Sunday, June 21, 2009


IVANO SAYS: The following Remembrance appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Nicholas Roy Pagnini

Nicholas Roy Pagnini passed away on June 6, 2009 of Multiple Myeloma, a form of bone cancer. He fought the disease with tremendous bravery and an amazing positive attitude that we would expect from such a great man. Nick was born in Santa Cruz, CA on August 4, 1936. He was the son of Roy and Catherine Sinnott Pagnini of Felton, CA.
Nick began his education at Felton Elementary, a one room school house, where he attended up to the sixth grade. Being the fourth generation resident of this county and a young wanderer, he knew the Santa Cruz area like the back of his hand. He went on to go to Mission Hill Junior High in Santa Cruz where he formed many wonderful friendships to continue through the years. His Italian grandparents Rose and Nello Pagnini resided in Santa Cruz, near the SC Wharf, and he told many stories of great food, amazing surf, and warm family memories.
One of Nick's passions was surfing. He traveled up and down the California coastline to find the perfect wave and to be with friends. With wetsuits not yet invented, he would say, "I surfed before hypothermia was invented." On his travel to Hawaii in 1955, he would be transformed and his love of the Isles emerged. He loved the warm salt water, the slack key music, and the food. Nick would travel to Hawaii many times after this with his family and he passed on his deep appreciation of the Isles to them.
Nick graduated from Santa Cruz High in 1954 and was all CCAL in football, a sport that he always loved. Upon graduation, he worked for the California Department of Forestry in Corralitos, CA and attended Hartnell Junior College where he also played football. He returned to forestry work, but in the fall of 1955, Nick was off to Hawaii to pursue his passion for surfing. Also in 1955, Nick returned to California to attend Orange Coast Junior College and to work at Disneyland the first year it opened. He was always proud to say that Uncle Walt Disney signed his paychecks. In 1956, he joined the United States Marine Corps and attained the rank of Sergeant. He was tremendously proud of this accomplishment and enjoyed being a member of the Marine Corps League Detachment #711 Monterey Bay. Nick also loved his continued connection with the SCHS class of 1954 and looked forward to attending the monthly luncheons.
In 1958, Nicholas returned to Felton and the community he cherished. He worked for his father at Roy's Market, a family owned business since 1936 currently New Leaf Market. Nick married Beverly Sommer, SCHS Class of 1955, in April 1959. Dana Pagnini, their first daughter, was born in 1960 and their second daughter, Jennifer Pagnini-Gedymin Mark, was born in 1973. He is survived by his two daughters and many cousins.
Further demonstrating his commitment to the community, Nick joined the Zayante Fire Department in 1976. He was an EMT and a Captain during his time with the ZFD. Nicholas was not only an officer, but a well respected mentor to the young fire department recruits who wanted to join Zayante Fire's finest. Through the years, Nick would return home with interesting stories of emergency calls and always expressed his concern for the local people who needed his assistance.
Nick coached one of his favorite sports, football, at San Lorenzo Valley High for the freshmen teams. Throughout the years, Nick was an active supporter of the SLV and Santa Cruz High Booster Clubs. He also attended local high school football and track events to cheer on the many dedicated athletes.
He was also, for recognition of his incredible community involvement, awarded San Lorenzo Valley's Man of the Year Award in 1979. In many peoples hearts, Nick is the man of the century.
When he sold Roy's Market in 1990, Nick certainly didn't retire and continued to remain busy as ever. He was not only active with the Zayante Fire Department but also managed the Trout Farm for a few years. Since people couldn't talk to him at Roy's, the Trout Farm was a good place to catch up with their favorite local personality. He loved being the person that people could turn to for whatever they needed. Nick did this with his whole heart and no agenda.
Nick was a loving and kind person who gave 110 percent to his family, friends, and community where he grew up. He had deep roots to the local area and dedicated his life to serving its people. He enjoyed great company, good food with a nice cold beer, and a hearty laugh. Always taking the time to help and listen, he touched many people's lives in so many ways. He will always be with us, but his physical presence will be forever missed. Thank you, Nick, for everything.
The Pagnini family would like to extend their thanks to the Veteran's Administration Hospital at Palo Alto. The doctors, nurses, and the hospice unit provided Nick with respectful, wonderful, and compassionate care. For eight years, thoughout Nick's treatment, the oncology staff gave him first class attention to allow him a full life while managing his cancer.
Our family would also like to thank the Zayante Fire Department for all the love and support. We consider the members to be our extended family.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Nicholas Pagnini Memorial Fund will be appreciated. This fund will provide for local athlete scholarships. You may send your contribution to the Pagnini Family at PO Box 336, Felton, CA 95018. For further information, you may also visit the fund's website at:


