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Growing up with oranges
In the winter, the smudge pots put out their own particular fragrance. It was cold but the fruit would survive. In the spring, the fragrance from the orange blossoms, filled the air. In Southern California is the early 1950s, orange groves were everywhere. Our job, as kids, was to clean the errant smudge oil off the windows outside. Living directly across the street from the orange grove brought us both smells. Even now, both the smell of smudge oil and orange blossoms makes me homesick.
Orange crates were everywhere and used in homes as bookcases. We didn't care about the labels because no one realized that one day, they would be worth money.
It didn't matter if you were in Los Angeles County, Riverside County or Orange County, orange groves filled the area. Orange groves lined Hwy 99 on a trip to Huntington Beach. No one paid too much attention, they were just a fact of life.
Today, very few groves remain. Land and water prices have driven most of the groves out of business. Where there were once groves, only the palms that lined the roads remain. Houses now stand where the trees stood. Still, there are still bits of history that live on. It was great growing up with oranges.
California Citrus State Historic Park - Riverside, CA
- The website to my favorite park
Although we no longer volunteer there, it is a great place to do homeschooling lesson and run around the large grass area and climb the hills.
Sunkist fruit slices
Doesn't reading about oranges make you want the Sunkist fruit slices? It does for me but maybe it's because I grew up across the street from a Sunkist orange grove and every time I think of oranges I start craving the candy. Makes a great gift too.
To appreciate a smudge pot, you must like the smell of low-grade diesel oil (smudge oil). The bottom of the device was filled with the oil and then lit on fire. The heat produced from the smudge pot, radiated out, keeping the fruit on the orange trees from freezing. They were outlawed as dangerous to the environment but one never forgets the warmth they provided or the smell.
Some smudge pots used kerosene and other fuels but the most prevalent were the smudge oil burners.
The last original orange tree remaining in Riverside, CA - The tree was planted in 1873
In 1873, the Department of Agriculture sent three navel orange trees to Eliza Tibbets to see if they would grow in the area. The trees thrived and started what is know as the 2nd gold rush, making Riverside, CA, the orange growing capital of the country. One tree died early and the two remaining trees did well. When the Mission Inn was being restored, one tree was transplanted there but did not live. The remaining tree is still being cared for on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Arlington Avenue in Riverside, CA. To keep it healthy, rootstock is grafted to the tree when the old stock can no longer support it.
More about the orange history is a book that is well written.
Unofficial Survey - Oranges in Christmas Stockings
In 1900, the California Orange Grower's Association (later changed to Sunkist) decided that the overabundance or Navel oranges that ripened in December had to be more effectively marketed. They created an ad campaign to build on the tradition that orange were to fill out the toe of the stocking. The ad was "to put a little sunshine in your stocking". We always got an orange and I thought it was a Texas tradition, moved to California with the family. Later I found that people from all over the country received oranges as well. Did you?
Did you or do you get an orange in your Christmas stocking?
Orange gift basket
"Say the Magic words, say Mission Pak and it's on its merry way! No gift so bright, so gay, so right, give the Mission Pak magic way!") Ok, Mission Pack is no longer in business but the fruit baskets they shipped every year were appreciated by those who received them.
George C Page (1901 - 2000) is best know as the namesake of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
He came to California when he was 16. That was soon after he had tasted his first orange and he once said, "I was so awed by the beauty of that piece of fruit that I said, 'I hope someday I can live where that came from.'"
He is the one who started Misson Pak when he realized that he was sending orange home to his mother and many of her associates. He went on to become a real estate developer and financed one of the buildings at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.
The original orange
One of the original sources of the spice "citron". The "fingered citron", also known as "Buddah's Hand", has no juice and originates from China. It is thought that the citrus fruits we have today, started with this fruit and all the others are genetic mutations. One of the customs associated with this fruit is that one gives away the fingers at New Year to provide the receiver with good luck.
Crate Labels - An art form created by the various fruit co-ops to distinguish their fruit from the other growers.
The originals are collectible and are great decorations for any home. There are many reproductions on the market. Crate labels were phased out with the invention of cardboard shipping boxes.
The Daisy label is my favorite as it was the grower of the oranges across the street.