Knott, entirely

More comments about Walter and Cordelia Knott have rolled in since my Sept. 21 column on their ties to Pomona.

Brian Hurst and his fiancee visited the ghost town of Calico, near Barstow, on impulse on a recent drive back from Stateline. They were surprised to learn that the Knotts were responsible for the site being in San Bernardino County’s hands as a park.

“Mr. Knott bought the site of the old Calico town back in the late 1950s for about 13 grand, restored it to its heyday of the 1880s and donated it to the county about 1966. It is a monument to the Old West, thanks to the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm. It has an original mine shaft, costs a buck, but worth it. Think of the Calico Mine Train ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. Only this one is the real McCoy.”

Tommy Mushegain Sr. of Fontana, meanwhile, called to say that his family’s dairy was near Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1950s and ’60s. He knew the Knotts a little and his sister, Patty, worked for Cordelia in the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the Knotts were decent people. Although Cordelia apparently had an impish sense of humor: One day when Patty was leaning into a tub of ice cream, Mrs. Knott came up behind her and playfully pushed her face right into it, saying, “Get a good taste of it.”

Wonder if it was boysenberry?

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Memories of San Dimas

Reader Bette Cooney of San Dimas writes:

“I have read your stories and continue to remember those days around the valley. I have a bit of information for you that you may find interesting. In San Dimas on the corner of San Dimas Canyon Road and Bonita Avenue there used to stand a shopping center for many years that included several shops in a strip mall. The most famous you would recall would be the Pizza Royal and Canyon Theater from back in the early ’70s. Also the Bravo Burgers that was originally a Bakers Tacos, also in early ’70s.

“This center has been a eyesore for many years while the tenants finally finished the leases. While there was some disagreement with the city of San Dimas and the owner of the lot, they are finally going to put up some town homes. (Like we need more of those)!”

I’m familiar with those businesses only by reputation, I’m afraid, having only moved here in 1997. I can report that corner is also getting a small shopping center that is rumored to contain a small Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. I asked Bette about her recollections of Pizza Royal, which still has a restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga.

She replied: “They had a piano player and also played the banjo. They played Dixieland music. Was a fun place for the whole family.”

I missed out on all the good stuff.

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Vintage, prize-winnin’ BBQ

Here’s an unusual posting: a recipe.

“In the spirit of the Fair (and maybe because it will draw more folks to the blog), I’m going to e-mail you the recipe I used to win the Grand Championship of the Barbecue Contest at the Fair in 1990,” writes the helpful Bob House. Well, it can’t hurt. Click below for the recipe.

Continue reading “Vintage, prize-winnin’ BBQ” »

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Restaurant of the Week: Corky’s Kitchen

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Corky’s Kitchen and Bakery, 6403 Haven (at I-210), Rancho Cucamonga

The interior (cheerful, bright, with an inviting bakery case and country clutter-type decor) and the menu (pancakes, sandwiches, salads, homey dinner entrees, pies, muffins) remind me of Polly’s Bakery Cafe, a SoCal chain I like. Corky’s is ambitious: It’s open an astonishing 24 hours a day. At least until it sinks in with the owners that no one in Rancho Cucamonga is up past 8:45 p.m.

At any rate, I ordered my baseline sandwich, a tuna melt on sourdough, which proved better than average. The sandwich came with a dinner salad that showed some effort. As Corky’s had a half-dozen pies on hand, I tried a slice of Dutch apple. It was practically a meal in itself, bursting with tart apples. Corky’s is pretty far out of my way, and yet I can see myself going back on a long lunch hour sometime. Unless the mood strikes me at 3 a.m.

UPDATE: Corky’s, I’ve since learned, was opened by Mike and Jennifer Towles after closing their Tole House Cafe in the same shopping center. It’s named for Mike’s late grandmother.

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Super Tents get more super

One of my Seven Wonders of the Inland Valley, the Super Tents building at the University of La Verne, was the site of a ceremony and open house Tuesday evening to mark the completion of $8 million in renovations. Nice to see one of the Wonders spruced up. (The Montclair Mystery Tower, meanwhile, was being spruced up, then was tagged unmercifully, and now is being spruced up again. We’ll see if it looks better in the end, or worse.)

Friday’s column will have more details on the Super Tents. In the meantime, I’ll tell you that my tour of the facility, led by Jeff Rouss of ULV’s major gifts department, showed that the interior is much improved. The building has far more useable space now than in its previous open layout. And the halls still have that “new tent” smell.

