I couldn’t wish to be a lawyer . . . ‘cause I didn’t have the education.


Domenic Massari, a charter member of the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the first City Council and was one of the founders of the Lilac Festival. His work for civic groups, his church and his community have earned him the name “Mr. Palmdale.” Massari, 95, and his wife, Teresa, live in the Palmdale mobile home park he built. My name is Domenic Massari. I was born in Italy, Provence of Potenza, 1893.

I had three years’ school in Italy. So I couldn’t get any read and write in English. I had to make my living, so I didn’t bother about going to school. Of course, them days, my parents thought that was enough school, to know how to read and write. My father and mother, neither knew how to write and read.

Them days, either you work on the farm or labor. I couldn’t wish to be lawyer or be something high class ‘cause I didn’t have the education. I don’t know how I manage, but that came from life, from my head, not from education.

I came to Los Angeles in 1922. I bought an acre on Alameda Boulevard at Manchester. Built a little house over there. Them days, you could do anything with a few dollars. I built this little house, just out of wood and didn’t cost me no $10 to $15 an hour.


There was no restaurant there close. You had to go to Manchester or 103rd Street in Watts. So after a while, I put up a little restaurant on Alameda Boulevard. I called it Naple Cafe. And I served spaghetti and ravioli and hamburger. You know, the easy stuff. I had a waitress, and she knew how to make ravioli.

In 1929, I came up here to Palmdale. I bought a lot on Q Street, and I build a little house on that. When I finish the house, I was looking for a job, and I couldn’t find any job here. So I said, “Well, I think I’m going to make my own job.” I look around to put up a little service station.

I talked to a man in Lancaster, and I said, “I like to rent those two pumps at the front of the Chevrolet garage.” He said, “Why don’t you get a little piece of ground and build your own service station?” So, sure enough, he bought an acre of ground, and we made a deal. I leased the ground for five years for $25 a month rent first year, then $50 a month for next four years. And that’s how I started. So I build the station, and I put those two visible pumps in the ground. Then I put my tanks in.

Then I went down to the Wilshire Oil Co. in Los Angeles to get my gas. They said, “Where the station is?” I said, “Up in Palmdale, it’s about 25 to 30 miles the other side of Newhall.” “Oh, that’s too far. We don’t go that far.”

They said, “You got to get somebody to haul the gas for you.” So I went down there to the tank factory in Los Angeles, and I bought this 500-gallon tank, and I put it on my truck, and I started to haul my own gasoline. First day, I only sold 10 gallons of gas. The next day is 25. And after about two or three weeks, then I began to average about 100 gallons a day.

About 1932, I was doing pretty good, and I had a lot of customers. Somebody come up from down below and say, “Would you like to have your own territory, distributing from Saugus to Mojave?” All right. I made the deal. I got my brother here from Canada to run the station, and I handled distributor. Then we bought five acres on state highway, and we started a motel. I build six units first, and the laundry and the stuff that goes with the motel. Then in 1955, I sold the motel and the service station, and I bought this five acres on Avenue R and built my mobile home park.


When I came here, there was about 500 people in the town. I work hard to get the town incorporated. Because every time we want something, we have to go down to Los Angeles to Board of Supervisors, then have to spend a day over there. They say, “Yes, yes, yes,” and we never see anything. So we want a city of our own. I work for the city 10 years after incorporated without get a dime of money. No salary been receive. We work hard to build here.

I got all my family close here with me. I love everybody in Palmdale. I don’t think I have an enemy in town.