the Redding Times, February 26, 1959
to learn how to raise silver pheasants? Keep woodchucks out
of the garden? Press wine from an authentic old Italian recipe?
good solution to these problems would be a visit to the Georgetown
Market. Jap and Mondo Bonsignore probably know the answers.
If they don't, they most certainly know someone who does.
They have lived in this town all their lives.
Bonsignore brothers own and operate a modern counterpart of
the country store of earlier times, complete even to good
fellowship at the cracker barrel.
Georgetown Market was established in 1922 by Guiseppe Bonsignore
in the traditional pattern of the New England general store.
Today, it is still providing Georgetown, Redding, Ridgefield,
Weston and Wilton with goods and services. The goods have
altered somewhat, with the advance of time, but the old-fashioned
friendly service remains the same.
Bonsignore arrived here from Sicily in 1905, young and eager
for the American way of life. With him was his wife, Guiseppina,
and his infant son, Nino, the first of their five children.
spoke no English, and came to Redding to be with his only
relative in the United States, his uncle, who was caretaker
of Mark Twain's home. When the uncle passed on, Guiseppe took
over as Stormfield's gardener and general handyman.
The dates may be off here...Mark Twain's home wasn't here
in 1905, it wasn't completed until 1908. He did have a caretaker
named Guiseppe though.]
this time, a second son had joined the family. His mother
named him Jasper, hut his friends have long since rechristened
remembers the year 1918. Not only was it the first year of
peace after World War I, but it brought with it a vicious
epidemic of flu that raged through this section of the state.
also marked the arrival of the third Bonsignore son, Armondo.
But in this case, his mother was responsible also for the
nickname of "Mondo."
1922, Guiseppe was finally able to venture into business for
himself. Located in the building right next to the present
store, it was a small establishment, but the realization of
a big dream.
so close to the new railroad station in Georgetown, it was
named The Georgetown Market. And there was another reason.
Guiseppe had earned some of the money for his store by helping
to lay the first New Haven tracks into Georgetown.
their store, Guiseppe and Guiseppina sold everything. Aside
from the usual drygoods and foodstuffs, they dealt also in
pots and pans, hardware, clothing, millinery and boots.
soon as they were big enough to see over the counters, Jap
and Mondo were helping at the store. This early exposure to
marketing gave the boys practical knowledge and some vivid
memories. Jap laughingly recalls the widely varied;array of
merchandise in the tiny store.
stacks of kettles set around oil the floor. It wasn't unusual
for my father to stick a stiff pair of rolled overalls in
a bag along with potatoes. Or a fur cap in with the onions."
in those days, before the motivational researchers moved in,
the Bonsignores instinctively realized the power of impulse
in buying. There were colorful posters and articles on display
all around the crowded little store. Jap remembers this early
education in the art of selling.
day, a man came in for some seed. Big heavy boots were on
display. Soon he was stomping around in his stocking feet,
trying on boots. Finally he bought a pair but he left without
1928, the store moved to its present location. Jap and Mondo
took over the business after their father's retirement in
1939. Under their friendly proprietorship, the market has
continued to grow and prosper. They have enlarged to include
the adjacent G and B Liquor Store.
senior member of the Bonsignore team was born on Peaceable
Street in Branchville. He at- tended the Gilbert and Bennett
School, and later, Norwalk High School.
and Easton didn't get together soon enough for me." Jap
said, rather regretfully. Im- mediately after graduation,
he began his full-time duties at the store.
has a large brick house on Route 53 in Redding. His wife,
Arlene, is a Massachusetts girl whom he married in 1939. They
have two lovely blonde daughters: Joy, 13, and Dawn, 10.
is tall, dark-haired, and always pleasant. In his own quiet
way, he is a human dynamo, and seems to thrive on hard work,
The busier he is, the happier he appears.
from the store, which is an armful in itself, he is extremely
active in community affairs. This interest in extra-curricular
activity began in childhood, with boy-scouting: and playing
in a fife and drum corps.
is acutely aware of civic responsibilities, and shoulders
his full share. Be holds membership in almost every organized
group in town, including the Lions Club, Georgetown
Fire Department, and the Sacred Heart Church.
love this town, and we're willing to do anything for its benefit.
I am really proud if I can have a part in making Redding a
better place for us all."
younger of the Bonsignore brothers was also born in Branchville,
and he, too, attended the Gilbert and Bennett School. Then
he made a start at Henry Abbott, technical school in Danbury.
he soon discovered that engineering wasn't for him, and he
hurried back to Jap's warm wel- come into the business he
knew and loved.
