Monday, March 30, 2009



I was born in the old Sisters Hospital in l940 although then it was the Handley Hospital
(the Sisters bought the hospital in l94l).

Now it is gone – it is the Dream Inn parking lot. Where the Dream Inn is now was a cliff
with paths that we walked down to Cowell’s Beach. We always parked on Bay St. by the
big barn – where the condos are now. I am sure many of you remember how it was.

There are so many things to remember and so many things have changed and with us
all sharing – so much comes back to our minds – how cozy and laid back Santa Cruz and surroundings were.

One high school – SCHS – buses coming from everywhere in the county –
north from the Summit, south from Aptos and from Davenport, Bonny Doon
and from Felton and Ben Lomond. In l953 San Lorenzo High School was opened
(before that it was in Boulder Creek). There was Holy Cross but it was a small school.
Our big rival for football was Watsonville.

We walked everywhere even at dusk and nighttime without worrying as we do today.
I remember Madeline Perrona Crews telling me that she and a friend worked at
the Boardwalk in summer and after it closed they would walk home to Encinal Street –
think she said that sometimes they walked through the tunnel under Holy Cross!!

In those days there was no highway from Mission Street to River Street behind Holy Cross.
Some of the houses that were located where the intersection of Mission & Chestnut Sts are
were moved to the corner of Mission and Chestnut. It is worth checking out photos at
Covello & Covello (which was Vester Dick Photography years ago)

One big change to Santa Cruz was the l955 flood. Our town was never quite the same
after that and then l0 years or so later in l965 the University was begun and changes really escalated.

The flood was sad and devastating. We lived up the Coast (where I grew up after we moved
from Davenport). On Dec. 22 (I think?) we were visiting my aunt and uncle on Dufour and
we left later that night driving the old Coast Rd. – when we got to Wilder’s Ranch – it was all
flooded. My Dad was really brave and took a chance driving slowly through the raging water.
My Mom and I and my Dad were really scared and probably did more praying getting through
there than all our life combined!! Luckily we got to the other side safely and home. It was a
treacherous night of rain. The next day my Dad and I drove his big 4-wheel drive from the
ranch as he had to bring something to the packing house in Santa Cruz. After that we decided
to drive down to Lincoln Street Bakery for a treat --- lo and behold as we came off the hill by
SCHS everything was under water almost all the way up to Chestnut St.
Cars were topsy turvy - it was tragic! We drove a little further and we could see debris of all
kinds rapidly going down the river – it touched me so as I saw Christmas trees and gifts among
other things going down the river. Of course we didn’t know anything about what had happened
in the night as our electricity had been out all night and we did not have a phone in our house –
the nearest phone was in our cookhouse across the street. Also there was no TV – only a few
people had TVS especially up the Coast as reception was bad. But it wouldn’t have mattered –
we were without electricity.

We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing---was it the “beginning of the end” of
Santa Cruz as we knew it?!

Guess we all could go on and on with so many memories. I know I could
but we’ll have to stay tuned for the “rest of the stories”………………………

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Gino said...

Dei pensieri

Ciao Ivano,

Just been looking at your website again, as I do twice a day or more.

First, the wife of Quinto Neri is Elvira. (not Elvera)

Second, listening to music on "Italia in Brazile" it came to me that your father who, when young, was called Vasin. In dialetto napoletano this might mean "Vasin d'amor". A little kiss of love. Che ne pensi?

Keep up the great work. Our parents are grateful for your efforts.

Saluti, Gino

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Dei con i complementi e correzioni, Gino

You are correct Quinto's wife's (LaNorma's aunt) was Elvira. I shall make the correction.

Regarding my father's Friulian-boyhood nickname: "Vasin", you may be correct, although I never heard anyone including my father give any meaning to the nickname. I do know that my father didn't like the name much (he much preferred "Bronco"). He thought the name "Vasin" sounded too much like "vaso" (vase). Thus he associated Vasin to small vase or a night vase (chamber pot.) Despite this the Furlans 'su per la costa' continued to address him by his boyhood name: "Vasin" Dei with the Trivia.


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

THANKS NORMA FOR YOUR SPLENDED ARTICLE: Oh yes, I remember the 1955 Flood. I was home on Christmas vacation from San Jose State College. My good friend Ken Olsen (Home from UC Berkeley) and I went to the Rio Theatre (still there) on Soquel Ave. to see "The Rains of Rancipor" (sp?). Outside we could hear the rain pouring down and hitting the roof of the theatre. After the movie Ken and I (somehow) were enlisted into the Services of the Santa Cruz Red Cross. We went house to house warning people living close to the San Lorenzo River to evacuate. Some refused to get out. That certainly was a mistake since (as LaNorma tells it)the great Flood hit the City of Santa Cruz. Things were not quite the same after that. ivno

Jerry said...

Who can forget the flood? It was quite a year. HS graduation, first year of college and in my case, my dad had died just 2 months earlier. I worked at Morris Abrams during the Christmas break. What a mess in the store after the raging waters receded.

Jerry M.

Len said...

Hi, Ivan,

You might be interested in referring your readers to the web site of Bob Lemmon, SCHS Class of '57, who has posted some extensive information about the flood. It's at:
There are three pages that include contributions from some of Bob's classmates and a few from my '54 SCHS classmates. Bob excerpted these stories from our 50th Reunion memory book -- along with photos taken by the late Marty Wenks of the Class of '54. In all, 23 members of the Class of '54 wrote about the flood. A copy of the '54 reunion book is available in the SCHS Alumni Assn. office.

Hank Bradley said...

Brava Norma! Great story of the good ol' days. In that photo you fit my school bus recollections. AND, I looked in my SCHS '57 yearbook, and did you ever autograph it for me - a full-pager, in green ink. Nobody did better than that. Many thanks,