June 23, 2007

Jim Petrecca’s “Yesterday’s Treasures”

June 23rd, 2007


Meeting Jim Petrecca ([email protected])

One of my most exciting experiences since Jersey Boys began in November, 2005, has been discovering “Yesterday’s Treasures” in Union, NJ: a Four Seasons Memorabilia Store (well, mostly) owned and run by Jim Petrecca, who grew up just a few blocks from Frankie in Newark, NJ.

I “met” Jim on eBay in late, 2006 when I bid (and lost) on a great Four Seasons’ autographed memorabilia piece. How did we develop a relationship beyond that? You ask two Jersey Boys, and you get two different versions.

Actually, we began e-mailing and I did purchase some nice autographed Four Seasons’ items from Jim outside of eBay. Our e-mailing progressed to telephoning, where we shared bits and pieces of our lives. I was just enthralled because he didn’t only know the Four Seasons, he REALLY KNEW them.

“Yesterday’s Treasures,” 1265 Stuyvesant Ave., Union, NJ 07083

Finally, Jim invited me to visit his store, “Yesterday’s Treasures” in Union, NJ, just yards away from the famed bowling alley from which the Four Seasons adopted their name.

To say I was blown away was an understatement. The store was probably 25% Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons memorabilia, 15% Jersey Boys collectables, 15% other recording artists’ memorabilia, and 45% sports and baseball collectables.

Jim had binders and binders of plastic and laminated autographed photos and documents, ranging from two triple-signed photos of Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, and Bob Gaudio (one in front of the Jersey Boys marquee, and the other on stage at the Tonys with Joe Pesci) to a scribbled note on the back of an envelope from our own Christian Hoff telling Jim that JLY was on vacation! (Hey, ya never know!) Jim also has picture sleeves of “Beggin’”, “Tell It to the Rain,” “And That Reminds Me,” and “Saturday’s Father,” signed by Joe Long and Tommy DeVito, who were on the covers. All signatures were obtained personally by Jim.

The Interview

Among the considerable store traffic, Jim and I began speaking one Thursday afternoon, and… two hours went by like five minutes. And, in chatting with Jim, I followed our JLY’s example when he first met Frankie Valli: I didn’t say much. I just listened.

HT: How did you become so hooked on the Four Seasons’ music, Jim?

JP: I’ve have been an avid Four Seasons fan since I was 8 years old, Howard, and that hasn’t changed in 42 years. As all kids did back then, I liked the Beatles too, but the Four Seasons were from my home town in Newark, and also fellow Italians.

HT: Well, Jim, you’re talking to one kid who didn’t like the Beatles. Maybe it’s because my bar mitzvah party was on Feb. 8, 1964 and all anyone was talking about was the Beatles upcoming appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9. In one day, I was “yesterday’s news and certainly not yesterday’s treasure.” But a huge memory in 1964 for me was hearing Rag Doll over and over.

JP: Yeah, I remember Rag Doll playing in all the stores when I was a kid too. Did you know how that song came to be?

HT: Bob Gaudio had just exited the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan and a pretty young lady began wiping his windshield with a rag. But Bob’s smallest bill was a twenty, so he gave it to her, and looked back at a “face that should be dressed in lace?”

JP: Yeah, I heard the same story, but it was a five and not a twenty.

HT: Goes up with inflation, I guess. How did you get to know the actual Four Seasons personally, Jim?

JP: I attended many of their concerts in the 60’s and 70’s and remember David Brenner opening for them. At the same time, a very close friend of mine, Joe Steffenelli (an original member of the Savoys) subbed for Bob Gaudio from time to time in the early 1970’s. Joe grew up with Frankie in the projects in Newark and ate dinner every Sunday night with Frankie and his family. (He’s says Frankie’s mom made the best meatballs and gravy he’s ever had.)

