Mesa Musings: Losing Californians faster than we can grow them

July 04, 2011|By Jim Carnett

It's as passé as an old Mission Pak wrapper.

I'm speaking of the late, great state of California. I'm a California native — I love the place — but the old gal isn't what she used to be.

Mission Pak was a product of my youth, marketed by a Los Angeles firm. What precisely was it?

It was "Cali in a Box": a large package of dried and candied California fruits and nuts that we residents were urged, particularly around the holidays, to ship to relatives in Logan, Utah; Sioux City, Iowa; and International Falls, Minn.


Commercials ran on radio and television featuring a mind-numbing jingle that, once implanted in your brain, would replicate and crash your hard drive, making you crazy!

The jingle went like this:

"Say the magic word,

Say Mission Pak,

And it's on its merry way.

No gift so bright, so gay, so right,

Give the Mission Pak magic way!"

OK, so the lyrics don't hold up so well six decades later, but Mission Pak fruits were a big deal across America's heartland in the 1950s and '60s. They were a love letter from the Mecca of Sunshine and Citrus.

Mission Pak, I'm told, was bought out by an international firm years ago and, sadly, went out of business.

The same malady that brought Mission Pak to its knees — the deterioration of its brand — is now afflicting the Golden State. That's if you believe a June 27 CNN article, "The California Dream is Fizzling Out." Ouch!

"California isn't what it used to be," the CNN piece alleges. "For average Americans, the state seems to have lost its appeal."

Because our state hasn't grown oranges and lemons for quite some time, I'm wondering when we last even had a peel?

One of my four grandparents was born in California. The remaining three hailed from Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. They all arrived anticipating a better life.

My mom was born in Kansas, my dad in San Francisco.

"I'm so grateful my father had wanderlust," my 87-year-old mother told me the other day. "He dreamed of California. Had he remained in southeastern Kansas, I probably would have spent my married life in Tulsa."

With my mom in Tulsa, and my dad in Lotus Land — and never the twain meeting — that puts me hovering in a mother ship somewhere above Roswell, N.M.

The CNN article asserts that California is not the destination it once was.

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