It was the 1907 when three out of seven brothers from the Jacuzzi family made up their mind and moved to the US. They wanted to escape the misery of the farmers from the Friuli, region which saw many of his sons to leave for the Americas (where US and Argentine were the most common destinations). Francesco, Rachele and Valeriano found themselves doing the same heavy work in the fields, but this time in the sunny California. There was a difference though,
In America they were able to survive as well as saving up a bit of money
In a few years time, the other brothers joined them: Gelindo, Candido, Giocondo and Giuseppe, the 5 sisters and their parents.
From the orchard in California, observing the flight of the first airplanes exhibited in San Francisco, for the 1st World’s Fair, the firstborn Rachele who was passionate about mechanics, understood that the design of the propeller could be improved and so they created the “Toothpick Jacuzzi”, first of the many successes of the Italian brothers, who dove into the aeronautics market. They designed the first monoplane with an enclosed cabin, then one with seven seats, which during the demonstration flight underwent a terrible crash. In this episode Giocondo Jacuzzi lost his life as well as two employers of their company; with them, the Jacuzzi adventure in the universe of aeronautics ceased to exist.
The Jacuzzi Brothers, founded in 1915, in 1921 started once again from scratch. It developed several patents for plumbing systems with applications for the agriculture: one of these was a pump for water extraction, basically purchased by any American farmer in order to water their fields; another invention was a hot aired-fan which allowed to melt down the frost from the orchards.
Below: old picture of the “Jacuzzi Brothers” back to when they were building parts of airplanes
Once Rachele died, Candido, the youngest amongst the brothers decided to take over the business and, for an unlucky circumstance, he developed one of the main luxury products still popular to this day, the so called “Jacuzzi”. Kenneth, the youngest son of Candido, when he turned 15 in 1943 he contracted a rheumatic fever that had as a consequence a systemic form of rheumatoid arthritis. According to the doctors, the guy wouldn’t have lived for more than 3 years, with unbearable pains and a severely reduced capability to move.
Candido Jacuzzi’s family
To soothe the pain of the small child, mother Inez used to take him to some hydrotherapy sessions in the Hospital of the city. One day she asked to her husband to come up with a pump to utilise inside their own bath tub in the bathroom. This way there would have been a continuation in the therapy, for which the child was responding extremely well, with immediate relief.
Candido developed a pump later named J-300, first domestic whirlpool
They showed the invention to the doctor who was following Ken and he suggested that others could have taken advantage of the new product. At this point Candido, after many discussions with his brothers, reluctant to enter into competition with colossal brands such as the General Electric, decided to start the production of the new pump.
Candido and Kenneth Jacuzzi
The die is cast: in 1956 the commercialisation of the J-300 pump began, accessible whirlpool system which entered many American houses. From that point “Jacuzzi” became synonym of the word whirlpool, a luxury product not so accessible any longer and sold in its integrated version from 1968.
The whirlpool became more and more popular all over the world even thanks to films and advertisements with divas that were showing the exclusivity of the object. Jayne Mansfield was one of the many who was showed immersed in a golden heart-shaped Jacuzzi as well as Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.
The rest is history, the one of a family of Italian immigrants who created something innovative yet which did not forget its roots as in 1970 they brought part of the production in Italy. This happened specifically in Valvasone, in that Friuli that the family had left 60 years before.
Ken Jacuzzi died in 2017 at the age of 75. even though confined to a wheelchair, he had a full life thanks to the determination of a father and mother who never gave up on the idea of keeping him in life.
Images source: Jacuzzi