White Gold

Bulb growing in McKinleyville took on a new vitality by the l940's, with the deteriorating relations between the US and Japan. In the late 30's the supply of Easter Lily bulbs diminished as well. But there was still demand for the trumpet shaped fragrant ivory flowers. A grower in Harbor, Oregon had enough Croft lily bulbs to sell as starts. One orange crate of bulbs cost three thousand dollars (about $40,000 in 2010 dollars).

When most growers were required to grow vegetables for the war, several families came down from Brookings, Oregon and up from Lodi, California to grow lilies. Names like: Hartman, Werner, Bolier, Surpris, Dormoas, Gillchrist and Riemond were all active in growing lilies they called White Gold.

Alfred Riemond and his wife Henrietta purchased a farm six days after the war started, it was well placed near the railhead of the old Hammond Railroad out on Dows Prairie. Theirs was just one of the many farms that together totaled hundreds of acres of lily cultivation.

Abraham Werner moved to McKinleyville in l942 and purchased the 160 acre Murray ranch from Lawrence Murray. It was he who went to Oregon and bought three orange crates of Croft lily bulbs for $7,500 (about $100,000 in 2010 dollars), then renting a 1/2 to 1 acre parcel to several families (20-25) who grew lilies for the bulb market. The next year there was an oversupply and the lily growers went on to other ventures. Abraham made a profit that first year and continued to grow bulbs for market.

Among the people arriving in the early 40's was Dave Bolier from Red Bluff. He grew daffodils and lilies but sold his daffodils to Abraham Werner's grandson, Jim. He had begun to grow Easter Lilies, then went to daffodils. One of the best sellers was the King Alfred which was deep yellow and Fortune which was yellow with an orange center.  Where his fields thrived there is now a Fortune Street and Daffodil lane; there is also an Easter Lily Lane. When the bulbs were dug up they were packed in sawdust in bags for shipment to the eastern market. When Henrietta's husband died she later married Al Hartman and these were the main families that grew bulbs for many years. The lilies went to supply floral industry businesses such as the San Francisco Flower Market, Alpha Beta, Safeway, Albertson, Lorenzo and the Los Angeles Flower Market.   continued

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