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Hobby Doesn't Defy Labeling

February 07, 1988|DICK RORABACK

Remember those marvelous fruit-crate labels? Sure Shot pears, Big Chief tomatoes, Collegiate oranges? For that matter, remember fruit crates (garret Chippendale, we used to call them)? Seen any lately? Not likely: 99% of the fruit shipped out of California now moves in cardboard cartons. And like just about anything fallen into desuetude, the labels have become collectors' items.

The Citrus Label Society even publishes a monthly newsletter, the Citrus Peal, out of San Clemente, while avid collectors like Pat Jacobsen scurry about the state in search of rarities. Jacobsen, a musician, has even written a book, "Crate Expectations" (he's negotiating with a New York Publisher), and wonders aloud how he can pry the remaining labels out of "retired growers who still have 20 copies of granddad's label. . . ."

Jacobsen, who has thousands of labels in his collection, estimates that there are still millions of labels around, in Southern and Central California, many of them "true works of art; the big lithograph companies could afford to hire California's top artists . . . and in the early years of limestone lithographs the labels depicted scenes: of the Red Cars going up a hill, or of Mt. Baldy, illustrated maps of orchards." Any lore or labels would be appreciated; conversely, if you'd like to get involved in the hobby, write Jacobsen at 437 Minton Court, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523.

Paper Bag Chic Comes Into Vogue

Paper or plastic?

Don't even ask the California Federation of Women's Clubs, crusaders for the good old-fashioned paper bag. "Not only is paper recyclable," says Tina Hunt of San Bernardino, former chairwoman of the Del Rosa FWC chapter conservation committee, "it's biodegradable." I.e., paper is quickly assimilated by the earth from whence it sprang. Plastic, on the other hand, can kick around underfoot forever or 450 years, whichever comes first. . . .

To emphasize her point, Hunt this weekend modeled a complete Western outfit--calf-length skirt, vest, boots, hat--all made out of paper bags, at a Women's Club fashion show in Anaheim. Other paper-bag couture included a flapper dress, a wedding gown complete with lace, and a variety of barbecue aprons ("Just don't stand too close to the fire," cautioned Hunt).

Nice idea, but what about all those dead trees? "We should cut down only those we need," Hunt said, "and whenever we do, replant two or three more."

Practicing what she preaches, Hunt has sent away for a catalogue that shows how to make disposable (biodegradable, recyclable) paper playwear for children. "I'm not that sold," she confessed. "I have an 8-year-old son who could wear holes in armor. . . ."

To Her, L.A. Used to Be the Place

"When I came to L.A. 17 years ago," Judith Stiehm said, "I felt that 'This is the place to be.' Then last spring they started dedicating art museums everywhere, and people were planning more, and all of a sudden I thought, 'This city is over the hill.' "

Stiehm is just kidding of course, but the anecdote goes a long way toward explaining her excitement at being appointed provost--the No. 2 job at a university, in charge of faculty, curriculum, etc.--at Florida International University. "It's an unencumbered university," said Stiehm, formerly assistant provost of USC. "No tradition. No history. We simply are. This is one of those 21st-Century institutions, what every single person who's an expert on higher education says every university will become."

FIU--"so new we can hardly find our offices"--admitted its first freshmen eight years ago, and now boasts 16,000 students with a "superior" faculty of 650. "Educationally, you can do anything you want to here," Stiehm said by phone from Miami. "People can come part-time; we have many of our classes at night; the average age of our students is 27; our two campuses are beautiful, and the faculty is growing up with the university. . . ."

Does she not miss Los Angeles, though, even a little? "Of course," Stiehm said, "and I really miss the weather, but it's exciting at FIU. Los Angeles doesn't even know yet that it's old and established. . . ."

The Next Noise That You Hear . . .

The roar does drive you a little batty sometimes, especially near LAX, and there's nothing much you can do about it--at least immediately--but the Dept. of Airports has kindly provided a new telephone number just so you can get it off your chest. It's 64-NOISE in the 213 area code, or (818) 785-1418 for the Burbank Airport. What's more, they care about your calls, and it helps them, too, to pinpoint unusual noise problems and to take action to resolve them.

"We do have our steady complainers, of course," says Ginny Black, the department's community-relations director, "but most of the calls concern a specific incident; say, a plane is getting ready to land and is waved off because of traffic on the ground that the controllers are worried about. That makes a lot of unaccustomed noise, that we're happy to explain. Sometimes, too, there's a weather ceiling that bounces the noise back, or a situation where unusual winds--maybe 5% of the time--dictate takeoffs to the east rather than over the water, and people understandably wonder what's going on."

A favorite complaint, though, remains the call from a man to "a new gal in the office. He said, 'This noise is driving me crazy. I'm trying to make love to my wife and I can't even do that, I'm so distracted.' So our new gal says, 'Please hold on. . . .' "

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