After I became a law enforcement officer, I attended a tribute for a sick officer in the South Mountain arena in West Orange, NJ, where Joe Long was the Master of Ceremonies. I saw Frankie and the gang record a live LP that was aptly titled “Live at the Garden State Arts Center.” I also saw the guys at the Pines Manor in Edison, NJ and numerous other places. After a while, Frankie had seen my face so much, he asked me to join him for a glass of wine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

HT: I sense there’s still more to it, Jim. C’mon.

JP: OK, when Frankie arrived late to a performance at the Roman Forum in Little Falls, NJ, things did get a bit ugly. The crowd became loud and boisterous, people left in a rage, chairs were thrown, and the place was a wreck, to put it mildly. Luckily, I caught Frankie in the parking lot and told him of the near riot, and helped him get the place back in order. He then put on a three hour show and ended up being a hero. From that day on, I was in the fold.

HT: What are some of your most recent encounters with the original Four Seasons?

JP: I was an invited guest to Frankie’s dinner naming him Italian-American Man of the Year in October, 2006. Interestingly, as I approached him to say hello, one of the bouncers put his hand up to stop me. But Frankie spotted me and said, “It’s OK. I know him.”

HT: What’s your relationship with Tommy De Vito and Frankie Valli these days?

JP: Closer than ever, Howard. Being invited to Frankie’s “Man of the Year” dinner was a real thrill for me.

Also, Tommy recently invited me to accompany him in the DVD recording session of the Ed Sullivan shows and other Four Seasons’ videos. You’ve met Tommy, Howard. You know he’s a great guy, and he explained each video as if it happened yesterday. He even sang along to a few tunes. And he did Frankie’s falsetto parts!! He told me during the session that Nick Massi (nee Macioci) was the best at arranging harmony and that Frankie’s voice was the best thing that ever happened to the music industry.

Not to be sentimental, but sitting with Tommy in our friend Jerry Coppola’s home studio was like a Beatle fan sitting with Paul McCartney. Before we walked to our cars, Tommy and I shared a bottle of Italian Barberone red wine—the kind his dad drank.

I’ll never forget that great night of music, talk, and seeing the Sullivan shows over again with the man who started the group. Since Tommy is in Vegas only during the cold months now, I plan to see him several times this summer while he is in New Jersey, and hopefully see Jersey Boys with him.

HT: How well did you know Nick Massi?

JP: Not like Tommy and Frankie, but my friend Mike Demeo knew Nicky as well as any one—used to call him “Ma Choch” (short for his real last name of Macioci). One of his most vivid memories is sitting with Nicky over a drink after he left the group, hearing him softly sing “Rag Doll.” Mike is still in touch with Nicky’s wife from time to time. And I have a lot of stuff on him. (Shows newspaper articles, including Nick’s obituary.)

You know, Howard, long after Nicky left the group (1973 or so), he produced “Hickory” with Frankie. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan (I Like Dreamin’, My Eyes Adored You), Nicky actually sang on that song with Frankie, and I loved it. It was in the Motown years, though, so the song was never promoted as it should have been. I sort of wish Frankie bought the rights to back to Hickory as he did to My Eyes Adored You.

HT: Any final memories, Jim?

JP: I remember the Four Seasons whenever I think of my childhood. I remember the records, the 8-track tape in my car blasting their songs. But most of all, I remember the group harmony, the hits and their music.

To complete your Four Seasons’ or Jersey Boys’ collections, please contact Jim at [email protected], or better yet, visit “Yesterday’s Treasures” at 1265 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union, NJ 07083. Please e-mail or write Jim your wish lists or if you are looking for a specific item, and he will hunt it down for you.


  1. Howard


    Another great interview!!!

    You should team up with the cast of Jersey boys, and the four seasons (if possible) and have a party at Jim’s store one weekend!!

    I am sure everyone would just love it!!!

    Thanks again for another great interview.

    Howard Keep up the great work.


