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A Landmark Book About a Little-Known Immigrant Group!

Blossoms into Gold

The Croatians in the Pajaro Valley

By Donna F. Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller

Of all the immigrant groups who flocked to California in the last two hundred years, probably the least known are the Croatians of the Dalmatian Coast. Often identified as Austrians, Slavonians or Dalmatians, they came from a glorious background of international traders, sailors, and political thinkers few people in America knew about, and brought with them knowledge that would change the way the United States did business. At the same time, they transported their customs and beliefs to their new home and established a way of life that was vibrant and rich in traditional folkways. Blossoms into Gold tells their story for the first time, from their fabled past to their economic innovations in the Pajaro Valley. Enriched with over 181 rare photos and illustrations, the book records an important segment of American history.

What the Community is saying about the book!

“It took two of the [Croatian] community’s own daughters, Donna Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller, to tell the story. And what a story it is. The book you are holding is the result of these two women first gaining the trust of the community of their birth and then weaving together a complicated history that bridges half the world and many languages.”
From the foreword by Sandy Lydon

“This book tells the story of the world I remember. Donna Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller have given Watsonville’s Croatians the gift of their own history.”
Nita Gizdich, former president of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, State Delegate to the California Farm Bureau Federation, and Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s ‘Woman of the Year.’”

“Donna Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller have done a remarkable job in showing how the Croatians, using the historical traditions and skills they carried from the old world to the new, became important commercial innovators whose methods revolutionized the way business was done in the world’s agricultural markets.”
Jane Borg, Director, Pajaro Valley Historical Association

“In this detailed and warmly human history, Donna F. Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller chronicle and celebrate the story of an entrepreneurial immigrant group in a favored portion of the Golden State.”
Kevin Starr, Professor of History, University of Southern California

About the Authors

Donna F. Mekis and Kathryn Mekis Miller are the granddaughters of Croatian immigrants who emigrated from Konavle, Croatia to Watsonville, California, in 1901. Their father, Andrew Mekis, was born in Watsonville’s Croatian colony in 1920. The two sisters were raised in Santa Cruz and spent frequent Sunday afternoons with their Croatian grandparents and family in Watsonville.

Donna F. Mekis holds degrees in both Anthropology and Education from UC Santa Cruz. Over the past twenty-five years, she has worked at both UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College, assisting students with the transfer process from two-year colleges to four-year universities. She served as Cabrillo’s Transfer Center Director for fifteen years and is now directing Cabrillo’s new Honors Transfer Program. She resides in Santa Cruz with her husband, poet Morton Marcus.

Kathyrn Mekis Miller did her undergraduate and graduate work at UC Berkeley. To finance their educations, she and her husband Marshall Miller opened their first retail store in Santa Cruz in 1970. Since then, they have developed a number of successful businesses under the umbrella name Sun Shops, which has now become a second-generation Santa Cruz business. Kathryn currently oversees product development for the family's retail operations.

Title: Blossoms into Gold: The Croatians in the Pajaro Valley

Publication Date: Spring 2009
Length: 309 pages
Illustrated with sketches, maps and 181 photographs

Hard Cover
ISBN – 10: 0-932319-12-2
ISBN - 13: 978-0-932319-12-8

List Price: 29.95