Thursday, December 31, 2009


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IVANO SAYS: Remember my cousin Ferruccio Dri - proprietor and your genial host at the famous Ramandolo Club in Friuli: Well he sent me the top photo above and wanted me to post his Happy New Year message on the 'blagga.


Carissimi amici de la Nostra Costa

Vi faccio i miei più caldi Auguri di Buon Anno

Spero che il prossimo sia migliore di quello passato

Colgo l’occasione di inviarVi una mia foto fatta a Caserta prima della inaugurazione della Reggia di Caserta 28 Nov 2009

E del Gran Ballo dei Borboni che ho partecipato

Inoltre Mi Auguro di incontraVi personalmente in California

Auguroni a Tutti

Ferruccio e famiglia


IVANO SAYS (CONT'D): Loosely translated Ferruccio says "Happy New Year- 2010.

Dear friends of La Nostra Costa. I send you my warmest wishes for a most Happy New Year.

Let's all hope that the New Year will be better then the past year. I am sending you a photo that was taken at Casereta before the inauguration of the Royal Palace (?). There I participated in the Gran Dance of the Bourbons. (French Royal Family). Hopefully, I will meet all of you personally in California. Best wishes to all. Ferruccio and Family".



Sunday, December 27, 2009


Edith I. King*

Edith I. King passed away peacefully at home, Sunday December 6. She was 100 years old. She was born in the city of Santa Cruz on July 7, 1909, to Harry W. and Margaret M. King, who had immigrated to Santa Cruz from Toronto, Canada. Her father died when she was 8 years old, and her mother remarried Harry A Baker. They moved to the ranch in Aptos, where she lived for 67 years. In 1986 she moved from the ranch to Rio Del Mar, where she resided until her death.

Edith was an educator who worked in Santa Cruz county schools for 39 years. She graduated from San Jose State in 1932, and began her teaching career in Watsonville. She soon moved to the Santa Cruz city schools where she taught at Grant, was principal at Gault from 1949 until 1966, and finished her career as principal at Laurel, instituting the first Title One program in Santa Cruz county. She retired in 1971.

Edith loved horses and raised Arabians and ponies at the ranch as well as cattle, and had many pet dogs and cats over the years. She enjoyed the outdoors and hunted and fished for most of her life. She loved to travel, and her most recent trip was a cruise through the Panama canal at age 92, which fulfilled a lifetime goal. She was an avid gardener and was known for her beautiful dahlias and roses.

Edith is survived by her loving nephews and nieces, Timothy Matthews and wife Heather, of Capitola, Ann Matthews Atlas and her husband Larry. of Millbrook, New York, Martin Matthews of Honolulu, Hawaii, and grand nephew Julian Matthews of Aptos. She was preceded in death by her sister, Dorothy Baker Matthews. The family also wishes to thank Dolores M. Austria, her loving caregiver for over 6 years.

No services will be held at her request, but the family would welcome any stories or memories be sent to P.O.Box 36, Aptos, CA 95003 or to Memorial donations can made to Hospice of Santa Cruz, 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066

IVANO SAYS: Edith King was the principal and teacher (Sixth Grade) when I graduated from Laurel School. She was instrumental in selecting five "Figli della Costa", Jerry Mungai, Jim Ceragioli, Marvin Del Chiaro, Mario Rodoni and me (Ivan Comelli) to serve with the famous "Traffic Boys" of 1948-49 (LNC: P.275). Thanks Miss King. Until we meet again across "Il Ultimo Ponte"

*The above Remembrance was first published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Thursday, December 24, 2009


('Clicca' on photo for enlarged image)
On Christmas Day in 1913, Tony Martin one of our most famous singers and entertainers was born in San Francisco. In 1948, Tony married the famous and beautiful dancer (and actor), Cyd Charisse. Nick Faitos of Santa Cruz , sent me the photo above, taken at the Martin home in Los Angeles (Sept 2007). Sadly, in 2008, Tony (and all of us) lost Cyd to an apparent heart attack. Cyd Charisse starred and danced in some of the most memorable movies of all time, such as “Silk Stockings”, and "Bandwagon" (below) with Fred Astaire, and “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly. Who could ever forget those lovely legs?


And here are some of my favorite Tony Martin big hit records: “To Each His Own”, “There’s No Tomorrow”, “I’ll Take Manhattan”, “I’ll See You In My Dreams” and “I Hear A Rhapsody”.

Happy Birthday, Tony. And thanks to you and Cyd for the all those wonderful memories.
Sempre Avanti! Ivano


Below is the letter by Nick Faito sent with the photos.

Dear Ivan:

Enjoy these photos of the Martins and me. I don’t know if Ill ever take any more. You wouldn’t believe how much we miss Cyd. She was just about the most adorable person I’ve ever known.

Merry Christmas, Nick


Thanks Nick. And a very Merry Christmas to you and your family. And here is an added note from Len " SCHS Class of '54:

Hi, Ivan,
I thought you might be interested in reading a column about Cyd Charisse written by Ron Miller, Santa Cruz High Class of 1956. Ron, as you probably know, was the TV critic for the San Jose Mercury for many years and later became a movie critic for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain, which owned the Mercury.
Ron's piece on Charisse appears on a web site called "The Columnists" and is at:

Thanks Len. I found the excellent article on Cyd by going to the homepage:
then clicking on Ron Miller's photo and then going to his 2008 archives. The article on Cyd was first posted in June 23, 2008

Saturday, December 12, 2009



IVANO SAYS: Surfing the net I came across this book review posted on The Coast Road Blogsite: This blog has many beautiful photos of the Coast Road along with interesting articles. I invite my "blaggatori" to take a look. Sempre Avanti.

La Nostra Costa, Santa Cruz North CoastIvano Franco Comelli’s La Nostra Costa (our coast) sticks an Italian flag in the coast north of Santa Cruz. Ivano Comelli is “un figlio della costa (son of the coast), born and raised on a brussel sprouts rancio.”

Ivano’s family lived on the Coast Road from 1937 to 1953 amongst other ranceri and amici della costa. “Italians who lived on or near the Coast Road would often say that they lived su per la costa, up the coast.” The family home was located on The Gulch Ranch, Il Golce.

“Our single-story batten and board-house had only about 1,200 square feet of actual living space and was separated from the Coast Road by a small patch of lawn, which in turn was surrounded by three sides by a hedge of tall juniper plants. These thick, woody plants shielded the house, somewhat, from the dusty wind, but did little to mitigate the constant noise that was generated by passing vehicles. There were far fewer vehicles on the road in those days; however, it still had a significant amount of traffic.”

Southbound cement trucks traveling the Coast Road to Santa Cruz from Davenport’s Portland Cement Plant would “descend into the gulch and climb a steep grade on the other side. Our house was located right at the top of the grade where the trucks completed their climb. Many times a truck going by was so noisy that our single wall house literally shook on its foundation. Mercifully, when the highway was rebuilt in the latter part of the 1950s, this particular portion of the gulch was mostly filled with rock and sand. The present roadway has a slight dip, but no longer does it have that steep descent.”

