Isn’t it nice to grow up in a community where you really know people and see familiar faces on a regular basis? Such is the case of Lodovica Borra, who turned 100 just last week!
Looking back, we know that Italian-born Giuseppe Fea came to this land of opportunity. He and his wife, Maria, settled in the area of Overland near Ballona Creek and Jefferson Boulevard. One of their children, Joseph, took Celestina as his wife. Joseph and Celestina Fea settled locally as well. Celestina gave birth to two strong girls, Mary and then Lodovica (1915).
The girls grew up in the Fea home where Overland Avenue and Virginia Avenue are located today. They were baptized at St. Augustine’s Church, which was built on property donated by the Figueroa family in the 1880s. It is in its third structure today.
Lodovica and her sister attended La Ballona School, just like their father. Their school, named for the first rancho in this area, was established in 1865. Mrs. Borra still remembers ringing the school bell in the morning, with a girl named Lucy, who eventually became her sister-in-law!
Since girls raised during that time rarely had the opportunity to continue their education past 8th grade, Lodovica reflected in a recent interview that she and her sister were lucky to go on to Venice High, if only for a time. She remembers “getting to take the bus, if we could find a nickel,” the fare at that time.
The Feas had no sons, so it was up to Mary and Lodovica to help out on the family ranch. Their father grew seasonal vegetables, including corn. The girls drove tractors, and a truck that was used to set up the family’s produce stand at the corner of Overland and Jefferson, where Raintree Shopping Center stands today. Lodovica recently shared “When it was time for Sis and I to get a driver’s license, we went to the police department to take a practical exam.” She continued to say that an officer, Cecil Truschel, (who later became chief), saw them, and just waved them on with comments about having “seen them drive in the fields” so they did not have to take a test!
The girls played, but often had to run home to drive the truck out at night to take the family produce at the L.A. Central Market. Mrs. Borra also enjoys relating fond memories of helping other farmers when their stands were out of corn, and watching Laurel and Hardy filming their comedies in the area.
Local farmers Joe and Pete Borra, brothers, married the sisters, Mary and Lodovica, and they continued to work local land as a family. The grandparents had become well-known for their Fea Family Vineyard. Mrs. Borra remembers the winery in the vicinity of Overland and Franklin Avenue, where Grace Lutheran Church stands today. Their grandmother had a brick oven outside, where she baked bread. When the grandfather died, Lodovica walked east daily to the Fea family home on Braddock and Lincoln, and often would spend the night, so her grandmother was not alone.
Eventually, the land they farmed was taken to become Culver High, but with their ties to the area, the sisters and their husbands bought property just behind, where Mrs. Borra just celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends!
Lodovica and Pete Borra raised two children, Lorraine and Dominic (wife Beverly), who gave their mother “the biggest party I ever had,” according to Mrs. Borra. The crowd included the rest of the family, Angie and Jarid, Boyce, Sophia, Lucas, Debbie and Lyndon, Floyd, Logan, Jackson and many, many other friends and well-wishers!
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Borra!!! And many more!