Well into the holiday season and with a New Year approaching, we take joy in surrounding our family with holiday traditions.
This is especially true for my family as 2021 comes to a close and we enter into our business’ Centennial year! Crossing the calendar we revel in long standing traditions which I am happy to report, continue to this day.
One holiday tradition began in the early 1900s on the Sonoma coast where my grandfather Ralph Pedrotti, after being raised on a dairy farm, partnered with a member of the Casini family to operate a general store. Called Casini & Pedrotti, the shop was located in Bodega, CA. He was 22 years old. Following a common mercantile holiday practice of the time, they gave a small gift to the customers, a custom-fired ceramic plate. However, the tradition was short-lived as the store lasted only two years. Young men were being called to duty during World War I. The shop closed and my grandfather joined the Navy. The plate is the only evidence left of that era.
Following the war, Ralph returned to California to the small town of Crockett where he again took a partner, this time prominent and wealthy merchant, Jim Firpo. They worked together for almost fifteen years and continued the tradition of giving out ceramic plates during the holidays. How do we know this? Well, shortly after moving our store to Southampton Center on Valentine’s Day, 1992, I received a call from a Benicia resident asking to meet; the caller was deliberately cryptic, only saying that it was important. Stopping by his house and after introductory pleasantries, he handed me a small ceramic plate. The object was cold and I got chills, but not from the temperature. The name burned into the clay was Firpo & Pedrotti, a 1930’s relic distributed to patrons during Christmastime. The resident offered the plate for a hundred bucks and while it was ironic to pay for a gift my grandfather gave away freely, it was a fair price and I was delighted. A few months later on Father’s Day, I presented it to my father, Larry, who was stunned. He passed away in 2003 and this has since been one of our family’s prized possessions.
Traditions bond us and can serve to bring families together, sometimes in unrelated ways.
Here I must point out one about merchant Jim Firpo, my grandfather’s partner. It turns out that Firpo was a great uncle to the Bottini family in Benicia. The Bottinis currently operate two businesses on First Street: Wayne Bottini runs Benicia Floor Company and his daughter, Tara Allen, opened the acclaimed Fox & Fawn Bakehouse. The Bottinis are great examples showing that small business is the backbone in America. Oh, and Tara…. At 16, landed her first job at… you guessed it! Ace!
Sometime in the ‘40s the tradition of passing out ceramic plates evolved to that of calendars, and Pedrotti Hardware offered two kinds: a large nature calendar featuring lithographs commissioned by Remington Arms, and for the kitchen, a small wall calendar. As one of five Pedrotti boys, I can share the joy we had growing up when handing these out each year.
This takes us back to the Bottini family and a recent discovery!
A few months ago, long-time Crockett resident Diane Bottini Thomas, Wayne’s sister, came across a big envelope while decluttering her grandmother’s dresser. The drawers were loaded with artifacts, mementoes, and other items that were untouched for decades. And here, Diane discovered a hardware treasure… 1946 Pedrotti & Sons calendar. But for a slightly torn corner, this seventy-five-year-old relic was in mint condition. She generously presented it to my brother, Bruce, who forwarded to me for framing and safekeeping.
This holiday season, I am proud to share that we continue the calendar tradition and I would like to invite you to visit Ace and pick up the Pedrotti Hardware 2022 calendar. It’s a special edition, our 100th Anniversary, a collector’s item for sure. We’ve doubled the print run but quantities are limited. Get yours now.
And make sure to note the upcoming Pedrotti Centennial Celebration! Held on July 3rd, 2022, it Immediately follows the Torchlight parade on the Benicia Green. It will knock your socks off!!!