Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fruit Crate Art Rules!

Someday, I will go to a headshrink and together, probing the labyrinthine byways of my mind, we will figure out why I love old fruit crate art so very, very much.

If you feel compelled to offer a bad pun about the fruit loving fruit crate art, go ahead and get it out of your system. I'm a patient woman.

When I was a kid -- back in the Seventies, when we still shared the earth with dying dinosaurs and disco -- there was a brief craze during which T-shirts were sold with old fruit crate art images on them. I snatched up several. My first, and favorite, was for Sea Cured Ventura County Lemons, sold by the Seaboard Lemon Association of Oxnard, California. It featured a picture of a beautiful cargo-ship, evidently laden with lemons as it cruised into a West Coast harbor at sunrise. The billowy clouds overhead reflected the orangy sun rising over the city, the waves did their merry morning dance, and all seemed right with the world.

When I couldn't wear the shirt anymore, I cut out the picture and put it on my wall. My mom thought I was nuts. (The fact that I had pictures of beautiful women on my wall the whole time I was growing up -- from Snow White and Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie" in the early years to Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn as a teen -- never seemed to bother her. Meaning only, as it evidently did, that I was a "big fan.") A washed-out-looking rag with the faded remains of an ad for lemons made no sense to her in the least.

Google junkie that I am, one day I tapped in "Sea Cured Ventura County Lemons" and got nothing but chaos. Then I tried "Old fruit crate art," and had a bonanza. There are several excellent websites out there, on which antique fruit crate art, as well as old advertising art in general, is sold. As I mentioned on this Blog once before, a site called "Plan 59" (formerly "Ephemera Now") is my favorite, especially for mid-century graphics. Not a day goes by that I don't visit that site, as there is always something new and wonderful.

At a site called "Oodles a Lootle" (www.oodlesalootle.com), I finally hit paydirt and found my "Sea Cured" picture. It just arrived in the mail a few days ago. As soon as I get it framed, I am on my way to redecorating my house so it really feels like mine.

On the back of the picture's cardboard backing, there's a sort of certificate of authenticity, showing that this was, indeed, once a real fruit crate label. It includes the big stamped word, "Sunkist," along with a recipe for "Lemon Clear Sauce for Puddings" (!!!) and "Household Uses of Lemon" (!!!!!!!!!) I am in hoggy, lemon-crate heaven.

Best of all, as the label also tells us, it is "A Product of United States of America." Be a patriot and buy a fruit crate label today!

One of the best things about America is that even if you inherit your house from your parents, you're free to redecorate it your own way. Goodbye to all the "Mom" frou-frou (heterosexually tasteful though it may be) and hello fruit crate art, Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn!


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