Thursday, July 12, 2007


Photos: At the top: Marv, in his Roaring Camp Conductor's Uniform, wife Elaine and grandson Cameron. Second from the top: Laurel School Traffic Boys and their Trophies (1949). Marv is seated at the left in the front row; your 'Gran Blaggatore' is seated on the left in the rear row. (See Comments Section for further IDs.) Third from the top: At the SCHS Class of '55 Reunion (2005): Left to right: Jim Ceragioli, Marv; Muriel (McPherson) Prolo, 'Gran Blaggatore' and Jerry Mungai. (We all attended Laurel School, initially.) Bottom Photo: Marv and the 'Old Rancere' at Davenport/Coast Road Day 2005.

Hi Ivano: I finally located the bio you mentioned having seen back around May, 2006. It was part of an email I sent to Glenn Kimmel. Historical background - Marvin J. DEL CHIARO, Scotts Valley, CA For those of you who don't know me, I've been a train lover since we lived along the RR track on West Cliff Dr., starting in 1940. I developed a relationship with the trainmen on the Southern Pacific route which passed our house daily. They threw me toys from the train, and in fact, I still treasure a metal battleship and a plastic tanker (ship) to this day.

Even during the blackouts of WWII, when any lights were absolutely prohibited, they would turn on a small light in the engine on their way back down from Davenport, so I could see them returning my wave; I didn't miss waving to the train, day or night, for probably six to eight years. Now at age 70, that feeling of excitement has never gone away. I've been working part time as a conductor and greeter at Roaring Camp.

I am son and second child (my older sister is Dolores Del Chiaro Locatelli, who still resides in Santa Cruz) of Lisandro (Andrew) Del Chiaro and Effie Ferrari Del Chiaro, who raised row crops along the Coast and in Swanton. Primarily we grew artichokes, from 1918 until 1959. My dad started in Tunitas Creek (north of Half Moon Bay) in 1918, and ended up raising artichokes on 25 acres in the general vicinity of Ingalls and Swift Streets (bordered by the RR track and Delaware St.), on the west side of S anta Cruz, east of the former Lipton plant. He sold the property and retired in 1959.

At one point, in the late 1920's or early 30's, I understand my father was in partnership in a ranch along the Coast with Dante Dinelli, Norma Dinelli Wilson's father.

I worked on the family ranch/farm from the time I was about 8 years old, until I left for the Army in 1959, and also began raising my own cattle from about 1956 to 1964. I ran a very small feeding operation, where I would buy feeder steers and fatten them up, selling dressed half beefs to a number of repeat customers.

I know I was working in the fields, with my mom, dad, and sister, picking broccoli, in August, 1945, because on VJ Day, the day WWII ended, the box factory and packing sheds all blew their whistles to commemorate the occasion. All of a sudden, our horse, Betsy, a very spirited mare, took off up the field, wagon in tow, with broccoli bouncing out right and left (horses don't like whistles). It's a sight I'll never forget. It was the first time in about four years that we went to bed at night, feeling much safer. All along the West Coast, we lived in constant fear of an invasion by Imperial Japanese forces.

My maternal grandparents, Battista (John) and Antonietta (Mattei) Ferrari, originally immigrated from Italy around the turn of the century (1900). My grandfather worked for the Southern Pacific shops in Oakland in 1905, but quit after a dear friend was killed in an industrial accident on the job. He then worked on an orchard in Santa Clara and later raised hogs in Butcher Town, which is now Hunter's Point in San Francisco. He and his brothers-in-law collected swill (edible garbage) by horse and wagon from many of the finest hotels and restaurants in the "City". (This evokes many more stories about interaction with the chefs and their kindness, too numerous to mention.)

Finally, the family came to Davenport from SF in 1920 (a memorable trip, and another story in itself), and operated the Mucchettini (spell?) dairy until the Great Depression hit. They then raised beef cattle on a 2000 acre ranch just north of the cement plant until my grandfather sold his herd in 1945.

One of my aunts, Domenica (Marie) Ferrari Innocenti, as a young girl, worked for the Morelli's as a cashier at the original Davenport Cash Store, back in the 1920's. A large contingent of Coast Artillery were located on my grandfather's property during WWII, and they often brought my grandparents leftovers from the mess hall. I believe my grandfather reciprocated by giving them fresh farm eggs, milk, and other products he raised. These fine African American soldiers grew very fond of my grandparents. After the War, thery came back to visit on occasion .

At that time, my grandparents had moved to a house on West Cliff Dr, just south of Mission St. (now Natural Bridges Dr.), where my aunt Emma Ferrari Musitelli still resides (I lived there from 1940 to 1945, then moved down the track a few hundred yards to the Ingalls St. ranch).

There are a multitude of anecdotal stories that go along with the Ferrari family and their dairy/cattle ranch, which bordered the original train tracks (now Hwy. 1), including reports of cattle rustling, nights spent playing cards with the local Irish priest, Father O'Flynn, an alleged visit by a well known train robber by the name of Gardner, who never used a gun, but would poke his pipe in the back of the engineer's back to stop the > train, visits from their Maltese friends from San Francisco and the wonderful baked good they would bring with them, the goat who ate the cloth roof of one of the touring cars, men hired as milkers with questionable pasts, stories of the "tramps" during the depression who rode the rails and came by for a meal, of my grandmother tossing my aunt into the grass, from the buggy, when the horse bolted and she was captive in a buggy with a runaway horse, of cozy fires built in the stove in the one room schoolhouse they all attended at the "Landing", and how the school building itself was moved from Swanton overnight because of a disagreement with the teacher, and on and on.

