My longtime friends, Wayne and Carol Peterson, are closing Vintage Jewelers, the shop they have had here in Sonoma for nearly 50 years.

Wayne and Carol were already in business on the Plaza when I returned from Vietnam and started working at the Index-Tribune again in 1969.

I was one of Wayne’s early customers and later, when I started selling ads for the I-T, he became one of my best customers.

During those early years Wayne and I both got recruited by Chief Al Mazza to join the Sonoma Fire Department as volunteers because, in those days, there was usually only one paid firefighter on duty and volunteers were the first-responders.

Because Wayne and I both worked within a few blocks of the firehouse, we were usually on the first truck that responded to emergencies. We fought fires together, and together we survived the challenges of running small businesses in a small town.

Vineyard Jewelers grew with the times and moved to a new space in Sonoma Marketplace.

I retired from the I-T in 2012.

Now it is their turn. For nearly five decades Wayne and Carol have served our community with the very best in personal, caring and professional service – the kind that you can only experience in your own home town.

They have supported our local schools and served our community as exemplary citizens and supportive local merchants.

Sonoma Valley is a better place because Wayne and Carol Peterson and Vineyard Jewelers served us so well and so long.

On a less bittersweet note, over the recent holidays, I was on one of those early-morning missions to Homegrown Bagels for breakfast and was greeted by the owner and founder Stuart Teitelbaum. We began reminiscing about the days when Stuart had his store directly across from the Index-Tribune office on West Napa Street.

He reminded me that he started there nearly 40 years ago (in the spring of 1978).

He and his wife Christa opened the shop featuring 10 varieties of fresh-baked bagels that were like no others I have ever tasted.

Stuart had learned how to make them when he was a young man living in New York City. He came to California in 1963, then completed his education at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

He and Christa also spent a year working in a kibbutz in Israel, where Stuart was surprised to find that bagels were scarce. They became Sonoma Valley residents in 1970 and in June of 1978 they opened Homegrown Bagels.

From the day Homegrown Bagels opened, I became a regular. Every weekday morning, it was hard to even begin typing my first story, before those bagels and cinnamon flavored coffee were calling me to cross Napa Street for my morning fix.

Like my friend Wayne, Stuart moved his shop to Sonoma Marketplace, and that relieved a lot of pressure on my waistline. I still made trips for a morning bagel, just not nearly as often.

To this day, a Homegrown bagel is still my favorite morning treat.

It is these personally run shops, operated by fellow Sonomans like Stuart and Wayne and Carol that make our little town so special.