Dancing Lady VegetablesI had a conversation with a granddaughter of Karnig Simonian when she bought some Petite Journals and she passed on some family history, about the label used on the cover,  that was given to her by her father.

First a brief look at K. H. Simonian based upon my recollection, his youngest offspring.

Karnig immigrated to the United States with his family as a very young boy.  The family was escaping from their home in Armenia during the time of the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people.   The family ultimately settled in Fresno, California with other relatives and acquaintances that preceded them. Many of the Armenian became involved with raising fruits and vegetables.  (For example one of our cousins founded the Sunmade Raisin Company).

Hard work was part of the fabric of my father.  At a young age his father Hagop, was killed in a hunting accident forcing Karnig to become a breadwinner at a very young age.  At the ripe old age of 11, Karnig worked the 1915 world’s fair known as the San Francisco -Panama Exposition selling a new ice cream treat, the Eskimo Pie, first introduced during the Fair.  This hard work ethic and entrepreneur spirit served him well in later years.  His advice to me growing up was to always take care of your; (i) credit and (ii) reputation, and good things will follow. He was living proof that action

K. H. Simonian & Company. 

 The company was involved with the buying and selling of produce.  The firm had operations in San Francisco, Oakland, South San Francisco and Los Angeles.  The K. H. Simonian & Co. was not a brokerage company whereby product was purchased on behalf of another entity, but rather a dealer who purchased produce in its own name from the various growers throughout the state and then resold the merchandise to the jobbers (hopefully for a markup) who in turn sold the merchandise to restaurants, markets, and other facilities.  During World War II, my father was instrumental in procuring vast amounts of produce for export to our troops in the Pacific, so much so that one of his monocles was the “Celery King”.  During the 1950s and into the early 1960s, the company was located at 422 Front Street, San Francisco.  Dad rented space from Globe Produce in the old Produce Market which today is the footprint for  numbers; One, Two, Three and Four Embarcadero Center comprising part of San Francisco’s financial district.  In the mid-1960s, San Francisco moved the produce market to its current location where the Company continued to prosper.

Dancing Lady Label

I do not know the history behind the creation of the Dancing Lady label, but that is the label of the company as far back as I can recall.  I was told that the lady in the picture is loosely based upon the likeness of skating star Sonja Henie, a Norwegian skating multiple Olympic champion of the 1920s and 1930s.  (The bronze statue of Sonja Henie in Oslo could have been the model for the label art work) This label and the company represent an integral fabric of the history of the Bay Area produce business from the 1940s through my dad’s passing in 1989.  And now with the label in hand, it too will become part of my family history and will be handed down for generations to come.

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