What still amazes me is that a number of rifles and shotguns were stored behind the kitchen door, and with all of us grandkids running around, none of us ever dreamed of touching one of those weapons without permission. Respect for elders and the unwritten code of never bringing shame upon the family name was paramount. You behaved not because of fear of punishment, but for fear of hurting the family's reputation. We really never had a lot of money, so our good name and our word had to be unblemished. Business was transacted on a handshake. My grandfather was a cheesemaker. Originally there was no electricity therefore lighting was provided by coal oil lanterns. So without refrigeration, milk was sold locally, the cream was separated and shipped by train to Santa Cruz to the creameries (cream didn't spoil as fast as the milk), and the remaining milk was used to make a type of dry Monterey Jack cheese. I remember the "cheese room", with the cheeses wrapped in cheese cloth, then rubbed with black pepper, and turned periodicaly during the aging process.

The building used to make the cheese is still standing. If you follow "the old highway" past the Cement Plant, past the New Town, you'll see it on your right just shortly before you come to the current Hwy. 1. You can't miss it, with it's beautiful coupola. If you cross the highway, you are continuing on the original road, which takes you past Davenport Landing, and back to Highway 1; if you cross again, you will continue on the old road to Swanton. This was the original road connecting Pescadero and Half Moon Bay with Davenport, before the current Hwy. 1 was built, partly on the old railroad bed.

I was born in 1937 while my parents were living at Davenport Landing, so I consider Davenport my place of birth, although I was actually born at the old Hanley Hospital, which was located where the parking lot for the Coast Santa Cruz Hotel (formerly the Dream Inn) is now located. I was baptised at the St. Vincent de Paul church in Davenport in 1937, but then made my First Communion and Confirmation at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz. I attended school with

Ivan(o) Comelli from first grade through graduation from San Jose State (Laurel Elementary, Mission Hill Jr. High, and Santa Cruz High); we were roomates at SJSC for two+ years, he was best man at my wedding, and we served in the same Army Reserve unit, the 422nd MP Co. (PCS) for a while. We're still close friends.

Elaine and I are both retired and have been living in Scotts Valley since we married on the fourth of July, 1966; Elaine is the daughter of Eddie and Emma Costella, now both deceased. The Costella's operated Costella's Chalet in Felton from the mid 1940's until the mid-late 70's; Eddie's parents were Louis and Regina (Bach) Costella, who at one time, I believe, operated the old Garibaldi Hotel in the vicinity of where the Wells Fargo Bank is located on River St. in Santa Cruz. ( Of course, it was before the 1955 flood, so it was down at river level.)

We have four wonderful children, Tim Del Chiaro, Cheryl Howard, Jeff Del Chiaro, and Debbie Roberson (Corky) and five special grandchildren, Branden and Christina Del Chiaro, Hailey Howard, and Cameron and Carson Roberson. Luckily, three of our four children live within walking distance, and we can walk to Tim place of work.

My mother, her sisters, my sister and cousins, and many friends attended Agua Puerca School on Davenport Landing Road from the 1920's until about 1940. Both my grandfather and my mother were trustees of the school at different times during those two decades.

Anyway, I guess that gives you some idea of why I feel so much a part of Davenport, and always will. I attend the Davenport/Coast Road Reunions regularly and support the restoration of the Davenport Jail.; Ivan Comelli > and I attended the fund-raiser dinner at the Cash Store last year. Sincerely, Another figlio della costa, Marv


Gran Blaggatore said...

Traffic Photo IDs:

Front Row, left to right: Marvin Del Chiaro, Jim Ceragioli, Dennis Soo Hoo; Jerry Mungai.

Middle Row, left to right: Dave McCabe, Ron Daugherty, Damon Knight.

Rear Row: left to right: Ivan(o)
Comelli,Mario Rodoni,Louis Costa,
Donald ???)

This photo was taken on the front steps of Laurel School in 1949, after we had 'swept' the City-wide
honors for the 'best of the best'
Traffic Boy Squad in Santa Cruz.

Not photographed was our mentor and leader: Santa Cruz Police Officer Charles Derby.

Jerry Mungai said...

Wow, quite a story. I can recall some of the events and names of those mentioned in the biography, but that's about it. I didn't realize Marv had so many connections with Davenport.


mike kuffel said...

good story..

GB: Thanks Mike. I am sure Marv will appreciate your comment. You always were a man of few words. ivn0

Emily Ghio-Gato said...

Happy 70th! Have a great day!

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Train Lover: Marvin; Now everyone in the World knows you are a train
lover.....thanks to the Blagga and google search engine. ivno

>>Historical background - Marvin J. DEL CHIARO, Scotts Valley, CA For those of you who don't know me, I've been a train lover since we lived along the RR ...

marving del Chiaro said...

Subject: Wow! Me on google !!!

Thanks, Ivano; happy to know I've hit to BIG TIME!!!!! Ha ha ha !!!!!

I should have also added I'm a Gene Autry fan; just got back from a six day
Autry convention in Studio City; best time I've had in years, maybe even decades! Marv

GB: Did you see "Champion" all stuffed and all?? Or was that Roy Rogers who stuffed "Trigger??

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to re-connect with Jeff Del Chiaro. I'm an old friend from high school. I can be reached at

Anonymous said...

What a great history!

I'm also looking for Jeff. He was a member of our 4th grade time capsule project.

Robb Detlefs

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Jake and Rob: I have forwarded your comments to Marvin. Marvin has answered and will forward same to his son Jeff, who is very busy preparing to get married in the next few days. Hopefully, his new bride will allow him some time to get back to you. Thanks for using the 'blagga' to make contact with your friend. Sempre Avanti. ivn0