Welcome back to the series of blogs titled, “Our Petaluma.” The last entry in this category was posted on 4-11-2012. Over the past few days, I’ve come up with a new idea for another series of blogs to be titled “The Strangeness of the Familiar.” Talk about a faulty “memory chip!” Guess what I discovered? It turns out that I used this same title over seven years ago for “Our Petaluma” blog #14 on 7-5-2006.

OK, so we’re starting over with an “old” idea that is based upon a quote I used when conducting walking tours of Petaluma’s Historic Business District for the Petaluma Historical Museum. One of my first stops was in front of the Rex Ace Hardware store, where I would talk about the historic significance of an earlier building at that location.

To sharpen the walkers’ perceptive powers and to capture the attention of my audience, I would use a quote from Edmund Way Teale, a famous naturalist-writer, who once said: “The strangeness of the familiar, is too familiar to be observed.” It’s a play on words and allows an opportunity for the walkers to become more aware of what they may have been missing, even though they may have walked by this spot for years. For example (see photo): do you know where this spot is located? The next time you walk past Rex Hardware store at Fourth & B Streets, look down at your feet and follow the curb until you come to a “cut.” (About the middle of the block.) Look! There it is! The question is, “What was there, at one time, in Petaluma’s earlier times that may have been connected to this impression?”


Let’s connect the dots. It looks like a pair of hammer & tongs, plus a horseshoe. Guess what? At one time, a blacksmith’s shop was located here. The Rex Hardware building at 313 B Street was the site of the McNally’s Blacksmith shop in 1917. In 1883 there was a wheel wright at that location and then several Chinese stores. The small building next store was a barber shop. Stay tuned for more “Strangeness of the Familiar” spots in Petaluma