Wednesday, July 02, 2008

THE STORY OF 'BONZO' DA DEERHEAD

Charlie Bella's Ocean View Hotel in Davenport (c 1950)

Mac's Office in Wyoming (Photo courtsey of Patty and Mac Morelli)

Hello, Ivano...



I thought you might want to put this on the 'blagga'. Some people may remember the story.
This story started many, many years ago when my brother, Mac Morelli, Jr., was a teen and worked summers and weekends in the woods with our Dad (Mac Morelli) and uncles Elmer (cat skinner) and Lewis (faller and choker setter) Morelli. One day, our Uncle Elmer killed a deer while working in the woods. Mac had such strong memories of the whole thing that he has always hoped that the deer head might eventually be passed on to him. About two months ago, Aunt Donna, Elmer's wife, passed away. (Uncle Elmer passed about 10 years before.) She left the mounted deer head, named Bonzo, to Mac.....at our Uncle Elmer's request. Aunt Donna's daughter, Sue, and I worked together to get 'Bonzo' to Mac, who is now living in Wyoming with his wife, Holly.

The e-mail below is Mac's thank you for our efforts in getting the deer head to him. I've attached a picture which shows where he hung 'Bonzo'.....Read on.

Patty (Morelli)

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Hi everyone,
I would like to thank you all for getting Bonzo to me. Patty did a great job in shipping him here. This is the story of Bonzo as I know it:



Elmer (Morelli) was working with our Dad (Mac Morelli, Sr.) logging up Gazos Creek in San Mateo County. The year was either 1953-1954. Elmer always carried a 32 special rifle on the cat with him and one day he was building road when Bonzo jumped up and out from behind some brush. Elmer jumped off the cat and onto a stump and had a chance for one shot and luckily hit the deer in the neck. Dad paid to have the deer head stuffed and in the late fifties he was displayed on the wall of Charlie Bella's Bar at the Ocean View Hotel in Davenport. I think that's when they named him Bonzo.

He was a magnificent animal. The normal coastal black tail deer field dressed @ 100 lbs. and a big buck would be 120lbs; Bonzo field dressed @ 172 lbs. (they weighed him at the old Linda Vista butcher shop on Mission St.) Bonzo's heavy weight was attributed to eating flax which was grown in the area at that time. I had a small picture of Elmer with the buck in the back of a pickup but I'm afraid the photo got lost in our moving. I still have the rifle which was our dad's, a pretty Winchester 32 special with an octagon barrel, which I will hang under Bonzo. I included a couple of pictures of him on the wall of my shop/office. I'm so proud to have him even though he has aged and does look to be at least 54 years old.




Thanks again all; have a great weekend.
Mac (Morelli)


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Thanks Mac and Patty. Patty as you know the LNostra-Costa Blagga is dedicated to keeping the memories of 'La Costa' alive. It's stories like this that do exactly that. Please keep them coming. ivn0
HOME: www.nostra-costa.blogspot.com

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know it's politically incorrect to even think of those coastal deer hunts these days, but just about all of us who lived there were part of them, and they were a big part of our lives. I remember Bonzo pretty well from Charlie Bella's - we learned to play pool on his pool table, which was priced very affordably for us teenagers. Thanks to Patty Morelli for reviving the memories.

And yes - my dad's old lever-action Winchester .25-35 is still on my wall, octagon barrel and all.

Hank Bradley

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Right you are Hank. Probably all of us boys (maybe even the girls) who grew up'su per la costa', started out with an assortment of rifles and other weapons. My first was a a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun,(which I practiced firing on my brothers leg)then a single shot bolt-action .22 rifle, then a small bore shot gun and finally the 'Big Bertha' of them all the 12 gauge Shotgun.

My family never did go 'big game' hunting (like the Rodonis next door who had 30-30 rifles)however we found an assortment of small game on the 'Gulch Ranch" to keep us busy.
One of the 'greatest' hunts ever was when my father 'Bronco'found out that quail were not that afraid of trucks and/or cars. He therefore seated himself on the front fender of the "Old Carrettone" (A 1934 Lafayette), 12 gauge shotgun in hand, and my brother or me behind the wheel . Slowly we drove down a dirt road, closing in on an unsuspecting flock (?) of quail feeding or doing something on the road. As we closed the gap, my father took aim and 'blasted' the quails. Feathers went flying every where. I thought we had 'kilt' all of them quails, however, the 'blast' only got one or two.

We did only a couple of these 'great hunts' because my father would loose his balance on the recoil of 'Big Bertha'. He figured that one of these days he might fall off the car and do himself some harm since he had amatuer drivers behind the wheel. Sempre Avanti. ivn0

Carolina Cariola said...

Dear Ivano: I remember being at the Ocean View Hotel with my father and I remember looking at "Bonzo" on the wall. (Of course I didn't know his name was Bonzo at the time.) I was a little girl at the time and I thought to myself (as little girls tend to think to themselves) who could have killed such a beautiful animal. Now thanks to Patty and Mac I know the rest of the story.

Con molti bacci d'more a tutti.
Carrie

Pat Polentoni said...

Yes, Carrie, I to saw 'Bonzo' hanging on the wall of the Hotel. I was probably younger then thou, but I still remember my father leaning down and whispering in my ear, "That deer must have been going pretty fast to get his head through that wall". After that I just keep looking at the deer head to see if his eyes would move. I swear his eyes kept following me as I move around the room.

And Ivano was that small calibre shotgun a .410? Most of the boys up the coast had one of them at one time or another. P/P

ivano said...

Hei Carrie and Pat. Where ya-all been? I guess it took the 'deerhead' to get you back on line. Good to hear from you.

According to my calculations the deer must have been going 120.5 mph to get throught that wall. That's the speed it took that big Elk to get his head through the wall at the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge.

Anyway, it indeed was a 410 Shotgun. It was such a great gun. No real kick back and very effective in shooting small varmints.

Hadn't thought about much but the 12 gauge was my constant companion when patrolling the streets of San Jose. Never used it, but had to pull it out of the car once or twice. Usally the sound of cranking "one' in the chamber was enough to deter a suspect from running. Take care and keep in touch. ivn0

gino campioni said...

O Ivano,

Having just read your comment on shotguns, brought back memories of the one Baffi had.

It was a Browning 12 gauge automatic, with a ribbed barrel. He was so proud of that gun. He would show it to friends, pointing out the only flaw, a slight variation in the bluing.

I only saw him use it once, as he seldom had any way to go hunting.

After I had a car, I took my parents to see Arcangelo and Niccolina Petrocchi at their farm. After the usual chats, Baffi took the gun and went around the cherry orchard, looking for game. I heard the gun's report from a distance. It was LOUD! Startlingly so!

Long after my dad died, I thought of what I should do with the gun. I knew I would never use it. I hated to let it rust, so I took it to a dealer in Santa Cruz. He offered $75 for it, and I sold it. Later I learned that I should have asked for ten times that much, even as old as the gun was.

Vie get zo zoon oldt und zo late schmart! (especially me)

Saluti, Gino