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.)


Anonymous said...

This comment is strictly my own opinions based on my personal experiences growing up in Davenport.
I am of the opinion that all support is for Ivano Comelli and his viewpoint that all Davenporters were "drunks."
However, Pacific School in Davenport needs some recognition for its excellent teachers who had the patience to teach Italian speaking children English.
I recently found a treasure trove from that period in my life and I cannot say anything bad about Mrs. Embree or Mrs. Thompson as my teachers.
Mrs. Embree instilled in me a sense of values that I retain to this day. I discovered poetry which Mrs Embree loved and she taught all subjects with honesty and dedication.
I recently found a notation that at that time I was a champion reader and a champion speller. I had no idea until I read those old yellowed documents that I was that good a student.
I remember that I got a hold of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and read that book three times because I loved it so. Books took me to other worlds and I developed insight and understanding.
To say that Laurel School was the best school and that all Davenport kids were drunks is so completely false that it creates a prejudice without facts.
Consider that Leon Gregory became a teacher. Consider that Eleanor Gregory my friend on the teeter tottor became a teacher also. The other kids in my class were a diverse group from Joe Saldavia to Johnny Franklin. I went through high school with Johnny Franklin and he was as clear headed and responsible a young man as you would ever want to meet. I do not recall Larry Warren, or Paul Della Santina or Antonette Stagi drinking or carousing much. Even the Americans who were there were sober. Billy Shepp and his brother for instance.
I never felt prejudice, although, I am sure that it was around, mostly, because I learned English so well that no one ever took me for being Italian. The usual guess was that I was English. And this sort of distressed my brother because I took him to the doctor and the Doctor said "who is that pretty English woman?" Of course, my brother goes "that's my sister!" I decided to play that game. I always did well not saying anything or bringing up controversial nationality subjects.
But at this point in my life I have decided that I can be who I am and say what I want. I have most definitely earned that right. I also realize that I am saying it in enemy territory because I am of Tuscan descent and everyone here is Friulian. However, at this point in time we are all Americans whether we want to be or not.
And here again is another reason for me writing the book. The more I research the more I find out about life in Davenport and Pacific School. If Pacific School had any faults it would be the cement dust and not the drunks becaue I just plain do not remember any drunks. I remember putting on plays, square dancing, Christmas parties and those wonderful teachers who gave a poor kid a class A education.
But the most interesting part of the book will still be life in Monterey County.
This is dedicated to Mrs. Embree.


This is for "NQJ". Did we read the same book?? No where in "La Nostra Costa" does it say that "all Davenport kids" were drunks or that all "Davenporters were drunks". Nor that Laurel School was the "best School". And no where does the author compare the academic merits of Laurel School with Pacific School.

I think you owe it to Ivano to point out the passages in the book that you refer to. Either that or you owe him an apology.

Hank Bradley said...

I am of the opinion that all support is for Ivano Comelli and his viewpoint that all Davenporters were "drunks."

I am of the opinion that 'Anonymous' should reconsider that statement - was it sincere, or just a misreading of Ivano's book?

I spent my school years after Seaside School (yes, fierce rivals of Pacific School in our minds) in and around Davenport frequently. And outside the occasional blokes (and blokesses) who had a few too many at Charley Bella's, Davenport couldn't hold a candle to the level of drunkenness in Santa Cruz or even Pescadero.

Anyway, unless someone can support the assertion that Ivano's viewpoint really is 'all Davenporters were drunks', I too think he's due an apology.

Hank Bradley

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivano –

Most of NJQ’s stuff is fine, but some weird liberties are taken with your supposed viewpoints – particularly that ‘drunk’ business. Anyway, NJQ had better defend or apologize, preferably the latter. Or maybe you could challenge her to a duel with the tops of sprout plants – weren’t they called a ‘fallupe’? Certainly useful for hurling at obnoxious brothers.

And thanks again for the book – I poke around in it every now and then, always finding something new.

carolina cariola said...

Oh my! A real live controversy between Davenport and Santa Cruz.
And it all started over an old School Photo! How exiciting!!
You know, Ivano, you did write about those Davenport boys going to that picnic and getting real drunk and throwing up all over themselves. However, I don't know if that could be interperted as meaning that you thought all Davenport boys were drunkards.

I visited Davenport many times in the 1960s and 70s and I didn't see to many drunks hanging around. Most the people I met were very nice (and sober). I hope Nancy writes more about them in her book.


Oh! Thanks Nick for the photo. I knew several of the people or their families. It brought back so many good memories.

Pat Polentoni said...

Carrie: You forgot to mention the night (I think it was your 21st birthday) that you and your "bello" got drunk at Charlie Bella's in Davenport. As I recall, the results were similar as happened to those Davenport boys at the Laguna Picnic. P/P

Anonymous said...

And Merry Christmas to you too, POLENTA-HEAD!!!!

Anonymous said...

I guess that polenta head adequately describes all of us embroiled in this discussion of the two schools and other schools. But, I still stand by my support for Mrs. Embree and Mrs. Thompson. They had a very difficult job teaching English to Italians. If I am not mistaken English and Chinese are extremely difficult languages to learn! So, lets give these deserving teachers some recognition and not label their school one that produces drunks because as I said I just plain did not see any.
If Ivano did not say that the Davenport kids drank then I will apologize but I remember reading the book twice and the impression that I got was that the Davenport school was inferior. I will read the book again to see if I come away with a different impression.

Johnny Coltavita said...

Thanks Nick for the "Class Picutre" of the 1940 class at Laurel School. The girls sure were cute.

And thanks Carrie for pointing out that NQJ was Nancy. I thought the
intials stood for "Not Quite Judicious". Johnny C.

jen said...

I follow this blog and from time to time stop by and am always pleasantly surprised to find my family in it. Rose Lippi is my grandmother and John Lippi is my great uncle. My son is in 6th grade and my daughter in 7th they got a big kick out of this great picture! made my day Thanks so much for all the work you do providing a wonderful place for me to connect with the rich history of the coast i now call home once again.

IVANO said...

Thanks Jen and welcome aboard the LNostra-Costa 'blagga-train'. Yes the photo Nick sent conjures up many memories of a time gone (going) by. For the most part "La Costa" is still there as I remembered it as a boy growing up. Only the people are gone, however, their memories linger on. Sempre Avanti. Ivano