Monday, April 14, 2008


Joe Palooka Looka Like 1944
(La Nostra Costa Photo Archives)

Above image copyrighted by Estate of Ham Fisher and appears on Toonpedia website;

Well what do you know? Another year has passed and your ‘Grand Blaggatore’ will be celebrating another one of ‘them thar birthdays’. Guess what? Another famous character, of which I mention in ‘La Nostra Costa’ P.152, is also celebrating a birthday on April 19. Of course he is much older than I; however, I understand that he is still in very good physical shape. Happy Birthday to us, Joe Palooka.

The following was taken from the website: .

Palooka, Joe. Created by Ham Fisher, Joe Palooka debuted on 19 April 1930 and ran through 1984, one of the most successful comic strips of all time. Palooka, a genuinely nice man, was a poor man whose skill was boxing, and who used that skill to become the "undefeated heavyweight champion of the world." Actually, that's not quite correct. Palooka's greatest skill was in being human. Very much a working class hero (it's something to be), he was humble without being craven, shy without being withdrawn, laid-back without being a slacker, easily embarrassed without being a stiff, and genuinely likable. To quote one critic, "Joe personified the ideals of the American majority of old--the simple life, the virtues of the Boy Scout code, and goodness for its own sake. He also exemplified toughness and power and could be moved to intense anger when his or someone else's toes were stepped on." He really was a good guy. Palooka fought his way to the top of the fight game, and then, when war was declared, entered the Army as a private and fought through the war at that rank. Joe was assisted by Knobby, the small, nervous, twitchy and argumentative fight manager, and by Smoky, whose vocabulary and appearance was that of a racist stereotype but who was always treated by Joe as an equal and friend. (Joe, like I said, was a good human being)

In “La Nostra Costa”, I write: “Joe Palooka never lost a fight and I thought he was a great funny-book Champion. However, there was another, rival “Funny Book Heavyweight Champion” at the time. His name was Curly Kayoe. He, also, was white and he, also, never lost a fight. My greatest wish was that the two champions would one day slug it out in the same ring, and resolve once and for all the disputed “Funny Book Heavyweight Championship.” Then we would know for certain who the best fighter really was. Much to my disappointment, they never did.” *

* “La Nostra Costa” (Our Coast), copyrighted by Ivano Franco Comelli, 2006. Order on line: or through your favorite bookstore.


Anonymous said...

Felice compleanno Ivano! Ed altri e tanti.

Keep up all the good work you are doing. It is much appreciated by many people.


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Gino: Joe and I are in good company with our many 'Blagga' Fans. BTW: I rented a DVD on the "Historical Jesus". Some astrnonmers believe that Jesus might have been born in April not December. They based their findings on the alignment of the planets in Aries with the stars st the time which caused the illumination effect of the bright Star. If true, Joe and I certainly would be in illustrious company. ivn0

Hank Bradley said...

Happy birthday Ivano!

Enjoyed your observations on Joe Palooka, who was definitely part of life on the coast at Seaside School. It's too bad he's not still part of our funnybook world - I'd love to see him stir up the politically correct world by duking it out with the all-too-hip image of Che Guevara. And sending him out of the ring a** over teakettle.

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Hank: Nice to hear from you again. Your observations about Joe are right on. We had other funny book heroes 'su per la costa",like Batman and Robin, and Superman. But we all knew they were not real. Joe Palooka could have been real. Any way, I thought so. Sempre Avanti. Ivn0

Luciana Bianchi Cavalleri said...

Here I am...
just in time, to say:
"Happy Birthday!"

Buon compleanno a Ivano,
da Como (north Italy)!



Jaio said...

Happy birthday Ivano. I never heard about that comic strip on this side of the world I just heard about Primo Carnera:-)

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Luciana and Jaio: Its always a pleasure to hear from Italia. Jaio has visited us before, however, this is a first for Luciana. They both have fantastic 'Blaggas' (although you will have to know Friulano to read JAIO's "Blagga"). I urge all readers to click on their photos shown in their comments above. You will be in for a real treat.

To Jaio: I also write about Primo Carnera in my book. He was a favorite among the ranchers 'su per la costa". A fight between Joe Palooka and Primo Carnera would have been something. Sempre Avanti. ivn0

Anonymous said...

Is that you Ivano? The Joe Palooka look a like? My,my che bello. Looking at your photo today, I would say that you definetly have kept your good looks. And Joe Palooka will always be young in my mind. Happy birthday, Joe and Ivano.

