The Organization

By Christopher Zoukis

The next year, 1909, while attending the state fruit growers convention in Watsonville, California, J.P. Dargitz became so disgusted with his farming brethren’s indecisiveness that he decided it was time for them to hear a hell-fire and damnation sermon on the topic.  So he rose to his feet and gave them the gospel according to J.P. Dargitz.  He blasted them, telling them they’d better wake up to the reality of the situation. 

He finished his sermon by telling them that “as long as the imported almonds are the largest portion of the almond supply, the imported nuts will fix the price, which will be the price of foreign almonds, including the duty, less freight from California to New York.  This will determine the price of California almonds.  If the crop is small, then the fixed price means little profit, because we don’t get the fixed price.  For the buyers put the price to us as much below the fixed price as possible.  The goal of the buyers is not to buy low and sell high.  It’s not that simple.  The ultimate goal of the buyers is to undersell the competing buyers when they sell to the jobbers.  Image courtesy

“The only way to defeat the process is for us to work together.  Then and only then we won’t lose money.  As it stands right now, the local associations of growers are actually conspiring against themselves, because they’re trying to undersell each other.  That’s just what the buyers want.  For it means that everybody loses money, except the buyers.

“Local associations do the best they can and they are a starting point.  But the real need is for a central marketing organization.”

J.P. Dargitz sat down and looked around.  All his brethren were nodding in agreement, but none of them were ready to take the next step.  It was as if they were paralyzed.  J.P. Dargitz snorted in disgust. 

On his way back home, J.P. realized that he had finally found a challenge big enough for him focus all his energy on.  If Moses could lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to the promised land, then he could lead the hostage growers of California into financial freedom.  By the time he reached Acampo, he had made up his mind to keep preaching his message.  Every where he went, to each grower he met, J.P. Dargitz exhorted his listeners.  Chaos in the industry, along with low prices they were receiving for their crops opened the ears of his fellow growers.  The gospel message of J.P. Dargitz made many proselytes. 

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J.P. Dargitz Goes to California

By Christopher Zoukis

In 1896, J.P. could no longer resist the siren call of California, which was believed to be a land flowing “with milk and honey” and vast opportunity.  California was a place where men of vision and ability could make a name for themselves – and a fortune, too.  J.P moved to California, where he put all his talents to work.  He taught school, practiced medicine and preached the Gospel.  Eventually he became the pastor of a small church in Lakeport, California.  J.P.’s church was affiliated with the Church of Christ. 

Seeing an opportunity, J.P decided to seize it with both hands.  It was 1904, and the Church of Christ was establishing colonies in parts of the United States.  These colonies were religious communities, where like-minded believers could live and work and play, all while keeping the sinful ways of the rest of humanity at arm’s length.  They could live in the world yet not be a part of the world. 

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J.P. Dargitz

By Christopher Zoukis

Some people called J.P. Dargitz a power broker.  Others, who weren’t quite so impressed, called him an influence peddler.  Still others, those who had been outsmarted by him, called J.P. Dargitz everything from a manipulator to a swindler.  One thing was for sure, though, J.P. Dargitz got things done.  The greater the challenge, the more J.P. liked it.  As soon as the goal was attained, he lost interest and moved on to newer challenges.  Image courtesy

J.P. Dargitz hailed from Mansfield, Ohio, where he entered the world on September 8, 1859.  He attended public school in Asland, Ohio.  When he was 11-years old, his parents moved the family to Clarence, Iowa.  After graduating from high school, J.P. was offered the position of schoolteacher in Union County, Iowa.  The Union County School Board wanted the best teacher available and, impressed not only by J.P.’s academic record but also by his charismatic personality, they approached him on the very day of his graduation.  For five years, J.P. taught school.  Then, overcome by the urge to go somewhere else and do something new and different, J.P. quit and left.  He got a job as an agent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, where he soon advanced to the position of traveling auditor.  Being an auditor was interesting for a while, but J.P. longed for some formidable task that would focus his talents.  Railroad auditors did the same thing over and over again.  J.P. wanted a grand adventure to give his life meaning and pizzazz. 

Like Solomon, he thought perhaps learning would make him happy.  So J.P. left the CB&Q and moved to Chicago – the windy city, where he studied medicine at the Chicago Homeopathic Medical College.  In 1889, at the age of 30, J.P. Dargitz graduated medical college at the top of his class.  He was now J.P. Dargitz, M.D. 

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