa’ and elsewhere in America were declared to be ‘enemy aliens’ . As described by Norma (Dinelli) Wilson in her story (Part I,) and also in Chapter 3 of my book, "La Costa E La Guerra", severe restrictions were imposed on the Italians, causing some to be relocated and some to lose their jobs. In October of 1942, the Attorney General of the United States lifted the restrictions on the Italians, although the United States was still at war with Italy. One of the main reason this was done, was because so many sons of Italian aliens were in uniform and fighting for the United States in Europe and the Pacific . Attilio Joseph Dogliotti of Santa Cruz was one of those boys and he made the supreme sacrifice for his (our) Country.

The following article was sent to me by Gino Campioni and was copied from the original appearing in the “Santa Cruz Riptide-Vol. 10- No. 20.

In a window of a cozy home at 498 Bay street there proudly hangs a service flag with one star for all that family could give to its Flag.

But today that star has turned to gold for that home has made the supreme sacrifice--it has given all it had for its Flag, and its walls never again will resound to a cheery "Hi, Mom,"from a happy, six-foot youth as he came bounding home from work.

Saturday afternoon, May 8, Second Lieutenant Attilio Joseph Dogliotti, 22, was at the controls of a four-motored Liberator bomber when it crashed in the northern part of Arizona. Lieutenant Dogliotti was killed. Three others in the plane were also killed.

The body of the young pilot was to be shipped to White's Mortuary some time this week where a military funeral will be held.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. B. Dogliotti of 498 Bay street, Joseph was born in Santa Cruz and was the only child. He graduated from Santa Cruz high school in 1939. In 1938 he was captain of the heavy weight champion football team and was an outstanding tackle. In 1939 Joseph was captain
of the champion baseball team. He was an honor student in agriculture in high school, and one of the most popular students in the school.

After his graduation, Joseph was employed at the Coast Drum and Box company on Mission street and later he was employed with the Santa Cruz Portland Cement company in Davenport.

It was in April of 1942 that Joseph enlisted as an aviation cadet and was sent to Santa Ana Air Base for pre-flight training. He progressed successfully through the various phases of training and finally, on January 4 of 1943, Joseph was awarded his wings and commission at
Stockton. He was a bomber pilot.

Lieutenant Dogliotti was en route to Pocatello, Idaho, from Gibbs Field, Texas, to get a new plane when the crash occurred. His was the second plane of the same type to have crashed in approximately the same area.

Slated for promotion to first lieutenant within a few weeks and then a captaincy following quickly, Lieutenant Dogliotti had written his proud parents that he would be home for a furlough the first of June.

But Joseph came home earlier on an eternal furlough granted by his Supreme Commander-in Chief. And the little star in that service flag has turned to gold.