Melvin Mello: A Charming Half Moon Bay Memory By His Daughter Melody Mello

Story by Melody Mello –to visit her website, click here

(Photo: Melody with her dad, Melvin Mello)

Melvin Mello was my sunshine. What we had will never die. I am most proud to say that I had such a wonderful father that it was better short-lived than not at all. Mel lived to work hard and socialize. He was a doer. Since our time together was in short spurts I made sure it was quality by “squeezing outâ€? every ounce of emotion he had. It evolved into a mutual exchange that enriched us both.

Things people may not have known about him are: he was more Liberal than he seemed, was fond of The Chinese and their cuisine, absolutely loved music, mostly Country and had a particular interest in lyrics, he sang, was an artist: his welding sculptures bore a striking resemblance to the Picasso pieces I viewed in Paris (he had no idea), he teared up whenever he worried about me and while watching Little House on the Prairie, loved nature, animals, family, and human beings with all his soul.

This man was not happy without physical labor involved in his life, which he had been intimate with growing up in the Central Valley and HMB.

Mel was born in Tracy, CA in 1930 to immigrant parents from The Azores, Portugal and Genoa, Italy. He was intensely proud of his heritage, using “the Old Countryâ€? in his references frequently. He was nicknamed, Tweetie by his brother who could not pronounce “little sweetieâ€?. The name stuck as many people still refer to him as such.

He farmed linseed crops and dairy cattle. I was told he would fall asleep in school due to the early milking hours. He started dating my mother young, while residing in Pescadero/La Honda. He did well in Junior Rodeo so it is said. He was a horseman, a rodeo clown later in life, did not like to hunt or fish and was a horrible golfer!

A no-frills, down- to- earth; reap what you sew, eye for an eye kind of guy. He connected to his God and I saw that church was a special place for him, but he told me you don’t need to go there to be a Godly person, just be a good person. He was. He helped everyone. Even strangers. If he paid you a visit, you almost always were surprised with some lovely produce or plants.

Dad loved to tell long, detailed jokes, mostly with a racial overtone about Italians, but no one was spared. I was taught and he modeled total love and acceptance for everyone. No negative judgment at all. If anything, he admired many things about different cultures and communicated this often.

Melvin loved Half Moon Bay and would take the opportunity to tell everyone he met he was from there. He was a volunteer fireman before I was born. His profession was as an agricultural Inspector for San Mateo County. He was mayor of Half Moon Bay for several terms during the course of my life, started the Pumpkin Festival with others, a member of City Council, belonged to I.D.E.S., a President of the San Mateo County Fair Board, The Farm Day Luncheon, San Mateo County Visitor’s and Convention Bureau, and many other things I know I’m forgetting or never realized.

Vacations were not at the top of his list. He would rather stay local to work the land on his property in San Gregorio or drive one of his dune buggies.

One of his favorite stunts was to bring home a different strange vehicle every so often. Sometimes they were difficult to identify! I would be given a ride to my job at a fashion boutique as a teen in HMB by standing on a forklift he would drive at 20 MPH down Hwy 1. All the way people he knew would honk and he’d wave.

These are endearing memories I treasure. This is love. A time or two he picked me up in a semi. What a guy.

He took me to many political and social events that empowered me to come out of my shell; being the shy child I was and shaped me into the woman I am.

Mel admired many colleagues and politician friends and would describe their philosophies to me with a glow in his eyes. His eyes twinkled when he spoke of things that interested him and he’d have this big, open-mouthed grin. At other times he was in distant thought, most likely regrouping. I have his passion.

The last day with my dad was spent celebrating his life and career at his retirement dinner in Half Moon Bay. It was great. On the video we could say a few words and mine was that I hoped he’d know my future children. That did not come true, but I had a beautiful relationship with my father that I can pass on to them.

You cannot separate Melvin Mello and Half Moon Bay. The two are married.

[Melvin Mello passed away on August 29, 1991. He was 61.]

[Photo below, Melody Mello]
Melody spent several years in the European travel business, writing music and singing in bands. Currently married and a happy stay at home mother.

To visit Melody’s website, click here

Granada (7)

Another popular place was the El Granada Hotel–which once stood in front of, and was originally part of the El Granada Motel [now the site of apartments]. Although 17 stats had voted for Prohibition by 1916, California had not, and liquor flowed freely on the Coastside, and at the El Granada Hotel. There guests danced to tunes provided by the Half Moon Bay Orchestra.

