Tuesday, September 07, 2010


LaNORMA ,pictured above (on the left) with Nunni Radicchi, is an integral part of the 'LA NOSTRA COSTA DAYS REVIVAL
COMMITTEE (LNCDRC). Nunni is the mother of 'LaRosa' Radicchi. LaRosa is also a member of the LNCDRC. Come meet these wonderful ladies at the LA NOSTRA COSTA DAYS REVIVAL EVENT on SUNDAY, OCT. 17 at JIM COCHRON'S SWANTON BERRY FARM BETWEEN 1-4pm. Scroll down on this page to view Event Announcements.

In the meantime, LaNorma has sent us a gem of a story that conjures up many, many memories of the past.

“La Storia del Circolo” (The Story of the Circus) by LaNoma
Circuses are mostly a thing of the past now and most of the ones that do exist do not even have animals.

However, years ago they were magnificent entertainment and everyone looked forward to the circus coming to town. They mostly must have traveled by train (remember the old movie “Greatest Show On Earth” with Cornel Wilde, Betty Hutton, Charlton Heston, etc.)

My Dad used to talk about the circus coming to town by train. I recently talked to Sharon Watson and she also remembers the circus coming to Santa Cruz by train – they would disembark at the depot and then the elephants and horses would pull the cages and wagons and all the equipment trailers down Pacific Avenue to what is now 550 Water Street Medical Buildings (across from the old Adolph’s). This was quite an adventure. Everyone would come down and it was literally a parade that everyone enjoyed until the circus was put up and going!

I cannot remember when this stopped happening – Sharon and I are in the same age category and can remember it but the oldtimers remembered it vividly as well so it must have been going on for a long time!

My Dad talked about the circus coming to town and this one episode happened in the late 20’s or early 30’s.

Again – why oh why didn’t I (we) pay more attention to these wonderful stories and remember details!

Anyway the circus had stopped at the depot and all the cages, etc. werw lined up; d the horses and elephants started pulling the wagon, cages, etc. down Pacific Ave. It was a grand parade with both sides of Pacific Avenue being packed with excited people, especially the kids! THE CIRCUS WAS COMING TO TOWN !

About half way down Pacific Avenue, as everyone was excitedly watching the grand parade, a Mother apparently took Her eyes (and hands) off her toddler for just a second. As the elephants got closer to her location - everyone gasped in horror! The little toddler had wandered out right in front of the elephants – probably thought WOW – these guys are huge! No one knew what to do except gasp. A few seconds probably seemed like an eternity. All of a sudden one of the elephants picked up the child with her (or his) trunk. He paused then turned slightly closer to the crowd and gently placed the child next to the mother. Everyone gasped again in sheer disbelief.

Wish I knew more details but that must have been quite and adventure. Guess things change and now the circus hardly comes to town and as I said mostly without animals if it does come……but our memories shall always go on even if some are bit 'fuzzy".


IVANO SAYS: Great Story LaNorma. And to all our "blaggatori" out there we thank you.
If you all come to the "La Nostra Costa Days Revival" on October 17, I'm sure you will here many more stories like this. And NO!! The Monkey is not a LNCDRC member. SA (Sempre Avanti ) ivn0


Anonymous said...

Great story about the circus elephants. And that's why the elephant is my favorite animal!
Brava, Norma...

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Talk about conjuring up old memories. In "La Nostra Costa"; Chapter 21, "Il Carrettone Vecchio" (The Old Carriage), page 264, I write:

"I really never felt poor,(although Valentina kept reminding us that we were)except when I was in the Old Carrettone.
It seemed to me that all the other people living on the coast then had newer-model cars. At school, the parents of my schoolmates all drove newer-model cars (or it seemed to me at the time). I remember one time when Valentina picked us up at Laurel School to take us to the circus.
A couple of my friends rode with us. I was mortified. Now the whole school would know that we were poor."