La Nostra Costa provides old photos and tells stories of daily life along the coast ranches and in old Davenport. Some things change, some things remain the same: access to beaches bordered by privately-owned land, nudism and sex on the beach while being spied upon from above by boys on the bluff, automobile accidents on the Coast Road, good food and Localism.

Many of the Italianos along this stretch of coast came to America, before World War II, from the northeastern region of Friuli. During World War II, being immigrants without U.S. Citizenship, these Italians were not allowed west of the Coast Road. “The entire coast from the Oregon border to just below Santa Barbara was declared off-limits to enemy aliens effective February 24, 1942.”

La Nostra Costa may be found at Bookshop Santa Cruz and via a few other venues. Ivano also maintains a blog.


Posted in History, Literature Tags: Cabrillo Highway, Davenport, Dimeo Lane, Laguna Curve, Pescadero-Santa Cruz Road, Respini Creek, Santa Cruz County, Serafina's, Yellowbank Curve
Posted by: coastroad October 19, 2009 Rincon Causeway – 1912

Friday, December 11, 2009


IVANO SAYS: I met Nick Faitos at one of my presentations. Last week he called me up and said that he had a special photo of the 1940 graduating class of Laurel School. (I graduated from Laurel School in 1949.) He was wondering if I wanted a copy. "Of course", I told him. Nick was gracious enought to send me a copy. Nick has entitled this class as "Hoover's Children" All were born durning the Great Depression. Some of the above names appear in "La Nostra Costa". I hope you all enjoy the photo as much as I did. (BTW: The teacher for the class was Viola Meints, who was also the principal.)

Monday, November 30, 2009


***************'BAFFI' CAMPIONI ************************(Top)GINO 'BABI' CAMPIONI



IVANO SAYS: Gino has sent me some of his memories of "La Costa". Above I have included some of his family photos. Thanks Gino.

Il Gioco è Bello Quando è Corto (1.)

As I partook of my modest Thanksgiving dinner alone, memories came of happier times. Some of the better ones were the few times we all enjoyed a much nicer dinner than my current one.

This was in the old cookhouse on the Gulch Ranch. Valentina Comelli had prepared a sumptuous feast of turkey, ham, or pork roast, with the usual contorni. (2.) There were also various desserts and the ever present coffee with its alcoholic additives, taken with or without the coffee. The entire crew of the ranch was there, along with their families. The exceptions were the non Italian workers who had their own cookhouse.

The title of this piece suggests that things we expected to go on forever, only happened once or twice, at least for me. That makes the memories of them more precious than if they had been more commonplace.

There is, for instance, the time Ivano and I went “hunting” with our air rifles. It was a bright and chilly morning. The sun glittered on the newly formed dew drops on all the leaves of the carcioffi (3.) and sprout plants, forming tiny rainbows of color. Some of the carcioffi plants had been covered with burlap, thus preventing sunlight from reaching them as they grew. The resulting stalks were pure white, and were called, “cardoni”. When picked, they would be cut into lengths of about 3 inches, dipped in egg batter and fried, along with the normal artichokes, which were cut into quarter inch slices. Most delicious along with chicken, cooked in the same way.

As we marched around this scene of tranquility, looking for “game” to shoot, we could smell the odor of Brussells Sprouts, mingled with that of other farm substances. It was exhilarating to breathe in that odor of cleanness. As we passed sprout plants that looked inviting, we would snap off a sprout and eat it raw. This went on for several minutes, at which point our mouths started to suffer the effects of the natural chemical content of the sprouts. Four or five small sprouts was about the limit for us. For all our “hunting” and “stalking”, we never shot anything. Indeed, we never even saw something to shoot. This makes that memory even better for me.

As most young boys do, I was eager to be able to help my father with farm work. Finally, after much begging, I was allowed to accompany him one morning, and was taught how to pick sprouts. I only lasted a few minutes, before I was told to just get out of the way, as I was too slow. So much for my career in farming! Actually, I think my dad was trying to give me a more valuable lesson. He always felt that I should be able to do something more rewarding that farm work. He told me that if I ever went into farming, he would “break my legs.” Of course, I knew he did not mean that literally. He did not live long enough to find out that the Rodoni boys did much better with farming and their other pursuits, than I ever did in my entire career.

Another memorable moment came one morning when I was playing around the area of the barn. Dante Ramacciotti fired up the Caterpillar tractor, and started it moving toward an area in which he was going to plow. He stopped, and motioned for me to come to him. He helped me climb into the seat of the tractor, and started it moving forward. I was allowed to pull on the left turn lever a couple of times and keep the tractor in the proper direction. Though this was a very short ride, perhaps less that 50 yards, it still is unforgettable to me. Tractors were always things of great fascination for me. I still have a tiny hard rubber toy of an Auburn tractor, which was given to me when I was about 2 years old. It still carries a bit of Gulch Ranch dirt on its tiny wheels.

It was on the Gulch Ranch that I learned to drive a car. I was about 9 years old when Costantino Gemignani showed me how to drive the old Ford. I think it was about a 1938 model, and had been heavily used by a previous owner. Constantino (aka Augie) had painted it an ugly brown color, using a brush. My driving was limited to the area between the cookhouse, the barns, and the highway. I never got it past 2nd gear.

Other precious memories are of evenings à veglia (4.) with the Rodoni family. After supper, Dante would set up his movie projector and show home movies of his family.
There were even some shots of my people. I remember the short film of Mario and me, riding toward the camera in pedal operated sidewalk cars, while Andreina and my parents watched. One was a “Nash” painted green with white trim. The other was a “fire engine”, all white with red trim and a chrome bell on the hood.

Those wonderful evenings in which families visited each other were delightful. Unfortunately, the arrival of available television in 1954 put an end to those events. Though I finally decided on a career in TV repair, I soon realized that I was supporting something that was not good for families in general. I think it has done more harm to society that the little good it was able to do. By 1984 television was considered by some people to be no more than a “talking lamp”. With a few exceptions, I agree.

I am thankful for Ivano Comelli, not only for the fine book he has written, (5.) but for his continuing friendship.

