Monday, March 21, 2016


 MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS   Some of the photos seen here are mine, others have been submitted by "Friends and Families  of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)" via the La Nostra Costa Facebook Page.

Evelina Cantarutti, on the left with my mother, Valentina Comelli, c.1948. When Valentina arrived from Italy in 1933 she had very few friends from the Friuli Region of Italy (Valentina was born in Friuli), located just north-east of Venice.  Circa 1935, she met Evelina and her husband Guido, who were from that Region. They became life-long friends.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 140)


This photo was taken in Santa Cruz during WW II parade. Many similar track vehicles as well as tanks, and armored personnel carriers, would often be seen going North on the Coast Road, during this time period  for destinations unknown. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 28-29].
This looks like a captured Japanese Flag being displayed on the wall of the "Lucca Lunch", located on Front Street in Santa Cruz.  Joe Antonetti, (looking at the Flag) was the owner.  Italians living up on the North Coast of Santa Cruz had various experiences, both good and bad, during WW II. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 15-34]
Lina Bressani Gemignani was my mother's youngest sister. Still in Italy at the time WW II broke out, she suffered the indignity of being a prisoner of the Nazi SS and then later being branded a Nazi "collaborator" by  Italian Partisans.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 187-200]
The horrors of WW II for the Italians were over in 1945 (or so they thought) . After being summarily executed by Italian Partisan, the bodies of Benito Mussolini (second from the left and his Fascist cohorts where hung by their feet in a Gas Station in Milan. My father was not a Fascist, however, when he saw these photos (there were a series of them showing the desecration of the bodies) my father became angry and in a very sarcastic and mocking tone of voice said, "Che bella figura fan questi Italiani!" (These Italians sure know how to put on a good show ).  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) page 133]
And here's how it all ended for Nazi Germany.  Fred Dimeo [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 179, 184, 185.], standing by a downed enemy plane in Germany 1945.
After the War ended, life returned to normal "su per la costa"  Well, almost normal. "Figli di Ferro" Joe Gemignani (center) and his buddy Fred Dimeo (not in photo) took themselves a Bride. Lina Bressani (on the left) had to come over as a "War Bride", Alice Dimeo was already here so Fred had an easier time "getting hitched". [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 195-196]

Friday, March 18, 2016


MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS   Some of the photos seen here are mine, others have been submitted by "Friends and Families  of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)".

This is a photo of my Father Gervasio "Bronco" Comelli and my mother Valentina (Bressani) on their wedding day in 1931. After working on the Coastal Ranches for 7 plus years, "Bronco" returned to Italy to find himself a wife. Not liking the one his brother had picked out for him, he went out on his own and found my Mom, the beautiful Valentina. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 5-6]

Bronco and Valentina --This photograph of my father and mother was taken c.1948. Bronco would have been 48 years of age and Valentina would have been 35 years of age. Notice the suntan on my father's face and arm. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 49] 
Photo of Goebels and the Doghouse (on the right) c. 1930s, with a view of Cowells Beach (in between).  Later in the mid-1940s, my brother John and I (and who ever else was with us) would climb the stairs, located in-between the two buildings and order our Ice Cream cones, (single 5cents, doubles 10cents) at the Doghouse.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 162] 
Laura Neri with Alma Rinaldi on the right, c.1943. Alma, the daughter of Pete and Rina Rinaldi, was my designated "babysitter" at Laurel School in Santa Cruz, during this time period. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 271.
Rina (Rodoni) Rinaldi, c. 1923.  Rina was the wife of Pietro "Pete" Rinaldi and the mother of Alma, Sally and Julio Rinaldi.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 271]
Looks like another BBQ held at Laguna "su per la costa", 5.5 miles north of Santa Cruz.  This one was the A.E.. Morelli, BBQ and Picnic, c. late 1920s or early 1930s.
Ellis Island, c. 1930s.  This is where my father (as well as many other immigrants) landed in America in December 1923.  It was quite common for the American speaking screening officials to mispronounce and misspell Italian sounding names. My father's first name Gervasio was listed as "Garrasio". Fortunate they did spell the last name "Comelli" correctly. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 4]   
The Rodoni Family, c.1946. (l-r) Dante, Mario, Jeanie, Elio and Andreina. Dante's mother, Gina Rodoni is seated in the car. This is how I remembered them when we would watch Dante's Home Movies and Cowboy Westerns (all silent) on the Rodoni Ranch. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 202]
Mario Rodoni, c. 1960s, showing off the results of all that weight lifting we did in the Old Barn on the Rodoni Ranch. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 218]
Roberto (left) and Fabrizio (Fabby) Degli Esposti, c.1956. It was indeed fortunate that these two guys showed up c.1949(they immigrated from Italy with their Mom, Vanda and Dad, Moro). Now we had enough guys to play real games on the "big gravel yard" on the Rodoni Ranch. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 204-207 and 209]

Rodoni-Rinaldi Family Gathering on the Rodoni Ranch C.1960


Thursday, March 10, 2016


MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS   Some of the photos seen here are mine, others have been submitted by "Friends and Families  of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)".