Jap, Mondo is tall and dark, but of stockier figure and more
demonstrative nature. His ebullient personality pervades the
store, as does his booming voice. A conversation with Mondo
is half the fun of a visit to the market.
interests and experiences, all of a very practical nature,
are very informative on the subject of Redding: its life and
times. He is an outdoor man in his spare time; loves gardening
land just plain "working around the house."
is the one who undertook the delicate task of raising six
perverse silver pheasants, That episode must be heard from
Mondo's own lips to be fully appreciated, At present, he is
struggling with the dubious pleasure of bottling apple champagne.
He has reduced the essence of a truckload of apples to a liquid
state, and confined it in a number of glass containers. The
bottles are stored, but must be rotated regularly. "So
far everything's fine. Now if they just won't explode!"
he muttered grimly.
has a large new home on 38 acres deep in Redding. He and his
wife, Mary, have been married for fifteen years and have a
son, John, 13, and a daughter, Mary, 9.
feels it is still too early to tell if his son will continue
in the family pattern and eventually take over the store.
Young John does help at the market occasionally, but hasn't
expressed his plans for the future.
is no particular division of labor at the market. Jap and
Mon do function equally well as butchers or bookkeepers.
two brothers work well together. Their contrasting natures
complement each other, and unite to form an efficient work
team. It is this blend of character that gives the market
its unique personality.
they concentrate mainly on the groceries. But closer examination
of the store's merchandise will reveal patent medicines (yes,
even Mothersills tablets and Save-the-Baby cough syrup!)
grass seed, electrical equipment, garden hose, gloves, socks,
charcoal and waste baskets.
men put in about eleven hours a day at the store, which would
seem a heavy work load for anyone, even the energetic Jap.
But neither seems to mind the long day.
nothing like the war years, though, Mondo recalls. That
was a bad time, with rationing and all. Wed work at
the store till two or three in the morning, wrapping the meat
in to coupon allotment packages. Then there was the counting
of coupons, and counting bags of sugar, and pounds of butter.
A real madhouse!
most serious setback the market has ever experienced was the
flood in October of 1955. The Bonsignores lost everything,
quite literally. Not only were all the foods spoiled through
submersion, but all the machinery, such as refrigerators and
meat grinders, was ruined beyond repair.
final blow was discovered the next day. Inadvertently, all
the week's receipts had been left in the store, and were carried
away on the flood tide.
the Bonsignores proved themselves heroes that storm stricken
night. Jap received a call late at night, telling him that
the flood was rising and he'd better get down to the market
waded down Route 53 and met Mondo at the store. At that point,
the floor of the market was under water.
young family lived in the apartment above the store. Realizing
that they would need help in getting out, Jap and Mondo made
their wet way over to the Georgetown Fire Department to get
minutes later, when they arrived back in the boat, the water
was eight inches from the ceil ing of the store.
the boat, they were able to rescue the stranded father, mother,
little boy, and six-week-old infant from the upstairs apartment.
spent the remainder of the wild wet night sleeping on a billiard
table in Georgetown. Jap rowed home, up Redding Road. He found
his wife, exhausted with worry and waiting, sitting holt up
right, fast asleep with her head against the cold windowpane.
asked if he could remember any other serious obstacles the
market had encountered, Mondo laughed and said, "No,
not unless you want to count the floor-pacing during the depres
three other Bonsignore children still live in the Georgetown-Redding
area. Nino, the eld- est son, chose not to go into the grocery
business. He lives Branchville and is affiliated with the
Nazzaro family in the Bethel Sand and Gravel Company.
two youngest children, both girls, are part owners of the
Georgetown Market, along with Jan and Mondo. Serena married
Louis Nazzaro; Mary is the wife of Anthony Naz- zaro. Both
families live on Redding Road.
children, the girls also worked in the market, and retain
their share of memories.
a while," said Serene, "there was a small lunch
counter in the market. We served coffee and sandwiches.
remember the big truck my father had," Mary added. "Once
a week he'd drive down to the docks in New York City and pick
up a huge load of green bananas. He'd bring them home here
to ripen and then to sell.
sold jewelry and men's tailored suits, too. My father would
take the customer's measurements, then send them to a New
York store to have the suit made up. On the side, he maintained
a taxi service."
Bonsignore was a versatile merchant.
present, the Georgetown Market is cramped for space. Jap and
Mondo are planning on enlarging the physical store sometime
within the next two years. They feel that their business merits
this expansion now, particularly if the Redding area continues
to grow as it has during the past five years.
even with all their present actvities and future plans, the
Bonsignores are never to busy to help and advise.
The Georgetown Market has been sold and houses 2 businesses
now: an ice cream shop and an interior decorator's office.
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