Marietta Contini and Giulio Stradi were born in the town of Pontasserchio, Italy, in 1885 and 1882, respectively. This tiny village is situated on the southern shore of the powerful Serchio River, and the closest city is Pisa, just under six km to the south.

Giulio practiced the trade of “zoccolaio,” clog maker. He played the cornet in the local church band, which performed for local parades, festivals, weddings, and funerals. Additionally, Giulio would grow and sell fruit, especially oranges, in Pisa and Lucca. He would make candy from the peel of certain fruits. When Giulio read about the developing fruit industry in California, he became very interested, especially since the climate was acclaimed as being ideal for oranges.1

Marietta's father died of a ruptured appendix, and her mother was not able to provide for her daughter.2 With the support of her extended family, Marietta managed to receive...

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