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PRICHARD, PETE (1895-1970)

Restaurateur Pete Prichard, born Pietro Piegari in San Gregorio Magno in the Campania region of southern Italy on June 29, 1895, gained a reputation as "Pete." On March 3, 1903, Prichard and his family joined his father in Krebs, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory of the United States. Like many immigrant families, the Piegari family had financial difficulties. It was not unusual for children to work or "hustle" to make money. Although Pete went to school, he quit after the fourth grade, finishing what amounted to approximately one-and-one-half years of education. He periodically had been working in the mines, as children were a valuable asset for assistance in reaching spots inaccessible to adult miners. He continued to work the mines until 1916, when his leg was crushed in a mining accident.

Unable to labor in the mines, Pete Prichard began selling "choc," or Choctaw beer, to the miners and their families. He would bring various cheeses, sausage, bread, and other items to complete the meal. He gained a reputation as a wonderful cook in a town full of wonderful cooks. Business quickly increased as miners and neighbors would come over to Prichard's "place" to eat. He formally opened "Pete's Place" in Krebs in 1925, although he had been doing business for several years. The family lived upstairs over the restaurant. Prichard was meticulous about the quality of food that he served, and at times when he could not attain quality products, he would shut the business down for a week or a month. By the time he had turned the business over to his son Bill in the 1960s, "Pete's Place" was literally recognized worldwide. Pete Prichard died on May 1, 1970. In his wake he left two restaurants, "Pete's Place" and "Roseanna's."

SEE ALSO: IMMIGRATION AND ETHNICITY, ITALIANS, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gil Boyles, "Town of Krebs Reflects Oklahoma's Italian Heritage," Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star, 21 November 1980. Kenny L. Brown, The Italians in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Gilbert Hill, "They Call Him Pete," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 5 June 1949. Chris Lafferty, "Now That's Italian," Oklahoma Monthly 3 (August 1977). David G. LoConto, "The Maintenance of Ethnicity: Italian-Americans in Southeastern Oklahoma" (Ph.D. diss., Oklahoma State University, 1999). Jerre Gerlando Mangione and Ben Morreale, La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience (New York: Harper Collins, 1992). Pittsburg County, Oklahoma: People and Places (Wolfe City, Tex.: Henington Industries, Inc., 1997).

David G. LoConto

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