Gino 'Babi' Campioni

1. The game is best when it is short.
2. Additional food items.
3. Artichokes.
4. Literally a “wake”,n this case meaning “time spent together”.
5. La Nostra Costa

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


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A couple of weeks ago, I attended a showing of the documentary film 'Pane Amaro' (Bitter Bread) at the Italian American Heritage Foundation in San Jose. There I was honored to have met Gianfranco Norelli and Suma Kurien the co-producers of the film. They did an extra-ordinary job in making this historical documentary. I congratulate them in this endeavor and also on their continuing effort to bring the true story of the Italian immigration to this country, to the English speaking audience. ('Pane Amaro' was originally done in Italian, however, this version was done in English.)
As described in the IAHF Newsletter, "The film is hard hitting" and takes an intense and ultimately inspiring look at the Italian immigrant experience from about the 1880' through the post WWII years. Covered too (is) the era known in US history as the "great migration" of
millions of Eastern and Southern Europeans to America's shore. "
Although the experiences described in the film were not unique to the Italian migration (the Irish, Germans, Poles, etc., had to endure similar difficulties), it set my mind to thinking as to what the first Thanksgiving in a Foreign Land must have been for these immigrants. Away from family and friends, not knowing the language and with little money in their pockets, and facing deep seated prejudices against them, these brave souls set out to establish a new life for themselves and their families. I wonder if they even celebrated their first Thanksgiving. As the film depicts, these new 'Americanos' had to eat many slices of 'Bitter Bread' before they could be thankful for the 'better' life that they eventually realized.
For us, the first, second, third, etc., generations of these immigrants, we give thanks today for their courage, tenacity, inspiration and love. It is because of them that we do not have to eat "Pane Amaro" this Thanksgiving.
Ivano Franco Comelli
"Major funding for PANE AMARO was provided by the National Italian American Foundation and the Foreign Ministry of Italy"

Monday, November 16, 2009


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I've included a 'new' revised text below. In addition I've attached three pictures I would apprecaite that you would post on the same blog two of my grandfather Herman and one of my geat grandfather Gustavo. Two of the pictures di mio caro Nonno, Herman the poiliceman and the navy master at arms chief along with the picture of 'il mio bisnonno' Gustavo Nanna and his brother taken in Italy.

Here is the Edited version below:

I just received your book 'La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) Wednesday (a paperback copy). Now I am looking forward to getting a hardback copy of this book. I'm still digesting much of what you say (and don't say). I will write a comprehensive sketch sometime in the future. I will say this….. your book speaks straight to my heart.

Please note that my wife Tania (of 20-years this April), and I left California over 10-years ago. The last time I visited the Santa Cruz area was in 1997, to see my maternal Grandmother, Ruby Violet Strong (only weeks before her death). She was born in San Francisco in 1906. Needless to say, I've been out of the area for quite a spell now. Your book, however, does bring back sweet memories.

A little about me, I was born at Santa Cruz Hospital in 1956. Of course this is the same hospital that you were born in (only 19-1/2 years apart). I am the grandson of Ermano Vincenzo Nanna (Herman Vincent Nanna Sr.) who was born in 1909 in (Comune di Fivizzanno, provincia di Massa e Carrara, Italia.) I am the second son of Herman Vincent Nanna Jr. who was born 1932 in Hollister California. My Grandfather was a Santa Cruz Police Officer. My Great-Grandfather, Gustavo Nanna worked at the Pacific Cement and Aggregates Inc. plant in Davenport and lived with his wife Maria off of Chestnut St., Santa Cruz in the 1930's to 60's.

Gusatvo was also from Fivizanno, however; (for some unknown reason) although an Italian citizen and not originally from the Fivizzanno area and I'm told possibly from another country? Of course, this is a matter of interest to me and I am still investigating, through Nanna family members living in Fivizzanno. A possibility is that Nanna was not his real surname, rather a Catholic name given to him or his father as a newly converted immigrant to Italy. Gustavo did later immigrate to the US.
Today, my wife and I live in Louisiana near the center of the State. My wife is from Brazil (Brasileira, della estado de Parana, a cidade de Curitiba) and speaks fluent Portuguese. I do enjoy the colloquial Italian expressions in your book -che bello- they are so much like Portuguese from the south of Brazil. By the way, it was a nice touch with the off-color Italian expressions. I think that you are making a statement here, sure wished I had grown up in a household that spoke Italian.


Michael E. Nanna

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MEMORIAL DAY - La Costa E La Guerra - Marvin Del Chiaro

IVANO SAYS: In 'La Nostra Costa', I have a whole chapter on the Coast and WWII. In fact in an end note (p.54) I mention the all Black 54th Coastal Artillery Battalion that guarded the Coast during this time period. In a reminder letter regarding the special ceremony in Santa Cruz honoring the Battalion, Retired US Army Colonel, Marvin gives some special insights about the Unit. Thought you might like to read it.

To: Undisclosed recipients:

Hi everyone, and especially former members of the old 422nd MP Co., (PCS).

I'm sure most of you are well aware of the upcoming ceremonies, but just in case:

Do you remember our First Sgt. in the 1960's, at the 422nd, Russell Dawson? He's now 93, and will be honored, along with another former member of the 54th, down at the Santa Cruz Lighthouse on West Cliff Drive on this Wednesday, Veterans Day, at 1000 hrs. (see Ramona Turner's article in Monday's Santa Cruz Sentinel for more details). If you can't find the link, email me, and I'll send you further information on the article. It was on the front page of the Xtra section of the Sentinel.

If you can make it, come by, and then join us for a lite lunch and video presentation by Chuck Woodson, at the Veterans Hall down by the old Post Office in Santa Cruz. Sam Farr and Bill Monning and other local dignitaries plan to be there. It should be quite an impressive ceremony, especially for those of us who remember the air raid drills, the "blackouts", the maneuvers, and the sandbagged trenches and gun emplacements along West Cliff Dr. during WWII.

The unit has a special place in the hearts of my family members, as part of the unit had a bivouac site located on/adjacent to my grandfather's (Ferrari) cattle ranch in Davenport, and for years after the war, you could still see the old latrine building and other temporary camp structures on the right side of the "old road", north of the cement plant and New Town, and just a few yards south of our "cheese room" building, which is still standing today, I believe, the one with the cupola.

Many of these young men (unit members) established quite a wonderful and lasting friendship with my family, and came over and played cards at night, and exchanged food from their mess hall for fresh eggs, milk and cheese from my grandfather's ranch/dairy. Members of the unit affectionately called my grandparents "Papa" and "Mama", and returned to visit them after the war.


Friday, November 06, 2009




IVANO SAYS: It has been quite some time, but LaNorma has written another very special article for us to enjoy. Thanks Norma.

We on the Coast Road and the people in Davenport have so much history to share and we are all so interconnected in some way. My family lived in Newtown when I was born and lived there until I was about 3 years old.

The Coast Road was quite windy and had uphills, downhills and - - oh so many curves. If driving on one of those hills (especially Laguna and Gulch Ranch hills) you did not want to get behind one of those cement trucks. In those years,the cement was packed in bags and tied to the front and back trailers of the truck. When they went towards Santa Cruz they tried to get a run at some of the hills to make it up the other side, but even then they slowed way down and if you were behind them you just had to be very patient! And hope that none of those bags came undone!

