Thursday, September 15, 2011

From Oranges to Oil

The following is a selection from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.

Archer W. Kammerer moved with his family to Fullerton in 1900. He mostly made his living in the oil business, designing and selling equipment for drilling oil. He is an interesting case, however, because he also owned orange groves. So he was a man standing, as it were, between two business eras of Fullerton—the era of the orange, and the era of oil. When asked by a student interviewer for the CSUF Oral history program in 1975 why the orange groves went out of business in Fullerton, Kammerer replied:

“Taxes. On my grove here taxes were greater than the gross income from the sale of oranges. On top of that, I had upkeep and the cost of raising them. You cannot tolerate that too long...I think everybody experienced the same effect...I think I was about the last one in Fullerton. That was simply because I was very active in my [oil drilling equipment] business...I think that is probably the basic problem of everyone who had an orange grove. They were taxed out of it.

Most of the orange groves were bought up by oil companies. When asked, “What about the oil fields? Did they have any problems like the orange growers?” Kammerer had far less to say: “I don’t know. I had nothing to do with the oil fields except sell them tools...We all had problems. I don’t know what they were, though, I had enough to keep myself busy.”

Evidently, the oil companies did not experience the same tax burdens that the orange growers did.


Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company, 1905

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