Carolina (Carrie) Cariola

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Yes Carrie, that is indeed me with that "what me worry' smile on my face. I was in the second grade (7 yeas old) at Laurel School in Santa Cruz. WWII was still on, however, by 1944, Italy had surrendered so we (the Comelli family) weren't considered enemy aliens any more. Reason enough to be smiling. Ivn0

Anonymous said...

Ok! How about that? Happy Birthday (4 days after taxes). If Judy had kept quiet about my B-day outside Marie C's, you wouldn't have known I caught up to you. Now, three months later, you'll be one year older again. Judy bought a magazine today, Tastes of Italia, which features the FRIULI region. I'm going to read it carefully to see if it contains any dirt about the Comelli clan.

Now let's talk about Joe Palooka. I'm sure you remember that BOXING was part of the P.E. curriculum at S.C.H.S. back then. One day our P.E. teacher paired the two of us in the ring. It was a classic Gene Tunney v.s. Jack Dempsey type match-up. I bobbed & weaved making you miss while I piled up an overwhelming number of points. You landed ONE BLOW ONLY, on my nose. That rabbit punch you landed doesn't count! Remember the nose bleed I developed after the match. In Civics class afterwards, you repeatedly turned around and tried to make me laugh so that my nose would start bleeding again.

I'm not sure kids are required to take P.E. these days which is a shame. They need it!

Jerry (older but wiser?) Kerrick

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

To the "Auld Professore": Yes, indeed I remember that match. As I remember, I bet you ten dollars that I could knock you down. You were so intent on winning the money that you kept running away from me. Proving the old adage that "you can run but you can't hide", I caught you with that devasting straignt left, right on your nose. You weathered the round only because Coach Lemkuel(sp?) showed you mercy and stopped the fight. Because of that I thought I won the fight on a TKO so I never paid off our bet. And I left you with a lasting reminder of our 'Scorcher in Santa Croce."

BTW: I used that straight left a few times in my Police Career. By then I had perfected the "punch". Unlike you who with-stood the 'mighty blow',"down they went".

"One year older than you, but still can "whip ya" Sempre Avanti ivno

Anonymous said...

If I had to put the "Scorcher in Santa Cruz" to music, I would choose the "Wichita Lineman." You TELEGRAPHED each punch. That rabbit punch was landed after I ducked one of them. It was like someone turned on the air conditioner because you were swinging at nothing but air. While all this was happening, I was counter-punching.


P.S. Gas just reached $3.66 (regular) near here at Steamboat Square. I'm not sure I can afford to drive my 911S down to challenge Kuffel. We'll be looking at Hybrids soon. Any suggestions? Perhaps we should buy a sail boat. Joe Palooka could create quite a breeze fanning the air.

Jerry Kerrick

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

I would suggest "Go to sleepy little baby; When you wake up you will patty,patty cake and ride a shiny little pony".

BTW: I just notice the characture of Joe Palooka on the 'Blagga' demomstrates, perfectly, how I landed that "Punch" on your nose and how you reacted.


BTW: The song above was Judy Canova's theme song, for many years, on the radio.
You do remember her "Auld Professore".

Ivano Franco Comelli said...


Poletti Corrado ha lasciato un nuovo commento sul post "Il NOME LOUIS POLETTI ED HOTEL D' ITALIA - DAVENPO...":

Cara Signora Luciana, sono lieto di aver visto il suo commento sul blog e allo stesso tempo La ringrazio per l'apprezzamento.
Ho visto dalle informazioni che la riguardano che è stata una coordinatrice didattica e ciò mi ha fatto sentire ancora più vicino, io infatti sono un'insegnante di laboratorio in una scuola professionale alberghiera.
Come ha potuto vedere Il Signor Ivano gestisce un Blog in California che tiene in contatto parecchie splendide persone, soprattutto di origini italiane che abitano negli States ma che hanno un grandissimo attaccamento per la cultura italiana.
E' tra di loro che ho trovato informazioni sulla storia degli emigranti delle "nostre terre" verso l'America. Storie incredibilmente affascinanti che credo non debbano essere lasciate cadere assolutamente nel dimenticatoio, anzi trasferite ai nostri figli e ai futuri nipoti.
Interagisca con il sito (scriva anche in italiano se necessita) vedrà che magari troverà qualcuno delle parti di como che sarà felice di prendere contatto con la terra d'origine.
Concludendo la saluto e Le faccio i migiori auguri di Buon lavoro.

Ps: sono stato sul suo sito di poesie.... davvero bello..... complimenti.

Pubblica un commento.