    Comment by Marie — June 24, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  2. HI JIMMY,





    Comment by pete @ marilyn — June 24, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  3. Howard, Maybe this could be the JB party with the cast and fans about which we have been thinking. I still would like to try to plan something.
    Let’s talk soon.

    You do such an impressive job on the interviews. I think you may have missed your calling to journalism but it is never too late to start. A great job to think about when you retire – I know you are much too young to think about retirement, but you are becoming a nationally known JB journalist. NY, LA – you flew over the places where the Four Seasons performed but didn’t stop at any of them. You went to LA.


    Comment by irene eizen — June 24, 2007 @ 1:33 pm

  4. Loved the whole article and want to go there and see all the photos and stuff….Thanks…

    Comment by Jim Simmons — June 24, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

  5. Jim – this is awesome! You gave him a great interview! All the best with the store!

    Comment by Lisa Pugliese — June 24, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

  6. Howard,

    I remember when we met back in May in front of the August Wilson Theatre and during our conversation, you mentioned Jim Petrecca’s music and sports memorabilia store in Union, New Jersey. Glad to see in your role of special correspondent to the Jersey Boys blog that you posted an interview with Jim and highlighted his extensive collection of Four Seasons/Jersey Boys items and his personal relationship with the original band members. I have noted the address and will stop in the next time I’m in that area.

    Keep up the great interviews with the interesting folks you come in contact with that have a connection to Frankie Valli and the Seasons or any of the current or future ‘Jersey Boys’ productions.

    All the best,

    Len Gersten

    Comment by Len Gersten — June 24, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  7. thanks for all the comments on my store and howards great interview, he should be the “THE 5TH SEASON”………..JAMES PETRECCA YESTERDAYS TREASURES 1265 STUYVESANT AVE UNION NJ O7O83

    Comment by james petrecca — June 24, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

  8. Howard, you are really a professional….great interview again! Keep it up, Reiner

    Comment by Reiner Bussmann — June 25, 2007 @ 4:01 am

  9. Howard, I must honestly say that I am more of a Jersey Boys fan than a Four Seasons fan. I’m just a few years too young to have been in the throng of their popularity. But I absolutely loved this interview. I laughed out loud twice and even got a little teary toward the end. You are such an amazingly gifted writer. You have a way of bringing out such heartfelt stories from your interviewees that I feel a sort of bond with the whole experience now. Thank you, my friend, for sharing Jim’s story with us.

    Comment by Catherine — June 25, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  10. Howard, it’s remarkable to see how you make one phone call turn into one’s life history. The interview was was great, but does Jim have a website so that we can see his collectibles and obtain some of them?

    Comment by Tim from Harlem — June 25, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

  11. What a treasure trove of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys and sports memorabilia! Now, I have a place to visit when in NJ, besides my relatives in Jersey City and Trenton.

    I really love collecting Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons and Jersey Boys autographs too, not to mention oddball collectibles like the “Frankie” casino chips and original pressing 45′s of their music.

    We need something like that here in No. California for Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons/Jersey Boys memorabilia collectors. In any case, I’ll definitely drop you a line with a wish list! Thanks!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — June 25, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

  12. Howard………you are one busy person. Nice interview.


    Comment by Cil — June 25, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

  13. Mike B., when you do get up this way, please don’t forget all your Blog readers and fans up this way.

    You’re sort of the SF/West Coast eyes and ears for us Nor’easters, and your comments are truly insightful. Also loved your FF interview, but do have one question: re the “jersey contract” JLY and you sealed w/a nod, will JLY be sending you invoices for the next forty years or was this a one-time thing??

    Comment by Howard Tucker — June 25, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  14. The “Jersey contract” was just something to brighten his day up a bit when I first made an autograph request on behalf of my two sons, one of which is an aspiring actor. It was during the BC/EFA benefit for Easter and did not know about it until I saw his JLY Blog. Since he’s a class act, knows where his acting roots began and is an all around generous person, he wrote back to my son and enclosed a signed headshot and personal notecard.

