An anonymous (why? why?) reader writes:
“Your Jan. 2 column with nostalgic reminiscences of the Pomona/Ontario area was fascinating. I was pleased that Mr. Ruh included Buffums’ in his list of once-upon-a-time stores; however, Buffums’ was much more than white-gloved ladies having tea in the Palomares Room.
“Ronald Reagan visited Buffums’ in the fall of 1965 to promote his book ‘Where’s the Rest of Me?’ Elizabeth Taylor dropped in to buy travel tickets, taking time from filming scenes from ‘The Sandpiper’ in San Dimas. Jacqueline Kennedy assigned someone to select and send a gift to an acquaintance in Claremont. Mrs. Groucho Marx purchased children’s clothes on occasion.
“Oh yes, Buffums’ was the best of the best. And I am sure other former employees have more tales of this magical store. This, of course, is from a former Buffums’ employee.”
Nice of you to write, Former. He/she enclosed a photocopy of the Reagan book’s title page, inscribed as follows: “With gratitude for a pleasant afternoon & Best Wishes, Ronald Reagan.”
Buffums’ was a classy SoCal department store chain — motto: “Southern California’s Most Gifted Store” — and the Nordstrom of its day.
It was owned by the same family that produced Dorothy Buffum Chandler, without whom we wouldn’t have the Music Center in downtown L.A. The Pomona store was built in 1962 on Palomares Street between Second and Third streets by architect Welton Becket (who also designed the Music Center…hmm). It marked the east end of the brand-new pedestrian mall.
Charles Phoenix’s book — you’ve already ordered a copy, right? — has a full page on Buffums’. He describes the ornate interior in some detail. The store held on despite downtown’s long decline, finally closing circa 1991, and as Phoenix notes, “the decorative furnishings were sold to the highest bidder.”
The building was extensively remodeled and now is part of the Western University of Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school.
Have memories of Buffums’? Share them below..