The Honey Man of El Sereno

The Honey Man of El Sereno

This is a guest post by a longtime friend, Carl Haney who, together with his wife Tomoko Haney, runs a Japanese antique business Itchy Knee Antiques.

The Honey Man. Photographer Carl Haney.

He’s 96 years old and attributes his long life to the fact that he eats honey everyday. He’s a third generation beekeeper. His father put a beekeepers hat on him and took him out to their beehives in Zacatecas, Mexico for the first time when he was 1 year old.

Sign. Photographer Carl Haney.

He came to the U.S. in 1943 and worked in orchards and fields, picking produce. This was probably as part of the “Bracero Program”. He didn’t verify that but the U.S. government started a program during WW2 to bring a lot of workers from Mexico to work the farms here because so many of the American farm workers were in the military. (America was very rural then with a lot of small farms)

In 1946 he was in Arizona but joined his brother who had just gotten out of the Army and was in Los Angeles. He couldn’t find work. (With all the returned veterans, work was scarce for everyone.) So, he moved to some small towns up north, (I didn’t know the names but maybe in Central California.) where he got work in the canning / fruit packing industry. It’s seasonal but he can still remember the time he worked for five weeks and got $980. He was “So rich” he sent most of the money to his family in Mexico.

He came back to L.A. and worked in a formica shop. He bought his house (a 1920 craftsman style house) in 1953 for $10,000. It’s right on Huntington Drive. A major road that is mostly businesses now with a few (very few) houses still there from way back.
He has other properties in the hills around L.A.(five I think) where he has his bee hives. He made all his own frames (He still considers himself a carpenter) and all his hives.

The Honey Man’s Hive. Photographer Carl Haney

I mostly just listened to him talk. I tried asking a couple of questions but his hearing isn’t that good or his English and neither is my Spanish. Also I think he’d get on a thought / talking track and it was difficult get off it. The man in 96.

A fascinating guy with an interesting life. He’s been written up in the L.A. times and in the South Pas Review
I enjoyed listening to him. And he has great honey.
(We’ve been buying from him for years.)