Newspaper Archive of
The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
August 26, 2011     The Catalina Islander
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August 26, 2011

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The Cacozza Connection to Catalina SISTERS LOOK BACK ON 80 YEARS OF ISLAND LIFE BY THERESA CUMMINGS Lifelong residents of Catalina Island often have unique stories to tell about their experiences grow- ing up in such a unique location. The Cacozza sisters are a prime example of this, and recently met with the Islander to share such memories. Mary, Vallie and Amelia play- fully bantered with one another while reminiscing about 80 years of experiences and memories of life on the Island. Their Italian father Joseph Cacozza immigrated to America as a teenager. He enlisted in the military during WWI and returned to Italy to Visit his parents in their home town of Falconara Alaba- nese. As he walked through the neighborhoods he was smitten by the beauty of a woman looking out of the window at his uncle's house and was determined to meet her. Three months later he wed this woman, Mary Blois, and returned with her to the States. Gaining employment with Connely Pacific, the couple moved to Chicago where he worked in bridge construction. The bitter cold influenced their transfer to Seattle, Washington. It was there that daughter Mary was born in 1930. After Seattle, they eventu- ally landed in Santa Monica where their second daughter Vallie was born in 1932. Vallie was only one month old when the family moved to Catalina Island. Connely Pacific relocated the family to the Island to employ Joseph at their rock quarry located south of Pebbly Beach. He operat- ed heavy equipment at the quarry, loading large boulders onto barges 1o be shipped overtown to estab- lish breakwaters. In 1934 "their third daughter Amelia was born. After the attack on Pearl Har- bor on Dec. 7, 1941, the inception of World War II had an immediate effect on Catalina Island. The Island was declared a Fed- eral Military Zone and only locals who were needed to provide ser- vices to the military were allowed to stay. The other residents headed for the-mainland. Many worked in the shipyards of Long Beach throughout the war. The Cacozza family was allowed to stay as Jo- seph was an asset to the military, assisting them with urgent plans to extend mainland breakwaters that were covered with wire netting to prevent Japanese submarines from findingany openings. The quarry was then closed for the remainder of the war and Joseph found work assisting CJ Conrad with military construc- tion needs. The monumental shift from a tourist resort to military zone moved swiftly. In 1942, the sisters aged 12, 10 and 8years old, recalled the time with vivid recol- lection and energetic chatter. "Our mother kept a close eye on us since Avalon was flooded with young handsome servicemen. We just thought it was so much tim," Mary said. "All remaining residents were invited to any social events during the war," Vallie said. "We went to see Sammy Lee perform, attended street dances, and watched the USO show at the Casino." "We went to the boxing match- es and also saw these young men marching during military drills in their crisp uniforms. It was excit- ing for us," Amelia said. As the sister's challenged one another's recollection, they each recalled that their father had pur- chased the Avalon Transfer Ser- vice. Locals would place orders from the mainland, and the items .would be shipped over on the SS Catalina. The transfer company was respon- sible for delivery of such items. "I remember father having his office on Sumner Avenue between An- tonio's and the hair salon, "Mary said. "Eventually he sold it to Bill White Sr." Military personnel that were stationed with their families here on the Island, had their children attend school in Avalon. "We are still in touch with those who re- main from WWII that were our classmates," Vallie said. The Cacozza sisters have al- ways been close knit. Without hesitation Mary said, "Yes, we've always been close." "We've always had each other," Vallie said. "Best of friends," Amelia said. As is common with lifelong residents here, they are all in good health. However, eldest sister Mary, approaching 82, is feeling the ravages of age but still getting around. Each has their own story to tell. To be continued ... Photos clockwise from top: Mary, Vallie and Amelia Cacozza, the sisters seen here on Catalina circa 1942. They were thrilled by the servicemen on the Island. Joseph Cacozza purchased the Avalon Transfer Service on Sumner Avenue next to Antinio's. Parents Joseph and Mary Caco~a on the wed- ding day, Publisher Dan Teckenoff Editor Dennis I~aiser Office Manager Jennifer Leonhardi Accounting Becky Eck ADVERTISING DISPLAY CLASSIFIEDS LEGAL ADS Subscriptions Editorial Letters to the editor Obituaries 101 MARILLA #6 AVALON, CA 90704 (310) 510-0500 [ FAX: (310) 510-2882 Postmaster: Send address changes to The Catalina Islander P.O. Box 428. Avalon CA 90704 il~ (USPS 093-140)ACcept ...... der 39C, F.R. 3464 periodicals postage paid at Avaton, CA 90704 and other additional offices. Adjudication Decree No. 377598 Date of Adjudication: Oct. 4. 1934 Exact Name of Newspaper as snown in the Petition for Adjudication: The Catahna Islander. Publisneo weekly at 101 Marilla Avenue. #6 Avalon CA 90704. The entire contents of The Catalina Islander are copyrighted by The Catalina Islander. No oar1 may oe reprooucea in any fashion without written consent of the publisher. This publication is orinted almost entirely on recycleo paper. PROUD MEMBER OF THE CALIFORNIA NEWSPAPER PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATIOk DEADMNES Calendar: Noon Monday News: 5 o.m. Monday ] Display Adver- tising: 2 p.m. Tuesday Classified AdveRisi~: Noon Tuesday I Legal FPublic Notices: 5 d.m. Monday SUBSCRIPTIONS One Year Subscription: Catalina ............................................. $39 Mainland ............................................ $48 Subscriptions wa First Class Mail are available for $SO/year August26 through September1 Shows Nightly at 7:30 Rated PG-13 Adult $11.00 Senior & Children $9.00 For More Information Call 310-510-0179 Avalon High School Class of 78' "Island Grown" Hassle-free Class Reunion. Classmates, Teachers and Friends Please come join the fun and get reacquainted. Friday, September 23,2011 @ 6:00pm Bring an appetizer to share - byob. Meet at Mr. and Mrs. Whi.takers Car-Lot Saturday, September 24, 2011 Met and greet @ 5:30pm BBQ at Descanso Beach Club @ 6:30 $19.00 per adult- $9:00 per child Side dishes, salad and dessert included, bring something to BBQ. Sunday, September 25,2011 @ 10:00am Casino Dock Caf6 Michelle: 310-463-9814 Kelly: 310-245-9696 Colleen: 760-567-7484 or Charmaine: 2 i Friday, August 26. 2011 THE CATALINA ISLANDER