When the “new highway” was finished around l955, it made it so much better. From where we lived, next to Beltrami’s (In Ivano’s book, he calls it Serafina’s.) which was just south of Laguna (where we had all those 'pickanickas'),it was a breeze to drive to Davenport. When I was l6, I felt so independent to be able to drive to Gregory’s (in Davenport) with relative ease and to get myself a quart of “hand packed" vanilla ice cream. Boy that was yummy and it was such fun being in town at good “ole Davenporto”.

Going back to the old road -- I so vividly remember having to get a ride on the Greyhound bus to go to Santa Cruz. There were three shifts at the Cement plant, thus three buses per shift ran up and down the Coast Road from Santa Cruz to get the workers to and from the plant. ( Note: Many of the workers who originally lived in Davenport now could afford to live in Santa Cruz, considered by many to be a more 'desirable' place to live.)

We would wait for the bus out in front of Beltrami’s either for the morning or afternoon shift changes. The first bus always honked twice meaning it was full and the second bus would pick us up. Sometimes the second bus would honk three times to tell us that it was full too and that the third bus would do the “honors” of picking us up. We could always hear the bus chugging up the hill on the Laguna curve and then start picking up speed on the downhill towards our house. Fortunately, the third bus always seemed to pick us up.

When I go up the old highway now, I am amazed at how narrow it is. To load and off-load passengers, the Greyhound and even the yellow school buses would have to stop right in middle of the roadway – no space to pull to the side. Other traffic on the road would simply have to wait until the loading and off-loading of passengers was completed. (Guess this was way before “road rage”.)

I also look at the highway and am marveled at all the history and things that happened on it. A vivid memory I have is of the 2 dairies that had to cross their cows from the west- side to the east-side (and vise versa) of the road. (As Ivano describes it in his book the Coast Road itself runs north and south to and from Santa Cruz, “Haffa Moom” Bay and - - “San Franceezco”.) One was at the Scaroni Dairy (now the RED, WHITE and BLUE Beach) The other was at the Annand and DalPorto ranch area (located a little north of where the Rodonis now sell their pumpkins). In the
1950’s, Frank Borges and his family had the dairy and sometimes Mr. Borges would get sick - - so his daughters Della, Vera and I would stop the cars and trucks to get the cows across the highway. Sometimes I wonder how that would go in today’s world?

Another interesting thing that happened in about the same area (not sure if it was late 40's or early 50’s.) A California Highway Patrolman named Danny O’Connell made a car stop. Apparently, seeing that Officer O’Connell was preoccupied with writing the ticket or examining the offending vehicle, the two male occupants of the car took advantage of the situation by running and jumping into the CHP patrol car. They actually “hijacked” it. Not to be 'out-done', Danny quickly commandeered a passing cement truck to be his “chase car”. Of course the cement trucks were much lighter and could go faster when they were going back up to Davenport to reload. Don’t know all the details, but it all ended well. I think the car was picked up on Bonny Doon Road. (This story reminds me of the “chase” as described by Ivano
in “La Nostra Costa”, with a “shotgun totting” Joe Gemignani, Dante Ramaciotti and Bronco Comelli giving chase in the “Old Carettone” up the Coast Road in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a couple of car thieves.)

I also remember my Dad and Mom talking with their friends (other “old timers”) about the times during WWII when you couldn't’t turn on your headlights because of the Blackout restrictions. Can you imagine being on the highway with no headlights (of course it wasn’t like today when we absolutely have to jump in a car and go somewhere, anytime.)

I do not remember as I was too young, but I do recall my Dad talking about how he would drive from the Grossi ranch where he was a partner, and go all the way to Newtown shinning a flashlight out the window of the car. (Remember how Ivano described his father almost being arrested for using a flashlight while feeding the rabbits. Although my father was a naturalized citizen, he wasn’t even supposed to have a flashlight when my Mom was in the car because she, like Ivano’s father, was an alien and not a citizen.) Can you imagine driving a stick shift car and holding a flashlight out the window to see where you were going. To make it that much more difficult the Grossi Ranch happened to be located just before Yellowbank. So there were several curves, ditches and hills before the road finally became a straight-a-way (near Bonny Doon Road) to Davenport. All I got to say is thank God for the white line in the middle of the road!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


IVANO SAYS: The remembrance below on Louisa Presepi first appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Louise J. Presepi, passed away Friday October 16, 2009 at Driftwood Convalescent Hospital. She was 101.

Louise was born in Davenport on July 10, 1908, the daughter of Battista and Candida Zanette Fadelli. She grew up in Santa Cruz and was a graduate of Santa Cruz High School. She attended business school and later began a long career at A.T&T where she retired as an administrative secretary.

She was described by her family as a very generous person who gave to numerous charities. She was a devout member of Holy Cross Catholic Church, the Sons of Italy, Italian Catholic Federation, Santa Cruz Old Timers and Retired Telephone Employees Association. She loved people and enjoyed attending numerous social activities. She enjoyed playing bridge, traveling and going out for meals. Never having a driver's license Louise walked most anywhere she needed to go.

She is survived by her cousins, Angela Zanette Marchesin and her husband Enrico of San Mateo, Larry Soletti and his wife, Barbara of Oakland, Virginia Soletti of San Mateo, Diana Wolfe and her husband Laurence of Portland, OR and Peter Fadelli and his wife Eda of Napa; she is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, god children and her extended family in Italy. She was preceded in death by her husband, Amerigo "Piccino" Presepi, sister, Edith Petrini, brother, John Fadelli and her dear friend Elsie Tori.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at Holy Cross Church, 126 High St, Santa Cruz, CA, Friday October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am. The funeral procession will leave from Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St, Santa Cruz, CA, Friday morning at 10:30 am. A vigil prayer service will be held at Pacific Gardens Chapel Thursday evening at 7:30 pm. Friends are invited to call at Pacific Gardens Chapel on Thursday from 4:00 pm until service time. Entombment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery, 2271 7th Ave. Santa Cruz, CA

The family wishes to express their deep thanks and gratitude to Dr. Michael Conroy for his dedication, warmth and fine medical care and to her caregivers and the dedicated staff at Driftwood Convalescent Hospital.

Contributions may be made to Sienna House, 108 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 or to Oakland Elizabeth House, P.O. Box 1175, Berkeley, Ca. 94701.
- - - -

IVANO SAYS (CONT'D): Those of you who have read my book know that Louisa and her husband Amerigo (Piccino) Presepi were an integral part of the La Nostra Costa Story.
On page 38 I write: "When my father bought into Il Golce, there were six or seven partners,including Amerigo (Piccino)Presepi,the foreman. Coastal Italians often called the foreman il bosso [boh so], the boss. Piccino [pee chee no]was married to Louisa, a fine-looking and very amicable Italian woman. The one thing I selfishly regretted about Piccino and Louisa was that they had no children for my brother and I to play with."

