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This Week in Pajaro Valley’s Past, Aug. 6

25 years ago on Aug. 5, 1996

A crowd of 200 parents, children and friends gathered for the third annual “Watsonville Peace and Unity Day 96,” a call for peace and to remember those who have fallen to violence. “We just want to stop the violence,” said 11-year-old Ivan Mansillas. “A lot of innocent people get killed.” Aztec dancers and a pounding drum led the children and adults who walked a 3 1/2-mile route through downtown Watsonville and back to the Plaza. Along the route, marchers handed out flyers and invited onlookers to join them. Posters were carried with anti-violence messages and the names of people who have died as a result of violence. The first peace rally was born two years ago after the murder of Jorge Cortez and his sister Jessica, 9, as they left the El Nopal Bakery in Pajaro. After the shootings, the Watsonville Brown Berets and other groups planned a separate rally and a march. Since the events had the same purpose, the groups chose to combine the events into a rally and a march.

50 years ago on Aug. 5, 1971

Construction of a crop-dusting landing field was recommended between the levee and a channel of the Pajaro River on the Silliman Ranch off Riverside Drive by the county zoning board, and will have to be approved by the board of supervisors. The action was called for by City Manager Thomas Rowan who said Atwood Aviation crop dusters now operating at the Watsonville Airport are not compatible with its traffic patterns. Rowan’s letter indicates there hasn’t yet been any pesticide spillage at the airport. Ken Jones of the State Water Quality Control Board adamantly opposes storage or handling of pesticides on the river flood plain, and urges storage and handling of all toxic materials “occur at an elevation above the highest known flood stage.” Ag Commissioner Matt Mello recommended the use of mobile storage containers, while Riverside Drive resident Henry Martin points out that winter high waters could wash pesticides into the river and bay.   

75 years ago on Aug. 1, 1946

The Chamber of  Commerce Civic Affairs committee is studying the possibility of excavating a swimming pool near the mouth of the Pajaro River and near the backs of dunes along Palm Beach. Member Steve Martinelli will discuss the plan with County Surveyor Arnold Baldwin and then meet with Ronald Campbell, planning consultant on parks and recreation facilities. As planned, the swimming hole will be similar to one recently completed at Ben Lomond. Also endorsed at the meeting was a proposal to form a Municipal Band in Watsonville. Other proposals are given consideration included provision of a better street cleaning apparatus for the city, and then annexation of contiguous territories and creating local support for the projects in order to place a bond measure before voters to provide funding for them. 

100 years ago on Aug. 3, 1921

Frank Lee, owner of a secondhand store on lower Main, received considerably the worst of a street brawl last night in front of the International Restaurant. Mrs. Lee said the men were from Santa Cruz, seemed under the influence of liquor and used and used vile language when she passed them. The men followed the couple inside and a fracas started with Mr. Lee being struck in the eye and knocked to the floor. The men ran away, but were pursued by officers Mann and Cunha. The officers found the machine which brought the men to Watsonville. A fourth man was found in the car, but not with them during the fight or under the influence. When questioned by Police Chief Whitsitt, all the men swore they had not broken local laws by purchasing the liquor in Watsonville, and only brought it with them. An examination by Doctor Sambuck revealed Mr. Lee had suffered a concussion and severe bruising around his right eye. 

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