"But for 50 years we had that orange. You could see it from the freeway and everybody stopped. If we could get that orange back now wouldn't that say something? We would be shouting, 'We're here! We will not be forgotten!'"
Chowchilla is now auctioning the orange as a surplus item. The historical society hopes to win the bid, then lease the orange to the Friends of Fairmead for $1 a year, once the group finds a spot for it and money to move it.
Parrish thinks the orange would be closer to its roots along Avenue 9, a back road that doesn't look like much on a map but is a main artery for locals. A constant stream of cars flows by her fruit stand, with its gingham tablecloths and 4-H fresh eggs for sale. It's a road a lot like Highway 99 was back in the day, she said.
Her 13-year-old grandson, Zachary Hendrix, sees Avenue 9 as the perfect fit: "It's an orange. This is a fruit stand."
But for Fairmead the orange is important to both the town's heritage and its future, Nelson said:
"It's part of Fairmead. It put us on the map and we need it here again, saying, 'Don't pass us by.'"
Scott, the architectural historian, says that whether the Mammoth Orange eventually settles on a back road, in a community without a highway exit or elsewhere, people like her who believe a slice of California history was written in funky architecture will find it.
"A giant orange," she said, "is something to seek out."