I go on to say that although I personally liked Piccino, he was looked upon by the ranceri as a hard driving boss and not very well liked. This did not escape Louisa, who collared me at a social function a few years back and advised me that I was much too hard on her husband. It took me some time to soothe her feelings, but I think I succeed when I reminded her that her husband's role as a "bosso" su per la costa would not be forgotten because of the book.

Friday, October 09, 2009







Taken in an artichoke and Brussels sprouts field on the North Coast of Santa Cruz, Lido is seated at extreme left. His brother Reno is seated next to him. Parents Guido and Evelina Cantarutti are standing directly behind them. (Courtesy: La Nostra Costa Photo Archives, C. 1947)


“La Nostra Costa” (Our Coast) A Family’s Journey To And From The North Coast of Santa Cruz, California (1923-83), by Ivano Franco Comelli is published by Authorhouse (1-888-280-7715). For further information and reviews on his book, Ivano invites you to visit his website:

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Ivano says; The below remembrance of Mario Esposito was first published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

On September 20, 2009, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Mario Joseph Esposito passed away at home, surrounded by his family and loved ones at the age of 86. Mario was an icon in the County of Santa Cruz and well known and loved by many, many people.

Mario was born to Ciro and Maria Esposito in Santa Cruz on May 20, 1923. He spent his whole life in Santa Cruz County and graduated from Santa Cruz High School.

Mario worked for the County Bank of Santa Cruz for 29 years. His trust, friendship and hand shake will be forever remembered by those who knew him at the bank. In 2004, Mario returned to banking joining forces with Community Bank, currently Rabobank, as Vice President/Business Development Officer. He was instrumental in bringing in millions of deposits and loans as well. He was an incredible inspiration to the organization and staff.

Mario has achieved and accomplished many things throughout his life and has given so much to this community. He was named as Outstanding Young Man in 1958 in Santa Cruz; was awarded the Jaycee's Distinguished Service Award; served three terms as President of the San Lorenzo Valley Chamber of Commerce and then Treasurer; Director of Santa Cruz County Tuberculosis and Health Association; served on the SLV elementary school PTA board and was one of the founders of the SLVUSD school board. He started SLV Little League as a coach and a leader and remained active within the organization; director of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce and Goodwill Industries Board. In 1999, Mario also served as the BIG SIR in the SIRS organization as a director and chairman and received the life achievement award in 2006. He was a leader in the United Way, Red Cross and Sons of Italy. In 1991, he joined the Mall Walkers and was very involved in the program.

For 45 years, Mario was a member of the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge and served on many chairs and committees and was Exalted Ruler. He started the Monday Night Football Game dinners at Elks which were very popular as he is an avid Forty Niner fan they won on 09/20/09. He was also voted Elk of the Year in 1999. Mario also enjoyed annual trips with his wife, family and friends to Scottsdale Arizona to watch the major league baseball Spring Training.

Mario never "retired", after 29 years at County Bank, he opened up several restaurants, started his own flower business Mario's Roses and went back to banking in 2004 until 2009.

Mario is preceeded in death by his first wife June Esposito.

He is survived by his wife Lois Esposito of 36 years and his children Jeffrey Esposito, Debra husband Stephen Sanders and Nicol Esposito. His other children Steven Traylor, Robert Traylor and Sandi Evans. His sister Gloria Giovannoni and his grandchildren, Paul, James wife Deanna, Christopher, Ashley, Stevie, Michael, Jacob, Christina, Erin, Daniel, and Andrea. Great grandchildren, Zoe, Joshua, Ethan and Jared with one on the way!, and many other family members.

The family extends their appreciation to all the caregivers and Hospice of Santa Cruz that were a part of Mario's life over the past several months. Thank you for your care, comfort and response.

Services will be held on Monday, September 28, 2009, at Twin Lakes Church 2701 Cabrillo College Drive, Aptos, California 95003.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Mario Esposito Scholarship Fund, SLV Alumni, P.O. Box 1405, Felton, CA 95018. God Bless.


Friday, September 18, 2009


('clicca' on banner for enlarged image)
Figlio della Costa, Lido Cantarutti is putting on another spectacular presentation for his Italian Film Festival -- 2009, in San Rafael, Oct 3 to November 14. For a list of the Italian Films to be presented, please go to Lido's website:
All shows will be at the Marin Center Showcase Theatre, San Rafael, California, with screenings at 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. each evening.
All films are in Italian or original language with subtitles in English. All films suggested for mature audiences.
Single ticket $13, series ticket (for all 6 films) $72. Advance purchase recommended.
Ticketing and further information about the Festival are available from the Marin Center Box Office at (415) 499-6800, or on the Festival website:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009



Those volcanic islands that are on the way to Japan became islands soaked in blood in 1945.

The Americans were determined to take the islands and the Japanese with their iron will were determined to defend the islands to the death because they knew that they were a stepping stones to Japan.

Thus the stage was set for the bloodiest fight in WW11. The Japanese had pulled soldiers from Burma and other fronts to defend Okinawa. They had peppered the island with pillboxes, tunnels and cave hideouts. This, plus their determination to defend the island to the last man made for one of the deadliest defense systems. AND the Japanese had the high ground.
The Americans had to inch their way up against constant enemy fire.
This combination of Japanese iron will and American determination had created hell's own cesspool on Okinawa. And for the Japanese it was a brutal fight for honor.

The Americans had underestimated the strength of the Japanese on Okinawa. The Japanese had established an elaborate pillbox system designed to maime, kill and deter the Americans. Japanese had dug tunnels between the pillboxes. This was to fool the Americans. Americans knew that they had killed Japs but the Japs retrieved the bodies during the night and it was as if ghosts were snatching the bodies. A deadly game was begun and nighttime was the time for killing on Okinawa. The Japanese game was to call corpsmen in perfect English and then they would kill them at night.

The Japanese had no fear of dying. This resulted in the Japanese pilots flying their planes onto aircraft carriers to destroy the carrier and the Japanese pilot. Japanese were very treacherous and extremely brutal. They would cut the private parts of the dead soldiers and put them on top of the soldiers. They carried photographs of the brutality that they had inflicted on the Chinese. My brother, Giuliano found some pictures about the Chinese brutality and turned them over to intellignce.
Horrendous battles occurred. It was kill or be killed. Sugar Loaf Hill changed hands 14 times. After seven days Sugar Loaf Hill was taken.
My brother said that you could not show emotion and survive. It was indeed a miracle that my brother survived. He was a designated flame thrower and infantry man. The life of a flame thrower is short because the Japanese snipers were always targeting flame throwers. At one point he made the decision to take out some pillboxes. Giuliano's thinking was that either he took the pillbox out or they died. God must have been with him bcause he did take out the pillbox. He said that he hated the job but he had to do it. The odor of burning flesh is horrible when you throw the flames into the tunnels.
Giuliano also said that the life cycle was altered, in other words, you didn't eat when you were supposed to, you did not sleep when you were supposed to and often you lived on the chocolate rations.

