COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN, REAL ESTATE AGENT, INSURANCE BROKER
WRITTEN BY ANTHONY DAVI, SR., WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SIBLINGS JOHN & ROSE
Guido A. Davi followed family tradition and became a commercial fisherman during his young life.
Our dad was born in Pittsburg, California, on January 10, 1915, to Rosa (Compagno) Davi and Antonino S. Davi. He was the youngest of nine children, three girls and six boys.
His mother was born in San Vito Del Capo, Sicily, and his father in Isola delle Femmine, Sicily. Together they left their homeland as husband and wife and emigrated to Pittsburg in the late 19th century to begin their new life. Guido grew up in the family home at the corner of York and 2nd Street, just two short blocks from the Sacramento River waterfront.
The residence included a retail space where his mother operated a general store in addition to raising her large family. She was a very enterprising and hardworking lady, often hosting relatives who traveled from Italy.
Guido’s father was a commercial fisherman in Sicily, Pittsburg and Monterey, CA. Guido, in addition to fishing with his dad in Pittsburg, would travel with the family to Monterey, where they fished during the sardine season. He attended Pittsburg schools and played football for Pittsburg High. In his senior year when the family moved to Monterey to fish for sardines, he attended Monterey High School but left prior to graduation to work with the family.
After he left high school, Guido fished commercially with his family, gill netting on the Sacramento River for salmon in the fall and shad in the spring in Pittsburg and later on for sardines in Monterey.
The Davi family was prominent in the sardine fishing industry in Monterey, owning three purse seiners--the St. Anthony, the 82-foot El Padre and the St. James.
The St. James was the newest and one of the largest and most modern of the 80-ft.-plus purse seiners in Monterey at that time. Guido was a crew member on the family seiners and fished for sardines in Monterey Bay and as far north as Coos Bay, Oregon.
James A. Davi, his older brother captain and boat owner, was one of the more successful sardine fishermen at the time. He held records for catching the largest tonnages for two consecutive seasons--6,400 in 1938 and 6,040 in 1939, seasonal catches that may not have been exceeded by anyone else during the sardine heydays.
In 1937, while in his early twenties, Guido took a break from fishing and traveled with his parents to visit family and friends in Sicily. While visiting in Trapani, he met our mother, Vita Crivello, and fell in love. They married in Trapani, and after their honeymoon they came to the United States to live in Monterey, where they rented an apartment on Van Buren Street. Guido continued sardine fishing until 1944. By that time, they had two sons and had purchased a home at 877 Jefferson Street in Monterey.
Our mom was never happy with Dad’s fisherman’s lifestyle of being away from home at night and resting during the day to prepare for the next night of fishing. She encouraged him to make a change and find work on land, which he did. In 1944 he retired from the sardine industry and became a licensed real estate agent. He worked at the John Danna Real Estate Agency on Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey as an agent until 1946, when he obtained his real estate broker license. He established his own business, the Guido A. Davi Real Estate Agency, which was located on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey. Years later that old town area was demolished in an urban renewal project.
Our dad’s change in vocation was fortuitous for him and his family, because within a decade after he left the fishing industry the sardines had pretty much vanished from Monterey Bay.
Several years later Guido expanded his real estate business to include casualty (auto, home and business) insurance, and he changed the name of his company to Guido A. Davi Real Estate and Insurance Agency. As his business prospered, he relocated to 248 Pearl St. in Monterey, a newly constructed commercial building he had sold to one of his Italian clients.
Throughout his personal life and business career, Guido was deeply involved with the local Italian community. In addition to his real estate and insurance business he helped local Italians bring family members from Sicily to the United States. It all began when he successfully assisted in the immigration of our mother’s parents, Filippa (Baldarotta) and Sebastiano Crivello, along with Mom’s brother Filippo Crivello, his wife Rosa and their two children Sebastiano (Buster) and Filipina from Trapani, Sicily. It was not a simple task; in the process he became familiar with the legal i
Through this experience of bringing his wife’s family members to America, Guido became quite the expert on the rules and regulations surrounding immigration. When the word got out, other local Sicilian families approached him for assistance with their own family members’ immigration. He would often help with travel arrangements as well. The work was time-consuming and required much documentation--affidavits, job guarantees, proof of housing, etc.--and numerous trips to the Italian Consulate in San Francisco. I worked in my dad’s office and assisted him by completing forms, typing documents and affidavits, and arranging for notarization to obtain government approval for the newcomers.
Dad also taught some of the immigrant men how to drive a car and helped them obtain their driving licenses. I recall as a young boy sitting in the back seat of the car and watching him teach the men how to operate the vehicle. I absorbed these lessons well and knew how to drive a stick shift at a very young age. Later, when I took a driving class in high school, the instructor realized on my first lesson that I already knew everything he was going to teach. He told me that he was going to concentrate on the other students and said I could just sit in the back seat and he would give me a passing grade.
Well, I was not about to sit in there and watch for hours while three other guys were trying to learn to drive, so I negotiated an arrangement wherein he would drop me off at Lou’s Pool Hall in old town Monterey and pick me up when the driving lesson was over. He agreed, and that was the end of any official driving lessons for me.
Our dad’s strong Sicilian work ethic helped him to become successful in life, in real estate and in the insurance business. He was highly respected among his peers for his knowledge and integrity, and he was also known as one of the best-dressed businessmen in town. During the years I worked with my dad, people frequently told me that. He set a good example for those who followed him.
Our dad left the sardine fishing industry, but fishing did not leave him. His parents had remained in their Pittsburg home, and we would often travel from Monterey to visit them for weekends and holidays. It was about a three-hour drive each way back then. Some years later, after he had established his real estate and insurance business, the desire to relive his boyhood salmon-fishing days got the best of him. He, along with his brother Barney Davi, owned the family fishing boat which was moored in Pittsburg--a 27-foot narrow-beamed boat named the Star of Italy. They teamed up and began fishing on the Sacramento River during the salmon season. Each fall our dad would look forward to his time salmon fishing. He referred to it as a getaway, a nice vacation from the business world. I guess once a fisherman, always a fisherman.
During their lifetime, Mom and Dad traveled extensively—especially on cruise liners. Trips to Europe and Sicily, when they could visit family and old acquaintances, were their favorite travels. They also enjoyed the RV lifestyle, towing their Silver Streak travel trailer behind their Chevy Suburban, traveling in the US, and staying at an RV park in San Carlos, Mexico, along the Sea of Cortez, where they met many other American RVers and developed long-term friendships. Dad was an avid sportsman, hunting ducks, pheasants, and doves in both the US and Mexico. He especially liked hunting in Mexico, where ducks and doves were plentiful and hunting restrictions were extremely limited.
They eventually purchased a beach home in San Carlos and spent their winter months there where dad hunted and enjoyed digging clams along the seashore. Dad was quite the sportsman, an excellent shot who won awards in several hunting contests.
Today there are four generations from the Guido A. Davi family in the real estate industry--sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He left quite a legacy for us all to follow. In 2004 with the endorsement of the California State Realtor Association, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Guido’s grandson Jeffrey M. Davi as the State of California’s 22nd Real Estate Commissioner. This was one of our dad’s proudest moments and a reflection on how the change in his vocation from fishing to real estate years ago resulted in this exceptional achievement b