Monday, July 11, 2011

“Apricot Season”

It was a rugged wagon journey through the desert and around Mt. San Jacinto to Banning in 1908. “Papa” had previously gone to the San Jacinto Valley to look it over. He saw orchards of peaches, olives, walnuts, oranges, and apricots and liked it so well that he purchased 15 acres of land on Acacia Avenue between Yale and Columbia, about two miles east of the little town of Hemet. A row of stately old olive trees bordered the property along Columbia. Mr. William Kingham, a real estate man and undertaker, met us in Banning in his four horse buggy. Mamma, Lily, Mildred and I rode with him, and my brothers Holly and Clarence rode with Papa in our large wagon. We were so proud to ride in Mr. Kingham’s fine buggy, but the road became nothing more than a wagon trail with many steep curves over the hills, and we were scared. We learned later they called the road the Jack Rabbit Trail. I will always remember the view as we came out of the hills. Our eyes popped out as we looked at the cattle lazily gazing under the cottonwood trees in the beautiful green fields. The mountain that dominated the rugged eastern side did not seem to be the same mountain on the western side. Papa finally stopped the wagon at our tent house, very similar to the one he built in Coachella. “This is our new home,” he said, and his blue eyes twinkled as he stretched out his arms. “I know the cement business. We will start a business and call it ‘A. E. Goodrich and Sons,’ makers of cement irrigation pipes and blocks, which new ranchers will need.”

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