Pietro "Pete" Rinaldi, was the Foreman ('IL Bosso') of the Gulch Ranch in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  He gave Ivano Franco Comelli his first job at age 16.  Also his subsequent argument with Ivano's father, "Bronco" resulted in a dissolution of partnership ("Si fa l'parti") and the Comelli family having to leave the Gulch Ranch and setting out on their own. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 97-101]
John Battistini (seated left) with wife Angie (on the right), during a birthday celebration at Adolph's Restaurant in Santa Cruz [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 68 and 75], c.1970s. John owned the John Battistini Insurance Agency in Santa Cruz, and was instrumental, along with his wife, in helping many 'ranceri' with their insurance needs.  John also was an able translator and helped many coastal Italians with the filing of Government Paperwork, etc.. [LNC: Pages 259-260, and 266] 
A Fine Group of 'Coastal Italians" gathering for a Picnic at Laguna, c.1930. Laguna is located off of Highway One, some 5.5
miles north of Santa Cruz.  It was a favorite spot for holding BBQs and Picnics. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 231-244]

"Amici della Costa" (Friends of the Coast), photographed in front of Beltrami's (Serafina's) a Bar/Café/Gas Station located on the "Old Coast Road" some 5 miles north of Santa Cruz. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 221-230]  From left to right: Quinto Neri, Diana Dinelli, Dante Dinelli and Alvera Neri.  Looking pretty in front is Norma Dinelli. Photo taken c. 1947.
 The "Old Santa Cruz" Theatre, located on Walnut Street just east of Pacific, c. 1940. The Comelli Family and other Coastal Italians went here almost every weekend to watch a "double bill" which usually included a Western.  Theatre closed in 1955, after being severely damage by the Flood of that year. [Nostra Coast (Our Coast), pages 255-257]
Italian Benito Mussolini, marches on Rome in 1923, to take power and establish a Fascist dictatorship that would last twenty years.  His decision to enter WW II on the side of Germany, had dire consequences for the Comelli Family and other Coastal Italians. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 25-33]
Nadine Fambrini,(2nd from the right) was the pretty little girl, who I enticed into a wine barrel with me when we were 4 or 5 years old.  This kind of "fun" was not approved of by her father, John Fambrini. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 39-40] Also in photograph (l-r) Alice Dimeo, Margaret Fambrini, Nadine, and Theresa Dimeo Modina.
A replica of the old wall telephone that used to hang on the wall at the Cookhouse on the Gulch Ranch "su per la costa", c.1948. I can still see little Ivano Franco Comelli, climbing up on a chair, turning the crank on the side, and asking the operator "Time, please".  A marvelous invention.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 82-83]
Angie and Leonora Landino  were the daughters of John Landino. They were instrumental via Gloria Cerri and the newly installed telephone party line in keeping Ivano Franco Comelli current on the happenings "su per la costa".  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page  246]
Gloria Cerri with my brother John Comelli. This photo was taken c.1952 in back of Micossi's (later Facelli's) Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Gloria lived with her parents Albina and Tony Cerri, near the Lorenzi (now the Dellamora) Ranch, located on the "Old Coast Road" some 5 miles north of Santa Cruz.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 245-247]
The Cantarutti Brothers, Lido on the far left then Reno , spending time with the Comelli Brothers, Ivano on the far right and John, "Al Mare" (at the beach) in Santa Cruz, c. 1948.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 161-173]

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS   Some of the photos seen here are mine, others have been submitted by "Friends and Families  of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)".

Amerigo "Piccino" Presepi (c.1920s), was the Foreman ("Il Bosso) of the Gulch Ranch during the early 1940s. Because of his "hard-diriving" style of leadership, the Ranch became know as "Il Rancio di Pompieri" (The Ranch of the Firemen). [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 38-39)
Members of the all-Black 54th Coast Artillery Battalion were assigned to guard "La Costa" (The Coast) during World War II [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), Chapter end-note #17, page 24] 
 Francis and Hazel Gregory standing in front of their Gregorys Store and Gas Station in Davenport (c.1940s).  Francis was Alvin Gregory's brother who also was part owner of the store. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) page 352
In October 1951, Rocky Marciano (right) knocked out Joe Louis, the Former Heavyweight Champion of the World. This shattered one dream and started another one for Ivano Franco Comelli.  Louis had been his boyhood hero, but he soon found another one, as Marciano won the Heavyweight Belt a few months later.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) page 152]
Joe Gemignani (left) and Fred Dimeo, photographed in Berlin in 1945. Coastal Rumors have it, that the two youths caused so much trouble riding their motorcycles up and down the north coast that the Selective Service Draft Board was ordered by certain influential Santa Cruz citizens to make the two 1-A, and thus become immediately available to serve in the Army. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 179 


