During the 20+ years that I have lived in Petaluma, I have met several Petalumans that are also known as “historians.” There were two, Ed Mannion and Ed Fratini, that I never had the pleasure to meet. An earlier LWF blog about Ed Mannion was posted on June 6, 2014. Today’s blog about Ed Fratini is based upon newspaper articles found in the files of the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library. Their headlines refer to Ed as both a “native son” and a “pack rat” of Petaluma history.
Ed remembers the days when there were few automobiles in town. He believed that the transition years from horses and buggies to automobiles,1915-1920, was probably the “biggest single event” that changed Petaluma. He remembers traveling by electric train everyday to business college in Santa Rosa. He also had very fond memories of the many paddle wheelers, scows, barges, and steamers that traveled up and down Petaluma Creek.
Ed was one of six children who grew up and lived in several houses near Kenilworth Park, while his father worked for a local railroad. Ed ended up working at the Petaluma Wells Fargo Bank for 46 years before retirement in 1967. His contributions to the community have been recognized by various certificates of appreciation from the American Legion (Post 2), Future Farmers of America, and the Petaluma Youth Soccer League. Over the years, both Fratini and Mannion managed to gather huge collections of photographs, documents, and memorabilia; most of which ended up in the Museum and its Research Library.
One of the articles found in the research files reported remarks made by Ed Fratini’s daughter, Eddie, at his funeral. “His father died when he was about 12 and he became responsible for his mother and 5 siblings. To make ends meet, he milked cows and sold the milk. He sold the Saturday Evening Post at the railroad station.”
“He was a wonderful storyteller and could recall so much of the town’s early history in detail. He loved playing Santa Claus and visited many schools during the holidays. My Dad loved to travel and meet new people. He traveled all over Europe and Russia and many places in the U.S.”
Lest we forget, Ed Fratini, one of Petaluma’s outstanding native sons, historians, and “golden nuggets.”