That affair ended in 1982, when all political and economic hell broke loose in Guatemala. Diedrich sold his plantation. He was crushed.
But Diedrich never lost his sense of adventure. He, his wife and the van continued their trips together, to Mexico and Belize and across California's deserts. In 1983, his sons Steve and Carl Jr. refined Diedrich's coffee-roaster design and established Diedrich Manufacturing, makers of coffee-roasting equipment, in Sandpoint, Idaho--that's where the van is now. That same year, Diedrich's son Martin joined his coffee import business.
Carl retired in 1985, and Martin took over. On July 31 of this year, Carl Diedrich succumbed to Parkinson's disease at the age of 86.
For all the high-wired times he brought to Orange County, we owe Diedrich a great deal. And part of that great deal is the Carl Diedrich Memorial Van. It already comes fully equipped. The only thing Orange County has to do to acquire a first-class mechanical shrine is figure out a way to maneuver it out of Idaho. My guess is we can get it on the cheap. And it's a hell of lot more meaningful than most of Orange County's public art, those sad metal blobs scattered among our ubiquitous steel-and-glass corporate offices or those putrid framed wildflowers pasted on our freeway's sound walls. The Carl Diedrich Memorial Van could tour Orange County--the Bowers, Huntington Beach, OCMA, the Muckenthaler, Fullerton, Laguna Beach. It would look great in the foyer at South Coast Plaza next to Diedrich Coffee. We could leave it there on display until it takes up permanent residence at the Museum of Science and Industry in the Great Park at El Toro.
What say you, Orange County? The Carl Diedrich Memorial Van?