Continue reading and re-living a 1929 across country journey with H. H. Franzen and his wife in part two of Western Journey. Read Western Journey, part 1 if you’ve not done so for greater understanding.
Similarly, as Mr. Franzen compared in this week’s California Letter the East from the West as almost indescribable, I too would say the same of our visit to Alaska and the rest of the country. Indescribable.
CALIFORNIA LETTER by H. H. Franzen (continued from last week)
I have an idea that the sea breeze makes it so cool there evenings after the sun goes down. Back from the coast it becomes considerably cooler, but this good country extends only about 100 miles eastward and then you reach the mountains. Here you see mountains and gullies, such as you have never seen before in your life. Along the coast you can always see snow-capped mountains.
It certainly is a sight to see the wonderful orange and lemon groves. Flowers and roses grow all along the highways. Of course, in the winter time it is not as nice as it becomes later in the season, but the difference between the East and the West is almost indescribable.
There are the most beautiful orange and lemon groves by the tens of thousands of acres, just loaded down to the ground with fruit for miles around. Both orange and lemon trees have a wonderful strength of bearing. The lemon tree bears the whole year round. It has blossoms, real small lemons, half grown and ripe lemons all the year round. The orange bearing season is only about nine months. We brought a few twigs with small oranges, half size and full grown on them, and also with larger number of blossoms, but the twigs and the blossoms dried out before we could show them.
Then come the ornamental trees such as pepper and palm, and a number of other trees and bushes. They have a wonderful effect on the whole countryside and give it a foreign appearance. Then come the trees and bushes which shed their foliage the same as they do here, but they are much different from those we have here, such as figs, English walnuts, and fruit trees of which we did not learn very much. Then there are the California grapes which are cultivated so much. We passed through a patch of 7,000 acres of them. They do not grow in the winter. You see very little of the plant itself. The vines are all trimmed and have just the stumps, from ten inches to two and one-half feet high. They are planted a good deal like corn, in rows, about 6 to 7 feet apart, and the same distance in the row, so when you pass a field of them it has the appearance of young corn plants, but as they didn’t bear while we were there, we cannot say much about them, except what we were told.
The blackberries also bear abundantly, as the vines do not die at all, the bushes get very large. The peaches also are wonderful, and I have eaten some of them at different places; that is, what they had canned.
It seems they can raise garden truck all the year. For at Long Beach, three times in the week, you can buy anything in that line you wish or can think of. The Japanese are the main people following that line of occupation. Every other day, you see a solid line of stands on two sides of Lincoln Park, selling everything that you care to eat, and they have such a large patronage that it is almost impossible at times to push through the crowd. Everybody carries a paper bag, mostly filled to the top. Then they pitch horseshoes. Thirty-two men were playing the game. They also have a number of croquet grounds. It is a most wonderful park with beautiful flower beds and shaded with palm trees. Also, there is a public library here, and from it they continually broadcast over the radio.
At Long Beach they have all kinds of games and amusements, continually, almost night and day. Everybody seems determined to get all the money of tourists that they can. If you have any money, you can soon get rid of it, but when you talk of hospitality, California has them all beat. That is, where you visit of acquaintances, they surely exceed us in hospitality. They took us all over that part of California, and they arranged all kinds of meetings and gatherings. They took us from town to town in their autos. Their generosity had no limit, not only in the day time, but have made many a trip after night, and as the whole country has the finest and best and widest hard reads, it was surely the greatest enjoyment to us both.
H. H. Franzen
From back of card “Lincoln Park, Long Beach, California. Fronting on Ocean Boulevard at Pacific Avenue. This public park contains Public Library; rogue courts, chess and checkers facilities, and open-air band concert building. At its west edge is the famous Long Beach Farmers’ Market.”
