In the 1940s, dozens of young women spent their working days sorting and packing lemons at the local packinghouse. At that time lemon orchards covered Carpinteria Valley, and the avocado was just a glimmer in the valley’s eye. The business of lemons employed a significant portion of Carpinteria’s workforce.
Grace Moreno sorted and packed lemons at the Carpinteria Lemon Association when she was about 16 years old and lemons were the main crop in the valley. Years ago, she told Coastal View News about her days in the packinghouse, which was located adjacent to the railroad tracks between Walnut and Palm avenues. She worked alongside about two-dozen ladies who plucked like-sized lemons off a conveyor belt for boxing. While Moreno picked out the “60s,” other girls on the line were responsible for the “30s.”
Each piece of fruit was wrapped in tissue then placed in a box. According to Moreno, a single box held hundreds of lemons, and a single girl packed around eight or 10 boxes in an eight-hour shift. Though Moreno worked a full day on her feet, she said the job was not tiring. “I was young,” she explained.