was a small town in those days, surrounded by ranches and farms.
It was located in the heart of southern California's citrus belt,
an area that produced almost all of the state's oranges, lemons,
and tangerines. Orange County and neighboring Los Angeles County
were the leading agricultural counties in the United States, growing
fruits, nuts, vegetables, and flowers on land that only a generation
earlier had been a desert covered in sagebrush and cactus. Massive
irrigation projects, built with public money to improve private
land, brought water from hundreds of miles away. The Anaheim area
alone boasted about 70,000 acres of Valencia oranges, as well as
lemon groves and walnut groves. Small ranches and dairy farms dotted
the land, and sunflowers lined the back roads. Anaheim had been
settled in the late nineteenth century by German immigrants hoping
to create a local wine industry and by a group of Polish expatriates
trying to establish a back-to-the-land artistic community. The wineries
flourished for three decades; the art colony collapsed within a
few months. After World War 1, the heavily German character of Anaheim
gave way to the influence of newer arrivals from the Midwest, who
tended to be Protestant and conservative and evangelical about their
faith. Reverend Leon L. Myers -- pastor of the Anaheim Christian
Church and founder of the local Men's Bible Club -- turned the Ku
Klux Klan into one of the most powerful organizations in town. During
the early 1920s, the Klan ran Anaheims leading daily newspaper,
controlled the city government for a year, and posted signs on the
outskirts of the city greeting newcomers with the acronym "KIGY"
(Klansmen I Greet You).
uncle Ben owned Karcher's Feed and Seed Store, right in the middle
of downtown Anaheim. Carl worked there seventy-six hours a week,
selling goods to local farmers for their chickens, cattle, and hogs.
During Sunday services at St. Boniface Catholic Church, Carl spotted
an attractive young woman named Margaret Heinz sitting in a nearby
pew. He later asked her out for ice cream, and the two began dating.
Carl became a frequent visitor to the Heinz farm on North Palm Street.
It had ten acres of orange trees and a Spanish-style house where
Margaret, her parents, her seven brothers, and her seven sisters
lived. The place seemed magical. In the social hierarchy of California's
farmers, orange growers stood at the very top; their homes were
set amid fragrant evergreen trees that produced a lucrative income.
As a young boy in Ohio, Carl had been thrilled on Christmas mornings
to receive a single orange as a gift from Santa. Now oranges seemed
to be everywhere.
worked as a secretary at a law firm downtown. From her office window
on the fourth floor, she could watch Carl grinding feed outside
his uncle's store. After briefly returning to Ohio, Carl went to
work for the Armstrong Bakery in Los Angeles. The job soon paid
$24 a week, $6 more than he'd earned at the feed store -- and enough
to start a family. Carl and Margaret were married in 1939 and had
their first child within a year.
drove a truck for the bakery, delivering bread to restaurants and
markets in west L.A. He was amazed by the number of hot dog stands
that were opening and by the number of buns they went through every
week. When Carl heard that a hot dog cart was for sale -- on Florence
Avenue across from the Goodyear factory -- he decided to buy it.
Margaret strongly opposed the idea, wondering where he'd find the
money. He borrowed $311 from the Bank of America, using his car
as collateral for the loan, and persuaded his wife to give him $15
in cash from her purse. "I'm in business for myself now," Carl thought,
after buying the cart, "I'm on my way." He kept his job at the bakery
and hired two young men to work the cart during the hours he was
delivering bread. They sold hot dogs, chili dogs, and tamales for
a dime each, soda for a nickel. Five months after Carl bought the
cart, the United States entered World War II, and the Goodyear plant
became very busy.
Used by permission.
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