CALIFORNIA LETTER by H. H. Franzen
(continued from last week…the May 16, 1929 edition missing)
Some days later we were informed that some of our friends and the Tholens had made arrangements for a meeting at the Reverend Peter’s church at Los Angeles, but as this has already been published in the Golden New Era some time ago, (missing edition) I shall not say anymore about it except that Ehme Bruns and wife took us to that church, and they also stayed for the forenoon sermon of Reverend Peters, but as they had been invited to dinner at Mr. Bruns’ brothers they could not take part in our dinner at the church.
After dinner our party was taken to the Exhibition and Art Buildings. Here we saw the greatest collection of real and also unreal mountains and forests, which were inhabited by almost all kinds of wild beasts and animals, and also the different kinds of birds and feather-bearing creatures. All were shown in their native home surroundings. All of these creatures were stuffed and held in such lifelike positions that it was indeed a wonderful sight but the background of the real scene was transformed into a most natural hand painted picture, yet so real that you couldn’t tell where the change took place.
Well, as this building was so large and filled to the utmost and as it is beyond my ability to give you a true description of the same, I shall not try to say more, but this much I will say, although I have seen a considerable number of the wonders of the world, this beats them all.
After supper at the church a son of Mr. and Mrs. Harm Buss took us home, and then he had to go back to Whittier where the Goldenstein’s made their home at that time, but he didn’t seem to mind a 50-mile trip after night and we sure thank him very much.
The next meeting was held at Mr. Willard Steward and his companions’ home where we celebrated Mr. Steward’s, and also one of his companion’s birthdays, at Los Angeles. Francis Tholen took his parents and us there. They had invited a large number of friends, but I have an idea that it was mostly in honor of us, at least we appreciated their invitation very much. Neither one had a wife and I suggested or asked whether all three of them could not afford to have one wife, but it seemed they couldn’t agree to my suggestion, as one of the three took the place of the cook, but they may change their minds later on. At least I would. Well, John the cook served us two bountiful meals, dinner and supper.
Here I shall mention Otho Reed and wife, Mrs. Reed, and Mrs. Ruth Crum, who took part in serving the meals. Mr. and Mrs. Reed were formerly of Golden and had the telephone office here. We were about fifty in all former residents of Golden. Mr. Reed took a picture of the crowd, but so far I haven’t seen the picture. I would be glad to receive a picture and pay for the price.
That evening Mr. and Mrs. Claas Tholen took us to their home in Ontario, and next day we went to Riverside, a distance of 20 miles, where we made arrangements with John Bohlen to meet us and take us to his and his sister’s home at Anza, about 70 miles distance. He was to meet us at noon but was a little late, and when we got to Hermet, we still had 40 miles to make after night, over the most crooked and mountainous road. Say, what a wonderful ride, and we were not used to mountain rides as so far we had had smooth roads.
Of course, John was used to these rides as he had made many trips after night. He surely is an expert driver and his car is a great puller. He has great confidence in himself and also in his car, so he just let it go up and down, right and left, around the corners and short turns and narrow tracks on the side of the mountain and hills. We almost begged him to slow up but he just laughed at us and claimed that he didn’t drive fast at all. I always thought I had a little courage as I have driven cars thousands of miles, but I must shamefully confess that I am a coward.
Well, we finally got there. It was 9 p.m. We stayed with John and his sister Grace for two days. They own 290 acres of land. A large portion is sage brush but it can be cultivated but it needs lots of work to clear it. They raise lots of turkeys and chickens. John and his sisters are hard workers and have surely done well. Their sister, Marie, and her husband live but one-fourth mile from them. He follows farming and cattle raising. They have built a new house. John took us to a place called Rocky Mountain, and it sure was a sight.
H. H. Franzen
Note: I wonder if John Bohlen was also as confident in the tires he bought for his motor car. Then was H. H. Franzen remembering the “Friendly Warning” in the 1920’s Golden New Era when he said he “shamefully confessed he was a coward” that night on the dark mountain drive.Golden New Era Golden, Illinois May 20, 1920 Golden New Era Golden, Illinois June 17, 1920