Mt Suribachi (Iwo Jima) was another miscalulation by the Americans. There were 21,000Japanese ready to defend Mt. Suribachi. It became a fortress. Kurabyashi was the Japanese High Commander.
There existed a bond between the American men that helped them to win. They were fighting against the iron will of the Japanese that made the fighting extremely vicious.

The Japanese became even more incensed when the flag was raised at Mt. Suribachi. Three of the six men who raised the flag were later killed. The area became known as the meat grinder because of the Japanese ferocity in defending it.
My brother, Giuliano said that near the end of the battle there was a ghostly pull from the dead to have you stay with them.
He resisted the pull thinking that far too many men had already died including Ernie Pyle the correspondent.
Because Admiral Turner miscalculated the number of the Japanese it took much longer and many lives to win in Okinawa.
The battle for Shuri Castle was another brutal battle. My brother said that often there were hand to hand combat battles. He somehow managed to survive.
When all was said and done, over 38,000 Americans were wounded and 12,000 killed in battle.
6 weeks after victory at Okinawa bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
There was no sympathy for the enemy that had inflicted so much pain and suffering for so long.
My brother Giuliano was happy because he was being trained for the invasion of Japan when the bombs were dropped.
If you asked my brother why he survived he would credit God never his own abitlities. Just because a person lacks education does not mean that that person is unintelligent.
When my brother died he had his guns behind his bed. I don't think that the WW11 experience ever left him; he was not afraid of dying.
When he left Italy his grandfather said "Fatti coraggio," never knowing the true meaning of courage that his grandson would show in Okinawa!


IVANO SAYS: Two very important dates slipped by us almost without notice. Seventy years ago, September 1,1939, Hitler's German Army invaded Poland and World War II began. Sixty-four years ago, August 15,1945, Japan surrendered, thus ending the War.
Nancy's article above reminds us all of the countless bloody battles that were fought inbetween those years. Thanks Nancy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


(Photo by Shmuel Thale: Santa Cruz Sentinel: )
IVANO SAYS: The recent Bonny Doon Fire conjures up memories of other Davenport/Coast Road Fires. Nancy Jacobs writes of one such fire that occurred in 1949.
(BTW: Nancy wrote this for the Davenport/Coast Road Event. She has graciously agreed to give our "Blaggatori" an advanced look-see. Thanks, Nancy.)

It was 1949 and our family was living on the Foothill Ranch at the mouth of Scotts Creek.
One day we saw a thick smoke coming from the Swanton valley. We saw the smoke through the window facing the ranch on the other side of Scotts Creek.
I was really afraid that the fire would reach us.
So there we were discussing how to evacuate. No easy task because we had horses, a dog, ducks, chickens, a cow, a farmall, tractor flat bed truck, a car and a pick-up. All our possessions were in the farmhouse plus our food.
We decided to listen to the radio and watch the fire. My brother and I went to the top level of the ranch. There we could see the thick smoke slowly moving towards us. My brother said that it looked like a war zone.
Something went past us quickly in a blink of an eye. It was, in fact, a deer running from the fire. All kinds of wildlife kept running past us. The various animals were jumping the fences going under in some cases but all running for their lives from the threatening fire that was slowly advancing. I wondered how many birds, rabbits and other wild animals including snakes had actually died.
You could hear the siren of the fire trucks as they went back and forth on Swanton road to Highway One.
I was so stressed that I ate even more food, which, of course, did not solve any problem.
No one knew whether it was night or day. I remember hearing a Doris Day song, a song from the 1930's and other entertaining music of the day including the drummer Gene Kruppa. It was kind of surreal, although, I was not familiar with that word at the time. The radio played the news hourly.
And as suddenly as the fire came, the fire after raging for days was contained by the firefighters of 1949.
For decades one could see the fire damaged stumps that were left over from the fire of 1949 in Swanton. A deadly reminder of the power of nature and fire.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Hi Folks!!!

If you haven't already heard....

It's time again for the...Davenport / Coast Road 2009 Reunion...!!! So plan to join us on -- Sunday, August 30, 2009 -- for some good food -- lots of great memories and simply to have a good time!!! -- see below for full details! Also flyer attached.

Please feel free to pass this information on to others who may be interested!

We're looking forward to seeing all of come for the fun!!!

All the best,

The Committee!

*FYI...After expenses, proceeds are donated towards projects that benefit the Davenport Community!




We invite you to join us for our 17th Bi-annual get-together of Davenport, Coast Road, Newtown, Swanton, and Bonny Doon residents, former residents and guests ~ all are welcome!!!

PROGRAM: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm – Check in & visit with old friends
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm – BBQ: Steak or chicken, beans, green salad,
garlic bread, coffee & dessert
Soda, wine & beer will also be available


Joe Aliberti Teresa Bertolli Darling, Treasurer Richard Dietz
831-438-0563 831-423-2766 831-423-4521

Cindy Olimpio Escobar Rico Della Santina 831-423-4969; email: 831-426-6463

Patty Morelli Stephanie Raugust Rosa Radicchi
831-438-8789 831-423-8566 831-460-0545
email: email: email:

Share your Memories!!! We want to hear your stories! Do you have a favorite story or memory to share? If so, please write a one- or two-page story, provide a picture if you like ~ and mail or email it to us by August 25th and we’ll add it to the “Memory Book”. This book will be for us, as well as future generations to enjoy! If you have questions or if you have any difficulty writing, please call us at 831-460-0545; we’ll be happy to answer your questions or help you write your story!

Make checks payable to: D.C.R.R. 2009

Please enclose a STAMPED SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE for return of tickets and mail to:

After expenses, proceeds will be donated towards projects that benefit the Davenport community.



PHONE ( )____________________________ EMAIL ADDRESS ______________________________________

Ticket Price: $16.00 for steak; $14.00 for chicken Amount enclosed: $____________________
$5.00 per children under 12

# Steaks ________ # Chicken ________ # Children _______ Total Number of Reservations: _____________

If you are requesting tickets for others, please list names in your party:



(If needed, please use the back of this form for additional names.)

Sorry, I/We will not be able to attend, but enclosed is my/our donation: $________________

Note: Are you interested in helping with the reunion or volunteering your services?
If so, please call us at 831-460-0545 ~ We invite you to join us!


