A People’s History of the Inland Empire Digital Archive

Relevancy and History Citrus Oral Histories

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  • Dallas Holmes Interview

    Interview with longtime Riverside resident Dallas Holmes: Holmes was a lawyer and judge in Riverside and Corona, as well as an activist for the green zone in Riverside that allowed for the preservation of many citrus groves along Arlington and Victoria avenues, respectively. There are also frequent mentions of the history and local, bureaucratic, and corrupt politics of the area that ultimately led to the downfall of the Citrus industry in Riverside in favor of industry and housing development for commuters from Orange and LA counties. Citrus agriculture and air pollution are also discussed rather briefly.
  • Esther Ambriz

    This interview revolves around the storied life and varied experiences Esther Ambriz had growing up in Riverside, California. Topics discussed include immigration, deportation, the earnest yet still difficult pursuit of higher education for Latinos, and discrimination. There is an emphasis on triumph and pride in the interview on the part of Esther, who raised an accomplished, educated family with little resources or privilege at her immediate disposal. Her family was first spurred to move to the U.S.due to the violence enrapturing Mexico during yet another one of its many revolutions, as well as perceived economic opportunities present in the U.S.
  • Dallas Holmes Interview

    Dallas Holmes is interviewed about the transition from citrus groves to the large housing developments in Riverside, California. He speaks about the local politics and fiscal greed that ultimately shifted Riverside from the agricultural sector/area to a more industrial, service, and suburban area. He is also proud that he was able to salvage some of the citrus groves from Riverside's past.
  • Bob Lynn Interview

    In the 1940's Bob Lynn, was a former citrus grove owner in Riverside County. Both his grandfather and his father worked for the industry throughout the early 1900s. He recalls having owned more than one hundred acres of navel oranges in the City of Riverside. His grandfather was first involved in the Sunkist industry when he became a manager for the Arlington Heights packing house, where he inspected citrus wooden boxes and shipped them to different states.  Lynn's father became an inspector for Sunkist, making sure fruit had been properly waxed and wrapped. When Lynn was six, he worked for his family’s citrus groves, killing gophers in the fields. At the height of the citrus acreage decline, he recalled a change in climate; the air became hotter and there were less trees, as buildings and blacktops replaced navel groves. With the decline of the citrus industry in Riverside, he worked to preserve the groves and became one of the founders of the Riverside Historical State Park, providing tours to the locals and establishing the Sunkist and gazebo areas, and was one of UCR’s first varial tree growers.
  • Eunice Lisberg, Helen Armstrong and Thelma King Interview

    Helen Armstrong, Eunice Lisberg and Thelma King discuss their lives in Riverside and Monrovia. This interview mainly focuses on the economic disparities faced by the black community. They recount their experiences growing up in segregated schooling in Southern California, as well as how her family survived the great depression. Lastly, debates revolving around the origins of citrus emerge in which the region's history comes into dispute.
  • Steve Reyes Interview

    This interview largely focuses on the practices involved in working in a citrus grove. Steve Reyes recalls his time as a "rata" a child laborer working in the citrus industry. The main practice outlined in the interview was smudging, a process in which smoke was used to prevent frost accumulation on the citrus plants. Reyes emphasis on a united family unit being core to the old values of Mexican American life.
  • Gary Lemos and Lupe Perez Interview

    The interviewee goes into great depth and detail describing the nature of mid-twentieth-century American citrus industry practices and culture in Southern California among primarily Mexican immigrant communities (Filipinos are occasionally mentioned). He describes what it meant to be a child laborer (termed ratas) experiencing discrimination, and political impacts on the citrus industry over time. There is also an emphasis on resilience and making the best out of less than optimal situations, such as remaining steadfast in obtaining an education while simultaneously facing the ongoing threat of deportation.