Fast learner going strong 90 years later

When he was 4 years old, Howard Caccia moved to Morro Bay. It was 1919, and his father, Etrie Caccia, was trustee for the school located at Beach and Main streets.

“I was a pretty fast learner. I got promoted to the big room with the big boys,” Caccia recalled. “Dad hired a man teacher fresh from college. We gave him a bad time. When he came to our house, I knew I was in trouble, but he offered his resignation. Dad said, ‘Big fellow like you. Take a strap to them. How’s my boy doing? Start with him.’ And he did.”

The Morro Bay Historical Society was hosted at the 550 Morro Bay Blvd. historic home now owned by Dan Reddell and Janné Johns. Howard and Marianne Caccia told their life’s story. Reddell invited all to the opening of La Vie Gallery on Nov. 6.

“We wanted to rejuvenate the property … bring the Caccia home and downtown Morro Bay new life,” Reddell said. “We maintained the historic essence of the home while updating it to code for community use.”

Johns booked Mary Anderson, a Cambria portrait artist. The gallery will be open Thursdays through Sundays with new shows monthly.

Caccia recalled that the typical entertainment was clamming. At 14 he made 35 cents an hour making deliveries for Martin’s General Storey in the Model T. Because they had a deeper well, his father shared scarce water resources with neighbors.

Charles Stocking’s family lived close. Originally a blacksmith, Charles and his family built a garage when cars came to town. They worked on Model T’s and shoed horses. Caccia said his mom, Rosie, always knew where he was. He loved tinkering with cars.

While he was delivering milk at the family creamery on San Bernardo Creek, his Model T broke down. Because it cost $15 to fix, he bought a used Model A pickup for $150. It broke immediately, so for the only time in his life he took out a loan for a 1936 Ford pickup for $660.

Caccia had a talent for rebuilding parts to restore cars. It became a lucrative hobby he still enjoys, shipping parts worldwide. He’s owned up to 50 classic cars, the first a 1949 Maxwell.

And where did he meet Marianne? He saw her walking along San Bernardo Creek.

He offered to drive her to San Luis Obispo, although he was headed to Morro Bay. Their instant friendship led to a lifelong marriage with three children living in the house they built next to his childhood home.

“Life’s been good,” the couple said. Caccia’s advice to keep healthy and happy: “Just keep going … don’t stop.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com