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Small Town Character: A story about a local who created a name for himself

All towns have their share of people who are characters – known by all for their quirks and stories. Castro Valley, of course, has characters of its own. One of these characters was Nick Tribuzio.

The USA Network on cable TV has the slogan “Characters Welcome,” which I take to mean that they like interesting people. All towns have their share of people who are characters – known by all for their quirks and stories. Castro Valley, of course, has characters of its own.

One of these characters was Nick Tribuzio, who made appearances in costume at community events. His most well-known costume was that of Diamond Jim Brady, a somewhat obscure figure from history (he was extremely wealthy from the railroad supply business, and was known for his fondness for jewels).

I’ve come across various photos of Nick Tribuzio in the archives, and I’ve always wondered who he was and what he did. Who is this guy who dresses in costume for parades, and dresses as Santa at Christmastime? Finally my curiosity got the better of me and I had to look him up.

Turns out, our friend Nick was born in Italy in 1894, and he came to the United States in 1913. He eventually made his way to the Bay Area. I’m not exactly sure when, but he was definitely in Oakland in 1942, according to his WWII draft registration card I found on Ancestry.com. Sometime in the late 1940s, he moved to Castro Valley and lived and worked on Crow Canyon Road. The phone books list his profession as that of a cement contractor.

How did Nick become a town personality? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to track that down. But I did find a souvenir photo postcard that lists “Nick Tribuzio as Diamond Jim Brady, Famous Western Parade Performer, Hayward, California.”

Nick passed away in 1971, so unfortunately there’s no tracking him down and asking him what inspired him to become a “Western Parade Performer.” But, perhaps there are some Castro Valley residents out there who remember him or have heard some stories about him? Or can anyone think of any other local “characters”?

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Valerie Wood July 12, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Nice story. Nick Tribuzio was my grandfather. He was definately a character. Great fun to see thie story.
Heather Mellon July 13, 2011 at 12:27 AM
I'm glad you liked the blog, Valerie. That is so cool that you are related to Nick Tribuzio! Do you have any other stories about him? If you don't want to share here, feel free to drop me an email at h.mellon@haywardareahistory.org.
phil Tribuzio February 20, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I'm not sure who Valerie is but Nick only had two children. One was my father and the other is Phil( who I'm named after) who lives in Alameda. Neither had any children named Valerie. We lived with him on Crow Canyon Rd for a while(1957) and I attended Independence school. YES Nick was a character and A. I loved him dearly. I believe if you contact my Uncle Phil he can fill in some blanks. He shouldbe easyto find since he writes many letters to the newspaper. I'm familiar with all of the pictures and have about a 20X30 of the Santa Claus one. He also had rubber dollarbills with his pic as Diamond Jim Brady. Phil Tribuzio - Marysville WA
barry tribuzio June 17, 2014 at 07:55 PM
From my dad <Philip Tribuzio...seeing dad's old photo and the comments brought big smiles. Nick made friends with everybody in and out of the business. Dad joined the American Army for the first world war and married mom in Liverpool. Moved to Oakland in the 20's. Nick's brother Gene in Oakland had 6 children, all served in the military in the 40's.Nick's two boys enlisted, and Nick joined the Navy Sea Bees after the Pearl Harbor attack; all came home. I'm Nick's younger son Philip Tribuzio, at 88 still going strong writing stories for fun. PS- Valery is a granddaughter of Mrs. O'Brien, Nick's last long love.

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