Annulla iscrizione ai commenti su questo post.

Postato da Poletti Corrado in Genealogical Tree of Poletti's Family alle 17 aprile 2008 9.42

Anonymous said...

Len Klempnauer sent me the following. I am sure that most of you SCHS Alums out there remember what he is writing about. Well almost all. Thanks, Len

Hi, Ivan,
I've enjoyed reading about your and Jerry's boxing competition in physical education classes at Santa Cruz High.
I wrote a column in 2006 about how PE differed so much then from now for web site. We not only had to box, but we had to wrestle and tumble and every quarter we were graded on a series of physical education tests, including the 100- and 300-yard runs, burpees, frog stand, pull-ups, rope climb, etc.
I've excerpted the boxing portion of that column, titled "Remember the Frog Stand and the Burpee? -- P.E. Classes in the 1950s Could Whip You into Shape," in case you'd like to post it on your blog:

"Would you believe that boxing and wrestling were once part of a high school’s physical education program?
"Believe it, because that’s the way it was at Santa Cruz (Calif.) High School in the Fifties . . .
"Participation in P.E. didn’t assure an “A” grade, even if you were the star of a varsity interscholastic team or were the best boxer, wrestler, runner or team-sport player in school. To rise above a “C,” you had to score high on a series of physical education tests given each quarter . . .
"Although I played interscholastic sports (basketball and baseball), I was no standout during the quarterly tests--except for my junior year. I was a 5-10 stringbean weighing 140 pounds. But a few weeks before the boxing portion of P.E. began that year, I did some extra conditioning on my own.
"I had good reason. The older brother of my high school sweetheart was in the same gym class. At the very least, I wanted to be able to protect myself from total demolition. Most of all, however, I wanted to prove myself worthy of dating his sister. He was 18 and I was 16. Where he had muscles, I had pillowy flesh. Nevertheless, I was sure the coaches were going to pit him against me in a boxing match.
"But I lucked out. My girlfriend’s brother was matched against a defensive back on the varsity football team. The football player handled himself fairly well, although he was pummeled all three of their one-minute rounds. Then I got matched with the football player.
"The first round was so one-sided that I wasn’t sure there would be a second round. He was quicker and more powerful and his gloves were rapping my chin faster than a jackhammer drilling concrete.
"Despite the fact that we wore headgear and boxing gloves that resembled cushions, getting whacked repeatedly in the face did hurt.
"But early in round two, I got in a lucky punch. It wasn’t anything I did. It was his mistake. Coming in for the kill, he walked right into my right jab. He staggered, momentarily stunned, more from surprise, I suspect, than from the power of the punch. He warily finished that round, and his punches came less frequently thereafter.
"I received an “A” that quarter (thanks to my conditioning), the only “A” I ever received in PE . . .
"At the time, we didn’t appreciate that part of gym, but it sent us out into the world after graduation in the best shape of our lives. Few of us, unfortunately, continued such a regimen . . ."

The full column is on-line at:


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Canadian Furlan said...

Holy Cow I missed a lot La Nostra Costa. I've had some unexpected health issues with some of my very close family members. I will not go into details now ... need some time to digest all that has occurred. But to my Caro Amico and Number #1 Furlan in Morgan Hill CA... Buon Compleanno !! Happy Belated Birthday !! And Further regarding Joe Palooka !!!As you know I am a BIG BOXING fan ....I visited Primo Carnera's home in Sequals in Friuli, I posted some photos on the Blogga .. Primo was not given his dues as a boxer. As you know the movie that kind of depicted Primo's Boxing career was "THE HARDER THEY FALL" with Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger. The movie portrayed the sinister side of the game. The premise was that many of Primo's boxing matches were staged to bolster his record. However, if you look at his record it would take quite a bit to fix all those fights. I am certain there were a few of the matches that involved fighters with limited skills .... as is the usual practise to build up a professional boxer. Take a look at the photos you will enjoy them. Take care IVANO !! Keep up your good work with promoting our Heritage... You are on the right path...

Ciao e Mandi


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Doriano: Hope the health issues with member(s)of your family aren't too serious. Yes "DA PREEM" was a favorite of my father's. He used to talked about him all the time. He had some amazing fights. The Max Baer Championship Fight was even recreated for the the Movie "Cinderella Man". I remember seeing "The Harder They Fall" with Humphrey Bogart, available today on video. All and all, I don't think they have made a real good movie about this Heavyweight Champion. There certainly is a story line there,besides Boxing.

Nice to hear from you again Canadina Furlan. Keep in touch.