Wednesday, January 03, 2007


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
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.


ivano said...

The below e-mail was sent to me by Diane Terrini Bianconi. The obituary on her mother, "Figlia della Costa", Irene Terrini Bianconi was written by the hand of Dave Ferrari.

Subject: Irene Terrini Bianconi written by Dave Ferrari

Irene Terrini Bianconi Born December 4th, 1912

She died at her Scotts Valley home. She was 92.
Born and raised in Davenport, she attended Santa Cruz
High School. She worked on the family artichoke ranch
and helped cook for the workers. When the family moved
to Swanton, she helped her mother run the Italian
restaurant in the house, a popular stop for travelers
to San Francisco. The Red House on Swanton Road

In 1937, she married Guido Bianconi and together they
operated Bianconi Produce. Mrs. Bianconi later worked
for Dave Ferrari at Ferrari Florist.

Mrs. Bianconi was known for her cooking, especially
her artichoke pie. She also enjoyed playing cards,
arranging flowers and watching sports on television.
She was a longtime member of Holy Cross Church.

Mrs. Bianconi is survived by her daughter, Diane
Bianconi of Scotts Valley; grandson Michael Leith.

Her husband of 53 years, Guido Bianconi, grandson
Benjamin Croman, and brothers David and Gene Terrini
died before her.

[My mother: Queen Elizabeth looked just like her until the day she died. ]

"If you can dream you can do it"
buona giornata
Diane B. Bianconi

Len klempnauer said...

Hi, Ivan,
In reference to the late Dave Ferrari, I bet every guy who went to a formal dance at Santa Cruz or Holy Cross High Schools in the '50s bought a corsage
for his date from Ferrari the Florist.
I last saw Dave at the Armed Forces Day Parade on May 21, 2005, on Pacific Avenue. I chatted with him for a few minutes after the parade was over. Dave
had been a customer of my parents' at their drive-in restaurant, the Cross Roads BBQ & Drive-In*, which was at the bottom of West Cliff Drive next to the old SP Depot.
On Oct. 20, 2006, the Sentinel newspaper published a 60th anniversary photo of Ferrari the Florist as a local business. Although now owned by someone
else, Dave was included in the picture.
I swear that the best place to randomly run across people you knew from the 50s is at the Costco in Harvey West Park. Last week I nodded at a guy I'd seen there a few times. I couldn't remember his name, so I decided to
introduce myself. It was Don Mungai, who was the older brother of your '55 classmate, Jerry Mungai.
I've run across Nick Vomvolakis, SCHS '50; Mel Bowen, '52; Sal Basile, '53;
Dan and Connie (Stretch) Knoll, '54 and '53 respectively; Ruth (Nielsen)Mitchell,Fred Fehn and Caroline (Fisher) Parrish, all '54; Jim and Leah
Grossi) Lambert, '55 and '54 respectively; and T.J. Scott and Esther (Frizza) Wilson, both '55.
There probably have been others, but I haven't been keeping a list. There no doubt are others I knew but don't recognize. As I'm sure they don't recognize me.
I check with your web site frequently because I enjoy reading the names of people I once knew or still know and even those I never knew but whose family names are familiar.

*Did I ever mention to you that I have a rather extensive web site about the
Cross Roads? The building is still standing, but the City of Santa Cruz plans to tear it down at some future date and build a new Natural History Museum there. I was hoping the city might have been foresighted enough to
preserve the building, designate it as a historical landmark and make it part of the museum complex. There aren't many eight-sided drive-in buildings still existing from our teenage cruisin'-the-drag era. Certainly none in
Santa Cruz County.
The web site, titled "Help Save The Cross Roads Drive-In," is at:
Len Klempnauer, Capitola, Calif.

LNC: Thanks Len. Those names sure bring back a lot of memories.
I think we need something (again) to draw attention to the plight of the Cross Roads Drive In. How about a "La Nostra Costa " book signing event by the "Old Rancere" on the site. He says that he remembers the place. If we could get all those names you mentioned above to come, we would have a formidable force to start with. ivn0