Friday, May 23, 2008

MEMORIES OF SOME POLICE OFFICERS I KNEW - BY GINO CAMPIONI


Photo courtsey of Marvin Del Chiaro. Top row (l to r): Damon Knight, Ron Daugherty, Marvin Del Chiaro, Donald ??, Jerry Mungai, David McCabe, name forgotten. Middle row (l to r): Ivan Comelli, Jim Ceragioli, Dennis Soo Hoo, Neil ??, Mario Rodoni, Louis Costa, Gay-lea Morse. Bottom row (l to r): Barbara Jean Smith, Barbara Silva, Jeanette Benedetti,
Shirley Machado, Ellen Herrman, Marion Hagler, Marcia Pori.




FOR THIS MEMORIAL WEEKEND, I THOUGHT I WOULD PUBLISH AN E-MAIL I RECEIVED FROM GINO CAMPIONI. IN IT HE REMINISCES ABOUT SOME POLICE OFFICERS HE KNEW DURING HIS LIFE TIME. ONE IS CHARLES DERBY WHO WAS A MEMBER OF THE SANTA CRUZ POLICE DEPARTMENT. IN 'LA NOSTRA COSTA', I WRITE HOW INFLUENTIAL OFFICER (LATER SERGEANT) DERBY WAS ON MY OWN POLICE CAREER. UNFORTUNATELY, I DO NOT HAVE A PHOTO OF CHARLES DERBY, OR I WOULD HAVE PUBLISHED IT WITH GINO'S ARTICLE. AS A SUBSTITUTE I CHOSE TO PUBLISH A PHOTO OF WHAT WAS CERTAINLY PART OF OFFICER DERBY'S LEGACY, THE TRAFFIC BOYS AND GIRLS OF LAUREL SCHOOL. AS I WRITE IN THE BOOK, OFFICER DERBY SPENT A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF TIME TRAINING US FOR OUR ENDEAVORS AT THE SCHOOL. IT PAID OFF! WE WON TWO FIRST PLACE TROPHY'S AT THE YEAR END BBQ HELD AT DELAVEAGA PARK IN SANTA CRUZ. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES OFFICER DERBY AND YOU ALSO GINO.



Hello Ivano,

I am coming to the end of reading La Nostra Costa for the second time, and last night read the part about your police career. That prompted me to send you some thoughts about some lawmen I have known.

I do remember officer Derby, having seen him several times at school. I may have been in a class on traffic safety or something. He made frequent appearances at Mission Hill School.

Did you know Officer Dennis Finnegan? He made an imposing figure riding his police Harley, sitting straight in the saddle as if he were in a parade. I certainly admired
him.

Another policeman who lived just up the street from me was Officer Ray Carpenter. He rode bikes too. One day he was after someone and drove down a hill and had to make a wide right turn onto Beach Street, and ran head-on into a pickup driven by his neighbor John Strohbien. (air raid warden years before) Ray was thrown over the windshield and into the bed of the truck. He suffered a back injury and could not ride motorcycles afterward.

I know I already told you of my meeting with Captain Klein at the corner of Race and Park in San Jose. Partly because of his understanding and partly from my apologetic behavior, my failing to see the stop light only resulted in receiving a request from the traffic court of "Fine $1. Bail $1". I paid it with gratitude.

Bob King was a member of Santa Cruz Police Dept. I met him at the Santa Cruz County Model Airplane Club. I had built a model Piper Tripacer airplane, and wanted to give it a fine finish. Bob offered to paint it for me, and did a fine job. He lived not far from me, perhaps on Seaside St. One day, while driving on Bay St. past Seaside, I had a police car behind me with flashing lights. On stopping I found that it was Officer Bob. (nothing wrong. He just wanted to talk about model airplanes)

You would not know this one, but may have known of his doings: Stanley O. Nicolayson was a member of California Highway Patrol in Los Angeles. He rode police motorcycles. He had an accident while riding his bike, and severely injured his back. He was not able to continue as a CHP Officer. While recuperating, he pondered what he might do to earn a living by other means. He had always liked Mexican food, and decided to make it more available to the general public at reasonable prices. He started a restaurant which became popular so he added others and these spread throughout the Western United States. He called his business, "Taco Bell".
Stan also has other businesses in Oregon. (S.O.N. Enterprises) He is involved in many operations. I first met him when he and I were members of the Salem Fourth Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I used to sit next to him at choir rehearsals. More recently he was called to be a member of the presidency of the Portland Temple.

This one you might have known: Merlin Ellis was a tall and heavy officer. (I don't think he would have done well on motorcycles) He was an expert on firearms, and rented a room in the shop where Gerhard Schreiber and I worked. He rebored and balanced police pistols so that (in his own words) they became WEAPONS! He also was keen on home built helicopters. He built one with a Lycoming engine, parts from a wrecked Piper Cub, bits and scraps, etc. It never flew, which was fortunate. A ground test of the thing nearly did him in.

