Saturday, June 23, 2007


Cathy Brovia (center) with sister-in-law Lena (Brovia)Castiglione and the "Old Rancere" at 'La Nostra Costa Day' held at Jim Cochron's Swanton Berry Farm last year. Small photo in background is of a very young Joe 'Pino' Brovia the 'Davenport Destroyer'. Cathy's husband, Joe Brovia is also photographed (Top Right) in his Cincinnati Reds Uniform circa 1955 (Click on photos for enlarged image.)


Hi Ivano,

Thanks for your book and the ‘Blagga’. I understand completely when you say that some Italian people are less interested in their history in Davenport during those times of depression and hard work, than people who are not Italians. I may be a lot older than you, but I came from a very small town in Minnesota, just like Davenport. I worked in a restaurant, doing everything for $12.00 a week (6 days a week).. It was a greyhound stop on the way to Minneapolis. I also shocked grain with my mother for .05 and .10 cents an hour.... 8 hour days... and the canning factories, working along side of prisoners from Germany, Poland and a few other countries...I worked in sweat shops, different jobs, grabbing chickens that had been stabbed in the neck, and dipped in hot water, so that I could grab them steaming hot still alive, and put them on the ruffer to take most of the feathers off (with infection in my eyes from the feathers) and rotating other duties.

These chickens and poultry were frozen and sent to our troops in WW II. I don't remember what I was paid, but not very much. We appreciated any work, and did anything to make a few dollars to buy the rationed things including food and clothing and GASOLINE.. ABOUT .25 cents a gal... I know I could do those things again, but the kids today might laugh at you if they were offered a job like that...

We did not have indoor toilets, or bathrooms. On Saturday night all the kids had to bathe in the same tub, after heating the water from the stove, or getting it from a barrel which collected rain water, and was heated by the sun. I remember every room in that farm house, and when I got scalded on both legs pulling down a tea kettle full of hot water off the pot belly stove that I thought needed changing on a cold winter's night. I remember my uncle Paul, big fisherman,that was playing cards when it happened. I remember standing in the sink, people pumping cold water from the cistern on my legs, only to make big blisters. I remember doctors office,,,, aunt changing dressings on the burns from my hips to the toes. ( My mother could not do it.... Aunt Corrine, did the dressings) I still have scars from the burns on the inside of my knees. Aunt Corrine has long been gone, and husband Peanut succumbed many years before her... Bless her...

I have a beautiful Aunt ‘Snooks’ who is 86; we used to go on wallpaper and paint jobs when other work was not available...Boy, some of those old farm houses had so many layers of wallpaper on them... causing the corners to be rounded. The ceilings were the worse to paper...But when we finished the job, it was perfect...We were probably paid $1.50 a room... My beautiful Aunt "Snooks" and I still talk on the telephone and we just reminisce over those great years.

I also lived in South Dakota with another aunt and uncle during the canning season, Saturday nights were very special. We all went to a nice place on the lake for dinner that had a great band. I recall Lawrence Welk and a three piece band playing there... My uncle was a great dancer, and loved to enjoy himself. He loved to have a great time. What a beautiful man he was...They are both dead now, but I still remember those wonderful times as a young person.

Two years ago, my brother John and I drove back to Minn. for a graduation. We had a wonderful time together, as we had not been together for many years.... We drove to our family farm, which is now property of the state. As I remembered, it was such a beautiful place in a valley. The old school house is still standing, as well as a few unoccupied old homes. Our home has been torn down, however; the barn is still standing.... the barn that my father borrowed money to build for $1000.00. Later, after my father died, the bank foreclosed. I think about 365 acres of ground along a beautiful falls and creek, is now a state park.

My grandmother on my fathers side managed a boarding house at one time. My grandparents on my mother’s side are long gone, but the old house is still..... barely.... standing... no one tore it down... I have pictures of these buildings, and it breaks my heart to think, I stayed in that house so many times, sleeping on the feather mattresses between my aunts, that my grandmother had made from the goose down... and eating the food that my grandmother cooked on the old small dark and dreary kitchen wood stove... all by kerosene light... The table was made by my grandfather...He had a beautiful library that he built, and had so many books, along with the beautiful family bible, containing all the family births and deaths. (I remember the damn geese would chase us kids every time we would go outside... but grandma finally cooked their goose at Thanksgiving time.

Ivano, you have certainly brought back so many memories to me, but I have no one to share them with.... I guess that is why I respect you for doing your beautiful book, and the love that you showed of your parents and aunts etc... I have so many thoughts that go through my mind at times.

My home town had a 100th anniversary quite a few years back, but I did not know about it... I took my husband Joe (Brovia) back in 1971. Joe wanted to know what kind of town I lived in after we left the beautiful farm. I said(kidding), “ Oh, its just a small town like Davenport”. Not quite. I didn’t tell him that at that time we had several gas stations, a bank, several groceries, barber shop, pool hall, butcher shop, post office, merchandise store, liquor store, hardware store, bowling alley, and many other businesses. In fact, it really was a great lively, beautiful town when I lived there.

