Portrait of a young boy and man

Studio portrait of William Perry Zerbone, and his son, William Perry Zerbone, Jr., c. 1902. (Gift of Marc and Maurene Catto)

March 4, 1897 – William Zerbone, Jr. was born in Mendocino, the only son of William and Mary Almelda (Alves) Zerbone. William, Sr. immigrated from Flores in the Azores Islands in 1884, and Mary was a Mendocino native, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, Antonio and Amelia (Lazarus) Alves. William and Mary wed in Alameda County in 1894.

Six months after the birth of their son, William constructed a small single-story building with three rooms on the east side of Lansing Street, just south of the intersection with Little Lake Street. He operated a saloon and fruit store in this building. His “Flores Saloon” was one of only 12 buildings in town that were connected to the first Mendocino telephone system (established in 1898). By 1900, William had gone back to farming, and soon after the Zerbone family moved to Santa Clara County.

In 1902, Frank J. Mendosa lost his right arm in a tragic accident at the Mendocino Lumber Mill and began looking for other ways to support his wife and eight children. He already owned the lot with the saloon building, and he opened his own saloon there, assisted by his eldest son Antone. He began serving food three years later – at first, chowder, and later, oysters and tamales. Frank was assisted by his wife and the children who were old enough to help out. From this meager beginning grew a substantial merchandising business in Mendocino.

Alcohol sales were outlawed in Mendocino in 1909, and Frank converted the saloon into a grocery store, expanding the original building by 30 feet. In 1916, the store was considerably enlarged to carry a full stock of general merchandise, including groceries, hardware, enamel, tinware, and Sherman-Williams paint.

In the summer of 1920, Frank had a new store building put up on the site, with 40 feet of frontage on Lansing Street, large plate glass windows, and a broad cement walk the entire front of the building. According to a 1972 Beacon article entitled, “The Saga of the Mendosa Family,” Ray Valentine “built the larger store over the original one, and the daily business continued without any interruption” during the construction.

Final Weekend! Angela Lansbury: Muse of Cabot Cove – Celebrate Angela Lansbury, the beloved actress known for her prolific career in theater, movies, and television, who passed away recently at the age of 96. The exhibit explores Lansbury’s illustrious life and career, in particular her role as the charming sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, in Murder, She Wrote. Thursday-Monday, 11-3.