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Whit's Whittlin` Part 3by Whit Cromwell,
Between Times May 2006 page 4
Procrastination is a problem with us “Oldsters.” We're too independent. We don't like to be told we have to do something. In fact, I don't like to take orders from myself. Everyday I've told myself to get busy and write another column, but each day I found other real important things to do. You know—like taking a “nap,” whittlin' with my friends at Esperanza Hospital, City Hall, McDonald's Coffee Club, donut shops, etc. I have a tendency to do the easy jobs first, and the harder jobs last, but when it comes to eatin' watermelon I like to save the heart (the sweetest part) `til last. I guess I'm not very consistent.
Let's pick up where we left off last week. The Cromwells were in Yorba Linda with Uncle Taylor. We enjoyed our first Christmas in California. I had started school and had my sixth birthday. From the sound of things, our family was happy to be in Yorba Linda. Dad went to work in the old packing house which later burned down, and even though it was plain hard work, the job provided money to feed us. Mom also went to work on the washer and grader of the same plant.
In those days the “pack House” as Fannie Young used to call it, was about the only place of employment in Yorba Linda, unless you owned a grove or you were fortunate enough to work in the oil fields like my uncle Taylor and William Chance. During the rush season there was a large crew, because the lemons and oranges were all processed by hand. Young people out of school, house-wives and even some of the growers (those who owned the ranches) were all needed to wash, grade, pack and load the freight cars for shipping the lemons and oranges during the summers. The oranges were processed in the old mutual house which still stands on Imperial Highway. Later on, I will try to write in more detail, some of my experiences in the packing house, because I spent many hours “peddlin” soda pop and candy to the workers. I'll have to set down with Fannie Younger and Al Adams to refresh my memory about those days.
Let's see—We stayed with my uncle for a few months, and then dad bought a little house from Frank Apalategui just three houses south, where the Cromwells lived during our “growin' up years.” There is an antique shop there now called “Granny's Got It,” and a few changes have been made. However, it still looks like home to me. Hmmm—It does seem a little smaller today. In fact, when I took my family through a few years ago, I wondered how five of managed—but we did—and we were happy—There was an open front porch where we used to sit to keep cool and rest on hot summer evenings, looking across Lakeview to Mrs. Fader's dark green orange grove, a living room, a bedroom to the right where sister Ruth slept, to the west, Mon and Dad's bedroom, the kitchen and a screened porch in the back which was divided and one part closed in to make a small closet between the front two bedrooms was made into a bathroom, and this was a big improvement because it was no fun running bare foot, on a cold morning to the “outhouse” at the bottom of the hill, near Valencia Avenue. Our house sat on a big lot, and that was fine, because we had grape vines along the fence, several big fig trees, an apricot tree, some berries, a garden, a barn, chicken pens, rabbit pens—By the way, the barn was later divided to make space for our finest car, a 1921 “Model T.” The cold cow didn't mind sharing the space with our first car, and neither did the chickens and rabbits, for after all they were all part of the family and we all were excited about having and auto-mobile. Yeah—One of the first fruits from the “land of opportunity.”
Our neighbors were wonderful! The Eschandy family on one side and the Evans family on the other. Albert Eschandy was my age, and later on two more brothers were born. The three of them grow those luscious strawberries down in the flat, south of Yorba Linda now. Mother and dad thought the world of Mr. and Mrs. Dominic Eschandy. In fact, the Eschandys were the first to arrive when my folks celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Mrs. Eschandy's brother, John Adot, bought the house later, and Leatha, his wife, still lives there today. If you want to meet one of the sweetest ladies in Yorba Linda, just go by and meet Leatha.
In the early days of Yorba Linda, we loved our neighbors almost like “family.” It's a shame we don't take time to be neighborly today. It's time to say goodbye for now—keep whittlin'.
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