Frank Calegari turned 94 this past April 18. Pacific Rod and Gun Club member Fred Tautenhahn thought that this reporter would appreciate mentioning a bit about Calegari's life as a human interest story.
"How often do you meet someone at his age that is so enthusiastic about technology and about life," said Tautenhahn. He noted that when he saw Calegari tapping out words on the key pad of his smartphone, "I said to Frank, what you doing, sending a text message?" "It took me aback when Frank said, no I am Google-ing," said Tautenhahn. And, of course who can honestly say that they will live to be 94? How many nonagenarians do you know, personally besides TV star Betty White?
Calegari has a Samsung "4-G Smartphone" and "it does everything," he said. Calegari prides himself on the fact that he knows everyone of his 100 or so contacts. "I know them all personally," he told this reporter. "It takes me a couple of hours each day to go through my emails," he said. But Calegari enjoys keeping in contact. Even though he takes life "day by day" in his ninth decade of life, Calegari affirms that there is something new to learn everyday.
He is fascinated by the technology that is available today. "People really don't realize what a marvel it is. I like to 'Google,' he said, you just type in a subject or a question and up pops an answer - it’s amazing!" "Everything is in my pocket with a smartphone," said Calegari. While he likes using the technology, he is not much of fan of the social networking sites like Face Book. "That is really best for business, I have nothing against it," he said. "I much rather people contact me directly," said Calegari.
Calegari still lives in the house he and his wife Alice purchased1954 through the G.I. Bill. "Alice past on a few years ago, he said, lots of happy memories as we were married for 68 years, this is why it is important to keep in contact with friends," he said.
"I see Frank at the club every week at the Olympic Club," said Attilio Mossi. He and his wife McGuire Real Estate realtor Leanna Mossi grew up in the North Beach and Marina area. “When I see Frank I call him 'Paladini' and he calls me 'Til' (short for Attilio)," he said. "Paladini comes from the Latin it can be translated as "great one, or honored one."
Like the Mossi's, Calegari is a native San Franciscan and together they are among the remaining few that recollect about "the old neighborhood - North Beach and the Marina," that is. They like so many in the post-World War II era moved out to more suburban settings. Lake Merced and The Peninsula just a few miles south of the City grew as track homes popped up like wildflowers. Yet, those memories of days in North Beach and the Marina growing up and then first married living in a little apartment or flat are cherished.
"I was born in North Beach, said Calegari, my grandfather and family survived the Earthquake and Fire of 1906." He is proud to have been born on the anniversary of the quake and fire that occurred on April 18. He credits some his longevity to that pioneer and survivor spirit of his grandparents and ancestors. "Many of the Italians who immigrated to San Francisco were from Genoa, like my grandfather," said Calegari. Italians from Genoa at that time according to Calegari were tradesmen, shoemakers, bakers, farmers and lots of fisherman who worked The Wharf (Fisherman's Wharf).
"Yes, that's true many of the Italians were from Genoa or from Tuscany," said Leanna Mossi. And, both she and Til said Sicily was another place were many immigrated from. Local rock and roll performer turned historian Dave Crimmen agreed as he said, That's correct. My ex-wife Debbie has family from her mother's side that are from that region. Crimmen wrote a book about the history of the area of Broodmoor, only minutes away, south of San Francisco. When i grew up in Broadmoor, it was an Irish/Italian neighborhood and many of the Italian families were from Northern Italy," said Crimmen.
Calegari is proud of the fact that, even though his grandfather lost everything in the 'Great Quake and Fire of '06,' "he restored his fortune by baking bread with one of the few working kitchens in the City," said Calegari. It is that persevering determination that Calegari admired about his grandparents.
While San Francisco attracted people from literally everywhere on the globe, neighborhoods like North Beach and the Marina were like a little home town and Calegari and the Mossi's are thankful to have had the blessing to grow up there.
"It was a different time then," said Calegari. "People today don't know that just after World War II prosperity did not happen right away, it took some time." "I remember Union Street then as being an economically depressed area, there were lots of vacant shops, not much business," said Calegari. After serving in WWII as a combat medic with the U.S. Army, Calegari worked at The Horseshoe Tavern restaurant on Chestnut Street. He worked his way to manager. "But I quit because of the long hours and it was not fair to Alice," he said.
Shortly after that Calegari found work in his uncle's meat market on Green Street near Fillmore. His uncle trained him as a butcher and eager to open a shop of his own he found a spot on Union Street near Steiner at the Modern Meat Mart. "The man who owned the little grocery store needed a butcher, because the butcher he had wanted to leave the business," said Calegari. With only $600.00 Calegari set up his own butcher shop and eventually bought out the entire grocery store, owning it and operating it himself.
"Supermarkets had not been established like we know them today," said Lynn King, a native San Franciscan who recalls those days. "Each neighborhood had their own market. They were the 'mom and pop' type places," she said.
And, as Leanna Mossi explained, "everyone had their favorite butcher shop, that is where people got all their meat and poultry, " she said. Calegari sold the shop and the grocery store when he retired in 1978. "That is what afforded me to join the Olympic Club," he said.
"I don't think I would be here today if it were not for my friends, especially at the Olympic Club," said Calegari. He noted that he has lived an ordinary life that has been very blessed. When asked if he had any advice or words of wisdom to share, he said, "keep busy, make friends and play golf." Calegari explained, "as you get older golf is one of the few sports you can play when your 94 years old."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com