[The red haired madam Maymie Cowley, who is believed to have built the Miramar Beach Inn about this time, also owned the El Granada Hotel. Maymie was a streetwise gal from the MidWest and she cashed in on the Prohibition to come to the Coastside].

……to be continued……

Granada (6)

(Note: I wrote this in 1977, although I am doing some editing now).

As late as 1916 [and when the Ocean Shore was four years from bankruptcy), it wasn’t unusual to see six trains whisking passengers down the coast on weekdays. On Sundays picnickers lined up to fill space on as many as eight trains.

Competing with the Ocean Shore was the Red Star Auto Stage, a “chauffer” service which kept five autos in their garage with a furnished waiting room in San Francisco.

They came to the Coastside to consider building vacation homes and to enjoy the climate and surf bathing. Surf bathing became all the rage leading the owner of a bath house on the cliffs of Granada Beach to add 40 more dressing rooms to his building to keep up with the demand of new “bathers.”

In 1916, on Sundays, as many as 3,000 autos were counted rolling down the coast, stopping here and there to catch a special ocean view. On one busy weekend, owners of the Mabey Hotel in North Granada publicized the grand opening of their establishment catering to visitors wanting to fish, hunt or boat.

………….to be continued……….

Popular Pumpkin People: The Brothers Mello

As Burt and I wandered across Main Street, leaving the scarecrow contest behind us, we saw something Pumpkin going on in front of the IDES Hall. The big Pumpkin weigh-in contest, scheduled for tomorrow [Monday] morning was being set-up.

We love to talk to folks while they’re setting-up– and what a surprise to discover that Mel Mello, Jr., one of the directors of the Pumpkin Festival was there, working hard, getting the weigh-in station ready. Mel, Jr’s brother, Dan, [who lives in Washington] was also on hand. Both are the sons of the late Mel Mello, Sr., the much-loved HMB councilman.

Photos: Mel Mello, Jr., with the official pumpkin weigh-in board behind him and his brother Dan Mello. How different can two brothers be?

Popular Pumpkin People

Burt and I went on a pumpkin adventure this morning, walking around Half Moon Bay looking for everything big and orange.

(Photo below: Michelle Walford)

We watched an arty scarecrow contest being set-up on Main Street and met Michelle Walford who works for a local law firm.

Half Moon Bay High, the “Half Moon Bay Review,” the Rotary Club, individuals and organizations submitted their best version of a scarecrow. Here’s a couple of samples–the one with the camera is entitled “Half Moon Bay Tourist.” Very funny.

Granada (5)

(Photo courtesy Spanishtown Historical Society)

[Note: I wrote this in 1977]

Granada’s two depots–maybe three, if you count the platform at the southern end of the Ocean Shore’s showplace–were impressive. The elegant one greeted passengers at North Granada [in 1977 home to Lane Realty], the other had a homey look and stood near the present-day post office.

[And here’s some place-name gossip: The “El” was added to Granada when locals stopped taking the Spanish language seriously. Correct usage is La Granada. Other locals told me that when the madam Maymie Cowley ran the local hotel, her live-in macho lover changed the name of Granada to the more male sounding “El Granada,” in honor of himself.]

Of course not everybody who arrived in Granada aboard the Ocean Shore bought lots. Many enjoyed the beautiful ocean views, fresh air and lonely stretches of deserted beach.

The advertised adventurousness of the train ride attracted all kinds of people who looked forward to visiting the Coastside at a time before major subdivisions cut through the agricultural land.

….to be continued….

Aloha! We hear from Maui-

Aloha, I am presently living on Maui, HI. In a few years time, I am planning to move back home to where my heart is – San Francisco Bay Area. The coast specifically. I am a fourth generation San Franciscan, and as much as I have enjoyed my time here on Maui, I miss home. I read as much history of California as I can find and have time to read. I just happened on your page and I love it and will continue to stayed tune. Aloha for now. Beth (Anderson) Wyatt **I graduated from Capuchino HS in 1972.


Photo: Trying to get you in the mood: This isn’t Maui–it’s Kauai, close enough!