Fred Carcello, Pharmacist and Owner of Mission Drugs, located on the north-west corner of Mission and Bay Streets in Santa Cruz.  It was favorite place for Italians living on Santa Cruz's North Coast to go to for their pharmaceutical needs. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 194] 
Joe Antonetti (center) and Joe Stefani (right) along with unknown bartender, pouring themselves a drink at the "Lucca - Joe and Joe" (aka the "Lucca Lunch") Bar and Café, which was located on Front Street in Santa Cruz. The "Lucca Lunch" was a favorite of the "ranceri" (Italian Coastal Ranchers.)  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 100-101]
Lido Gemignani (on the left) standing with friends on the Santa Cruz Beach in front of the Coconut Grove Ball Room (c.1948). It was at the Coconut Grove that Lido and his friend, Louis Aluffi, were arrested during World War II.  The two were arrested for being "Enemy Aliens" found in a restricted area, after curfew. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 176-177)
Ocean View Hotel (c.1940s) was located in Davenport. The Hotel was owned by Charley and Carmelina Bella and was famous for its "Wild Game Feasts". The Hotel Burned down c.1962. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 112-113]
 The 'Davenport Destroyer' (1946), Joe Brovia.  Also known to the North Coast Italians as "Pino" Brovia. Joe played in the Pacific Coast Baseball League in the 1940s and 1950s. In 2005 he was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. He was a boyhood hero for those of us who grew up on the North Coast of Santa Cruz during this time period. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), Pages 119-127]
Another photo of Joe "Pino" Brovia, Pacific Coast League Hall of Famer [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 123] with his two daughters at the Beach in Santa Cruz c. 1960s

Sunday, March 06, 2016


MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS .  Some of the photos seen here are mine, others have been submitted by "Friends and Families  of La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)".

Aladino Gemignani (La Nostra Costa (Our Coast): Pages 175-176) stands in front of this group of ranceri, wearing his white "Cookahousa" apron. The tall rancere standing on the left is Amerigo "Piccino" Presepi (LNC: pages 38-39) who was the Foreman at the Gulch Ranch. Standing in front at the extreme right is Guiseppi "Joe Antonetti (LNC: pages 100-101), part owner of the Gulch Ranch. Standing next to him is his wife Noemi. Photo and clipping appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Feb. 1939. Photo most probably taken in front on the Old Barn locate in "Il Buco" on the Gulch Ranch (LNC: page 57).            

Cesare Dell'Orfanello (left front), and other 'Ranceri' (North Coast Italian Ranchers) cleaning and sorting Brussels Sprouts via a mechanized Sprout Cleaning Machine,  Marina Ranch, c.1950.  One of the first such machines was constructed by Dante Rodoni, on the Rodoni Ranch [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 203-204 ] 
Madonna (Donna) DeLucca killed, Age 4, in an automobile accident (1947). Hwy 1 and Swanton Road just north of Davenport.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 291-292]
The Amerigo Delucca Family, photographed just prior to the Fatal Accident on Highway 1 and Swanton Road, just north of Davenport. The family is standing in front of the 1941 Buick that was involved in the accident. Amerigo (killed) is standing on the left, his wife Matilda (injured) is on his left, Dolores (injured), stands next to her mother Anthony (killed) is next, with Marie (injured) standing at the end. Madonna (Donna) (killed) stands in front of her father, Amerigo. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 291-292
Margaret (Dimeo) and husband, John Fambrini, c.1960s. John was once the foreman ('Il Bosso') on the Gulch Ranch and then on the Dimeo Ranch, located, up the coast) 3 miles north of Santa Cruz.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 39]

Louie Moro, playing his accordion, c.1945.  Louie was the father of Donna Moro, who subsequently married (1961) my brother John. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 329-330]
A recent photo of the Comelli Family House (1937-53) as it still stands today (updated) on Bulb Avenue in Capitola.  In 1953, the house was moved from its location on the Gulch Ranch, 3 miles north of Santa Cruz, to its present location by John Landino & Company. (La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 101-102
My Father, Gervasio "Bronco" Comelli, with sons Ivano (left) and Giovanni (John) standing in front of the Comelli Family House, c.1947, as it was then situated on the Gulch Ranch. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 19-21]
John Landino (second from left) and family. John and his company, sawed the Comelli house (located at the time  on the North Coast of Santa Cruz) in half, and transported it to its present location on Bulb Avenue. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 101-102]
Gugliemo "Baffi" Campioni, c.1920s. "Baffi" was a rather eccentric 'rancere' who for many years worked along side my father "Bronco" Comelli, on the Gulch Ranch, "su per la costa".  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), Pages 91-92]
Primo Carnera, who stood 6'6" tall and weighed 260+ pounds, (pictured on the right with Max Baer and Jack Dempsey (center), was the Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1934. Because he was Italian, Primo was a particular favorite of the Ranceri.  [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast)Pages 89-90]
 Valentina Comelli, photographed here with her son, Ivano, c. 1948. My mother is dressed in her work clothes as she prepares to "clean" sprouts,  in "Il Buco" (The Hole), on the Gulch Ranch. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 57-60]
"Il Capannone" (The Old Barn), located in "Il Buco", c. 1946. This is where the "picked" Brussels Sprouts from the fields on the Gulch Ranch were taken and where my mother Valentina Comelli went to work each day during the Fall. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 57]