The College Fruit Market Story
My dad was born in Saint Angelo in the province of Frosinone in Casino, Italy on October 18, 1914. His parents were Maria Antonelli Pinchero and Domenic (Nick) Pinchero.
My mother Ida Butticci Pinchero was born in Canada. Her family was from a town in the province of L’Aquila, Italy. Her parents were Philomema Butticci and Pasquale Butticci.
Joe and Ida (my parents) had 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
My dad immigrated to Canada in 1924 at the age of 10 years old. Dad worked at Luciani’s Fruit market and at Forte’s Fruit Market in his early years in Brantford. In 1942, my dad purchased his own fruit market and groceteria called College Fruit Market. In the early years, he catered mostly to the Italian community, which at the time had settled in the East Ward area of the city. The Italian customers were able to get all the foods they were accustomed to back home in Italy. He sold all the Italian meats – salami, cappacola, mortadella, prosecutto and pasta and Italian greens – rapini, dandelion, escarole and all the Italian cheeses and olives in large barrels. In the Fall, he would always have a large stock of wine grapes and supplies.
His Italian customers liked to congregate in the store on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings as a social gathering where they were comfortable speaking Italian with each other. Most of his customers did not have a car so he would deliver their groceries for them and quite often drove them home as well.
Dad would extend credit to the new immigrants with their groceries until they could get settled and get a job. My dad stayed in touch with the Italian community throughout his life. He was proud of his Italian roots.
Dad also had a fruit and vegetable stand at the Brantford market for many years, both at the former site at Market Square and later at the new and present location. Throughout these years his children and grandchildren would assist at the market.
My mother worked alongside my father and spent all of her days working at the store, as well as taking care of the family as we lived above the store. She would write all the invoices, take all the orders and she spent many hours sorting through the produce to make sure we were selling the freshest greens. She was instrumental in running the store and making it an effective business.
After the large grocery stores opened, offering all the ethnic foods of Italy, his business changed. His business began supplying local restaurants with produce and supplying the Dairy Queen’s with bananas for their banana splits. He became known as “The Banana Man.” He maintained that part of his business into his retirement. Subsequently, his granddaughters and great granddaughters worked at the Dairy Queen in later years.
Dad operated his business, the College Fruit Market, from 1942 until his retirement in 1982. In his retirement he worked as a Crossing Guard at St. Peter’s School, a job he took very seriously.
My mom passed away on December 11, 1997, and my dad died exactly 5 months later, on May 11, 1998.
Photos (R) - Joseph Pinchero; (L) Maria Antonelli Pinchero in Brantford (cir. 1920)