McDonald’s in Pomona

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This ad from the Sept. 3, 1954 Pomona Progress-Bulletin would seem to settle a trivia question. Because McDonald’s, which was established Dec. 12, 1948 by the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, opened restaurants in Pomona and Azusa that month, it’s been unclear which was the seventh and which was the eighth.

Give Pomona the bragging rights. The ad proclaims: “Our New Pomona Unit is the 7th in the McDonald system that will soon be coast to coast.”

The ad also pins down the date the Pomona location was to open: that very day, Sept. 3. Ideally, someday someone will look through microfilm of whatever newspaper served Azusa to find an ad for the opening of its McDonald’s.

Thanks to the Pomona Public Library’s Allan Lagumbay for finding this ad. Click on it for a larger version. Some of the text is amusing by modern standards. Its french fries would be “heat protected by infra-red lights” — gosh!

McDonald’s history has been featured previously on this blog here and here.

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Gravity Hill

We’ve written about “the dips” on Base Line/16th Street (and 19th Street too) and other bits of local lore or urban legends beloved by people who were teenagers here at the right time, like the Green Mist in Chino Hills and rumors of a town for little people somewhere in the foothills. Here’s another one: Gravity Hill.

The handiest description I have came from a 2015 letter to me from reader Jerry Terrill of Claremont in which he commented on various historical subjects. Here’s what he had to say:

“This was a narrow isolated street in the north end of Upland, now gone but probably in the area of the dam. In the daytime or at night, the street definitely had an uphill appearance, but if you stopped your car, or got out and put a round object (most often an orange) on the pavement, it (the car or the object) would seemingly roll uphill, countering the gravity. Thus, Gravity Hill. It was some sort of optical illusion caused by the surrounding terrain, but it sure was convincing.”

Shades of the Mystery Spot! Do any of you remember Gravity Hill or have your own stories about it?

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Restaurant of the Week: Caffe Allegro, Upland

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Caffe Allegro, 186 N. 2nd Ave. (at Ninth), Upland; open daily

It can be easy to take a restaurant for granted. Downtown Upland’s fortunes ebb and flow, but Caffe Allegro has hung in there for nearly two decades. It opened in 1998, five years after the original location debuted in La Verne, and both are still operating today.

I’ve been to the Upland version perhaps a half-dozen times, both in the early days and then again the past two Decembers, visits that reminded me that it’s an unsung local restaurant.

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There’s patio seating along Second Avenue; inside, a substantial dining room adjoins a dimly lighted, popular wine bar. Near year-end, an upside-down Christmas tree near the front door is an annual sight. The dining room has high ceilings with rooms-spanning arches, inscriptions in Italian and faux sculptures.

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Entrees range from $14 to $32 and include pasta, salads, a few pizzas and more. With friends in 2014, I got tortellini a la pesto ($16); last year, it was linguini tuttomare ($25), with shrimp, scallops, tuna, squid, mussels and clams in broth. An Italian American at the table said, “That’s as Italian a dish as you can get. My parents would be proud of you.”

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Service was low-key and professional. The only problem was the wine three of my friends ordered hadn’t been chilled, and the waiter’s attempt to quick-chill it wasn’t really successful. But they didn’t mind. We also shared a tiramisu ($8).

I’m only an occasional Italian diner, but the Italian American at the table had the same conclusion as me: Allegro is among the better Italian restaurants around these parts. Give them a try if you haven’t, or try them again if it’s been a few years. It’s right where it was last time you saw it.

In the hallway leading to the restrooms: Fellini movie posters. Nice touch.

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‘Helpful Honda Guys’ help artist in Pomona

A SoCal Honda Dealers commercial shows a donation of shop equipment to an artist who makes simple wooden cars out of scrap for children. He’s unnamed, but he’s Richard E. Nunez of Pomona, who goes by the nickname Ren.

After scrap became scarce, Nunez tells me, he wrote Honda asking for wood when the dealers group solicited pitches on Twitter. The Helpful Honda Guys responded within two weeks and came out to his house.

The filming lasted all day but was enjoyable. (The cameraman, he said, worked on “The Da Vinci Code.”) The equipment he got was “like a mini-Home Depot … table saw, two hand sanders, skill saw, different kinds of paint, all sorts of different sizes of wood, paint brushes. The list goes on and on.” He was also paid for the commercials, done in English and Spanish.

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Former United Artists Theater interior, Pomona

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Many of us have wondered what the interior of the old United Artists/California theater in downtown Pomona looks like these days, but as it’s a Spanish church, we’re unlikely to feel comfortable wandering in. But photographer Richard Nunez did go in and snapped a few photos, which he shared with me.

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The auditorium has been significantly altered, and the seats appear to be chairs, not theater seats. And that’s all understandable. Ontario’s Granada is the same shape. But if you were ever in the theater (I wasn’t), you may decide its feel isn’t entirely different. The grillwork by the speaker looks nice.

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In the lobby, below, there’s an area that may have been a candy counter.

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