In the early 1900s, Giuseppe Reggiardo, also known as “Joe Tuna” or “Joe Regge” (born 1878), came from the little town of Tunno, in the province of Liguria in northern Italy. His journey for a new, improved life started with a passage on a boat to a new world: America, The Land of Opportunity. He left his sisters and family in Italy and departed with some sadness, but with high expectations that buoyed his sagging spirit.
He crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and the boat docked in Argentina, where Giuseppe left two brothers whose names and identities were lost. He then sailed south around the cape of South America and continued toward North America. The boat finally arrived in the Port of Oakland.
Giuseppe spent a few years in Oakland doing odd jobs and during that time, he met and married Maria Calagari. In 1912, they had their first son, Angelo Reggiardo.
After working as a garbage man and doing odd jobs to “make ends meet,” the family moved. On Sept. 5, 1912 Giuseppe purchased 25 acres in Madrone for two $10 gold pieces. This was a new beginning for a determined family of immigrants who finally found their destiny.
While establishing their home, the Reggiardo’s met the Colombini family, just “across the way” from where they lived. The Colombinis became dear friends of the family, and remain so to this day. Maria Reggiardo was the neighborhood seamstress, and Maria Reggiardo and Molly Colombini were each other’s midwife. On Jan. 12, 1913, Maria helped deliver Peter John Colombini and on Oct. 9, 1913, Molly helped deliver Mateo Giuseppe Reggiardo (“Match”).
The family soon started a vineyard operation, and Maria planted prunes while Giuseppe worked the quicksilver mines in the hills above Madrone. Angelo had polio and was killed in a windmill accident on the ranch in 1919, when he was 7 years old. Thirteen days later, at age 32, Maria passed away from the shock of it all, leaving Giuseppe to look after 5-year-old Match.
Giuseppe ran the farm with the help of Match and as Match got older, he worked the ranch as well as side jobs such as mechanics and driving tractors for other farmers. He was also the head cooper and barrel maker for Cribari winery. In 1942, Match was inducted into the Army and served in the South Pacific for 3 1/2 years.
After the war, he returned home and took over the family farm. In 1949 he met Ann Marie Crosetti – the stepdaughter of one of his friends. He courted her for two years, and on July 22, 1951, Match and Ann were married.
Match and Ann ran the farm with Giuseppe as a helper, and on Aug. 18, 1952 their first son, Matthew Joseph Reggiardo Jr., was born. A few years later, Ann was pregnant again; Paul Joseph Reggiardo was miscarried when a prune box hit Ann in the stomach during the harvest season. The loss of their child was devastating, but life continued on the farm. Compounding this sad event, in 1960, Giuseppe passed away at the age of 82. But to offset the loss, they were blessed with their son, Mark Joseph Reggiardo, on Oct. 15, 1961.
In 1967, while Match was working on the ranch, he was struck in the chest with a tire iron, which eventually led to cancer. Despite Ann dutifully dressing the wound, Match seemingly couldn’t recover from the stress to his body. He could no longer work the farm because of the illness, which required him to be confined to his bed. While he longed to return to his active lifestyle of managing the farm and tending to his duties, he reflected on the inventions he had fashioned as the result of a fertile mind.
Match had an active imagination that allowed him to escape into visions of innovative tools, new methods and whimsical metal sculptures. Everyone had a story about how Match had touched their lives; Some were humorous, because he had a sense of humor that belied his initially imposing appearance. When it came to work, he was hard and uncompromising, but for the people in his life that he loved, he was softer than the mourning doves that inhabited the area.
The horrors of the war Match experienced were mitigated and softened by Ann. He loved his sons and as he contemplated his fate, he pondered what providence had in store for them. He knew he was dying and had visions of the things that he would miss besides his beloved family: the scent of the orchards, how the sun cast a scarlet haze over the orchards, eventually surrendering to a deep velvet sky that turned dark and revealed the stars. Most of all, he mused, he would miss making wine with his friend Alfred Colombini.
On Oct. 8, 1969, Match passed away.
At age 16, Matthew Reggiardo Jr. took over the farming operation with the help of his brother Mark Joseph Reggiardo. The brothers continued farming until 1980, when Ann decided to rent the land to other farmers.
Matthew Jr. started working for a construction company and later met Sue Pereira and her two children, Teresa and Michael. The couple dated and later married. In 1985, they started Reggiardo Construction, which they currently operate.
Mark finished high school in 1979 and continued to Hartnell College. In 1983, he met Mary Fraga and the couple married July 20, 1985. The couple had their first child, Joseph Matthew Reggiardo, on July 4, 1986. In 1988, Mark went to work for his brother’s company and the family was blessed with a girl, Gina Marie Reggiardo, on Jan. 7, 1990.
In 2004, Mark and Mary started Reggie-Licious Catering and the company continues to be a success. Last year Mark and Mary brought Ann into their home to care for her.
Now life continues with the fourth generation as they carry on history, tradition and knowledge. Joe and Gina are the new generation of Reggiardos who will carry the family name and traditions. Joe is a talented mechanic in the same vein as his grandfather (Match) and Gina is artistically inclined, writes poetry and is blessed with a good imagination as her grandfather (Match).
Mark and Mary’s family lives in the Colombini house across the street from the home ranch where the two sons, Mark and Matthew, were born.
“I spent my life in orchards and vineyards
Working and tilling the land
Observing the beauties created
By God’s almighty hand
I have touched the richness of soil
I’ve born the wind and sun on my face
And I would choose this life and this land
Over any other place
A life filled with crimson-dawned mornings
When I was up to greet the sky
Days spent with family, friends and creation
All throughout my life
I was blessed to experience each spring time
When raindrops have washed the earth clean
Where my efforts have grown into harvest
Fields bearing the lushness of green
And my life’s been strengthened by trials
For the weak can never belong
In a living where nature and the elements …”
… “And so my life must be no different
Just like the crops that I have grown
For I am also God’s child and seed
That at harvest must come home …”