Who is FRAN?
Who is FRAN?
FRAN Takes You There ~
I’m one of Anaheim’s historic figures, yet, represent the Anaheim of today. My name, FRAN is seen around Anaheim on small (but mighty) bright orange vehicles. FRAN stands for Free Rides Around the Neighborhood, and FRAN is your neighborhood guide around Anaheim’s vibrant downtown area.
A ride with FRAN takes you through historic, hip, and classic community areas in Anaheim. To capture a bit of this colorful past be sure to go into the Seeds store just inside the front entrance of the Anaheim Packing House. Here you’ll find replicas of some of the original orange crate art on their walls, and you can catch a quick movie about Anaheim Packing House in their mini movie theatre too.
In 2014, this historic building was revitalized as a 2-story food hall filled with a variety of independently owned and operated restaurants and bars and is now part of the Packing District, a collection of historic projects within the heart of Anaheim, including Anaheim Packing House, MAKE, Farmers Park, and Packard Building. There are so many hidden gems in this area including a chandelier made from 1929 license plates found just outside the Packard Building.
Just down the street is Center Street, where neighborhood goods and services are offered with vintage vibes and a modern-day twist. You can enjoy outdoor cafes, unique eateries and boutiques, the local Farmers’ Market, seasonal art shows, street fairs – and even the Anaheim Halloween Parade! Bordered by the historic Carnegie Library, Muzeo Museum, and the Gehry-designed Rinks at Anaheim Ice, Center Street Anaheim is just a short walk or ride away. Locals and visitors may also enjoy a trip to the Central Library or a visit to one of the five neighborhood parks in the area.
Sharing Anaheim’s community spirit is why I love giving Free Rides Around the Neighborhood.
My name is Fran, that’s short for Francisca. My full name is Francisca Avila Rimpau. I was born and raised in the Avila Adobe, the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles (on Olvera Street, in a historic district part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument in Downtown Los Angeles). My father, Francisco Avila, was mayor of Pueblo de Los Angeles before California became part of the United States. So, I am a “Californio,” an original California resident of Hispanic heritage.
I lived in Anaheim during the 1800s in the era of the Californio Dons, when great fandangos (parties) and rodeos lasted for days. In those days, the land was filled with roaming cattle and horses, acres of vineyards and fragrant orange and lemon groves.
In 1850, I married, Theodore Rimpau, a German immigrant and we settled in the quiet town of Anaheim. Our marriage was one of the first recognized marriages after California gained statehood…it was truly a historic love story.
We had fifteen amazing children together, and many of them were very involved in the Anaheim and Los Angeles as early real estate developers and educators. Our daughter Matilda was even the first female college graduate from Anaheim. I lived in a grand home only a few blocks away from the Anaheim Packing House, which was built in 1919.
A Few Anaheim Packing House Stories
One of FRAN’s top stops is the Anaheim Packing District. This historic Packing House is filled with colorful stories of the men and women and worked there in its heyday when it was a working citrus packing house.
Here are a few Packing House stories:
Back in those early days air conditioning hadn’t been invented yet, so the tall windows of the packing house opened by a pulley chain and faced the north to let in sunlight, but not wilt the fruit or the women sorting and packing.
Also, during that time, there was a friendly competition to see who was faster between the women packing the oranges on the top floor, and the men who worked in the cooler downstairs where they pulled the crates off the conveyor belt to load onto the trains. If the women packed the oranges too fast, the men couldn’t keep up and were forced to hit a big red stop button. As soon as they hit the button, they would hear the uproar of laughter coming from upstairs as the women celebrated, knowing they had won the orange packing competition that day.
The citrus industry was king for decades, and in the seventy-year period from the 1880’s to the mid-1950’s millions of colorful paper labels were used by California citrus growers to identify and advertise the wooded boxes of oranges.
Romantic pastoral images were an important selling design for the oranges and lemons that were shipped across the country. One artist, Duncan Gleason, famously painted his fiancée as the model in the labels known as Sonia, Meritoria, Favorita, Doria and Gloriana, and paid for their honeymoon with the commission. The label art saw three movements: naturalistic, advertising and commercial. Years later these packing labels inspired many creative mediums, including many classic album covers of the 1950s-1970s.