Story

Mineo Francisco "Frank" 1899-1961

Mineo Francisco
Francisco Frank Mineo

Francisco "Frank" Mineo was born in February, 1899 in a small fishing village on the island of Marettimo, in the Province of Trapani, Sicily.  In 1921, Francisco (Frank) left his home and joined his brother Giovanni “John” Mineo, in Monterey.  They were both fishermen who worked on the Lighters, a small boat that was tied behind the larger fishing boat and used to store a load of up to 25 tons of fish.  The fishing boats at that time did not have holds large enough to carry the fish back to the canneries.  To improve their fishing and get bigger catches of sardines,  Monterey fishermen wrote to Sicilian fishermen, living in Italian colonies in Algiers, Africa, to order a better net.

Nine years later, in 1930, nine, ninety ton Purse Seiners were brought up to Monterey from San Pedro.  At that time the Frank and John bought the Anadir.  The unusual name of the boat came from the previous owners, who were from Croatia.   They named it after a river in Russia.   

During these years Frank Mineo met Maria Spadero in Monterey.  She was born in Isola di Levanzo, a small island off the coast of Trapani. Only two hundred people lived there, but those people had many of the same traditions as the people from Frank’s home, on the island of Marettimo.  They were married in 1934 at San Carlos Cathedral in Monterey.  

Frank and John Mineo kept fishing with the Anadir until 1939, when they separated and Frank began running the Mineo Brothers Seiner. It was from North Bend, Oregon and it weighed 135 tons.  John bought the Providenza.

They fished with these boats until 1941.  During the war years it was normal to fish 140 tons of sardines each day during the season.  As the war was starting Peter Ferrante advised the boat owners to show their loyalty, by leasing fifty boats to the U. S. Government.  They were used to patrol the Pacific Coast and Hawaii.  During the war many of the Sicilian Families were told by the authorities to move away from the coast because they were born in Italy.  But when the officials learned that they had offered their boats to the war effort, they were allowed to return to their homes in Monterey.  From 1942 to 1945 they were able to keep fishing by renting boats from Olympia, Washington.  

 

After the war was over, the Sardine catches were smaller each year. Sometimes they fished for six months at a time around Port Hueneme. They also fished around Point Conception where two currents from Alaska and Mexico come together.  The fish followed the Mexico current and many boats had to follow that current to get enough fish.  Several of the men who fished on his boats were Nino DeMaria, Joe Campo and Paul Spadero, his brother-in-law.  Often, these boats had up to twelve men.  At the end of a trip the crew was paid in shares.  

The boat owner would get 3 shares, the net owner two or three shares, the captain, two and each crew member one share.  It was traditional for the children to stay close on payday because the men would throw the change up in the air for the children.  Frank Mineo kept his boat during these difficult years, but he finally sold the Mineo Brothers in 1960. 
Frank and Maria had two children; Dominic Frank Mineo, who married Ninfa Grillo Mineo and Pat Mineo Spadero, who married Vito Spadero. Frank Mineo was a hardworking man, who chose to leave his childhood home in Marettimo to make a successful life in Monterey.  He died at August 30, 1961 at 62 years of age.

(This report was dictated by Dominic Mineo to Jerilynn Smith Crivello, Oct. 2018.