Orange Blossom is a time when the citizens of Lindsay share their richest treasures with visitors from throughout the valley. Tulare County is famous for its fertile land and the many agricultural products it grows. But, when you think of citrus: you think of LINDSAY!
In 1995, Peggy Sanders twisted Terry Kibler's (editor of the Lindsay Gazette) not-so-easy-to-twist-arm and convinced him to let her write a column for a couple of months leading up to Orange Blossom Festival. She began writing “Orange Blossom Aromas” articles as a way to let people know about our wonderful community and its great festival. We would like to share with you some of her quirky and funny stories and hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.
Aromas Articles by Peggy Depew Sanders:
Bicycle races. A world-class event drawing cyclist from all over the United States. Burke Thompson promoted these great races. But we were pushed out of the bicycle events by the offer of big money prizes to the contestants. We couldn't compete. But it was fun while it lasted.
During the fifties, sixties and into the seventies, we had the Orange Crate Derby Races. An exciting rundown the west side of Todd's Hill (or is that Towt's Hill?). The race was for the young set and the crate had to be built by the contestants. (Sure, sure we know dad never got into the act!) Once again, the insurance dragon frightened away our Orange Crate Derby. We could do it again if volunteers would come forward to get the crates rolling again. Don't worry, Steve Boles, will take care of the insurance.
The eighties brought about the First International Rabbit Races. We were sitting around one day, a group of Orange Blossom devotees, pondering what kind of event would be fun. Calaveras had its frogs, Bishop its mules. What did we have? "Squirrels" someone suggested. "No, they're too squirrelly."
All of the sudden out of the mouth of I'm not sure came, "JACK RABBITS!" Orange trees...jack rabbits...a natural. Pat Sullivan, Barbara Chapman, Lester Seay, and Gary Gostanian, among others, took the rabbit idea by the ears and organized the first race. Suddenly the orange groves around Lindsay were alive with people waving nets, chasing jack rabbits. None were caught.
Over the next five years, the highly successful Rabbit Races drew entries from all over the United States. "Rapadoada" (you figure that out) owned by the Eldon Smith and John Hill stables still holds the record for The Fastest Rabbit in the World". They trained "Rapadoada" by chasing him with a lawnmower. The rabbit was motivated by trainer Jean Hill, "lose and we eat you" she told him. (I hope there is no SPCA lurking about).
It was such fun. We definitely need to do Race Rabbits again! "Rapadoada" sired several offspring and they are hard to beat and ready to race. Rabbits need not be insured. Any volunteers for 1996?
Speaking of contests, let's talk about past OBF contests. Anyone remember the orange packing contests at the city hall in the late forties? The contestants were the best from each packing house, wearing company colors, nervously lined up by their crates. The whistle sounded and they attacked the oranges with amazing speed; their hands a colorful blur as they placed each individual orange in bright tangerine tissue paper, twisted it tightly and pressed it into the wooden crates. In just seconds the crate was packed with an exact number of oranges and they were on to the next one.
They were paid by the crate, you know. But more than money, there was honor in being the fastest the best in town. They were after the title. Always men until one day a small red-headed women came to challenge them. She represented Waddell & Son's Packing House. The men snickered. Did she win? My dad told me mom was the fastest packer in the county! Would my dad lie? Maybe we should reinstate the orange packing contest? Which packing house would be the fastest packer today? It wouldn't be as colorful; no tangerine tissue wrap or beautiful crate labels, but the packers, mostly female today, are still competitive and awesome.
"Start your engines" The fifties brought the hose cart (go-cart) burning up the streets in downtown Lindsay. The Chapman brothers, Jim, Verne and Les organized those thrilling races. Round and round through the alleys, streets and parking lots crashing into hay bales and walls, scattering spectators. The crowds loved it. But, the stick-in-the mud city fathers and their finicky insurance agents declared the go-carts to dangerous and they were barred from the streets, it was back to the go-cart track on Honolulu. Remember? Berry Smith was the terror of the track. She walks around Lindsay at a pretty good clip today, but not nearly so dangerous as in her go-cart. You might want to get out of her way however.
I know orange blossom time is not quite here but my twitching nose tells me it is lining up to parade through the fog (ah-choo). In just a few short weeks nature will skillfully decorate the trees and the perfume of the orange blossoms will make Lindsay an aromatic wonderland and a very nice place to be. (Of course, I think it's always a nice place to be, if you have a finely tuned sniffer.) And, with nature's delight comes mans' delight: the Lindsay Orange Blossom Festival
I realize I get a little teary eye, maybe even hysterical, about the traditions of Orange Blossom Festival. Forgive me, I am a Lindsay native and I love tradition. If you don't care anything about the Festival or Lindsay, now is the time to turn the page and read the obituaries because I am definitely prejudice!
Today, the OBF Committee announced the selection of the honored couple, Bob& Barbara Tienken. Congratulations to the deserving couple. But, how and why them? In 1957 the OBF Committee decided to honor a couple or other persons who were committed to making Lindsay a better place and had a long history in Lindsay. That first year, Al & Mae Tienken, Bob's mother and father, were chosen. Did I know Al Tienken? Yes, I did; they were terrific people. Mr. Tienken use to walk by my house every morning on his way to work (he was the local pharmacist), and I would let my, friendly but furious looking, bulldog out to chase him. It wasn't that I didn't like Mr. Tienken, he just ran funny and I can't resist a good laugh. One time, my brother and I put our pet snake on the sidewalk for him to stumble upon. I don't know if Mr. Tienken like our fun and games, (he threatened us with reform school a couple of times) but he kept coming our way and he kept on smiling. That is what typifies the honored couples of the past and present; what ever befalls them, they're good sports. That was the theme of the 1995 Orange Blossom Festival " BE A SPORT"