Costantino "Augie" Gemignani ------------------'Old Rancere'
THIS IS A REMINDER TO ALL ‘BLAGGATORI’ THAT YOUR ‘GRAN BLAGGATORE’ WILL BE MAKING A GUEST APPEARANCE AT THE SANTA CRUZ LIBRARY, 224 CHURCH STREET, DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ, ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 16 AT 1:00 PM. BRING YOUR CAMERAS IF YOU WISH TO TAKE PICTURES WITH “THE OLD RANCERE”. HE SAYS THAT HE WILL BE THERE.
The above photo is of Costantino (Augie) Gemignani and the ‘Old Rancere’ aka Ivano Franco Comelli. The photo was taken by Roger ‘Ruggero’ Princevalle at a visit to Augie’s house in Santa Cruz, last year. You notice that Augie swiped the ‘Old Rancere’s’ hat and placed it on his head. This is indeed a great compliment to the ‘Old Rancere’ because the hat belonged to ‘Bronco’ (my father) who worked with Augie on the Gulch Ranch “su per la costa”. The photo on the right (below) is of Augie with his wife Victoria (Ghio). Augie is holding their one year old (?) daughter Donna. This photo appears to have been taken circa 1950. (Photo found in the La Nostra Costa Archives.)
I believe that Augie is the last of the original ranceri still alive that actually worked with Bronco. I was privileged to have worked with Augie and Bronco on the Gulch Ranch in the Summer of 1953. I was 16 years old at the time and it was my first summer job. The old ‘cooka housa’ in ‘Il Buco’ was still in operation so I actually got to eat with the ‘ranceri’. Reminiscing on this, I thought it might be fun to go around the boarding room table in an attempt to identify those who sat there in the summer of 1953. Many of these ranceri, I do describe in ‘La Nostra Costa”.
The table was set facing east to west. At the head of the table (east end) a place was reserved for “La Cuoca”, ‘Sunta’ Ramaciotti. As I recall ‘Sunta’, for what ever reason, never eat with the ranceri, so the chair remained empty. Seated on what would have been her right, was Pietro “Pete” Rinaldi, ‘Il Bosso”. Almost directly across from Pete sat Bronco. Ironically, this meant that the two faced each other at every meal. (In “La Nostra Costa”, I explain that the two often did not get along.) On Pete’s right sat Dante Ramaciotti. (He of shotgun toting fame and Sunta’s husband.) On his right, sat my brother, John,who also was working a summer job on the Gulch. A rancere named Paolo sat on my brother’s right at the extreme west end of the table. (Paolo was a day laborer; I do not recall is last name.)
Across the table from Paolo (still at the west end) sat “Baffi” Campioni with his bowl of minestrone soup and French bread. (“Baffi” for some reason, insisted on eating the same thing, minestrone and French bread at every meal.) Next to “Baffi”, on his right, sat Costantino (Augie) Gemignani who appears in the photos above. (Augie was in his early 40s during this time period.) On Augie’s right sat that grizzly old rancere, Louis Scannoni. Louis was a day laborer and as described in the book, loved to soak his biscotti cookies into his red wine. (Hmmmm. Buono, Buono!!) Next to him sat Jimmy Corno, another day laborer. Jimmy operated and maintained all the mechanical farm equipment (such as the ‘carapilla') on the Gulch Ranch. Next to Jimmy, sat my father and I sat next to Bronco (far east end, next to Sunta’s vacant chair, on what would have been her left.)
All of these ranceri (except for my brother) have crossed “Il Ultimo Ponte”. All, that is, except for Costantino “Augie’ Gemingani. The “Old Rancere” tells me that Augie might even show up at the Santa Cruz Library, Wednesday. Now that would really be something. If he does show, the "Old Rancere” might have to relinquish his title for the day. ivn0