King Orange

James B. Tippin, Jr., author of “Encouragement, Loyalty and Make-Do” remembers learning about pyrotechnics from the “King Orange.”

King OrangeDuring the late 1970′s I began a thirteen  year tour with the California Court system. A California Lawyer/citrus grower who knew of my childhood reliance on Florida citrus invited me to tour a modern citrus concentrate plant. The first interesting fact to greet me was the knowledge that our visit would take place in the sunshine as the plant operated only at night. This was the result of the extraordinary difference in electrical power cost between day and night, a difference calculated in thousands of dollar per week. As I proceeded through the huge plant each place of change in the consistency of the citrus was explained. I noted a small, solid, thick steel building located in a place of isolation. I asked its purpose. “Oh, the explosive part goes there.” was the response. Only then did I recall my early childhood experience with the charmless King Orange during the great Depression.
There were those harboring deep affection for the very large, swarthy, thick skinned, unsymmetrical fruit with an unusual though pleasant aroma and slightly unbalanced flavor, known as the “King Orange,” kingdom not specified. Their attraction for the fruit was certified in the New York markets by a willingness to spend during very difficult times. The problem was finding them, a very thin population. 
The author's son tests the theory - it works!

The author’s son tests the theory – it works!

There were only a small group of king orange trees on Storm Grove in Vero Beach, Florida. Most likely it was July 5, around 1935. All the red, white and blue fireworks items, so carefully preserved and ogled for weeks, lay about the yard as burned out hulks. While I moped around, my older brother asked that I pick a King Orange while he recovered a box of kitchen matches. Later he instructed that after he struck a match I should squeeze the king orange skin near the flame. Eureka!…. Many Lilliputian sky rockets! That experience I recalled that day in California upon encountering the armored building. EXPLOSIVES from citrus.