1921 – F. A. Mero

3 March 2019

1257 65th Street

Whereas my other example of F. A. Mero’s mark is straight text, this pair, in the same neighborhood, displays two different versions of arched text. I’m guessing that Mero struck one character at a time.

2015 – Rosas Brothers

2 March 2019

Two versions of that year’s stamp:


Lee Street at Monticello Avenue


307 Jayne Avenue

I’m not sure how this happens.

(This was previously stuck at the end of the S. Aiassa profile)

1929 – Ed Doty

2 March 2019

1117 Alice Street

Unlike my other example from this year, this stamp contains the day and month on a separate line.

1922 – J. B. Castellotti

26 January 2019

2700 block San Pablo Avenue

I’ve recorded a 1922 Castellotti mark before, but this one features the month as well as the year.

1923 – Schnoor Bros.

19 January 2019

Roslyn Court, Berkeley

This mark is on the stairway leading up to Hillcrest Road, one of Berkeley’s most obscure corners. With this date documented, I have just six years missing, 1916-1921.

Sidewalk maker: Luigi Villata

5 October 2018

“L. Villata” marks are found all over Oakland, but mostly in North Oakland. They’re all alike, except for a very few that were hand-inscribed with the date. I have documented dates from 1950 to 1953. Villata’s sidewalks are strong and well made, using a dark and slightly bluish concrete mix.

Luigi Villata was born in Asti, Piemonte, Italy on 19 April 1890, but unlike many Italians who came to Oakland he waited until age 31, sailing from Le Havre in 1921. His older brother Stefano preceded him and was in business in Oakland as a cement worker, under the name Stephen, in the 1923 directory living at 454 42nd Street. Other family members in Oakland included brother Francesco “Frank” and half-brother Romolo. A sister, Bany, lived in San Francisco. Luigi became a U.S. citizen in 1929. Starting in the 1925 directory he referred to himself as Louis.

At first he lived (and worked) with his brother Steve on 42nd Street, then moved to 617 47th Street in 1930 and to a bungalow at 5217 West Street in 1936, where he remained until at least 1958. It must be during this period that he used the “L. Villata” stamp. As of 1967, retired, he was living at 4408 View Street.

His World War II draft record, from 1942, indicates that he was about 5 foot 6 and weighed 170 pounds, a typical Italian fireplug. At the time he was working for W. H. Wisheropp.

Luigi married Luigia (Louise) Orecchia in 1925, and they had a son, Frank J., that year. She died in 1940 and is interred at Mountain View Cemetery. In 1944 he subsequently married his second wife Josephine (Maria Giuseppina) Piodelli, who died in 1957, and his third wife, Esther (Esterina) Brusasco, in 1958. Luigi passed on in 1976, and his son Frank died just a few years ago.

Sidewalk maker: Silvio Giuntoli

28 September 2018

Silvio Giuntoli was born in Alguscio (Firenze), Italy in 1890. He immigrated in 1904 and married in 1919. He and his wife Lena Mary (1893-1962) bore no children, but a niece Verna lived with them as of the 1940 census and was listed as a daughter upon Lena’s death. Silvio was naturalized in 1942, six years after his wife. His education ended at sixth grade.

His World War II draft card described him as standing 5’4″, 160 lb, with gray eyes and hair, and “left hand missing.” A short item in the Tribune on 26 August 1954 said he “has been a one-armed cement finisher since the age of 35 when he lost his left hand at the wrist in a concrete mixer.” That accident, then, would have been in 1925.

He first appears in the 1923 directory at 1159 Elmhurst Avenue, the old name of 91st Avenue. (It’s still a sweet little street.) He moved to 9853 A Street in 1929, where he lived until his death in 1968, but the address on his stamp never changed.

I believe he had his first sidewalk stamp made in 1927; it looked like this.

For the next few years, he erased the final digit of the year and wrote it in by hand. As of 1932, his stamp bore only the “19” of the year, and the remaining digits, as well as the month and day, were impressed with a separate set of very small numbers.

I have documented Giuntoli marks in Oakland from 1927 to 1950. They’re all over town, but especially thick around Elmhurst.