Meet Ron Schmidt, Grandson of Dante “The Artichoke King” Dianda

Photos: at left, Dante Dianda, El Granada’s “Artichoke King” with unidentified woman and Alessio Mearini. Mearini was born in Arezzo, Italy and immigrated to the U.S. in 1914. He ws a partner and cook at Dianda’s ranch. Alessio Mearini stands next to Dianda in photo at right.

Ron Schmidt (RS): My Mother was Dante Dianda’s third child. I am curious about the photo of Dante with the other two people. It is not his son-in-law nor his son.
Where does the picture come from?

HMBM: Hi Ron,

I believe I got that photo from a Mr. Vellutini–I may have the spelling of his name wrong–I interviewed him in El Granada years ago. He is now gone. He said he had worked for Mr. Patroni at the Patroni House in Princeton during Prohibition.

Who do you think the people might be? I want to get it right. Please tell me something about yourself.

RS: I do not know who the two people are in the photo.

I know everyone who was around the farm and the men who worked there.

I know a great deal about Dante; he was influential in my philosophy of life and I have great respect for memories he has left me.

We have found just this year his relatives in Italy. We will be traveling to Italy next April.

If you have specific questions I would be happy to answer them.

HMBM: Ron, Here are some questions:

1. What was it like on the farm? I assume you’re referring to El Granada. How many people worked for Mr. Dianda? What did he raise on the farm?
2. Where was Dante born? How many children did he have? Were they all born on the Coastside?
3. When did Dante Dianda die? Where did he die? Is there an obituary?
4. What did you learn from Dante? What kind of philosophy did he have?
5. Was he a big man? Did he drive a car?
6. Did he tell you about Prohibition? The Ocean Shore Railroad?

RS: Hi!

You must remember my age. I am 77 years old. I did not see the farm before the great depression of 1929. Those were the most profitable and productive times on the farm.

I spent the 1940’s at the farm during summer vacation and Christmas vacation from my home in San Francisco. It was much hard work; my Grandmother would be up the 5AM preparing food for my Grandfather and there were usually two our three workers who got their meals at the house.

Dante was working long hours supervising the planting and care of the fields. My Grandmother took care of the Chickens and the garden near the house. There were vendors who sold meat and vegetables from trucks that came to the back door of the house. It was a wonderful time for me to be free to run around the hills and down to the beach with my friend Jim who lived there in El Granada.

My grandfather was born in Lucca Italy in 1875 and came to America at the age of 16 in 1890. I have not been able to learn about the next 10 years of his life. How he got to California or who he worked for during that time.

I know that in 1900 he married my grandmother who was 16 years of age. He took her to El Granada and there she started to keep house and prepare meals for the workmen and Dante. This was the old house up in the canyon below the dam.

Later Dante moved his family to San Francisco. He had three children two girls and a boy all born in San Francisco. It was not until 1930 that they moved back to El Granada into the house you show in your book.

As far as Prohibition is concerned I heard stories of Dante’s partner Patroni bringing in liquor to El Granada by boat. Patroni was in charge of this business.

As far as what I learned from Dante. I learned from his successes and his mistakes. I learned the value of honesty and hard work. I learned of the loss of the capital and wealth that he had earned before the depression and his investment in the stock market and his holding his stock too long and the loss of that action. I also learned the value of ethical dealings with people you do business with. He was not my pal, I learned from observation and exsample.

I think this gives you some idea of my experience with my grandmother and grandfather.

If you know of anyone who knows about Dante’s life during his first 10 years in America I would love to know the details. [email: [email protected]]

My experiences at the ranch would fill a book and I am not a writer, but if you have more question let me know.

HMBM: Please tell me more about yourself.

RS: I was born in San Francisco in 1930. My Dad drove a milk truck. My Mom took care of the house.

I have a sister living in San Jose.

I married at 20 Years of age, had two children, My daughter lives in Sonora and my Son in Pismo Beach. Both are retired now.

I served an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker.

In 1945 I contacted Polio. It was a year before I returned to work and them only in a wheelchair. I was fortunate to have an employer who gave me an opportunity to work in the office after my illness.

I was later able to acquire my own Sheet Metal shop and became a contractor in that business. In fact I performed the heating and air conditioning work on schools in Half Moon Bay and El Granada.

I am retired now and we are spending the winter months at our place in Yuma, AZ.

How did you get interested in El Granada?

HMBM: Dear Ron,

Thank you for your email, telling me a little about your life. What about your adventures? I would love to hear about your adventures in life.

Me? I moved from San Francisco (where I was born) to San Jose (where I went to college) to El Granada, where I’ve been ever since. 34 years in the same house.

I loved El Granada the moment I saw “her”….It’s changed a lot since then but I still love El Granada and just can’t leave.

Tell me more about your adventures.

RS: The big adventure right now is our trip to Italy in April 2008.

My granddaughter is going with Judi and I and we will meet Dante’s family in Lucca.

Not bad for an adventure?



Email Ron Schmidt: [email protected]