Her friends had words of caution before she married Dario (Toddy) Minetti of Cayucos. Lena Rizzoli would have to leave the big city where she grew up and attended Mission School. So much happened in San Luis Obispo and nothing happened in Cayucos.
But after they married May 9, 1946, she always found plenty to do in Cayucos.
“Life was slower then,” she said. “People enjoyed their homes and had barbecues with neighbors. On weekends we’d go to dance club, held where the veterans hall is. During band breaks, we’d go across the street to Paul’s Place. It was where McLean’s Jewelers is and belonged to my father-in-law. Our focus was making a living and doing things as a family.”
The family moved the bar where the Old Cayucos Tavern and Cayucos Pharmacy are today. Her husband and his brother, Guido, were partners.
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“In those days, bars were required to serve food,” Lena said. “My mother-in-law cooked the meals and would run them over to the bar. She lived in the house behind it. Next to her house was a barn where they kept horses until we built our home. Everybody loved her and her polenta stew and raviolis.
“Running a bar took long hours,” Lena continued. “For years, our three children thought their father didn’t take showers because he went to work early and got home after they went to bed. It was always a casual cowboy bar.
“The ranchers would come in, sit at one end of the bar and visit or play cards — sometimes all day. When Toddy and Guido built the liquor store across the street, they decided to end the partnership and tossed a coin to see who got which business. We got the bar and probably got the harder business to run.”
The couple enjoyed getting involved in their community. They were charter members of the Lions and Lioness clubs. Lena is still a member. Her favorite project was the community swimming pool.
“People would ask why we wanted to build a pool. I’d ask if they’d ever stuck their toes in the Pacific Ocean,” she said. “Jewel Ambrosia, who owned the variety store, and Maxine Hilliard and I had a make-shift band. We’d march Ocean and Pacific to advertise pancake breakfasts and bake sales. Willadean Borchard was the brains of the project. We were the advertising team.”
Lena’s children attended Coast Union High School in Cambria and were involved in sports. Mike is assistant fire captain in Cayucos. Bob is retired from PG&E and lives in Oregon, and Carol lives in Hong Kong.
To see pictures of old Cayucos, pick up a 2013 calendar created by the Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the Cayucos Library to produce a 2013 calendar.
Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at email@example.com or 801-1422.