Let’s Talk Clovis: The Sirimarco Family Contributed to the “Clovis Way of Life”

The Sirimarco family in 1924. Left to right, top to bottom: Rose, Pete, Mary, Jim, Carmela. (Photo Courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Vincenzo “Jim” Sirimarco was born in San Sosti, Italy on October 22, 1892. The town was dedicated in 1020 AD by Greek Byzantine Monks of Acquaformosa. Michele Sirimarco is the present Mayor of San Sosti (estimated population 2,300).

Twenty year-old Jim would arrive at the port of New York on June 14, 1912. He had boarded the steam ship Oceania at Naples. He eventually joined family members in Gustine, CA.

Gustine was developed in the early 1900’s as a Southern Pacific Railroad depot. Cattle King Henry Miller had a young daughter named Sara Miller. She loved to dress up and was called Gussie. She died at age eight and the town was renamed Gustine in her honor.

Jim’s future wife, Rosina “Rose” Fasano, was also born in San Sosti on June 14, 1902. She would arrive in Gustine, CA with her family in 1904.

John Martino (wife Elizabeth Fasano, sister to Rose) also lived in Gustine. He operated a shoe repair shop there and would eventually join the Sirimarco’s in Clovis. He built a home at 436 Woodworth in Old Town Clovis. It remains a residence.

Rose would meet and marry Jim in Gustine. Their four children were born there: Pietro “Pete”, 1916; Maria “Mary”, 1918; Carmela “Millie”, 1920 and James II, 1922. The date that the family arrived in Clovis is not documented.

On April 4, 1927, Jim Sirimarco Sr., Pietro LaVia and Franceno Columbo founded the Rudolph Valentino Lodge No. 1449, Order Sons of Italy in America. The lodge continues to meet on the third Monday of each month at the Notre Dame Hall of Our Lady of Perpetual Help church. They remain visible and active in the community.

Their first meeting was held on the second floor of the old (1906?) Nestor Freitas Hall (now 500 Club) at the southwest corner of Clovis Ave and Fifth Street.

A 1928 advertisement in the Clovis Independent indicated Jim sold shoes and made shoe repairs. His shop was located on Fifth Street next to Attorney Gould’s office (street number not documented).

Jim won ownership of a restaurant during a poker game and it eventually evolved into the legendary “Jim’s Place”. Famous Clovis Country performers Double Gage (twins Jim and Jack Gage) began their professional careers there in 1967.

A 1936 Polk report indicates that Jim and Rose operated a restaurant at 470 Fulton (Clovis Ave). Their residence was located at 118 6th Street. Their son Pete was listed at the same address and was identified as a meat cutter.

The 1938 official program of the Clovis Horse Show and Festival Association published an advertisement: “Jim’s Place” in Clovis, for cool, refreshing drinks. See the longest bar in town.

The Sirimarco’s purchased a home at 507 5th Street (the northeast corner of 5th and Pollasky). It remains a residence. Jim died at age 71 in 1963 and Rose at age 80.

Granddaughter Rosalene (Rose) Sirimarco Matteson (daughter of Pete and Kitty Phillips Sirimarco Mosekian) continues the family business tradition in Clovis at the Clovis Town and Country Realty.

The Sirimarco’s provided us a rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.