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Smith: It's the end of life B.C. (Before Casino)

  • Pedersen's Furniture employee Jim Navas and Charity Ferreira. (COURTESY PHOTO)

We might store away a mental snapshot of life in Sonoma County before, at 10 a.m. today on Rohnert Park's western flank, a vast and fashionable casino swings open the doors it intends never to close.

We're in for changes. Time will reveal their magnitude.

The partners in Graton Resort & Casino have announced to all the Bay Area that as of today there's a slice of Las Vegas an easy and scenic drive to the north.

The state's newest and largest gambling palace bears scant resemblance to what many Californians envisioned in 1998 when they approved Prop. 5's call for expanded gaming “on Indian lands.”

But never mind, the exhausting debate is over and today the casino off Golf Course Drive becomes operationally, undeniably real.

Let's hope the Graton Resort is a people-pleaser, the food is good.

So we hope for the best. Money will flow to casino employees and members of the Graton Rancheria, and to the local agencies to which the tribe has bestowed checks and promises.

May the casino's upside go a long ways toward balancing the downsides that have been debated for a decade.

100-YEAR WARRANTY: Charity Ferreira drove from Oakland on Monday to pick up three old kitchen chairs that she'd dropped off for refinishing months ago at Santa Rosa's landmark Pedersen's Furniture.

Ferreira, a cookbook author, barely believed her eyes when she saw what the store's Jim Navas had done to her chairs. And she doubted her ears when he told her what she owed.

As someone who appreciates character and craftsmanship, Ferreira hit Craigslist and garage sales after concluding last spring that she needed kitchen-table chairs.

A fellow in Windsor had three oak chairs that were made in 1900 and, though essentially sound, needed some TLC. Ferreira bought them.

She discovered that someone had begun to strip and refinish them, maybe years or even decades ago, and in a few places the wood was fractured or separating.

She started to work on the chairs but quickly found she was way over her head. She noticed from the yellowed labels on the undersides of the seats that the chairs were made by the Standard Chair Co. of Union City, Penn., and were sold by J.C. Pedersen in Santa Rosa.

Danish-born cabinetmaker Jens Christian Pedersen had started the business in 1892.

Ferreira Googled Pedersen's and was surprised to find that the company is still in business, and still owned by the same family. She shot off an e-mail asking for help to repair and restore the chairs.

Bring them up, Navas told her. The job took him a while. But on Monday, Ferreira gasped at how beautiful the chairs are.

And more than a century after J.C. Pedersen sold them, Navas told Ferreira there was no charge for restoring them.

She promised that her family will use and enjoy them for the next 100 years.

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