Of course the "Old Carrettone" was the family car, a 1934 Lafayette. I was so disturbed by this particular incident, that I really didn't enjoy the circus, although Clyde Beatty, the famous Wild Animal Tamer, with his whip and revolver (that fired blanks) was the main attraction. ivn0

WES SCHS CLASS OF '55 said...

I remember the circus coming to town very well while growing up. I lived on Union Street ( formerly Park Street ) and the circus would come up Chestnut Street from the tracks near the Union Ice Company. During those years, most of the animals and equipment were in wagons or trailers and hauled by trucks. The elephants did walk. We most of the unloading and loading was done during darkness in those days so I would try to wake up early to see the circus go by. On one or two occasions I got to go to Water Street and see the setting up of the tents. It is a good memory


Anonymous said...

With the "La Nostra Costa Days' coming up, it would be a good time to remind all us Italian Americans
that the State of California finally apologized for the treatment of our fellow loyal citizens who had to endure internment,movement or restrictions during the second world war because they happened to be aliens.I reread your article in the" La Storia Segreta"about you father. My sister and I had to move away with my alien mother while my citizen father remained at home. YOU ARE WELCOME STATE OF CALIFORNIA BUT WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Referring to the comment above:
Thank you for reminding us of this.
I guess you can say better late than never. I retell the true story you refer to in my book "La Nostra Costa". Ironically and unlike your family, we were allowed to stay in our house because it was located to the east of that infamous white line that ran in middle of the Coast Road. Unfortunately the major portion of the ranch where Bronco (my father worked) was located to the west of that line and was deemed to be too close to the the Pacific Ocean for enemy aliens to wander. Bronco had to leave the ranch and find another job at the Salz Tannery in Santa Cruz. The Tannery was deemed to be far enough away from the Pacific Ocean to be safe from any enemy alien activities (ie: signaling to enemy submarines,etc).

Bronco was a realist. Although the restrictions caused him (us) problems,I never heard him complain much about them. He always thought that Benito Mussolini would have done far worse if the shoe had been on the other foot. ivn0

IVANO said...

I Received the below e-mail from Lawrence Distasi, editor of "Una Storia Segreta".

thanks for the update.
re: the (above) comment, actually, the state did not really "apologize," but rather expressed regret over the situation. this was nice for the publicity, but in fact, when we had the exhibit at the rotunda in 1994, we got a resolution passed that did the same thing in the same language. simitian seemed to be completely unaware of all this, and so acted as if he had discovered something new. as did this guy campanella. they also seemed to be unaware of the national legislation.
it's a constant battle to keep people informed.


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Regarding the comments on this blog regarding the restrictions placed on Italians during WW II, in my fictional screenplay, "Turbulent Quest", I have two scenes which depict the dilemma that faces the fictional "Bronco and Valentina" during WW II after being declared "enemy aliens". On the one hand they were not American citizens at the time, on the other hand their two sons were both born in America.
One of their fears, as vehemently expressed by the fictional "Valentina" in the screenplay, was the unknown of what would happen to the two boys if they ("Bronco and Valentina") were deported back to Italy. Truth be known,I don't think that this was too far from realitly.

And yes, I plan to go into this
at the "La Nostra Costa Days Revival" event. ivn0


Anonymous said...

You have done a great job of keeping alive the spirit of La Costa.In addition you have become the voice of Italian americans who remember the old days.However many situations like the Storia Segreta don't get the response that they deserve.I think many miss the comments because they get lost in the dated blogs. Is it possible to also set an undated "forum" type blog that would identify the subject and would encourage more participation not limited to the date? ( I wouldn't know how to do it).

IVANO said...

In regards to the above comment regarding a "forum" type blog, Lawrence Distasi writes:

Ivano: You can refer people to our website, www.segreta.com, if they wish to read some more details about una storia segreta. i believe there's a place there where they can contact me. in any case, they can contact me at my email address and i'll be glad to answer any questions.
beyond that, i'm not sure how to set up a blog site to hold the kind of forum you ask about. if there's really that kind of interest, perhaps we could.