LA's virtual Swiss neighborhood!

90th Anniversary of the Stanislaus County Swiss club

with 4 comments

Just south of Modesto in a eucalyptus grove nestled between corn fields and diary farms stands the Stanislaus County Swiss Club. The club which was founded in 1920, celebrated its 90th anniversary this past Sunday.

1925 Photo of Club Founders

“The first Swiss club in San Joaquin Valley was formed in Stanislaus County in 1920 at Yori’s Grove, Modesto California.  It was a social gathering of the Swiss Italians and the Swiss Germans. The spirit of the fellowship as expressed in the Swiss motto, ‘One For All And All For One’, has been passed down from one generation to the next.” (1)

“Early organizers of the club went all over the area collecting $1.00 original dues from the Swiss people. The first picnic was held on a railroad platform near where the club makes it home today, Yori’s Grove. Farming then was mostly grain land and volunteer pastures. The days of the early Swiss were filled with hard work and also a lot of fun. There was more time for visiting and more time for friends.” (2)

Ott Family Band

I was lucky enough to be seated next to Janiene Yori, granddaughter of Antone Yori after whom Yori’s grove is named. Yori had donated the land in 1920 to start the club. At the time all Swiss from the San Joaquin valley, primarily Italian Swiss and German Swiss came to the club. During his speech on the background of the club, Ed Sciarini made mention of a rift that would eventually occur between the Ticinesi and the German Swiss in matters of honor and sport surely fueled by too much local wine.

“The Swiss German people were more active in sporting events such as ‘schwinging’  (Swiss wrestling) and the tug-of-war contests. Tug-of-war contests were made up of two teams; the Swiss Germans on one side and the Swiss Italians on the other. The contests were taken very seriously and it was reported that this competition contributed to the division of the two groups into the present separate clubs.” (3)

Edwin Genasci and his prize Swiss cow

As a result of this rift the Stanislaus County Swiss Club is mostly Ticinesi while the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club in Ripon is mostly German Swiss. That being said, the 90th anniversary event at Yori’s Grove was truly a Swiss event. There was accordion music, talerschwingen, a Swiss wrestling demonstration, and a parade of cows. In a scene reminiscent of the Sound of Music (Austrian reference I know, stay with me), came the terrifically talented Ott family whose children sang, played music and yodeled all the while in traditional Swiss attire.

It was a memorable event, and as a newcomer I was treated with great warmth by all those I met. I came away feeling that those in attendance were proud of their Swiss heritage and wanted to stay connected with Switzerland. For those in Switzerland who may not understand what the Auslandschweizer mean to Switzerland, I think this club is a great example of what needs to be celebrated.

(1, 3) San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club History Page

(2) Stanislaus County Swiss Club History Page

Written by jdeburen

September 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Very good description of the day at the 90th anniversary celebration.Thank you for coming and sharing your experiance with others.We hope you will return for a visit at one of our monthly dinners.Best wishes

    Eldon Parker

    September 8, 2010 at 6:40 am

  2. Thanks for a very nice writeup on our event. Your account is thorough and accurate. I hope many will see it and learn about us.

    ed sciarini

    September 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

  3. I don’t know if this is the correct club. But I just found out that Armando Pestoni passed away in Sementina Switzerland on July 4th. He was a past president of your club or another club in Modesto

    Joh Marchitiello
    Lincoln, Ca.

    John Marchitiello

    July 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    • Hi John,
      thank you for posting the information – I forwarded your message to someone within the Ticinese community of California to inform the appropriate people..
      Best regards from Los Angeles
      Michael Gaedeke


      July 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: