Yorba Linda History

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close this bookRichard M. Nixon Oral History Project
View the documentReverend Charles Ball
Interviewed by Mitch Haddad, December 22, 1969
View the documentWilliam H. Barton
Interviewed by Richard D. Curtiss, February 10, 1970
View the documentOllie O. Burdg
Interviewed by Richard Curtiss, February 16, 1970
View the documentHoyt Corbit
Interviewed by Tom Peters, April 30, May 6, 10, 17, 20, 1968
View the documentHoyt Corbit
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 15, 1970
View the documentVirginia Shaw Critchfield
Interviewed by Jeff Jones, May 2 & 9, 1970
View the documentDavid W. Cromwell
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 25, 1976
View the documentDr. Buel F. Enyeart
Interviewed by Dan Hoppy, December 2, 1968
View the documentMr. and Mrs. Richard "Jack" Gauldin
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 8, 1970
View the documentYoneko Dobashi Iwatsuru
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, April 30, 1970
View the documentGeorge Kellogg & R. Fay Young
Interviewed by Daniel L. Hoppy, John Tugwell, November 14, 1968, January 8, 1969, April 26, 1972
View the documentRalph Navarro
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, June 4, 1970
View the documentCecil E. Pickering
Interviewed by Steven Guttman, June 30, 1970
View the documentMary Elizabeth Rez
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, April 21, 1970
View the documentPaul Ryan
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 15, 1970
View the documentGerald Shaw
Interviewed by Jeff Jones, June 3, 1970
View the documentRalph C. Shook Sr.
Interviewed by Richard Curtiss, February 10, 1970
View the documentMary G. Skidmore
Interviewed by Greg Brolin
View the documentFelix Stein
Interviewed by Greg Brolin, October 13, 1970
View the documentCatherine Travaglia
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 21, 1970
View the documentHerb Warren
Interviewed by Greg Brolin, October 1, 1970
View the documentMerle West
Interviewed by Robert Davis

David W. Cromwell

Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 25, 1976   Open this page in a new window

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual.

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, California, 92634.

Copyright ©1977

The Oral History Program

California State University, Fullerton [Intro]


Richard M. Nixon Project

A History of Yorba Linda O. H. 841


by Milan Pavlovich

on May 25, 1970 [Title Page]

O.H. 841


Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Milan Pavlovich

SUBJECT: A History of Yorba Linda

DATE: May 25, 1976

P:This is an interview for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project. Milan Pavlovich is interviewing David W. Cromwell at 18601 Oriente Drive, Yorba Linda, California, on May 25, 1970, at 6:00 p.m.

Mr. Cromwell, would you like to tell me a little bit about yourself, such as when you came to Yorba Linda and why?

C:Actually I had no choice in coming to Yorba Linda. My parents were farmers originally from Oxford, Mississippi, and they moved to Yorba Linda in the fall of 1922 when I was five years old. I had a sister who was twelve and a brother, Robert—who still lives in Yorba Linda—who was four years younger than I was; so he was a mere baby. The folks were interested in coming to Yorba Linda to get some of that "easy money" that they had heard of. I had an uncle who was a brother of my mother, and he lived on Lakeview Avenue—that house is still standing and Don Frisbee lives in it today. On the bottom floor he had a little two bedroom apartment and that's the place that we moved into when we first came to Yorba Linda. My father went to work almost immediately in the Yorba Linda Packinghouse as a laborer.

P:Was that the citrus packinghouse?

C:Yes, the one that he was working in was the citrus packinghouse or the exchange packinghouse which is on Yorba Linda Boulevard. The original building burned down and they have a new building that was rebuilt many years [1] ago. I'm not quite sure just when, but I would say in the late 1920s, or possibly early 1930s.

P:What was Yorba Linda like at that time? Was it a small town?

C:Actually it was a very small business district. In fact, about one or two blocks was all it amounted to. Very few services were available in Yorba Linda; it was primarily a farming community. We had one doctor, Dr. Cochran—who, by the way, could supply you with some valuable early history—a grocery store, a blacksmith shop on Main Street, or what we call Main Street today, a post office, a library--which was something unusual for a small community such as we had—and a school. As far as any other services: we had a water fountain area, the Mutual Water Company over on Olinda Street, and the Yorba Linda Star. In fact, I've been trying to remember who was the editor, but I can't remember who the editor was at that time.

P:It's been mentioned that the blacksmith shop was used as a meeting place for the men of the town. Is this true?

C:That's true. We called it the "Spit and Argue" Club. That building is still standing by the way; Slim's Towing Service now occupies it. People gathered there, the farmers during rainy weather particularly. They would come uptown and sit around where it was warm, and in between the clanking of the anvil and the hammer they would sit and argue and talk. Will Van Cleave was one of the early settlers here. He happens to be the grandfather of my wife on her father's side. Grandfather Will was actually a stepdad of Jess LaBelle, my father-in-law. But Will was one of the politicians of the town and used to come downtown and "spit and argue" about politics. Chauncey Eichler or Hoyt Corbit could tell you about the old blacksmith at that time. I knew him, his name was Jim Glover, but I believe they could give you some interesting stories about Jim Glover, who was a blacksmith in the early days. The town was small at that time because (most of the land) was made up of large groves. Since those days, of course, the orange groves and the lemon groves have been divided, and now, we have houses on most of them. But it was a very small town—I don't suppose they had over two or three hundred people in Yorba Linda.

P:What did they do for a city government or for a police department in the town at that time? [2]

C:Until two and a half years ago it was county territory, so we depended on the Orange County Sheriff Department to provide our police protection. But we didn't need a lot of protection in those days because it was a typical farming community; we had faith in each other. The main influences socially on the community, I would say, were the churches; the Friends church and maybe the Presbyterian church when we first came here—later it was the Methodist church. The early Friends church was a very strong church in the community, in my early boyhood the Methodist church was a strong influence on my life, as it was to many other people I knew. You couldn't call Yorba Linda a city; it was just, more or less, a gathering of the clan at monthly Farm Bureau meetings and monthly chamber of commerce meetings. Our water company was a mutual company so we had our annual meetings there, and the packinghouse had annual meetings—big affairs. We also had our election for the library which was quite a thing in those days and we had a Masonic Lodge which had an (Order of the) Eastern Star; so there was some social activity. But the chamber of commerce, for instance, was really a town hall meeting, because we didn't have enough businesses to be a chamber of commerce. It was just another monthly meeting; an excuse for people to get together and talk over the affairs of the community. I'm sure that the library and some of the other things that came about probably started at some of the discussions either at the Farm Bureau meetings or the chamber of commerce meetings.

P:So you had the whole community coming to these meetings, and projects for the community would be decided during this time?

C:Right. George Kellogg is another name—I'm mentioning these names as I go along. George was quite active in the chamber of commerce in the 1920s and 1930s. He probably could give you some stories. He is quite a historian, by the way, and he retains facts—better plan half a day with George. (laughter)

P:I understand that you had some Basque people here in Yorba Linda, also. Being that they are of the Catholic faith, was there any antagonism toward them or anything like this, or were they accepted by the Quakers and the Methodists?

C:Being a youngster, I didn't know any different. I mean, in a farming community you took people for what they [3] were, and if there was any antagonism I wasn't aware of it, as a youngster. In fact, my father bought the first home that we lived in from Frank Apalategui. The Apalategui family is certainly a family you want to talk to because Frank owned a lemon grove off of Yorba Linda Boulevard at Avocado Street and he also farmed the old barley fields where you now have some subdivisions going up. The Yorba Linda Country Club sits on what we used to call the old barley fields. He, like quite a few of the Basque families, was a dry farmer who raised beans and hay—I think Frank raised mostly hay. He leased the ground to raise that, and he raised a big family, too.

Then, the Etchandy's were our neighbors on Lakeview Avenue. They were a Basque family, and John and Leatha Adot were related to the Etchandys. The Etchandys, by the way, are still living; they live near the on-ramp of the Riverside Freeway on Jefferson Street. Their sons, who are my age—the oldest boy, Albert, was my age, and there are two other brothers living, I believe—all are in the strawberry business today. They still have quite a bit of acreage in strawberries. But Mr. Etchandy, Dominique, could give you some early history of the Atwood area because his father was in the oil business down there. He lived in Yorba Linda and was one of the few people that drove big long black automobiles through the oil. (laughter)

P:You mention the oil industry, could you tell me a little bit about it and how it affected the people of Yorba Linda?

C:I don't know what percentage of the people worked in the oil business because I was very young at that time. The early years I don't really remember how much it affected the people, but I do know there was a lot of oil activity in Brea and Olinda, which is just across the hill from us here. We had several people who worked in that part, but we had so few homes in what we called the center of our community that we just couldn't house people from too many different industries. Most of them were actually farmers and had their homes on ranches, and there were so few who lived in town that I would say a very small percentage of the people worked in the oil industry. But I remember the Chances worked in the oil business, and quite a few young fellow worked in the oil, either in Richfield, or Atwood, or Olinda. The old Olinda oil field is one of the oldest fields in California—a lot of good history over there. Brea was a strong oil town, too. But it was a small [4] percentage of people that actually lived in Yorba Linda and worked in the oil industry; compared to the agricultural interest, it had to be a very small entry. Yet, it did affect Yorba Linda because all the farmers hoped that some day they would get an oil well on their place, and a lot of them were disappointed because the techniques of drilling in those days just weren't developed like they are today, and they weren't interested in the old heavy crude that was available. Today it is being pumped through steaming and water and other methods--they're using this heavy crude today. In fact, we have more oil industry in Yorba Linda today than probably anytime in the past—I mean paying oil. Our problem was that small companies would come in and men would go to work for them, and a lot of times, they didn't even have enough money to pay the men off. There were a lot of disappointments in the oil business. They didn't get enough oil in most cases really to pay the landowners a lot of money. There was some activity on what we call Richfield Road today, coming up from the Atwood field, and you had some wells that did pretty well in there. But the strongest influence the oil industry had on Yorba Linda was that the few farmers who had any oil lease money, and, in some cases got some oil income, were better off than the rest of us.

P:Before that time, was Yorba Linda a poor community of struggling farmers, trying to get orchards going?

C:Yes, before the 1920s they had a rough time here because they had to nurse the orchards along until they were able to bear fruit. And in the meantime, why, it was a rough life for them. I think, at that time probably, some of them did work in the oil fields and supplement their income. They had to supplement their income while their orchards were getting to the point that they would bear fruit to bring in some money. But it's typical of any farming community to have people who are struggling for a living. In those early days, I am sure that they struggled because the trees weren't large enough to bear any fruit, and in the early days, of course, they had the marketing problem which would've been a problem that we don't have today.

P:Did they ship most of their citrus to Los Angeles on the railroads?

C:The Pacific Electric Railroad Company picked the fruit up and shipped it into the Los Angeles market, and then to the East coast by rail. The Pacific Railroad was the connecting link between the rural area here and the [5] market. It also was a collecting link for a lot of us who didn't have automobiles when we first arrived hero, to go to any part of Southern California that we wanted to: to go to the beach, or to Los Angeles to shop, or to Brea to get to a little larger town, because Brea was a booming town in the 1920s.

P:So this was an extensive rail system that they did have.

C:The Pacific Railroad was one of the finest transit lines that you could find anywhere. In fact, it was so well laid out that if you look at your freeway system you'll find that they followed a lot of the same routes that the Pacific Electric laid out. We could go from Yorba Linda to Newport Beach. Of course, we had to go by way of Los Angeles to Long Beach, but it wasn't a bad way to travel, actually.

P:What would the cost of a trip be from here Yorba Linda to Newport Beach?

C:I haven't any idea. I remember going to Los Angeles several times and to the beach, but I was only six or seven years old. I wasn't interested in how much it cost; it was just a fantastic ride, especially to Los Angeles. But I know it was only a matter of a few cents to go to Brea and back. We'd go to Brea to go to the theatre, even in the late 1920s.

P:Say you took a trip to Newport Beach; what length of time would it be to take that road through Los Angeles to Newport?

C:I would say two hours because they stopped at every little town. That would be an interesting study in itself, just to go back and get all of the stopping points. It was quite a system.

P:Getting back to the citrus industry, was it oranges and lemons that were the basic crops from Yorba Linda?


P:How did they handle them and what did they do to them? Were they taken to the packinghouse in wagons?

C:When we came to Yorba Linda there were a lot of horses and wagons still hauling fruit. Frank Day, senior, used to do a lot of hauling for people in Yorba Linda with an old wagon. I can still remember the old wagons-- [6] both sets of wheels turned to make the short turns in the orchards. Ed Jacobs was one of the first ones that I can remember who had an old Model T Ford that he used for hauling. And then a few years later, Ralph Shook was involved in hauling, and Herb Warren, when he became a young man, went into the trucking business. Homer May, senior and junior, were involved in contracts with the growers to haul the fruit from the field to the packinghouse. But originally, when we first arrived here, there were more horses and wagons than there were trucks.

P:Once they got the citrus into the packinghouse, how was the fruit treated?

C:How was it processed? All by hand. I'm familiar with this because as a young boy, ten or twelve years of age, I was a prosperous businessman in the packinghouse. I received permission from the packinghouse to set up a food stand during the summer months. I had an old icebox that had Cokes, cold drinks, candy bars, and chewing gum. I made the rounds twice a day and then remained at the stand for people to come out. But the idea was to make the rounds and take the orders, and keep the people from leaving their work. We had large crews of people that worked in the packinghouses in those days. Of course, in the 1930s most of the people who raised the fruit were working the packinghouses in order to pay their taxes, for thirty and thirty-five cents an hour. But their fruit was brought into the packinghouses. Let's take the lemon business for example the fruit was picked in the field, brought into the packinghouses by wagon—or truck in later years—and put in the basement where it was given time to color and to sweat. Sometimes they used a gas to help color it up sooner, but it was stored down there at a proper temperature. Once it had sweated and colored, then it was brought up as the orders came in for the fruit. But it was all done by hand; it was brought in and washed in the old washers, and then put into trays or boxes. Then from the trays it went to the graders who graded the fruit according to size and color and then next to the packers who worked out of the trays from the grader. So you had to have a lot of hand help and it was a good prosperous business. There were times during the Depression that I made as much as ten or fifteen dollars a day from selling pop and candy, which is more money than my mother and father both would make. That was lost, by the way, when the bank closed up. (laughter)

P:This sweating process you were speaking of, what does that entail? [7]

C:Actually, it was by heat more than anything else, and the sweating process was just a way of coloring the fruit. You know, when the lemons were brought in they were graded by color; the choice lemons were dark green. The light green, the silvers, and the fruit had already ripened on the tree was more perishable; you couldn't store it and have it last over a period of time. So your dark greens were usually your choice lemons because you could store those and keep them for a longer time. But in some cases, where they wanted to get first grade fruit, then to color it up you could put more heat on it and use gas along with temperature control in what they called sweat rooms. This was true for oranges, particularly. When you wanted to color your fruit up real nice and orange, why, you could bring it to a color sooner by putting in heat with this gas mixed in with it. And they had to keep real close control of these sweat rooms. Biologically, I don't know enough about this, but it might have had some effect on mold. You'd have to ask somebody who would know more about this, but I always understood it as a process of coloring the fruit more than anything else.

P:Once they got them colored would they continue ripening while they are in a fruit stand, or while they are being shipped and so forth?


P:Would the taste change?

C:No, it really wouldn't change. It was just a matter of making it marketable. But the dark green lemons were your choice lemons. They were just as dark green as they could be when they'd come off the washer. And from the washer they would grade these lemons by hand, putting them in different boxes. The dark green in one box, the light greens in another and the silvers and the tree-ripe in another. The tree-ripes were usually shipped by loose packing into Los Angeles and sold on the market directly to the local people. It had to be moved fast; it couldn't be held in storage, you see.

P:How long was the working day at this time in the packinghouses?

C:Oh, during the rush periods of time, I know my father went back in the evenings and worked many, many times. He would start work at seven o'clock in the morning, take a half-hour lunch, come home, and then go back and work until nine or nine-thirty at night. It was all [8] heavy work and not under the best conditions a lot of time. I had seen my father come home and soak his hands in hot water, and I could hardly tell where his wrist and his hand separated; they were just swollen from dumping those heavy boxes into the washer. And people worked when they got the chance. In those days, they didn't have a choice of very many jobs and so they were thankful to have the work; but it was certainly hard physical labor. My mother worked for many, many years working on the washer, and then grading fruit—she graded for years. Of course, as machinery came in, instead of being handled by trays, they installed a belt. So they would dump the fruit on the belt and the belt would take it to the graders, and then from the graders to the ladies who packed the fruit. In the early days each individual orange and lemon was wrapped and packed in a box; today it's loose packed. In the early days they had the old wooden boxes; today you have cardboard cartons. They used to make the boxes by hand during the winter months. Some of the men who made boxes were paid by piecework and they could hammer nails so fast you couldn't believe it. There's only one man that I can remember that made boxes who is still living, Dick McFadden, and he isn't in town very much. But Johnny Adot, Dick McFadden, Herman Heinze—these were men who during the winter months were repairing boxes and making new boxes. They had different types of boxes: field boxes and packing boxes. They were all handmade—they didn't have the box machines that came along in later years which nailed a whole side at a time—each individual nail had to be put in.

P:Who provided the labor for picking the groves?

C:Mostly Mexican workers through the years. They came from the Atwood-Placentia area.

P:Were these citizens or were they brought from over the border?

C:In the early days, I assume they were citizens. Of course it was during the Depression years and there were a lot of people of all shapes and forms who worked at picking fruit or anything else. I know my father-in-law came back to California in the 1930s—that's when I met my wife—and started right in during the Depression picking fruit; he had closed his business in Indianapolis and came out here. That was the only thing available so he picked fruit and was glad to get the work.

P:Now, in the early 1920s did you have a fire department in town? [9]

C:We had a volunteer fire department which still exists, only in a more sophisticated way today. If I remember correctly there was a cart with the hose in what would now be the little park at the corner of Main Street and Imperial Highway. There used to be a shed there with just an old cart. Then as time went along we began to get more houses built, and it got to be more of a social thing as well as a way of serving the community. We've had some real fine fire departments where the community raised money to buy the equipment and the men built the equipment. The thing has developed until today we have the county and state forestry combined with the city in a contract status. We have one of the finest fire departments, and I would say ours is equivalent to any of the cities in Orange County for its size. We have two big pumpers—the most modern pumpers--as well as our rescue unit. But this fire department and equipment was bought by the people themselves. In other words, they would send out a mailing to all the people in the community and ask for contributions, and we'd also have benefit shows to raise the money to help the fire department out as we needed equipment.

P:How was the alarm given for fires during that time? Did they have somebody out there ringing a bell or something?

C:I don't remember. I can remember the old fog horn that we've had for so many years, but I can't remember how the warning was given in the early days. I'm going to give you a name to check on that: Fred Clodt. He can give you the history of the fire department and is probably the oldest volunteer fire member that we have. He lives on Valencia Avenue, a couple doors north of the Yorba Linda Woman's Club.

P:How do you spell that last name? C-L-O-D-T—there's a good one. He's still on the fire department and has been chief many times. He's been around this part of the country for a long time. I think he originally came from Anaheim.

P:You said that the sheriff department gave you most of your police protection in the early days?

C:We had sheriff deputies in the community. They were acutally deputies who lived in our community. I know that Ralph Navarro, for instance, was a deputy. He worked for the Anaheim Union Water Company, and he carried a badge for years. I think Mr. Pickering was also a [10] a deputy for years. There were several in the community that were actually deputies and could make arrests, although I really don't know of any time that they did. (laughter) We just didn't have much need for law and order in a community like this, people handled it themselves quite well.

P:I understand you were made postmaster of the post office here in Yorba Linda in 1951?

C:That's right. I was appointed acting postmaster in the fall of 1951 following the death of Mrs. Maude Olson whom I had worked for and had known for many years. I went in as acting postmaster and the following year I was made permanent postmaster. At the time I was appointed postmaster I had been carrying the rural route here in the community. I originally started in the post office in 1935—the year I started to junior college--and I learned enough about the post office that I could issue money orders and sell stamps for Mrs. Stahler. Well, Mr. Stahler was actually the postmaster but his wife helped him. She taught me the first things I knew about the post office, and that was just before Mrs. Ollye Beard came in as postmaster. It was just after election and in those days they changed postmasters whenever the parties changed. So Mrs. Beard was just to be appointed postmaster and the Stahlers broke me in—I was to come in as a clerk. My allowance, I believe, was $41.00 and that was the total allowance they had for clerical help. I worked then until 1937 in the Yorba Linda Post Office, but since Yorba Linda was only a third-class post office the clerical job was not under civil service. I had previously taken a civil service exam in Brea, so in order to get under civil service I moved to Brea and my wife and I were married that year, 1937. The first job that I was offered was as a substitute carrier, but they would only guarantee me eight hours work a week. So in the meantime, I went into the service station business there. We remained in Brea until I came back from the service in 1946. I wanted to come back to Yorba Linda to raise my boy, so we moved to Yorba Linda and I took the rural route from Otto Dyckman who was a rural mail carrier. We had about 175 boxes on that rural route, which covered between twenty-eight and thirty miles. How many routes are there now?


C:Fifteen routes covering the same territory that originally one route covered with 175 mail boxes in 1946. [11]

P:In order for the name of a town to get on a map doesn't a post office have to be established first?

C:That's usually the case.

P:Do you know where the name "Yorba Linda" originated from?

C:Of course, this was originally part of the Yorba land grant, but where the name actually originated from, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you. Do you have any idea, Awandi?

P:The book by March Butz will probably tell how I got its name.

C:Golly, I don't know.

P:It's been suggested that they took the name Yorba from the ranch and the name Olinda from the town of Olinda and put them together.

C:That's probably what happened. See, Olinda used to get its mail delivered, I believe, from the rural route from Fullerton. The old Fullerton rural route came out of Fullerton, went to Brea, then to Olinda and I'm quite sure that it was on that original route. I'm sure this was the case, and I bet that's where that name came from, because we had close relationship with the people in Olinda. They provided ball games on Sunday and there was quite a settlement in Olinda. Olinda, I think, probably had as many residents as they had in Brea in the early days.

P:Maybe you could tell me a little bit about the social activities of the town, such as the ball games between Olinda and Yorba Linda. Was that in the 1920s or the 1930s?

C:Yes, in the 1920s and even before the 1920s. Olinda, of course, was quite a booming area with the oil; those people had more money than the ranchers did. Brea was wide open too; it was like Las Vegas today with the bars and gambling, and the works there. And Olinda, of course, had quite a good size school, and they also had some stores. But those pay checks they received at the end of the week were pretty good-sized checks for those days. Some of your well-known baseball players started working there and then they played ball for the oil fields. That was a way of recruiting sometimes; take some young fellow who had some possibilities for baseball and then put them to work for Associated Oil, or [12] the Olinda Oil Company. They had some Sunday baseball games that were real good games. And that was our recreation; to go to Olinda and see a ball game, or to Santa Ana Canyon and go wading in the Santa Ana River, or to the beach. In our family, Anaheim was the principle place to shop for some reason. Every Saturday night we would head for Anaheim to do our weekly shopping for clothes and most of our staples, even though we had a store here. It was a way to get away from Yorba Linda and go to the big city on Saturday night. So I would say that most of the town was in the habit of going to Anaheim to do most of their shopping.

P:Was your store here just a general store?

C:Just a little general store.

P:Could you describe it for me?

C:One store that I'd forgotten about on Main Street was the drugstore. Doc Cannon owned the drugstore, and it had a fountain for ice cream and Cokes and this type of thing. Mr. Alvin owned the general store when I came here, and before that there were two or three others who had owned it. You could buy dry goods, meat, canned goods, anything you wanted to in the general store. Also, there was a hardware store run by Mr. Townsend when I came here, but at that time it wasn't on Main Street; it was on the corner of Olinda and Imperial. There is a new building up there now, a real estate office I believe, but he had a hardware and did quite a big business. Then a little later a fellow by the name of Janeway had a store here. Hurless Barton had the first service station there on Four Corners, where we have a service station now. Hurless had the Liberty Garage there. There was also a restaurant, but the old building has been pulled down since.

P:Was it a typical old-time store with things like flour and apples all in barrels?

C:Yes. The drugstore was probably more unique than any of the others. Doc Cannon's Drugstore was a typical old-fashioned drugstore; on one side of the store he had the old candy jars and display cases, and then on the other side of the store he had his old-fashioned fountain with metal chairs, you know. I was familiar with it because I spent quite a bit of time there. Then the back part of the store was for drugs and for things like that you'd use everyday. In those days you didn't find anything at the grocery store that you'd use [13] every day—creams and lotions and all this—that was all in the drugstore. The Cannons lived in back of the store, which is now City Hall. When I had the stands at the packinghouse I bought my merchandise from Doc Cannon. In fact, he did the buying and I got 20 percent of whatever I sold; one cent a candy bar. So he actually started my business—a wonderful man. He was like Doctor Cochran; he was just somebody everybody knew. Doc Cannon's was a hangout, too, in the 1920s and the 1930s for people to gather and "chew the fat."

P:Boys would take girl friends and so forth?

C:Yes, they'd go up there. I can remember getting malts there. We thought Doc Cannon was the only one who could make a good malt. He used real milk and ice cream, and you could buy cherry Cokes in those days, or lemon cokes. (laughter) Those days are long gone.

P:Did you have any annual celebrations in the town? The Olinda Picnic was mentioned in the book when the whole town would go on a picnic.

C:A lot of my social life took place in the churches. Of course, each year they had their annual picnics either to Orange County Park or some of the parks in Anaheim that we used to go to often. But as far as the early picnics in Olinda, that I'm not familiar with.

P:What were your early church picnics like? Could you describe a typical picnic?

C:We used to have the foot races and ball games where the dads would play the kids. They had boating at Orange County Park--which is Irvine Park today. There was homemade ice cream, and fried chicken, and watermelons. People brought enough for their own family and two or three other families, too. It was a case of going early and staying late, and having a couple of meals while we were there. It was just a good old-fashioned picnic. Of course, in those early days, you could actually cook your meat right there on the old fireplaces. That was a beautiful park in those days; we didn't have the population to spoil it as we do today. It had big oak trees and the lake. Of course, the lake was a big thing for us kids and we'd save our money to go boating, but most of the entertainment took place in our foot races.

P:Was that lake about the same size it is now, or was it bigger? [14]

C:It seemed like it was bigger in those days, but I'm sure it was the same size. (laughter) As a youngster, you know, it seemed like an awfully big lake.

P:What was the surrounding area like? Was it just wilderness or were there homes or anything?

C:There was nothing but open space; it was dry farming. Most of the area around it at that time was rather barren because we didn't have any citrus or anything else in the early days in that area. It was pretty dry and pretty much a wilderness. It just happened to be a canyon that had some oak trees and they developed into a natural park, a real natural park.

P:Did you travel to that park by wagon?

C:Well, no. Actually, in the early 1920s, Dad brought a car. There were a few fortunate people that had automobiles around here. My uncle had one—he had an old Model T--and the Townsends had an automobile and the Etchadys had an automobile. It must have been in the late 1920s that Mr. Etchandy and his brother were each given a big Chalmerge. The Chalmerge automobile had a motor on it as long as cars are today, you know, big straight eights. Oh, what a beautiful machine! That was really something to us kids after only seeing Model T's. I think my Dad bought his first Ford in 1925 and we got around in it. Dad loved the beach and after working hard all week we'd go to Sunday school and church and then we'd go other places afterwards.

P:What did they charge for gasoline during that time to run those cars?

C:That I couldn't tell you. I wasn't conscious of what price gasoline was in those days. It must have been a small amount because half of the price of gasoline today is taxes. So if we didn't have that many cents added to our gasoline in those days for taxes, I'm sure it was a small amount. Hurless Barton had a service station and later Mr. Townsend had a service station. I couldn't tell you the brand, but there was a lion involved in the insignia for Mr. Townsend, and I believe Hurless had Richfield oil originally and then he changed to Union oil. There were two service stations in the early days, and I understood, too, that there was a gasoline pump originally at the blacksmith shop. In the early days, Mr. Jim Glover was the automobile mechanic. In other words, if anybody broke something and they wanted a part made, old Jim Glover could make the part right [15] there in the blacksmith shop. That would be interesting to find out from Chauncey Eichler and Hoyt Corbit what they really did for repairs in the early days, before the 1920s.

P:What were the roads like in the early 1920s?

C:We had very few paved roads in Yorba Linda itself, but there still were pretty good county roads. They were oiled roads as we called them in those days—oil surfaced. I can remember them working on the roads in Yorba Linda because the few of them that we had, had oiled surfaces. They would plow it up and then come along with the oil and keep turning it back and forth from one side to the other and work that oil into it, and them compact it. Then in hot weather, this oil would ooze out, you know, and get on your tires, close to the corners--from applying brakes—it would have a bumpy surface. But that was true throughout the whole county. Actually, we had good roads, I think, for being as far away from civilization as we were. (laughter)

P:You mentioned that you were five years old when you came to the city here in 1922, but I was wondering if you knew the Nixons or if your family knew any of their family?

C:My family was not acquainted with the Nixons. We knew others who knew Frank Nixon, at the time, but I'm afraid my ties with the Nixon family isn't that close. There would probably be a closer tie through Mrs. Van Cleve, who's my father-in-law's foster mother. My only experience meeting Mr. Nixon is when they put the first marker up over at his home when he was vice-president; I sang a song that day and dedicated it to his mother. Then, when I was mayor, he came to town during the last election, otherwise my ties with the Nixons are really not that close. We do know the Wests in Whittier who lived close to the Nixons in the East Whittier area. Grace and Eldon West used to live in Yorba Linda and were original members of the old Friends church here. Jessamyn is their daughter and is quite a famous writer—I'm sure you've read some of her works. They are the only tie we had with the Nixons.

P:Could you give me any names of people that might have known either Richard when he was a small boy or known the family here in Yorba Linda?

C:Paul Ryan might possibly know him because his dad worked in the water company in the early days. Chauncey Eichler, [16] Hoyt Corbit, and Roy Knight might also know something. Roy was one of the first babies born in the community. Ralph Navarro is another one. If you want to have an interesting conversation and meet some grand people, see Ralph Navarro. His father worked for the water company, and Ralph is still living today. Ted, his son took over after Ralph retired. They still live out by the old lake which is now drained--Yorba Linda Lake. But the Navarros are a fine family and they could give you more history than anyone I can think of. But you' re going to have to take time to do so because Ralph is not going to be in a hurry to tell you; you have to get acquainted with him. (laughter) I'd be happy to introduce you to Ralph if you really wanted to. They were the earliest settlers probably in Yorba Linda, before Yorba Linda was really Yorba Linda. They saw to it that the water went down to Anaheim, and were a part of the irrigation system. Then Yorba Linda came along as an after thought.

P:They were the keepers of the water system?

C:Yes, they saw to it that the canal was open and water was available to the people as they went to irrigate. They can really give you some fine history of Yorba Linda. I'm sure that he probably had known the Nixons, he or his family; Ralph is old enough that he can probably remember the Nixons themselves.

Hoyt Corbit's wife was an early settler here. Her first husband was named Foss. He used to run the old Pacific Electric Red Car out here and had a ranch, too. So, Mrs. Foss could probably give you some interesting fact of the early days, along with Hoyt; of course, now Hoyt and she are married. That would probably be as good an interview as you'll get, because Hoyt had been active in the chamber of commerce and the packinghouses Chauncey Eichler is another interesting character. He could give you some real early history of the Bemises who were early ranchers in the Fullerton and Yorba Line area. Another person that could give you some interesting facts about oil and early farmers is Herb Anderson, who lives up on North Lakeview. He is still living and can give you some early history on the Catholic familiy because the Andersons have been real active for years and years in the Catholic church and Catholic work, Mrs. Anderson particularly. See, all of the people the attended the Catholic church in the early days had to go to Saint Mary's in Fullerton, which recently burned. I know the Dyckmans were faithful attenders there and I [17] know the Andersons were faithful attenders. I just remember the people that were real active but I'm sure there were others that were active, such as the Etchandys, the Apalateguies, the Reyeses, and Tony Reves who lived out east of town near the barley fields. We had one family that lived right in the center of town, a Mexico family, but I can't remember their names. There were a lot of Catholic people in our community, come to think of it, and they were all large families. The Apalateguies, the Etchandys, the Adots, and the Dyckmans had good-size families and were all real fine, hardworking people.

P:Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Cromwell for your time and all of your valuable information.


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