Well, after not being back in my home town of Morton, Minnesota for so many years, I was so shocked to see that so many businesses had left....... including the restaurant, where I worked and the greyhound bus station. I was amazed that NOW, it really did look like DAVENPORT.!!

.... Bless you Ivano..... Thanks for the good job!!!! Cathy


To view comments on this article, 'clicca' on ‘comments’ below -- which will take you to the “Comments” page. Then if you wish to add a comment, write your comment in space provided. When done, check off ‘Other’ or ‘Anonymous’ ( NOT 'google/blogger -- and IGNORE ‘Goggle Password Section’). If you check off ‘Other’ write your name in space provided and then click on ‘Publish’. (Note: ‘Other’ must be checked off BEFORE you write your name. ‘Anonymous’ writer: Leave name space blank --just click on Publish.) Ivn0


cathy said...

Hi there good buddy....

Gosh, I can't believe you want to print what I was kinda jumbled up... I was actually born on that farm in Beaver Falls, twp, that my grandmother and dad owned with all the land and creek and beautiful falls...Don't know what ever happened to the grandfather, as I have been unsuccessful in knowing much about him. Like I mentiioned, after my father died (I was only about 2, the bank foreclosed on the $1000. loan for the barn, so the property went into foreclosure, so, my mother re-married, and we moved to town in 1938. I was in 6th grade at the time. Those were the years I most remember living in that beautiful valley.. I really want to go back again and revisit it.... Naturally they tore down the home, but the $1000. barn is still there, but not the 18 holestine cattle and horses..... (ha ha.) Lots of campers in the beautiful woodsy setting by the creek.

In the 5th paragraph the last sentenance, They are, should read "gone" (where I talked about my uncle.)

I just paid the city $1000. for a bench for Joe in La Barranca Park.... It is now on order, and will be placed on the slab along Bay St., opposite Liberty street...Nice location, just up the street from his stanchion... did you ever get to see it.??? It is about time... I have had my order in since he died... Glad I was able to finally get the spot in La Barranca park. I am trying to figure out how much I want to have engraved on the back part of the bench. It is quite expensive, but I have wanted to do this for so long, and it will be my tribute to him. After he got his hips, he used to walk that street to the dream inn every nite., so hopefully, he may come to rest on his bench one day.... maybe something like.... In loving memory of Joe Brovia, the Davenport Slugger..... 1922-1994 Sempre Avanti, Catarina

He used to call me by that name... he would always call me his little Catarina... Virginia always calls me by that name... Or maybe.... S. F. seals.... will have to get it straight, and get the right words to the engraver. He quoted me a minimum of $290. per slat... The bench is 6 foot long, and is made of recycled plastic.... really built quite nice. Has a center divider, so 4 people can sit on it.... Really quite excited about it. I hope I can get it installed by August 15th, the anniversary of his death.

I am going to the Pacific Coast League reunion in Oakland on the 18th.Think I have a ride... So many of Joes and my baseball friends are dying. Another fellow died in April, 3 died last August while I was in the hospital.

P. S, the sempre avanti is a quote from Joes dad, he always used to tell me, Sempre Avanti, Cathy.... Loved that man....

Well, guess this chapter is done...

Take care, Cathy

Gran Blaggatore said...

Well done Cathy. We need to enlist the help of our 'Blaggatori' in Santa Cruz to urge the Italian Organizations in the Area to perhaps have a few 'raffles' to help you raise the funds. Joe was so much a part of the 'Italiani su per la Costa'. They should not allow him to be forgotten.

Yes, I remember Pietro 'Pete' Brovia. His deep voice, his singing and his unforgettable laugh. I miss him a lot. Sempre Avanti. ivno

cathy said...

About the bench, and engraving..... Ivano, this is my gift to Joe, and as much as I appreciate your thoughtfulness in thinking about a fund raiser, I just can't accept donations, as it was my idea, and has been for a lot of years, even before La Barranca Park. I would not even ask any family members..... After Joe had both hips replaced, he walked the mile to the Dream Inn and back every nite, so this is my tribute for the guts he showed in getting better...

Thanks friend, I know you mean well.... Cathy

GB: No problem Cathy. I admire you for what you are doing and the way you are doing it. Buona Fortuna e Sempre Avanti.

ivan0 said...

Wonderful! Good job, Cathy!
See Ivano, I do read La Blogga once in awhile.

GB: Thanks Patty. I'm sure Cathy will appreciate your comments.
BTW: It's 'Blagga' like "Blagga,Blagga,Blagga..I gona maka yua zigga-zagga."

Anonymous said...

Here again, if you think you had it hard someone else had it harder. I know that my father was a real scrounger because of the depression. He saved everything and always looked for bargains and was basically afraid to spend money.
Nancy Quilici Jacobs