An ultra-rare label illustrates the history of Summerland from the 1880 to 1930s.

Spook Brand produce was introduced to Carpinterians in the March 15, 1934 (Volume II, No. 4) edition of the Carpinteria Chronicle in a news brief titled “Hail, Lowly String Bean.”  

The article reported that the Spook Brand string beans were farmed by Emerick, Wood and Shepard on 400 acres in Summerland. The farmers were enthusiastic about one of their varieties of produce that they named “Esposo” beans. They controlled all the seed. Esposo, they said, was the Spanish word for spook, thus the name of the product.  Never mind that “esposo” actually means husband, as in husband and wife, in a Spanish dictionary.

The artist of the label, according to Thomas Pat Jacobsen, is probably Rudy Schmidt, one of the artists of the San Francisco based Schmidt Litho Company, but no relation to the Litho family of Schmidts. “As a dedicated life-long historian and curator, I think this is an amazing label,” said Jacobsen. It is hard to argue with his opinion. The illustration is one of the best examples of a label of any kind at detailing the history of an entire community.  

Summerland was dubbed “Spookville” in its early history as a result of its initial status as a colony and world-wide meeting place for Spiritualism circa 1890. Spiritualism believed in communication with the dead via séances held in Summerland’s Liberty Hall. Note the ghostly medium at the top left of the label. Under the medium, the Summerland hillside is illuminated by lit natural gas which was abundant underground. The wooden piers are in shallow ocean water, and the majestic, offshore oil derricks—the first offshore wells in Western civilization—are in the foreground.

Jacobsen has cataloged 75,000 labels of all kinds but has never been able to find an original Spook Brand label. Carpinterian Richard Partida, who recently passed, was the source of this label which he shared with a few select friends. He was an avid collector of Carpinteria memorabilia and historian.

Is there someone out there who can supply one of these rare labels to Mr. Jacobsen?  

If you have a story or photo that tells a unique part of Carpinteria’s history, please contact Jim a To learn more about Carpinteria’s unique and interesting past, visit the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 956 Maple Ave.

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