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Stinky’s, The Midway and … ?

My column today on Cafe Montclair, the latest restaurant in the building that once housed the Plum Tree, the Majestic, Ginger’s Place and, originally, Lizzy’s, prompted a note from Bob House:

“Today’s column about the new Montclair restaurant got me thinking about Valley restaurants and bars that are no more. Would readers find that an interesting thread? I nominate two from Claremont’s past: Stinky’s, a burger place on Foothill that lasted into the ’60s, and The Midway, an iconic dive bar, also on Foothill, that made it into the ’70s. The Midway is featured in Kem Nunn’s first book, ‘Pomona Queen.'”

Feel free to add to the list, readers.

Two further notes I left out of the column: The hostess at Cafe Montclair, who held the same job at Plum Tree, is Pia Jackson, whose family owned the fondly remembered Di Censo’s Italian Restaurant in Upland. And Joanne Boyajian of the Ontario Library discovered there was a Tin Lizzy restaurant on Holt Avenue in Pomona from 1968 to 1970, of unknown relation to the Montclair Lizzy’s, which also had a Tin Lizzy theme. Huh!

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Neutrality required

The photo is too large and blurry to post, being shot from a moving vehicle, so trust me on this: A road sign in Switzerland — shot by former Upland resident Brian Hunt — shows distances to Chur, Sargans, Buchs and San Bernardino, 117 km.

Was Hunt motorvating on Switzerlands answer to Route 66? I dont know, but the Swiss version of San Bernardino is a mountainous village that serves as an entry point to the San Bernardino tunnel.

Nice to know there are Spanish place names in Switzerland, as well as a touch of the Inland Empire.

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Another Ziegler

Here’s a note I got a while back from reader Jackie Leffingwell, who was responding to a column on the late Pomona character and one-term mayor Urban Ziegler:

“Maybe one of your readers knows if he had (perhaps) a sister, Miss Ester Ziegler. She taught 6th grade at Upland Elementary School in the ’40s, and took a bus home every day to Pomona. She is a story in herself, and influenced many young lives, including my own.

“Miss Ziegler was a special lady and a special teacher. She walked with a pronounced limp, one hip being much higher than the other. Stories were that she was an actress on Broadway, where she fell off a stage and broke her hip. As a 6th grade teacher. she wrote, choreographed, produced and directed the school operetta each year, as well as writing the lyrics to all the songs in the production.

“I’m sure that there are still many of her students in the area who remember her fondly. I was in her 6th grade class in 1946, and I don’t know how much longer she continued teaching.”

From Urban Ziegler to Upland Ziegler! Thanks, Jackie. Anyone else remember Miss Ziegler?

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Millard Sheets, art, dogs

I dropped in Sunday at Scripps College’s Ruth Williamson Gallery to see the Millard Sheets art exhibit.

Sheets was a titan in the Inland Valley’s art scene, a watercolorist and muralist who taught art at Scripps from 1932 to 1955 and assembled exhibitions at the Fine Arts Building at the L.A. County Fair, giving the masses sometimes their first exposure to art. He also designed more than 40 mosaics for Home Savings bank branches.

The Williamson Gallery has some nice paintings of his on display through Oct. 14, from rural scenes — including 1930s Claremont, Chino, Carbon Canyon and the Chino Hills — to the California coast, urban L.A., Mexico, New Mexico and Hawaii. There’s a second Sheets exhibit, at the county fair, that I hope to catch this week.

The Williamson Gallery show is at my kinda price — free — and you can find it at 11th Street and Columbia Avenue, open from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

As I left the gallery, two middle-aged men passed me on the sidewalk, walking together and chatting. One was walking a small dog. The other was pushing a baby stroller. It carried two small dogs. In Claremont, the free entertainment never stops!

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As reported here last Sunday, and in my column today, I’m the grand marshal of the Pomona Christmas Parade on Dec. 1. (That is, until the Jaycees admit they’re pulling my leg.)

I’ve asked who has hosted this parade before, so we can see what company I’m keeping. Hector Rodriguez of the Jaycees has agreed to compile a list.

One name I’m particularly interested in is Ann B. Davis. A friend who grew up in Pomona swears that circa 1969, the “Brady Bunch” actress, who played Alice, was the parade grand marshal, riding through downtown in a convertible while wearing, why not, her TV housekeeper’s uniform. Anyone know if this is true?

I hope it is, because following in the footsteps of Alice’s sensible shoes would be a kick.

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