Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Abinante and Nola In Flames

I've written a lot on Abinante and Nola, the dried fruit packer that operated across the tracks from the Del Monte cannery in the 1950's. Their name is still on the building on my layout even though the company didn't even exist in the early 1930's when my layout is set. Still, they're a favorite packer for me, so I keep an eye out for details about them when I'm doing online searches.

A recent newspaper search turned up the story of the loss of their first plant out on Stevens Creek Road towards Cupertino. I'd heard from the family that the plant had burned down some time in the 1940's, and the San Jose Evening News on May 20, 1940 confirms this - the plant went up in flames that morning. Photos in the paper show the boiler and metal wheels of carts for carrying dried fruit flats as the only survivors.

Fire of unknown origin destroyed the Abinante & Nola dried fruit packing plant on Stevens Creek Road and a large stock of dried punes stored in the building early this morning. Loss was not immediately estimated, but is expected to total several thousand dollars.
Discovered by passing motorists, the fire had swept through the entire plant and efforts of volunteers to save the burning building were unsuccessful. The blaze occurred outside the limits of any fire fighting district, but the Burbank fire district men and apparatus, led by Chief Jack Suratt, responded and saved adjacent buildings.
The Abinante & Nola plant, operated by Sam Abinante and Frank Nola, was formerly known as the West Side Fruit Company and was one of the oldest packing plants in the county.
I'd always suspected Abinante and Nola had occupied the West Side Fruit Growers Association property, but this confirms it. It's irrelevant for the model railroad, of course, but tying the story together is just as much fun!

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