As Nick's Remembrance states, he was married to Beverly Sommers, SCHS Class of '55. I think the article above says it all about Nick. I enjoyed talking with him at the SCHS Class of "54 lunches and picnics. He always had an encouraging word to say about my attempts to keep the memories of Santa Cruz and "La Nostra Costa" alive Thanks, Nick. I will miss you.



One item missing from Nick Pagnini’s obit is that he is in the San Lorenzo Valley High School Hall of Fame. Nick told me he was selected because of his years of coaching and being president of the SLV High Boosters Club for many years.He also was often referred to as the "unofficial mayor of Felton."Nick not only was among seven SCHS Class of 1954 members interviewed by KTEH-TV for the San Jose PBS station's "This Is Us" show telecast on May 31, he also also among a number of Santa Cruz oldtimers interviewed for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk's 100th anniversary DVD in 2007, which has been shown on KTEH and on KQED, San Francisco's PBS station.

Len Klempnauer, Capitola - SCHS '54
PHOTO SHOWS: Nick (on the left) being interviewed for KTEH-TV - 2009
[Photo courtesy of Len Klempnauer]

Saturday, June 20, 2009


['Clicca' on photo for enlarged image]
IVANO SAYS: IN 'LA NOSTRA COSTA' I write (LNC: p. 35) about Il Buco (The Hole) on the Gulch Ranch. This was the place where the ranceri (Italian ranchers) worked in the 'old barn' and eat their meals at the 'old cooka housa'. When I was describing the ranch compound in 'Il Buco', I did it (mostly) by memory. Now, Gino d'Baffi Campioni, sent me this excellent black and white photo he took in the early 1950's. I was very happy to discover that my memory of 'Il Buco" was pretty good. (Please 'clicca' on photo. The enlarged image is really something.)
The 'old barn' (still stands today) where my mother cleaned all those 'sprouts' (LNC: pgs. 57-60) is the big building on the left. In the front of the barn are some sheds where the tractors, etc. were stored. (Some of these sheds still stand today, although at a different location.) The small shed forward of the barn is the washroom, where the ranceri washed up before entering the 'cookahousa' for their meals. Across (left side of photo) from the wash room is the shed covering the dugout where the Gulch Ranch stored their homemade wine.
Unfortunately, the 'cookahouse' is barely visible at the right hand corner of the photo. The tree in front obstructs the view. The 'old cookahousa' burned down in 2002.
I want to thank Gino for sending me the above photo. It brings back a lot of memories about how things were back when. Visible in the photo is a small wooden bridge (gone now) which crossed a small stream. As a young boy, I spent many hours on that bridge dropping 'rock bombs' on imaginary 'enemy ships' sailing below. Thanks again Gino. Sempre Avanti.
BTW: 'Il Buco' today is home to the Santa Cruz Mushroom Company owned and operated by Andrew and Jean Hsu.
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Friday, June 12, 2009


IVANO SAYS: In "La Nostra Costa" (P.237) I write: :It seemed to me (I was two or three years younger than they were), that those Davenport kids were nothing but a bunch of ruffians. I always thought that they went around with a chip on their shoulders........." Although I didn't mention him by name, Richard Stefani was one of those "ruffians". In the following paragraph I continue to write about these 'ruffians': "Fortunately, most of these ruffians, grew out of their stage of rowdiness, and did not become serious wrongdoers............"

As the Remembrance published in the Santa Cruz Sentinels
indicates Richard successfully shed his "ruffian" image and went on with his life in a meaningful and productive manner.

Addio Richard . Until we meet again across "Il Ultimo Ponte".

