The Andy Ausonio Library is the Castroville Branch of Monterey County Free Libraries. Named in honor of Andy Ausonio, dedicated volunteer of the Monterey County Free Libraries, Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries, and the Friends of the Library. Dedication Ceremony of the Castro Plaza and newly constructed library was celebrated with music and festivities, September 2006. (The Californian, 2006).
Monterey County Free Libraries encompasses a large area, from the northern community of Aromas to the southeastern community of Parkfield. There are seventeen branch locations, thirty branchlets, two bookmobiles, and one Mascot named Monte (VIP Toy Burro).
Within the lobby of the Andy Ausonio Library, near the entrance doors facing Speegle Street, there is a bronze plaque bearing the seal from Monterey County. The inscription reads…
Dedicated as a celebration of humanity achieving the highest levels of excellence in mind, body, and spirit through the accumulated wisdom of the ages, honoring those who ask what they can do, do it and in so doing enrich our lives, our civic virtue and our cultural diversity.
Rachelle Morgan-Lewis, reporter for the Salinas Californian wrote the article titled, “Native son tracks Castroville’s history.” Andy, Historian of Castroville, and devoted member of the Castroville Historical Society understood the culture of our community. He discussed early Spanish land grants; Spanish and Portuguese cattle ranchers; Irish grain farmers; Swiss and Portuguese dairy farmers. (Morgan-Lewis, 1993).
Andy worked with others to preserve local history. He and friends (i.e., investors) purchased the two-story schoolhouse “La Schola,” restoring her to her youthful self as she was built during the 1860s. Andy tells the story about men using logs to roll La Schola down the hill on Merritt Street to her new location on the corner of Preston Street. (Karel, 1989).
They had to get it up onto rolling logs and get a team of horses to pull it. (Andy Ausonio, 1989).
Andy used pen and ink to draw buildings in Castroville built during 1860s-1900s. Western style shops and saloons line both sides on Merritt Street. Look for the Castroville Inn, Native Sons of the Golden West, and Masonic Temple.
The Merritt Street Corridor Revitalization Strategy was a joint task force between residents of Castroville, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and the Monterey County Redevelopment Agency. The proposal included the creation of a plaza within the new Castro Park to serve as a town square complete with a library, museum, and daycare facility. There were plans to create walking/biking trails through the artichoke fields. (Pitnick, 1999). The Redevelopment Agency was dissolved in 2012 and Monterey County Board of Supervisors elected to serve as the successor agency continuing their support of the redevelopment project for Castroville. (co.monterey.ca.us/gov 2020).
The idea to create a centralized gathering area for the community to meet came originally from Don Manuel Castro, a member of the pioneering Spanish Family who established the town of Castroville. Don Manuel donated a portion of his own land in 1863. (Vijayan, Salinas Californian, 2006).
Early interests and hobbies
Salinas Californian reporter, John Waters wrote an article titled, “Castroville honors company, founder – Andy Ausonio builds name in the community,” and it is revealed that Andy built his first house as a teenager during the late 1940s. The two-unit duplex is located on Coaster Street in Castroville. (Waters, 1988).
You’ve got to have a lot of interests.
(Andy Ausonio, 1988)
Born and raised in Castroville, Andy graduated from Castroville Elementary School, Salinas Unified High School, and Hartnell Junior College in Salinas, CA.
Andy played the trumpet for the Salinas Union High School Band. Their Annual Midwinter Concert (The Californian, 1947) and Spring Concert were opened to the public. The Salinas Union High School Band and Orchestra played under the direction of Mr. Keith D. McKillop. Miss Esther M. Ingham led the vocal groups to include, “Capella choir, girls glee club, boys glee club, and voice interpretations.” The Annual Spring Concert for Salinas Union High School was produced by the students of the music department. (The Californian, 1948).
Miss Evelyn Sharp, advisor for the Salinas Unified High School supports students working on the yearbook, El Gab (El Gabilan). Andy is awarded recognition. (Californian, 1949).
I would especially like to mention Andy Ausonio for coming on Sundays and for working many extra hours.” (Sharp, 1949).
Andy and a few peers participated in the Salinas City Council sponsored event. “City Officials for a Day.” (The Californian, 12 May 1949).
Hartnell Junior College
Andy was on the yearbook committee “El Gab” while he attended Salinas Union High School, and was appointed to be an editor for the “La Reata” the yearbook for Hartnell Junior College. (The Californian, 1950). Miss Ida Garcia, Queen of Hartnell College’s Homecoming entered a nation-wide contest by Esquire Magazine for Miss 1951 Calendar Girl. (The Californian, 1951).
Andy was commissioned to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant during his promotion ceremony held at Camp Cooke southeast of Santa Maria, CA. The 149th Heavy Tank Battalion is part of the 49th Infantry Division. San Francisco photographer Bob Bryant captured images of the National Guard 49th Infantry Division. (The Californian, 1951).
Another man with a tough job to handle is Lt. Andrew Ausonio, a PG&E engineer from Castroville who last week changed his job for one of looking after 62 M-47 tanks for the 149th Tank Battalion.”
(Col. Wiltshire, 1952).
Andy served in the Army and National Guard retiring in 1969 as Captain Ausonio. Andy prepared a special presentation using colored slides for the Rotary Club of Castroville (1957). In the newspaper article, Ex-Paratrooper Addresses Rotary At Castroville,” it states that Andy was in the military during WWII. It has been suggested, that Andy most likely served during the Korean War.
Awards and Memberships
- Past Chairman of the Monterey Bay District Associated General Contractors (AGC) and member of AGC State Board of Directors and received the AGC Contractor of the Year Award.
- Member and Past Chairman of the Artichoke Festival.
- Past Chairman of Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church Lay Board.
- Member and Past President of the Valley Builders Exchange.
- Salinas Valley Builders Exchange Builder of the Year (1984).
- Member and Past President of the Castroville Rotary Club.
- Member of Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.
- Past Chairman of the Monterey Diocese Finance Commission.
- Member of Monterey County Private Industry Council.
- Founder and Director of Bank of Salinas.
- Past Chairman of the Board of Bank of Salinas.
- Member and Past President of Native Sons of the Golden West.
- Recipient AGC of California Excellence in Client Service Award and Contractor of the Year Award.
- Member and Past President of Italian Catholic Federation.
- Director of the Artichoke Industries Inc.
- Member of the Monterey County CSA-14 Supervisors Committee.
- Member of the Castroville Club.
- Member of the Altar Society, Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church.
- Parishioner of Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church.
- Chairmen of the Castroville Catholic Men’s Club (Salinas Californian, 1960)
- Member of National Association of Watch and Clock Makers.
- Member of Salinas Elks Lodge.
- Watsonville Community, Brass and German Bands.
- Rotary Representative to Guatemala.
- US Army Veteran.
- US National Guard.