Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grandma's egg business

My step-grandmother (Rhoda Porter) lived on Midvale Avenue in the rural Palms area of Los Angeles and she ran an egg business.  Every month she would have my step-father load us all into the car (1957 Ford Fairlane) and drive the family way out to Bloomington to visit our Smith cousins.  The road was long as the freeways were yet to be built east to San Bernardino.  We would travel to downtown on the surface streets and when finally to East Los Angeles we would find Valley Blvd. and follow it almost all the way to San Bernardino.  Driving past miles of vineyards, (now the city of Ontario), past signs promoting the new city of VinaVista that would be built soon (never happened), past the slag piles of the Kaiser Steel plant and Colton Cement mine, finally arriving in Bloomington to spend a hot day watching old man Smith who was always busy watching the jalopy races on the dirt track of Ascot Park (google it). Interestingly, Ascot Park Speedway was located between Long Beach and West Los Angeles near where our journey would begin.  The Smiths were very British and hailed from Alberta, Canada.  I recall their home being situated among some very tall eucalyptus trees surrounded by a lot of sandy dirt and as was mentioned, it was always hot there.  We would walk along their street for what seemed like miles surrounded by orange, lemon and grapefruit groves. My mother would tell us that they planted all the eucalyptus trees that lined the street with the thought of extracting the oil from the leaves, only to discover they had planted the wrong type of eucalyptus.  Never the less, the trees provided great wind breaks for all the citrus groves that would populate all of Southern California.  On the way back late each afternoon we would stop at the chicken ranches (now the city of Walnut and Cal Poly Pomona) to pick up tons of eggs that my grandmother would then sell to all of her neighbors friends and relatives. She supplemented her social security  with the egg money and actually saved enough money from such to buy property and finance a trip that cost $1000 (a lot of money back then) to her native England.  As her plane departed from the Airport, we all sat on our cars at the end of the runway to bid her goodbye.  We were close enough that we could see her and she could see us and wave at us from the sleek new 707 jet.  Funny lady, she would have a beer with her soft boiled eggs for breakfast.  She passed away suddenly in the early 1960’s while only in her 70’s.  It would never be the same afterwards in that the family would break apart on many fronts.   

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