I used to take my lunch to work in a paper bag and leave it on a counter. Occasionally I would come back from service calls at noon and find my lunch gone. Merlin was hungry! I got a bit tired of that trick, so knowing he did not like pickles, I fixed a lunch with a sandwich loaded with peperoncini. That day I came in for lunch and found a sandwich with one bite out of it. He never stole my lunch again.

Merlin drove his police car onto my driveway one day. He said that a lady several blocks away was having severe TV interference from my radio. I don't know how it was determined that it was my radio that was causing the problem, but we went to look. (my only ride in a police car) It was a customer of Paul Pay's Rainbow TV shop. I had worked on that TV shortly before. I checked the service information for that set. (an ancient GE black & white table model) It had a main amplifier string operating on 21 Megahertz. Exactly the frequency range on which I ran my radio. (legal frequencies for amateur radio, no longer being used for any other purpose) There was no way to keep a 21 MHz signal out of a 21 MHz receiver. The customer did not understand and was very upset. The TV solved the problem. Shortly thereafter, it self-destructed. She couldn't blame me for that. (although she might have thought so)

Saluti Gino

11 comments:

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Gino: Thanks for the memories. I'm sure many SC old timers will remember those you mention. I think I told you about Elmer Klein (The ELK), Captain and then Deputy Chief at the San Jose PD. He had a favorite saying which he said often to us "Rookie" Cops. I'm paraphrasing here, however, it went something like this: "You came here looking for a job and for better or worse we gave it to you. Now, I want you to know that we don't "spoon-feed" you around here. You're going to make do on your own." And most of us did. Ivno

Anonymous said...

Ciao Ivano,

Thanks for posting the great picture of your Junior Traffic Patrol.

On first glance, I might not have recognized anyone, but with the picture expanded, many of the members look familiar.

The only ones that I am sure I met at some time are yourself, Mario, and Dennis Soo Hoo.

In the top row, David McCabe may be the younger brother of Harriet McCabe. (who was the second girl to give me a graduation kiss)

The girl to the right of Louis Costa looks as though she may be a younger sister of Elizabeth Ash.

In the bottom row, Marion Hagler may be the sister of Gretchen Hagler, and Marcia Pori the sister of Merle-Janet Pori.

Possibile, no? Splendide memorie.

Grazie tanto. Gino

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Gino: Marion Hagler was indeed Gretchen's younger sisters. The others you mention I don't really know. Maybe other 'blaggatori' can help us out.

Again thanks for the memories. Loved your story re: the bite out of the sandwich. Leave it to Bobby to come up with that one. Ivano

ivano said...

Received below e-mail from Len Klempnauer:

Ivan,
To me, the girl next to Louis Costa looks like Gay-Lea Morse, a classmate of yours in the SCHS Class of '55, but I don't know whether she attended Laurel School. Her older sister, Darlin, was in my Class of '54 and her older brother, Gilbert, was in the Class of '53. If it's the younger sister of your '55 classmate Bob Ash, her name is Audrey.
Len Klempnauer

Len: The name Gay-Lea Morse rings true. I think you are correct. I don't recall a Audrey being in our class. Thanks ivno




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Sheila Perez said...

I know this is an older post but I have recently move dto away from my beloved home state of California and am seeking to get in contact with a lost family member. If I am correct "Elmer Klein (The ELK), Captain and then Deputy Chief at the San Jose PD." is my Great Uncle Elmer. I am seeking contact with his late wife Lou Klein, they lived in Santa Clara up to his passing. I have no idea if she still lives there but I am grasping at straws and desperately wanting to contact her. My name is Sheila, if you have any information please email me on yahoo at ubidari. thanks.

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

11/7/09 -- Dear Sheila: Thanks for your comment (above). I tried you e-mail link, but it didn't seem to work. I hope you read this.

As far as I know Lou Klein passed away a few years ago. However, I will check with Bob, a retired Police Officer who should know for certain. ivn

Sheila Perez said...

Last I heard from my Aunt Lou was back in 2001. Then I lost contact with her after we hit a rough patch. I no longer have any contact with anyone else and I have four daughters and want to tell everyone we are well. I appreciate all information very much.

Sorry about the broken link issue, but I'm making these posts without connecting to my normal blog as I use a screen name normally but know that using my name here may help.

I do appreciate this and if it's too much work I understand. If they have any connection to living relatives of the family tho, I'd appreciate passing on the information that Diana's (Etter) daughter Sheila is still around and can be reached through the following email address.

Sheila
ubidari@yahoo.com

IVANO said...

GOOD NEWS SHEILA: I contacted a certain Police Lieutenant (emeritus) who says Lou is still alive. I have forwarded that information to you via regular e-mail. Please let me know if you receive. ivn0

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Ed said...

I remember Dennis Finnegan from the late 50's. Always on a motorcycle. There must be a reason I remember his name after all these years but I can't think of it. I rode a Harley myself then, so that might be the connection. Ed Brooks

Ed said...

I remember Dennis Finnegan from the late 50's. Always on a motorcycle. There must be a reason I remember his name after all these years but I can't think of it. I rode a Harley myself then, so that might be the connection. Ed Brooks