Tuesday, August 04, 2020


THE ASSASSINATION OF FALLEN SAN JOSE POLICE   OFFICER RICHARD HUERTA - A RECOLLECTION   (Excerpts from my book La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), published in 2006, by Authorhouse)*

   August  6, 1970, is a date forever ingrained in the annals of the San Jose Police Department. On that date my friend and one time roommate, Officer Richard Huerta was assassinated by a lone gunman. He was only 36 years old. The incident occurred during that turbulent period of our history when it was common for radicals advocating "black power" to extol the virtues of killing a "pig".  Apparently (though no one will know for certain) one black male, Emile Thompson, then in his early twenties, took that message literally.  As Richard sat in his police vehicle, writing a citation to a third party (not involved in the crime), the lone assassin crept up from behind the car, and suddenly shot the unsuspecting officer in back of the head.  This brutal and cowardly act killed Richard almost instantly.

   Still in the early morning hours, I was awaken from a sound sleep by a telephone call.  On the other end of the line was Officer Jim Emmons, a friend, who also happened to be a former roommate of Richard's. Jim, who was on duty at the time of the shooting delivered the message that haunts me to this day. "Richard has been shot".

   Still half asleep, I asked Jim if Richard was all right.  Jim responded in an unemotional and very controlled manner,which is very typical of a professional police officer under stress. "No, I think he is dead.  I though you'd like to know"

   In a state of shocked amazement, I quickly put on some civilian clothes, grabbed my off duty revolver, and drove myself (I was living in Scotts Valley at the time) to the San Jose Police Station. Once there and still in off-duty clothes, I hooked up with on-duty Sgt. Phil Norton.  Together we joined the search for the assassin. It wasn't long before Norton received a radio call informing him that the killer had been found hiding in a back yard, in the 500 block on North Thirteen.  Sgt. Norton quickly responded to the scene and both he and I were present when the assassin was dragged from his hiding place and placed in handcuffs.

   I guess you might say that I, as well as Sgt. Norton and the officers who actually made the arrest, acted professionally in not shooting Thompson in the head.  This thought certainly crossed my mind and, at the time, I actually had my finger on the trigger of my snub-nose ".38".  Not committing the act certainly didn't make me feel any better or more professional. (Probably the only one who wasn't restrained by " police professional behavior" was the police dog on the scene. Without asking permission, he promptly took a bite out of the killer.) The murderer is now in his fifties, serving out his life sentence.  I doubt if he spends much of his time thinking about the consequences of his act. Richard's death left two young children without a father. Marie Huerta was left alone to raise Leanne and Richard Jr. 

 *Copyrighted 2006 by Ivano Franco Comelli.  All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 01, 2017


IN MY BOOK, 'LA NOSTRA COSTA' (OUR COAST), A FAMILY'S JOURNEY TO AND FROM THE NORTH COAST OF SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA (Pages 204-207), I write about the arrival of the Degli-Esposti Family (Louige ("Moro"), Vanda, Roberto and Fabrizio) to America. In this article, published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1959, Fabrizio (Fabby) tells a little bit more about that story as he celebrates becoming a Naturalized American Citizen.
The Degli-Esposti Family, (l-r) Fabrizio, Vanda, "Moro", Roberto (1948)

Subsequently,  Fabby, went on to try his luck in Hollywood, changing his name to Lance Egan.  He is now a High School Teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, June 26, 2017


THESE POSTINGS ARE FROM MY "LA NOSTRA COSTA" (OUR COAST) GROUP FACEBOOK PAGE. [Newspaper articles are from Newspaper. com. Most postings are related to my Book "La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), A Family's Journey To and From the North Coast of Santa Cruz, California (1923-1983)]

Dave Ferrari, later to become owner and manager of "Ferrari The Florist" Flower shop is shown here in this 1930s news clipping with his accordion.

Aladino Gemignani (in front on the left) wearing his white cookhouse apron. Also in photo, Americo "Piccino" Presepi (Standing on the left), Noemi and Joe Antonetti standing next to Aladino. Looks like the photo was taken on the Gulch Ranch c. 1938.


THREE ICONS OF THE CENTRAL COAST: (l-R) Tony Franceschini, Leon Panetta and John Battistini. (December 1989)

From the book "La Nostra Costa (Our Coast): "Francesco spent three full months in Santa Cruz Hospital and another three months in an apartment nearby. During this period, his wife Nuncia, along with special nurses cared for his every need. Francesco was so severely burned that he could not feed himself. Nuncia was constantly at his side taking care of him, talking to him, and reading from Italian newspapers and books to keep his moral up."  (1940) Francesco (Frank) Franceschini was the father of Tony.