Richard John Stefani

Richard John Stefani passed away on June 7, 2009 in Santa Cruz, Ca. Richard was born on June 7, 1932 to Ezio Italo and Julia Stefani. He was raised in Santa Cruz, although he lived in Grants Pass, Oregon for 30 of his 77 years. Richard graduated from Santa Cruz High and worked as a Truck Driver for soft drinks and beer distributorships, as well as, a produce company. He also worked in logging during his time in OR.
Richard loved the outdoors, animals, camping, and fishing. He was a former member of the Marconi Club. He was predeceased by his parents, and his son, Richard. He is survived by his children: Mark Stefani, Janet Patrick McDonald, Norma Strite, and Eugene Stefani. He also leaves behind four grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and a dear friend, Georgia Magnabosco.
Arrangements are under the direction of Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel in Santa Cruz.

Sunday, June 07, 2009




My memory of living where my family lived on the coast is one of remoteness. It was very hard to access the ranch.
The farmhouse was built next to the estuary and when the estuary flooded and the bridge washed out WE BECAME SURVIVALISTS IN THE TRUE SENSE!
I was definitely a scroungy kid because we had to live in the proximity of mud everywhere, the fear of rising water and only and abandoned barn to escape to which was on the third level of the ranch next to the dairy cow corral.
Our farmhouse had a large pantry which allowed for the storage of foodstuffs. We kept large cans of olive oil, large bins of pasta, canned tomatoes, large sacks of cornmeal, large round of cheese and dried herbs. In one corner we had a medicine chest. In the other we had a small keg of wine, sometimes we had dried salciccia, (sausage), a keg of olives, canned artichokes, dried garlic and sacks of flour, canned spinach, and some dried firewood.
We also had a victory garden which, in fact, was a survival garden in which we planted carrots, swiss chard, lettuce etc. We never had any fruit trees because it was simply too cold.
When we were stuck because the bridge was out and the there was a slide we had to hunt for game. Ducks, deer, birds such as quail, rabbits and chickens. We raised the chickens.
The true survivalist was probably my brother because he was jungle trained. But, in fact, we all had to be survialists in order to survive the weather, especially the cold and the perennial flooding.
We still had horses, two of them and if things got really bad, at least two of us could ride out on the horses if they could climb the hill to reach the level spot so that we could get to the highway. It was all dicey at best! And if you went the other way you had to battle the curvy Swanton Rd. On a stormy day or night that was a challenge! The weather on the coast was extremely dramatic, quick changing and extraordinarily beautiful all at the same time. The sunsets could be stunning with all the colors showing as the sun went down and if a storm approached, the dark blue grey of the clouds really set off the sunset. Those clouds could put us in a survival situation overnight.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009



IVANO SAYS: In "La Nostra Costa" (Our Coast), I write about the improbable marriage of a 'Figlio della Costa' (Son of the Coast), Joe Gemignani and a 'Figlia del Friuli' (Daughter of Friuli), Lina Bressani (LNC: pgs. 191-197). The marriage was arranged by mother, Valentina (Lina's sister) in 1947. Lina came to the America as a "War Bride", after Joe who had served as a US soldier in Europe during WW II, agreed to marry her (sight unseen, except for a famous photo). Joanne (Gemignani) Swaney is the daughter of Joe and Lina. Joanne and her husband Jan Swaney make the following announcement:
Jan and I are our proud to inform you that your cousin (our daughter), Jenna graduated with her jurisdoctorate on May 9, 2009 and was recognized by the school for her academic achievement in tort law. She is now studying for the Bar Exam which she will take in July. Please wish her luck.
We also want to let you know that your cousins (our twin sons), Jessup and Kadin also graduated. Jessup graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Civil Engineering and with honors in general studies from Chico State on May 23, 2009. He's looking for a job! Wish him luck too! Kadin graduated with a degree in Construction Management from Chico State on May 23, 2009. He is currently in his second round of interviews with Ghilotti Brothers Construction Company which is based in San Rafael Ca. Keep your fingers crossed! Jan and I are extremely proud of the achievements of our daughter and sons. They worked very hard and deserve the best.
Your Cousin (Prima),
IVANO SAYS (CONT'D): Wow! Congratulations to one and all. Quite an achievement. Joanne, I know that your father Joe would have been extremely proud. And I know that Lina, your mother (who I failed to mention in a previous article is also the Great-Great Aunt of Andrew Roubal), is bursting at the seams. What a year for the 'La Nostra Costa' story (in continuance). Best wishes e Buona Fortuna to all.
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