Mozzetti Auto Court and Trailer Park

BY: Dolores Gomez, Brisbane historian, brischic@sonic.net

Pioneers, Charlie, Pep, Dico and Pietro Mozzetti, came from Locarno, Switzerland, on the Italian border, in the 1920’s joining their cousin, Steve who had established a dairy farm in Brisbane. They were short stocky, hardy, friendly young men; who spoke good English with a slight Italian accent. Charlie, Pep and his wife, Nina built the Auto Court and Trailer Village, a much needed place to stay in the 1930’s despite the depression. The store, entrance and Cabin Club faced a Lagoon, a large seepage from the bay, right at the sharp turn into Brisbane.
The Mozzetti simple two story boxlike home was built in the middle of the court. In early years they rented spaces to a group of Gypsies, but when chickens began disappearing, the Gypsies were asked to move. In the early 1930’s before trailers filled the area, the Mozzettis hosted Fourth of July barbeques after parades. They were kind and generous people; Pep and Charlie donated the lots for the Catholic Church, the first school was held in the basement of their home, residents held improvement meetings to help the fledgling town to bloom.
During WWII the trailer spaces rapidly filled by those who came from the Mid West and knew there was work at Hunters Point Shipyard. Those renting a trailer area had potted plants or small shrubs, in front to bring some warmth and beauty to their space. Tenants also lived in single room cabins; a tiny kitchen with a gas plate by the sink and a room with an iron bed and one dresser. Right after WWII and we were married, we lived in one of these tiny cabins! A building close by had a washroom, toilets and showers. Cabins with a bath, were well kept but spartan; linoleum flooring, no TV, a dresser and an iron bed. After WWII, families were traveling and modern updated cabins were built. Mozzetti’s took pride in a well maintained and clean place for tenants.
In 1950 I enjoyed working at the store. Friendly women in starched housedresses came in and told me of their lives in the Mid West and why they and their husbands stayed after WWII. I remember tough Navy wives, who drove across the United States with kids in an older station wagon to pick up their husbands, who ported into San Francisco. Most occupants were happy tourists coming to see the City or excited to visit relatives in the Bay Area. I remember mailing rosary beads to a frantic woman who left them under her pillow; they were from her son in the military. I liked making sandwiches for the rugged Yuke drivers (enormous dirt haulers) came from all over to haul dirt from San Bruno Mountain for the new Freeway. A paper delivery man told me that his parents came to live in a tent on a Brisbane hillside after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Slim Pickens, the actor, brought a smile to my face, when he came in, wearing well worn chaps and spurs jingling on his old boots, to rent a room. I could see his horse tethered across the street by the lagoon, along with his horse trailer. He was a real cowboy and participated in the Cow Palace Horse Show.
Huge modern hotels and new-fangled motels sprang up on the peninsula to accommodate travelers. In the late 1970s, the Mozzetti family sold the motel and auto court. In 1982 a flood decimated the area and residents had to be taken out in rowboats. The old motel became seedy and run down and it was demolished in 1986. The City purchased the property, residents fought for a park instead of a city hall on the property; our well used lovely park is one of the best things that ever happened to Brisbane!
Thanks to Sean Sweeney for the vintage picture of the old motel and trailer park, circa 1930.