Sunday, August 02, 2009


DAVENPORT / COAST ROAD - 2009 REUNION SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, HARVEY WEST PARK, SANTA CRUZ. LAGUNA STYLE BARBECUE with MUSIC, COUNTRY STORE & RAFFLE!!!We invite you to join us for our 17th Bi-annual get-together of Davenport, Coast Road, Newtown, Swanton, and Bonny Doon residents, former residents and guests ~ all are welcome!!! PROGRAM: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm – Check in & visit with old friends; 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm – BBQ: Steak or chicken, beans, green salad,garlic bread, coffee & dessert. Soda, wine & beer will also be available.
PHONE: ( )_________________
Ticket Price: $16.00 for steak; $14.00 for chicken
$5.00 per children under 12
#Steaks___ #Chicken____ #Children___
Total Number of Reservations______
Amount enclosed: $ _______
Mail with self stamped returned envelope to:

Friday, July 31, 2009


Legendary football coach Larry Siemering, 98, dies

Former Santa Cruz High football coach Larry Siemering believed offense was all any football team needed. He died Monday at the age of 98

Santa Cruz County lost a football coaching legend Monday, when offensive-minded pioneer Larry Siemering died at Watsonville Community Hospital after suffering from a fall earlier that day at his Watsonville home. He was 98.
"He was just an outstanding man in every respect," said friend Joe Marvin, who coached with Siemering at Cabrillo College. "And highly respected by his players."
View/sign the guest book
Siemering was born in San Francisco in 1910 and raised in Lodi. He played baseball and football for the University of San Francisco and two seasons as center with the NFL's Boston Redskins [1935-36], now the Washington Redskins.
At 98, he was the oldest surviving pro football player.
Siemering made a name for himself everywhere he stepped foot.
He was practically royalty in Stockton, leading University of Pacific to an unbeaten 11-0 season in 1949. Siemering's .875 winning percentage is the highest in Pacific's 75-year football history. In his three-year tenure at UOP, he went 35-5-3 overall. The school stopped playing the sport in 1995.
Locally, Siemering served as head coach at Santa Cruz from 1956-58 and at Cabrillo from 1959-65. He coached Cabrillo's inaugural team in '59. He also coached the Seahawks golf team for a stint, stepping aside in 1976.
"He was a piece of work," said end Fred McPherson, who played for Siemering on the unbeaten 9-0 Santa Cruz football team in 1958 and on Cabrillo's first team. "He could really get into your head. He used a lot of psychology. He could get the players to work as a team together by knowing who to pick on. He would get the team to rally behind it."
After his NFL career, Siemering got into coaching, leading two San Joaquin Valley high schools. He began his coaching career at Manteca High. After that, he served as an assistant for the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg at Pacific.
Marvin said Siemering worked double duty in 1943. While an assistant at UOP, he took up the head coaching position at Stockton High after the former head coach departed to serve in World War II. Siemering, Marvin said, coached Stockton's team during lunch hour and led them to the Valley Championship.
In 1946, after a third straight losing season, Stagg retired, opening the door for Siemering to take his place.
Siemering, a disciplinarian who loved offense, devised and implemented a complex offense at UOP. It was run-heavy and full of tricky options that set up a pass attack. His first UOP team went 10-1 in 1947.
He applied the same ideals at Santa Cruz.
"It was offense, offense and more offense," McPherson recalled of his days at Santa Cruz. "His belief was if you score all the time, you don't need defense. We never practiced defense."
Marvin, a football historian, marvels at the 575 points -- an average of 57.5 a game -- that Siemering's UOP team produced in 1949 with 5-foot-7, 165-pound quarterback Eddie LeBaron.
"That was unheard of at that time," Marvin said. "They were ranked 10th in the nation and they didn't go to a bowl game. No one wanted to fool around with little ol' College of the Pacific. LeBaron was a magician. It was dynamite.
"Siemering was tough. He was a hard-nosed coach -- the old school. He knew the game very well. He was a fundamental coach. He loved offense -- his team's showed that."
Siemering also coached at Arizona State University and was an assistant for the Washington Redskins and the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders.
Said former Cabrillo football coach Steve Cox: "With him, it really wasn't an issue of what the other team did. It was what you did. The only thing you could control was who you were and how hard you worked."
The above article appeared was first published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


On this particular day, my father had to make a wood delivery in the town of Tricesimo (in Friuli). He was also of mind to stop there to negotiate some further business, so he asked my mother to go with him. Since his business would keep him there for awhile, he told her that he wanted her to take the carriage and oxen (that came with it) home after he unloaded the wood. Being very confident that she could do that, my mother agreed to go along.
Once in Tricesimo, my father unloaded the wood and a bicycle that he would use to ride back home. He gave my mother specific directions on how to get back home. (My father was not as confident as my mother about these things.) My mother told him not to worry and started the journey back home: two oxen, one carriage, and one middle aged Furlana.
Everything went well until they reached a fork in the road. Stopping the oxen, she thought and thought, trying very hard to remember which fork my father told her to take. She couldn't be quite sure, but she felt very confident that the road to the right was the one to take. Thus, she attempted to guide the oxen to the right. The oxen started to move, not to the right, but toward the road on the left.
Becoming impatient with the two animals, she struck them with her whip and screamed in Furlan, "Volte, Volte stopits demais". (Roughly translated: "Turn, turn you dumb oxen".) Try as she may, she couldn't make the oxen take the road to the right. She even got out of the carriage and tried to lead the oxen to the road on the right. The oxen refused to go that way.
At this point she gave up. She threw up her hands, uttered a prayer, "O Dio Mio, I don't know what to do. I am in your hands now", and let the two beautiful animals go their way.
Believe it or not - the two oxen took her straight home. They knew that the road on the left was the one to take all the time. Either that or they had no confidence in mother's ability to get them home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


IVANO SAYS: This Remembrance for John was first published in the
Santa Cruz Sentinel:

John Colombini

A recitation of the Holy Rosary and a Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Sunday and Monday in Santa Cruz, for John Colombini, who passed away peacefully at his Santa Cruz home on July 15, with his loving family at his bedside. Born in Capannori Lucca, Italy, he was 89 years old. Mr. Colombini moved to the United States in 1936 and has been a resident of Santa Cruz County for the past 55 years. He served his country during WW II as a paratrooper with the US Army Air Corps, and saw action in the Pacific Theatre where he made numerous parachute jumps over Japan.
A well known and respected farmer on the north coast of Santa Cruz County, his career in agriculture where he farmed artichokes and Brussels sprouts spanned over 50 years. He first farmed in Pacifica and later brought his family to live on Wilder Ranch. John was a member of the Santa Cruz and San Mateo Farm Bureaus.
Mr. Colombini made many life long friends in the various organizations to which he belonged, including the Family of St. Joseph, The Sons of Italy, Santa Cruz Elks Lodge, The Italian Catholic Federation, Marconi Club, and Lucchesi nel Mondo. He was generous, kind and loving toward everyone he met. He had a contagious smile, sparkling blue eyes, and a strong handshake.
He was a long time parishioner of Holy Cross Catholic Church.
He is survived by his daughters and sons in-law, Diana and Giovanni Colombini, Sandi and Claudio Locatelli, his son Albert Colombini, his five beloved grandchildren, Freddy Colombini of Italy, Cristina, Nicolas, and Emilia Locatelli and Erik Colombini all of Santa Cruz. He also leaves his younger brother, Jimmy Colombini of Santa Cruz and several nieces, nephews, cousins, and loving friends. The Colombini Family would especially like to thank and recognize his caregivers: Ana Ramos, Luis Salazar, Jorge Acosta, and the wonderful staff of Heartland Hospice, whose kindness we will be forever grateful.
Mr. Colombini was preceded in death by his loving wife of 45 years, Olga Colombini, his parents, Ottavio and Emilia Colombini and his older brother, Bart Colombini.
Friends may pay their respects at Benito and Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel on Sunday, July 19, from 12 noon until 5 p.m. The recitation of the rosary will begin at 7 p.m. at Holy Cross Church 126 High Street in Santa Cruz on Sunday evening, July 19, 2009. The mass will be celebrated at the church on Monday morning July 20, 2009 beginning at 11:00 a.m. He will be laid to rest at Holy Cross Mausoleum 2271 7th Ave. in Santa Cruz beside his beloved wife Olga, immediately following the mass. Any kind acts of charity may be made in his memory to Sons of Italy Lodge 1992/ Scholarship: 108 Ridgeview Court, Santa Cruz 95060.
IVANO SAYS (CONT'D): John and his brother Bart were well known 'ranceri' . The word rancere or ranceri (pl) was (is) reserved for the Italians who farmed "su per la costa". When asked what our occupation up the coast was, my father Bronco and/or my mother Valentina would answer "Siamo ranceri". (We are ranchers.) I first became aware of the Colombini brothers when they first moved to the Wilder Ranch (now a State Park). Later, when I was Exalted Ruler of the Santa Cruz Elks, I would see them often at the Lodge. Now they have both crossed "Il Ultimo Ponte" to join other 'Ranceri" who have gone before them.
Addio, John and Bart.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


IVANO SAYS: Over the past year or so, I have been selling/signing books at the Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. There I have met many people who do not have close family ties to the North Coast of Santa Cruz. To my pleasant surprise, I found that they are very much interested in the La Nostra Costa Story. Nannette Morgan is one such person.
Dear Signore Comelli!
I know you won't remember me but I met you at Guglielmo's Cork Equity on 8/8/08 (!) and bought your wonderful book. You were so kind to autograph it for my mom (who wasn't with me at the event) after we had talked about my Swiss family (from the Lago Maggiore region of Switzerland) who settled in Salinas and other parts of Monterey Co. My maternal great grandfather had a saloon and wine bottling co in Salinas on Main St. We talked about this. Buying your book was the best gift I've probably ever given my mom in the past recent years. She was thrilled with the autograph and I believe read it in 2 days! (She was a voracious reader). We would talk over the phone about events in the book each evening (over "un bicchiere di vino"). I just started reading the book myself, having only read a few pages, (Introduzione, etc.) before giving it to her..... I was so excited for her to have it. I can't tell you how many times she thanked me for the book (and believe me, I gave her many gifts treasured by her over the last 50 some years).
Anyway, I love your book. You are a very talented writer and even though I was a youngin' going to Salinas and Monterey to see our Swiss relatives (we are also Irish and Scottish), I feel like I'm reliving my youth reading your book.
(The photos of) Serafina's and your parents' house looks like our cousin's/godparent's house on Main St in Salinas (still standing). I know Davenport, San Gregorio etc. well because as an adult I used to do Dressage at a horse ranch in San Gregorio. Of course, being a native San Franciscan and my Irish-Scottish descended maternal grandmother being raise in North Beach ( MY favorite part of SF), I can relate to SO much in your book.
I'm so thankful that you wrote this. I hope to run into you again at Guglielmo's sometime. I enjoyed speaking with you and your wife too. Unfortunately my mom passed away peacefully and unexpectedly on 11/2/08. I only wish that I had read your book before then because I could have asked her some questions about the coast.
One question I have is about the old Swiss Hotel in Santa Cruz. Who owned it and were they from the Lago Maggiore area? My great grandpa came from Val Versasca in that area.
My mom and I made a trip there while in Italy and even though our Swiss -Salinas relatives warned us not to bother because folks there weren't the friendliest, we did so anyway, riding the Postal Bus. Well we not only got to one of the villages but we also met descendants of my great grandpa's saloon partner. Would you believe it? It happen to be a day when they weren't open. Guess what? They wouldn't even offer us a glass of water (we were hoping for a glass of vino..... a tradition in OUR family if visitors come). The lady even knew who we were talking about. As you would say, "Porca la miseria!!"

Anyway, thanks for listening to my thank you note. If you have information on the Swiss Hotel, I'd love to hear about it. Buona fortuna, Nannette


I requested that Nannette send me further info on her family. She added the following and also sent me the photo above of herself, Mom Phyllis Frolli Morgan and cousin Michael.

My great grandfather who owned the saloon in Salinas was named Domingo Frolli. And interestingly, our family personal vocabulary called anyone that was Swiss from that or nearby areas in Switzerland "versasca" -- roughly meaning "paisano". Also you'll delight in knowing that a staple (not every day of course) in my family was and is polenta. This was a staple of that area of Switzerland and also the Piemonte area of Italy (which borders the Lago Maggiore area).
My relatives in Salinas actually had a special polenta pot. One of the cousins, Enos Frolli, was an excellent cook but people would complain that dinner took too long to get to the table at family gatherings. Apparently, Enos embodied the saying "I like to cook with wine; sometimes I even put a little in the food!" (As an aside, I loved the story in the book about the cellar where the wine was kept. Growing up in Millbrae we had a dear Italian neighbor, Joe Turla. He used to make his own wine (much later he bought the wine). He always kept it in a little room in the garage which was under the house. When we went to visit, my grandpa and grandmother and later my mom and I, would sit in the cool garage and enjoy a glass of vino and chew the fat together.

My other family members who lived in Salinas were the Martella family. Their house on North Main is still there. In fact, at one point about 20 years ago, the lane behind them and the house, which runs parallel to Main, was renamed Martella Street (or Avenue). Elmer Martella owned the old drugstore on Gabilan Street in Salinas (he was the pharmacist). I remember as a very young girl going down to Salinas for the "Big Week"(The Rodeo). My maternal grandpa, Winfred Romeo Frolli (his dad was Domingo) would tell us all the stuff going on, while we sat on cousin Elmer's balcony (2nd floor of the drugstore), and watch the pre-rodeo parade.

I mention all the above as an interesting parallel of our families' histories in the Monterey area. I actually have all the old tin-type photos of the saloon, etc. as well as old year books from Salinas High School etc. where my grandpa went. Although a few years older, he knew John Steinbeck quite well. Family history has it that grandpa sold young John his paper route! I think that's why your book resonates so much with me. I feel as though I am following part of "my" family history!Some day I will be organizing all these photos and probably donate some to the Salinas historical society.
Again, Mille grazie,

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