PELHAM, N.Y. For more than nine decades, Richie Bell's family has been a big part of Pelham. His family owns Pelhams oldest store, Pelham Produce, which has been a part of the village since 1921.
Long before DeCiccos Food Market, Bells father, Dominick Altobelli started the fruit and vegetable company after emigrating from Italy in 1920. The first location for the business was 99 Fifth Ave., which is the current location of La Gravinese Jewelers, and it was then comprised of two stores.
However, Bell said a fire in 1926 -caused by a woman dropping her cigarette onto the awning - forced his father to relocate the company next door to where Pelham Realty currently stands. Then in 1944, when Bell was 13-years-old, the store was moved to 109 Fifth Ave, where it has remained.
A lifelong Pelham resident, Bell took over the business from his father in 1956 when the elder Altobelli bought a farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The farm is still owned and operated by the family.
Bell said he is grateful his father left me a good business. Though times have changed over the past nine decades, he said the people have not. The 81-year-old Korean War veteran said the people have been the best part of the Pelham Produce experience.
The matriarch of the family, who has been married to Bell since 1952, agreed with her husband.
The best thing that I think is all the wonderful friends you made and dealing with great people in Pelham, said Joan Bell. Pelham is a great place to live.
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