William Pezzaglia

William Pezzaglia

William Pezzaglia is a long time resident of Rio Vista, born in 1924. During his childhood years the town’s population was 1,500, and Hwy 12 came down Main Street out to the Rio Vista Bridge. He lived at 342 St Gertrude’s during 1930-1948. Pezzaglia remembers his father working as a part owner of Netherlands Theatre, now Rio Vista Bakery. One night each week the theater owners would offer “Dish Night” and the ladies were given dishes if they showed up to the movie. His father was also part owner of J. Stern Company, located in Rio Vista. His mother stayed home and raised seven children. Some of Pezzaglia’s house chores included trimming their large yard, and collecting firewood for the family’s fireplace. In addition, he made sure the basement furnace was always stacked with coal and wood.

The Pezzaglia family would get together for Sunday lunch and his mother would cook a delicious pot roast and mash potatoes. The holidays were a very big event with the family. They sat in the living room around the fireplace and opened their Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. During the Christmas holidays, Pezzaglia participated in church plays and programs. On Easter morning he remembers running to his front porch to see what was in his Easter basket. His mother made sure to always put something interesting in his basket. In those days the family doctor made house calls. Dr. Thompson took care of him while he struggled with the measles, chicken pox and mumps. He even recalls that while having the measles, the doctor instructed that he be kept in a dark room because of light sensitivity to the eyes. The outbreak of Polio hit the town and many of the people were diagnosed with the disease. Several years later fluoridation became a hot item in most Rio Vista’s households.

During 1936 and after World War II the Trigerio tract of land was developed, and expanded the town’s area to the other side of Hwy 12. The train allowed Pezzaglia and his friends to travel to Old Sacramento and Oakland. He would visit his grandparents in Oakland, and go shopping in Sacramento with his family and friends. He loved shopping at big stores such as Weinstocks and Hales. Eventually the Gibson Bus Line came through Rio Vista with a connection to Sacramento.

The Pezzaglia family owned one radio, and there were many nights when the family would sit around the fireplace, and listen to shows such as, Edgar Bergen, Jack Benny, Green Hornet and popular music bands. Some of his favorite music is by musicians such as Benny Goodman, Harry James and Kay Kaiser. One of the most memorable radio speeches was on December 8, 1941 when President Roosevelt declared war. He reminisces of the time that the town started to grow with the building of a new city hall, doctor offices, banks, and clothing stores. At this time there were only stop signs within the city limits and no street light signals. On Front Street, going towards the Rio Vista Bridge, was a street block called Chinatown, which had old wooden buildings and wood walkways.

Pezzaglia has fond memories of attending elementary school with a class size of thirty to fifty students for grades kindergarten through 3rd grade. Today that building is the district office. He speaks of all the good times he had with his best friend Howard Emigh, playing baseball and running around in the playground. Even though his best friend is deceased, he still misses him very much. After school he and Howard joined other kids to play street baseball, climb trees, skate and play tag. Some of his favorite teachers were Muriel Hastler, Anna Mae Morrison, Christensen, Totman, and Gallenton.

Mr. Pezzaglia attended Rio Vista High School. The three story high school is no longer standing and has been replaced with new buildings. He recollects that his high school class was approximately thirty students, and his favorite subjects were math and art. Furthermore, he remembers taking subjects in business, dance and history. All the way through his school years, he mentioned that he seldom took a lunch break. During kindergarten to third grade he wore short pants in the hot season and usually possessed skinned knees. After third grade he wore long slacks and sweaters. He states that during high school most teenagers did not date. If a teenager wanted to go on a date, they would usually take their date to the movies. Rio Vista’s
downtown movie theater showed many cowboy movies, and they were very popular hits with all the kids.

After graduating from Rio Vista High School, he joined the Navy, and served for three years. It was quite popular for many of the town’s men to join the military service. He loved his hometown so much that he returned after serving his country and decided to stay near his family. He quickly found a job in the family’s business, and continued working for the business for 44 years. Pezzaglia remembers that at one time he knew all his neighbors and other families that lived in Rio Vista. He could even pinpoint where a certain person lived and their address. He notes that today, Rio Vista has grown and there are many more houses in the area. The population growth has brought about new changes and along came new problems. Although, he states
that he believes “each generation has to find its way and adjust to living in Rio Vista.” He believes that the town’s people will have to help Rio Vista prosper and make it the best place to live in.