Joe Alonzo and Bea Prusso
Fairfield has changed a lot since its early years. Obviously the mall wasn’t here years ago, or the housing developments. Even the stoplights were added at some point. No one can truly understand the changes that Fairfield has undergone except those who have lived through it. I had the pleasure of getting a small glimpse of Fairfield’s proud past with the help of Joe Almoraz and Bea Prusso.
When Joe and Bea, now 91 and 90 respectively, grew up, Fairfield consisted of one main street with a few shops. It was a wonderful place to grow up. The brother and sister lived on various ranches through their childhood. Their father was a farmer who leased the land he worked, so they moved around quite a bit. The last ranch they lived on was Graves Ranch in Suisun Valley. Growing up, they spent most of their time helping out on the ranch, picking fruit and doing household chores. In what little spare time they had they played games like jacks, marbles, tops, and some games they made up. “We didn’t have many real toys; we had to play with what we could find.” Joe recalled. Both Joe and Bea attended Rockville Elementary School, which is still there today though under a new name. “There were only two classes in the whole school.” Bea said. Unfortunately the family had some financial difficultly during the Depression years and their father lost the ranch. This is when they moved in to the actual city of Fairfield.
Once in Fairfield, the two attended Armijo High School. Bea remembered the old campus well and misses it greatly. She admitted that she liked the old campus much better than the current Armijo High School and wishes that they hadn’t changed the campus so much. Both Bea and Joe went on to graduate from Armijo and find work in Fairfield. Bea worked at a cannery while Joe went on to work at a bakery. Both still live in Fairfield, although Joe lives slightly out of town on a ranch of his own.
Bea and Joe lived in Fairfield during a simpler time. They had none of the worries we have today. Crime was so minor it was hardly an issue. You could leave your doors unlocked and never worry about your kid being kidnapped. “I don’t remember ever seeing a policeman besides the sheriff around town.” Bea said. It was a small, close knit community where everyone knew each other by name. Even the family doctor was a close friend, so close that he helped name the youngest of Bea and Joe’s siblings, Betty. “Fairfield was a nice, quiet town in our day. It was a great place to grow up.” Joe said.
On that afternoon, Bea and Joe shared a lot of wonderful memories with me. They painted a picture of a lovely little town that anyone would have been proud to call their own. Looking at Fairfield through their eyes brought out all the good qualities that can sometimes be over looked. No matter how different Fairfield is today, it is still a community anyone would love to live in.