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May 17, 2021

This week in Pajaro Valley’s Past, April 16

25 years ago on April 9, 1996

Watsonville High graduates chosen as recipients of this year’s Hall of Fame awards include Burton LeRoy Gordon, Class of 1936, who earned a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, and researched at the Moss Landing Marine Lab where he received the Heritage Award for his work on Elkhorn Slough. Corralitos resident Lorraine Struve Litchfield graduated in 1941, attended Stanford, held several positions at Palm Springs Airfield, and returned to Watsonville where her community involvement has ranged from the Mother’s Guild at Notre Dame, to the Family Service Association, Watsonville Cultural Council and many more. Tony Campos, Class of ’62 began as a lettuce loader in the fields, then got his real estate license, and today operates Campos Real Estate with his wife Becky. He was the first Hispanic elected to the city council, serving as Mayor last year. Cheryl Lathrop graduated in 1964, earned a Stanford MBA, and is now president of Seocal Inc., in Palo Alto, which handles shipping of American goods overseas. 

50 years ago on April 6, 1971

Two potential sites for new theaters in Watsonville were considered by the city planning commission but only one was approved. That was the zoning change requested by Mr. Allison Rider for seven lots north of the Portola Heights Mobile Home Park, changing them from neighborhood commercial to retail commercial with parking. It was approved. The other request was from Victor Ginelli for three lots on Mariposa Avenue adjacent to the shopping area off Freedom Boulevard. It soon developed most those in the audience were residents in the Mariposa Avenue area who were there to oppose the Gianelli proposal. Opponents offered: “I don’t think it’s right for the area” and “You can’t control the types of movies shown…” Commissioner Bob Hansen observed, “We’re wasting our time…the city council will do as it pleases anyway.” 

75 years ago on April 6, 1946

Sad news came to Pajaro Valley families by letter from Hungary and radiogram from Hawaii. The letter was to Mrs. Gisela Reh bringing the first news of her family in Budapest since the war’s end. It was a sad letter. In the family of 17, only five were left, living in a single room to house a grandmother, nephew and three children. Even the letter’s postage was a sacrifice, with a stamp costing 1,500 pengos. John Karches, who brought the letter explained before the war a Hungarian pengo was worth 25 cents American. Now 200,000 pengo are only worth $1. One pound of flour costs 40,000 pengo. Then Mrs. Margaret Johnson on 338 Bridge St. received a radiogram from her sister in Hawaii that a tidal wave on Maui swept her beach home out to sea. All that saved the family was that she and her husband were at work, and their children were in school.  

100 years ago on April 7, 1921

The birthday celebration of Mr. Sam Mann was a grand success. The old gentleman celebrated his 88th birthday, and was one of the spryest men in the large gathering at the Mann residence on the Santa Cruz Road. A delicious dinner was served, to which all present did full justice. Among those present were two of Mr. Mann’s boyhood chums, each his junior by only a single year. They were G H. Brewington and George A. Trafton. Before the party dispersed a rousing cheer was proposed for “Uncle Sam” and it was given with vim two times. It was “Uncle Sam–rah! rah! rah! Uncle Sam!” An interesting feature of the reunion was the fact that for the first time since they began establishing new families of their own, all of Mr. Mann’s eleven children (seven sons and four daughters) were present to celebrate his natal day.


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