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"West of Geyser Peak: A Memoir by Vincent Colombano"

Vince had been wanting to write his memoir for many years. He had recorded childhood memories and had kept a fairly extensive World War II journal. I was excited about our project because I love writing about Vince signing
his memoirold Italian families, World War II and winemaking. Vince also had the benefit of having a well-known mother, beloved Healdsburger Angela Colombano, who lived 102 years and had her own transcribed oral history with wonderful early stories. And Vince had his own stories of growing up on a small, self-sufficient farm in rural Geyserville during Prohibition and the Great Depression. Vince recalls the ongoing flooding of the Russian River, daily life without electricity, water pumped solely by windmill and the poverty years of the Depression. He paints an almost "Our Townish" portrait of the Geyserville of his youth and of the rich characters who inhabited it.

There are several things that stand out for me about our work together. Vince had very clear memories and vast knowledge on a wide range of subjects. He wanted to share his own poetry collection which gave the book an added dimension. He used over 125 photos of both his history and that of his wife's family, including photos of his father-in-law, Giuseppe Gargini, making charcoal on Pine Mountain in the early 1900s. Along with these photos, I added parts of an article generously contributed by historian Ann Howard, originally written for the Russian River Recorder of the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society.

stack of booksVince also tells the history of the Sonoma County Cooperative Winery and his family's almost lifelong involvement in harvesting grapes and hauling them there. He shares his expertise in winemaking, the pruning of vines and the grafting of fruit trees. He adds technical know-how as well as his own, hand-drawn diagrams.

My great pleasure was in using many Italian words, phrases and names in the book. My favorite chapter, Italian Nicknames (Soprannomi), was spawned organically as I endlessly picked Vince's brain for more and more stories about the vivid Italian characters from his childhood. Before I met Vince, I knew nothing about the long Italian tradition of using nicknames as terms of endearment. His stories about "Ci Nuoto" and "Cacca Stracci" are priceless.

This book came together rather effortlessly--perhaps in part to Vince's writing and editing skills and his participation. Again I thank Dia Misuraca of Sonoma Web Design for outstanding layout, production and cover design. I also wish to thank Geyserville historian Ann Howard for her support and contribution to this project and Anita Gargini for her patience with Vince and myself.

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