Interview Date: 8/22/2002
Interviewer: Susanne Salvestrin
SS: Susanne Salvestrin
JA: John Aquila
SS: My name is Susanne Salvestrin, and I’m here with John Aquila – is that how I pronounce your name ?
SS: I should, after all these years, know. And I’m doing this interview for the Saint Helena Historical Society, and the date is August the 22nd, 2002, already, John. Isn’t that something? Can you imagine? I’m going to stop right now, play this back—
SS: OK, John, Well, this is kind of exciting for me to be doing this. I mean, for me coming only in 1959 to Saint Helena, and to be talking to people that lived here before me, which I know—I think you come in ’51?
SS: ’53, OK. And to get this history of people that lived here, you know, it’s so exciting. I’m so happy for the Historic Society getting started. So I have a list of questions that’s going to help me, and I want to know your full name, and if I’m spelling it correctly and everything, so we have that correct.
JA: John Aquila, A-Q-U-I-L-A
SS: OK. And do you have a middle name?
JA: I usually use my initial “F”.
SS: OK. And where were you born, John?
SS: In Weed. OK. Loren Sorensen gave me a few little historical facts about you, and he said he was pretty sure you were from Weed. And when were you born?
JA: On November 28, 1920.
SS: 1920. And your parents, were they from Weed also? Or did they–?
JA: No. My dad immigrated to this country at the age of 14.
SS: From where?
JA: From Italy.
SS: OK. Do you remember the little town?
JA: Castelsilano, Italy.
JA: And then he came here with one of his older brothers. And then he went back to Italy in the late 1900’s. He was an Italian citizen, so he had to serve in the army. And he married my mother, and then he came back to America to earn money to bring her to America.
JA: And so my mother came here in January of 1920, and I was born on November 28th.
SS: I’ll be darned. Oh, for goodness sake. And Angie, was Angie from Weed?
JA: No, Mount Shasta.
SS: Mount Shasta. And her parents, did they come here from Italy also?
JA: Well, her father, from what I’m told, went to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Italy and then he came to McCloud first, and after that to Mount Shasta. And so my mother-in-law came here at the age of 17, and then married my father-in-law. In those days, I guess they were matched up.
SS: Oh, the matches, yeah.
JA: And they lived on the ranch and they had ten children. Angie was the youngest of the ten.
SS: Oh, my goodness.
JA: Yes, and Angie didn’t know her father. Of course, the older brothers went to work. But they lived on the ranch, which in those days there was no medical care like it is today. But they survived.
SS: I’ll be carned. Now were your children born in Saint Helena or did — were they–
JA: No, my kids were born in Weed, John was three years old, and Marilyn was five, when we came to Saint Helena.
SS: OK. And you have two children?
JA: Marilyn’s my daughter and John is my son.
SS: And where do they live now?
JA: Marilyn lives right down in Napa.
SS: Oh, close by.
JA: Yeah. John is in Half Moon Bay.
SS: Oh, OK. That’s not too far either. That’s good. And when you were living in Weed, what prompted you to move to Saint Helena?
JA: Well, I was working in the theater in Weed.
SS: Oh, you worked there too.
JA: Yes, I was working for a theater company, but I wanted to buy my own theater. Not long after I got out of the service I became a theater manager. At the same time, my brother and I leased a Mobil Gas distributorship. Later I went in the Army and when I got out, I didn’t want to go back to the theater. So I worked in a grocery store, and then before the year was up, I went back and got my job as a theater manager.
SS: Still in Weed. Now, speaking of military service, you said you were in the Armhy. When did you enlist? Did you–?
JA: I got drafted in 1942.
SS: In 1942. That was one of my questions, were you drafted or did you enlist?
JA: Oh, I got drafted.
SS: OK, all right. And you served where?
JA: I was overseas — I got hurt in the service, and then I got discharged in 1944.
SS: OK. You got hurt over there.