Davenport - May 1961

Ivano Franco Comelli's birth announcement in Santa Cruz Sentinel - April 1937
(The reporter got Ivano's and his mother's name wrong)

Pietro "Pete" Brovia and Maria "Mary" Brovia - June 1970

Doug James later to become Santa Cruz County Sheriff - July 1954

Forest McDermott, long time Fish and Game Warden - April 1947

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Forest McDermott on the prowl.  1932

Nino Faggiano, Santa Cruz award winning Cosmetologist, Sep 1957

Gilbert Caiocca, Davenport , Entrepreneur - May 1935



Saturday, October 08, 2016



Erminio Orlando
May 12, 1921 – Oct. 3, 2016  

Resident of Davenport
Services will be private for Erminio Orlando, who died peacefully in his Davenport home on Monday, October 3. The son of Vittoria and Giovanni Orlando, he was born in Zoppola, Italy, and moved to Davenport in 1947.
Like so many Italian immigrants of his time, he was multitalented as a bricklayer, carpenter, electrician and plumber; when a part was needed he often made it himself. At home he enjoyed gardening and crafting items including mechanical wind machines and miniature artificial flower arrangements he gave to friends.
After working several years in agriculture, he became a proud employee of Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company and worked at the Davenport cement plant more than 30 years. He was active in the Marconi Club, Sons of Italy and ICF, rarely missing a group event. A longtime supporter of the Davenport Resource Center, he often brought his homemade wine to share at their bi-monthly Senior Potluck Lunch. He was also remarkably lucky, whether taking top raffle prizes or coming home a winner from casino trips.
His beloved and devoted wife of 55 years, Rosa DeCandido Orlando, was born in Domanis, Italy, and passed away in 2004. The couple loved to travel and visited every U.S. state except Alaska and Hawaii. 
He was also preceded in death by brothers Pietro, Artensio and Elio, and nephew John Orlando (survived by wife Virginia). He is survived by sisters-in-law Giovanna Orlando and Alverda Orlando; nieces Luisa Haddad, Lucia Orlando Quan, Rosemarie Holbert and Amy Orlando; and several great-nephews and great-nieces. 
Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel is in charge of arrangements
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Davenport Resource Center.


Thursday, May 05, 2016


MANY OF THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MY BOOK "LA NOSTRA COSTA (OUR COAST), PUBLISHED IN 2006, BY AUTHORHOUSE PUBLISHERS www.authorhouse.com   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.

                                              VINTAGE NOSTRA COSTA FAMILIES
Pietro and Maria Brovia Family c.1925. Virginia on the left, Lena on Maria's lap and Joe "Pino" Brovia on the Bicycle [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 119]
Joe and Noemi Antonetti with daughter Virginia, c. 1946 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 100]
Gervasio "Bronco" and Valentina Comelli
 with sons Ivano, on the left and Giovanni (John), c.1945
Dante and Andreina Rodoni with sons Mario,
seated on the left, Elio on the right, and daughter
 Jeannie in the middle.
Grandmother Gina Rodoni is seated in the car, c. 1946 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) pages 202-204]
Luigi "Moro" and Vanda Degli Esposti, with sons
 Fabrizio (Fabby), on the left, and Roberto (Robert) on the right, c.1949. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 204-207]
The John Batista Brovia Family.
 Back row: Amalia, Adalina, John Batista. 
Front: John, Josephine, Matilda, and Julia. c. 1928
Joe "Pino" Brovia and daughters, Jenny on the left and
 Irene in the middle, c.1955
Manuel and Edith Netto Family. 
Phil on the left; Dave on the right, Lori in the middle, c. 1952 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 307]
 Old ranch photo. Standing toasting are my grandparents Dimeo.
 Sitting in front are my great grandparents Dimeo
holding my Zia Margarita (Margaret) Fambrini.
Michele Rousseau on the horse is Bob's great grandfather, c.1920s
John Landino Family,
 (l-r) Catherine, John, Angie, Gene and Leonora, c.1950
Cesare (Moro) and Landa Dell'Orfanello Family. Eva is second from
 the right and Betty is on the end.
Asunta and Dante Ramaciotti with niece Dora in the center. c.1947 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast),pages 181-182]
Amerigo and Mathilda DeLucca Family.  In front from left to right,
Madonna, Dolores, Anthony and Marie, c. 1947 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 291-293]
Joe and Lina Gemignani Family, c.1960. Daughter Joanne stands in
the back, son Dino is at the front next to his mother. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast) page 196]
Judge James J. and Dina Scoppettone Family, Daughters
Anita on the left and Linda in the center.  Sons, James in
the rear; Dick in the front right. [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), pages 179 and 259-256]
Fred and Alice Dimeo with daughter, Tina, and son Dino, c. 1950s.
Stagnaro Family of Santa Cruz, c.1950s.
Constantino "Augie" and Victoria "Sista" Gemignani
with daughter Aladina (Aldine), C. 1940 [La Nostra Costa (Our Coast), page 176]
Dante and Diana Dinelli (in the center) with daughter Norma at front.
Uncle Quinto Neri and Alvera Neri are on the ends.
La Nostra Costa's Radicchi Family. In front (l-r) Kathleen on Father Nello's lap, Daria and Mother Annunziata (Nuni). Standing back row (l-r): Rosa, Joseph, and Adele.

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 www.authorhouse.com   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 www.authorhouse.com   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