AS WE START THE NEW YEAR WE ARE REMINDED THAT SOME FIGLIO E FIGLIA DELLA COSTA ARE NO LONGER WITH US. Dave Ferrari died late last year. He was a giant of man--both in appearance and personality. I first heard Dave play his accordion circa 1952-53. He made a guest appearance at the Santa Cruz High School Auditorium. After that I would frequently run into him at Ray and Zelda Ceragioli's home on Escalona Drive. On one particular occasion, he told a very funny story. It seems that on one of his frequent cross country trips he was driving across the desert behind a very large cattle truck. It was hot and the sun was shining brightly without a cloud in the sky. All of a sudden a cloud burst inundated his vehicle with rain. Unable to understand the phenomenon, Dave pulled to the side of the road, got out of his car and looked up at the sky. Not a drop of rain in sight. It was then that he figured out that the "rain" was bovine in nature. So much for following too close.
The below article describing Dave's life was written by Jondi Gumzs and appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. (Also read the obituary written by Dave Ferrari for Irene Terrini Bianconi. Click on comments at the end of the Sentinel article.)
December 7, 2006
Well-known florist Dave Ferrari served the community and the stars
By JONDI GUMZSentinel staff writer
The announcement for Dave Ferrari's memorial service said "Flowers only, please" — not surprising for the founder of Ferrari the Florist — who died in his Santa Cruz home on Friday. He was 92.
Mr. Ferrari opened the floral shop in 1946. It was a bold career switch.
He had played the accordion since he was 12, and after graduating from Santa Cruz High School in 1931, he turned his talent into a career. He taught the accordion and led an orchestra, performing at barbecues, weddings and dances from Half Moon Bay to King City.
In 1936, he chaired the Santa Cruz Fiesta, a birthday party for the city, persuading local merchants to don Spanish outfits and wearing a mariachi costume for a photo with Oscar-winner Claudette Colbert. She was in Bonny Doon with Fred MacMurray to make the film, "Maid of Salem."
Mr. Ferrari entertained at the San Francisco World Fair in 1939 and 1940, and served as the accompanist for the famed Fisherman's Chorus during the popular "Day on the Bay" celebrations.
During World War II, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He took his accordion with him, entertaining the troops and creating lifelong friendships.
Mr. Ferrari earned a promotion to 1st sergeant with the 54th Signal Battalion, spent two years in Iceland, then two more in Europe with the 18th Airborne Corps. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine River at Wesel, the Battle of the Ruhr pocket, and joined forces with the Russian troops at the Elbe River.
Returning home after four years, he took a nine-month apprenticeship with a florist in San Francisco. He told a Sentinel reporter that going into business "scared the hell out of me." But he proved to be astute. He catered to such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, who had a home in Scotts Valley, and his "Festival of Trees" at Christmas became a tradition.
The store, which moved to Pacific Avenue in 1954, became known for its extravagant holiday window displays. When Mr. Ferrari retired in 1978, the store was rated among the top florists in the country.
The 1989 earthquake forced the floral shop to relocate. It returned downtown and celebrated its 60th anniversary in September this year, with Mr. Ferrari, 92, sharing memories with Sharon Richardson, the current owner, and her staff.
In his younger days, Mr. Ferrari was an avid river runner. He rafted the Colorado through the Grand Canyon several times before the dam was built in Page in 1963 and several other rivers.
During his retirement, he traveled to 67 countries, including Iceland, visiting relatives and friends. His home in Santa Cruz became known as the "Ferrari Hilton" because visitors from all over the world were always welcome.
He never married, explaining to an interviewer in 1994 that "the accordion was my wife." To four generations of family, he was affectionately known as Uncle "D." He outlived his sister Leda, who died in 1993, and his sister Sylvia, who died in 2004.
He was proud to say he slept in the same bedroom where he was born.
Contact Jondi Gumz at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?
David H. Ferrari
BORN: April 15, 1914.
DIED: Dec. 1, 2006.
HOME: Santa Cruz.
OCCUPATION: Accordion player and orchestra leader, founder of Ferrari the Florist.
EDUCATION: Graduate of Santa Cruz High School.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Responsible for live entertainment at the Beach Boardwalk during the 1930s; chaired the Santa Cruz Birthday Party celebration; named outstanding citizen of Santa Cruz, 1941.
Reminder "La Nostra Costa Book Signing at the Capitola Cafe-Bookstore, on Weds. Jan 17 @ 7:30 PM. Location: 1475 41st Ave Capitola, 831-462-4415.