Fruit!

Fruit! …not typically at the forefront of the brain in these short days of winter and cold, but I thought I’d bring a touch of warmth through our screens and into our days from sunny Los Angeles.
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here
This last weekend found me roadtripping up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) or The One (love that) from Malibu for some camping at Pismo Beach, bike riding in Carpentaria, and inland for our last destination of wine tasting in San Luis Obispo. Along the way we serpentined through small towns and neighborhoods admiring the bustling trees of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes. 
Biking with Andy along the coastal trail in Carpentaria.

One of our stops (a fortunate find off the freeway for gas fill-up) was in Los Alamos… (with the scrubby pines and cypress trees greeting us, I was fooled for a moment that we had driven through a portal to the Land of Enchantment!) But the towering antique barn that greeted us screamed of California, and the first section found when stepping inside was dedicated to the crisp bright labels of California fruit and veggie crates from years past. Labels dated as far back as 1907!

Los Alamos, CA antique pit stop shop

Our very own original California Fruit Crate Label, dated from 1917!

The gentleman seller was so knowledgeable and helpful, pointing out that his collection held many rare labels in pristine condition, most being found in storage files of the fruit distributors and hadn’t seen the light of day for decades. He explained that the most rare labels were the ones with bright red – the red ink is the first to fade over time and in the sun.  The graphic quality of that era of design is always a delight to me. Blocked sections of color, no fear of a strong line or large print, not shy to use contrasting palettes.
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here

Andy and I walked away with no short of seven original fruit and veggie crate labels. His grandparents grew up in what is now Rancho Cucamunga (outside of current LA city limits – once farms and ranch, now subdivisions upon one another), and both families grew oranges for a living. For a future project, we hope to dig up some of the labels from the farms and distributing companies they worked with.

Before finding them in the antique shop, a few weeks ago we stumbled upon an exhibit of these same labels at the Los Angeles Public Library downtown. Such a coincidence to run right into the real thing on an accidental stop in a small town antique shop! You can browse dozens of labels here!
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here

photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here
Beautiful black and white photos of the fruit laborers and packers from the archive are accessible online here. You can even order a photo of any item you find (for a couple bucks) with an online order form – how cool is that?
photo found at the LA Public Library catalog here

Jackie

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