Santa Clara University

Hit the books

Coffee in Florence

In his new book, Café Life Florence (Interlink Books, 2005, $20), Joe Wolff ’67 (with photographer Roger Paperno) takes readers on a lively, caffeinated tour of Florence, complete with gossip- and

café life Florence
café life Florence 
history-laden interviews with the gregarious café owners. The book, wrote the San Francisco Chronicle, “doesn’t try to be comprehensive, instead directing readers to a thoroughly researched selection of family-owned cafes, bars, and gelaterias, and offering a unique perspective on life in the city.”

Wolff says the idea for this book (and his first book, Café Life Rome), was born “because I went to the Loyola University, Rome campus as a student and fell in love with Rome.” Wolff was over 50 when his first book was published, and, he says, “The second book has come out at a time when most people from my class are thinking about retiring…and at an age when things like this aren’t supposed to happen in our youth-oriented culture.”

Stories of Early California

These are invaluable sources of information about life in California during the nineteenth century from the unique perspectives of the people who lived during that time,” writes Rose Marie Beebe, SCU professor of modern languages and literatures, of the new book California Voices: The Oral Memoirs of José María Amador and Lorenzo Asisara (University of North Texas Press, 2005, $29.95) which was translated and edited by Gregorio Mora-Torres ’76.

For the first time, Mora-Torres’s book publishes stories told by two men in the early 1870s, both in English translation and in the original Spanish. At that time, Hubert H. Bancroft sent research assistants across California to record the memoirs of early residents. Amador, then 83, shared his life story, including his days as a 49er during the Gold Rush and the reconnoitering expeditions that his company took into the interior of California, where they encountered local indigenous populations. He also invited a friend, Asisara, a former neophyte from Mission Santa Cruz, to share the story of his life during the mission days. Bancroft used the stories told by the two in his writing, but the stories themselves were never published until now.

Gregorio Mora-Torres earned his bachelor’s degree in history from SCU, and his Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of California, Irvine. He teaches in the department of Mexican American Studies at San Jose State University.

Where Her Son Has Gone

They were sleeping.
Children overlapping in their cots.
Christo and Teresa like small spoons against the wall.
The night was hot, no wind blew the leaves outside.

She dreamt of mending Tonito’s pants
before his first communion.
The thread was blue and smooth,
The hole disappeared under the needle.
She woke up when Leon started crying.
A soldier lifted Alberto by his foot.

Leon reached up for his baby brother,
his hand catching Alberto’s fist.
She ran forward for her sons
as the soldier hit Leon on the head with his gun.
Leon fell, skin slapping the floor.

Alberto dangled in front of the soldier’s wide grin.
“Mi Hijo! Mi Hijo!” she cried,
Christo cried, the five boys wept on their cots.
They did nothing.

She prayed that the soldier would not drop him onto the cement.
She prayed his body would not be crushed.
Teresa begged the soldier to take her.
Christo promised them anything.

The grinning soldier put Alberto into the arms of another
who wrapped him in a green blanket.
He opened his terrible mouth. “Don’t worry.
This one will have a better life than any of you.”
He winked at her and said, “Don’t forget.”

Christo threw his body at the soldiers,
but they knocked him down.
The knocked his teeth out with their rifles.
They drove away in their green jeep.

All up and down the street, candles had been lit.
The jungle was filled with whispers.

From Swimming in El Rio Sumpul by Elsie B.C. Rivas Gomez ’01 (Finishing Line Press, 2005, $14). The chapbook was nominated for the 2005 Pushcart Prize. Born in El Salvador, Gomez was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and returned to her birthplace through an SCU immersion trip. She says the poems in this book came out of that experience. Gomez earned a B.A. in English and B.S. in psychology from SCU and an M.F.A. in creative writing from San Diego State University.

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