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July 8, 2009 > Doug Cattaneo, from Niles to the Coliseum

Doug Cattaneo, from Niles to the Coliseum

By Suzanne Ortt

Imagine having 100 first cousins. This distinction belongs to Douglas Cattaneo. Another claim to fame - his family's place in Niles history, he is a third generation Nilesian. Prior to 1916 when the Essanay Studio was in its heyday, Doug's paternal grandfather, Victor Cattaneo, ran a general store on Vallejo St. Additionally, this Italian immigrant was a blacksmith and, under the auspices of the Dodge dealership, taught people how to drive.

Doug's maternal grandfather, Jack Goularte, came from Portugal, settled in Warm Springs, and worked as a ranch foreman for Curtner enterprises.

The innumerable descendants gather annually for a family picnic in Kelley Park, San Jose. One relative worked up a family tree, each sheet protected with plastic. This endeavor was displayed at the family gathering recently; the complete display covered seven picnic tables.

Doug's father John was born at home in Niles. His mother, Eleanor nee Goularte, was born at home in Warm Springs, one of thirteen siblings. Doug, the youngest of three, was born to John and Eleanor Cattaneo on February 5, 1946. Times were changing; he was born in a hospital.

Doug recalls Niles as a bustling community in the 1950s. The business district included department stores, drugstores, a bowling alley, car dealerships, gas stations, a bocce ball court, a bank, the library (still operative), the jailhouse (building now houses an insurance company), plus seven bars and seven churches. Until the flood of 1955, Niles was the favorite play area of Doug and his friends. Many, many captivating hours were spent there.

His grandfather Vic bought two parcels of land on 3rd between G and H Streets. Eventually this block was - and still is - owned by the Andrade and Cattaneo families with one exception, the church on the corner. At least two houses were built. Content with Niles, Doug never left. He and his wife Ruth raised their four children in the family home.

For fifteen years Doug worked two fulltime jobs - one of them as senior stage technician instructor for Cal State-Hayward (as it was then named). Earlier he served in Vietnam, returned home to attend a junior college and graduated from Cal State in the field of Theatre Arts. He held the job for thirty years. With a smile he states that putting four children through college was a powerful incentive.

Doug describes his family as "always on the go." Currently Joseph resides with Doug and Ruth and assists his father. Another son Stephen, a computer software programmer, lives next door. Sarah is a student at Chico State University and Rebecca moved to San Diego where she is an event planner.

Currently, Doug is a union stagehand at the Oakland Coliseum. Although working with a team of three, he handles the sound technology for all the Raiders games, half of the A's games and some of the Warriors games. He is also responsible for some concerts and is in charge of sound technology at venues in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Doug was president of the Stagehand Local for 12 years. A man of many talents, at one time he was a licensed pyrotechnician.

Ruth is a professional dresser for the play White Christmas performed in New York, Boston and Minneapolis annually during the winter months. An additional interest is raising guide dog puppies; Ruth and Sarah share this endeavor.

Doug is now planning the next big step in his life... retirement. He plans to stop working in 18 months when he turns 65. He says this will give him more time for community and church projects although his main goal is to travel.

He has warned his 100 first cousins to have their spare rooms ready.

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