    My second letter to him via snailmail said that I was fulfilling a promise via informal “Jersey Contract”, enclosing a donation for the BC/EFA in his name because I did not include it with my first request.

    He thanked me for the donation and had the “Boys” sign a August Wilson Playbill for my family. Heck, I’ll gladly donate to the BC/EFA or any of the many charities that the entire Jersey Boys family are involved with. I have the AIDS Walk and possibly the AIDS benefit in SF coming up.

    I truly love the East Coast, miss living there, especially the time I spent in Jersey City, NYC and Long Island. The people there are so very down-to-earth and are extremely passionate about their Theatre and Arts. What better thing to do than watching shows on and off Broadway when in NY!!!!!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — June 25, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  15. Terrific interview. Sports and the Four Seasons all in one store is a great combination in my book!

    Comment by Ed — June 25, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  16. Howard, Great interview with Jim!
    Jim you are right! Frankie should have bought the rights to “Hickory” great song with their sound & harmony of the 1960′s..The song got a lot of play time in Buffalo N.Y….Keep up with the good work!

    Comment by Joe Rizzo — June 25, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  17. Howard,

    Loved the write up. My listening to radio days started around this time and I have very fond memories whenever I here one of their tunes. Thanks for your shared information and constant updates, Mike…

    Comment by Mike Marlow — June 27, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  18. Howie, you and I both grew up singing the Four Seasons hits as you were playing your clarinet and I was on cello. Do you think Ron Melrose can use our talents in the orchestra? It’s great to relive this wonderful time in both our lives through your memories with Jim. I’m happy our friendship has stayed alive through the last 40 years, just as the famed handshake has!

    Comment by Anna Blumenthal — June 27, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

  19. Howard, you have the distinct honor, according to my calculations, of inspiring the most number of people to comment when you do an interview! Great going, my friend. IE

    Comment by irene eizen — June 27, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  20. Hello Howard!

    Nicely done! I found it facsinating that there is actually a collectables store that has dedicated so much of its business to the Four Seasons and Jersey Boys; you commented that there was a lot of foot traffic which may be some indication of the continued interest in both. Your writing certainly shows you love doing what you do.

    Michael Heath

    Comment by Michael Heath — June 28, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  21. Hey Jim,

    Good Luck With the Store!
    Just went to the Jersey Boys show this past Thursday.
    ” IT WAS GREAT !”

    Nice site you have going.

    Take care,

    Comment by Anthony D. — July 2, 2007 @ 12:55 am

  22. thanks ant, the four seasons were part of our lives coming from our area and made us proud that a group from our hometown could go all the way to the r&r hall of fame……………….

    Comment by jim petrecca — July 2, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  23. Howard,
    Your interview was outstanding. Since we worked together at a TV Station in Harrisburg, we should have transferred you into the News Department. You would have done some great interviews with the Governor.

    Enjoyed reading about a variety of things here. Afterall, where could I go to get information about “Rag Doll” and your Bar Mitzvah party in the same blog??
    Great job.

    Comment by Steve — July 6, 2007 @ 12:47 am

  24. Howard,
    Thanks for bringing us some historical gems about what went on behind the scenes. Fascinating!

    Comment by Bron — July 11, 2007 @ 5:39 pm


    Comment by JAMES PETRECCA — July 18, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

  26. To complete your Four Seasons’ or Jersey Boys’ collections, please contact Jim at [email protected], or better yet, visit “Yesterday’s Treasures” at 1265 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union, NJ 07083. Please e-mail or write Jim your wish lists or if you are looking for a specific item, and he will hunt it down for you.

    Comment by jim petrecca — July 30, 2007 @ 11:30 am


    Comment by james petrecca — October 19, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  28. also have in stock some rare import seasons sleeves

    Comment by JIM PETRECCA — April 7, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

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