Hal Linker reminisces, part 1

A reader named Hal Linker,* and his wife, Hadla, found this blog recently and left a comment in the “Things That Aren’t Here Anymore” thread. And what a comment! It may be the length of two, or three, or even four of my columns, full of memories of our various cities.

Rather than bury it back there in that thread, I’m going to run it here up front, serialized in manageable chunks over a week. Or two. Or three. We’ll see. Take it away, Hal:


I’m a bit late with these comments but just stumbled onto this blog when Yahoo-ing “DiGangi’s.” My wife and I were just remembering how great their grinders were. We were shocked to see something came up on the search. So, sorry if we’re beating a dead horse.

My family moved to Chino (from Bellflower) in 1956 when I was just a tot. My dad had a dairy farm. Chino had very little in the way of civilization at that time. It was a prison town. Getting groceries in the 1950s was a weekly family event for which we all got in dad’s DeSoto and headed for the Market Basket on East End and Holt. It was like going into town for supplies / vittles.

At that time Chino had nothing close to a supermarket. This would change in the 1960s when Alpha Beta opened a location on Central and Walnut (now defunct — torn down and converted into offices — though some of the adjacent buildings still stand — including the old Alphy’s Restaurant which is now a medical building, but prior to that, had been a restaurant called Bailey’s).

Next time: record stores.

* Update: As corrected in part 2, Hal Linker was a pseudonym.

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  • Jim Lee

    Our family moved to Diamond Bar in 1961. There were no markets there either. We too made the weekly journey to that same Market Basket store of which Hal Linker speaks. Sometimes we’d also shop at the Alpha Beta store at Holt and Fairplex (f.k.a. Ganesha Blvd, f.f.k.a. Bellvue.) For general household merchandise we frequently shopped at the long-since closed UniMart store on Valley Blvd just a few blocks west of Alpha Beta on Holt. Unimart was one of the early pioneers of the membership discount stores.

    David — thanks for refreshing this blog thread!

  • Bob House

    In 1951, the closest market to our house on South College in Claremont was Crossroads Market at Arrow and Garey, which is now M&I Surplus (or at least was last time I looked). I recall they had a large rack of John Birch literature right by the checkout lines.

    Hal and Hadla Linker had a travel show on TV in the ’50s or ’60s (Passports to Adventure), but I’m confused by the comment that Hal says he was a tot in 1956. Was it his parents?? If so, how’d he find a wife with the same unusual name as his mother??

    Belated best wishes on all your various anniversaries and birthday recently — in addition to all its other merits your blog is among the most festive on the web!

    [Any excuse for a party! — DA]

  • Jeff Gaul

    My wife worked at the Alpha Beta at Central/Walnut, then continued with them when it moved to Central/ Philadelphia. We met when she worked there as a checker.

  • Amy Parker

    1973: The Upland Plunge, walking home in the smog after swimming all day. The pollution so bad you couldn’t take a deep breath without it burning your lungs and throat. Parents dropped the kids off for the day and the kids walked home. No yuppie parents hovering over their children applying layers of sunblock. We had no sunblock.

    Mountain Liquor, on Mountain and Foothill by Mr. Steak, was owned by a grouchy German guy, but you could buy a bag full of candy for a buck. Chicko Sticks, Cup o Gold, Snichers, Hersheys, Three Musketeers. We called him or his wife the penny pinchers. We had no idea how expensive it would become to live in the USA.

    My dad liked Betsy Ross restaurant, it was so American and decorated in the American flag colors, today it would be considered politically incorrect. Orange groves everywhere, building forts in the deepest part of the orange groves, playing in the rock pile was a part of life, using your imagination.

    There were no homeless, just one mythical hobo we never saw, the hobo was the only boogeyman to be somewhat intrigued by.

    We had sidewalks and curbs to play on. When the street lights came on that was our cue to go home. My mom bought our house for $15,000 in Upland.

    Walter Cronkite presented the news with dignity each night at six, dad had the televison; forget changing the channel, no remote. The news wasn’t filled each night with murders of children and innocent people in gang crossfire, pedophiles and MTV was not invented yet. Culturally, emotionally, economically, we are living in a small tiny reflection of that innocent time period that is gone forever.

    [Other than the smog, it sounds kind of nice. Seriously, this is one of the cooler, most poetic comments this blog has received. Thank you, Amy. — DA]

  • Hal Linker

    Re: Bob House comments regarding Hal and Hadla Linker and Passports To Adventure.

    I’m real happy somebody caught the fact that I am using an assumed name for multiple purposes — believe me, the Linkers never had a dairy farm. Bob House knows his stuff!! The Linkers were parodied (along with Evel Knievel) by The Firesign Theater, especially on their 1974 comedy album “Everything You Know Is Wrong,” which I make reference to when signing off from my enormo-mail.

    P.S. If the Broadside was on Holt, then what was Walter Mitty’s called during the 1960’s???

    Hal and Hadla

    [From now on I guess I’m going to have to refer to you as “Hal Linker,” not Hal Linker. — DA]

  • Raymond A. Rios

    I currently live in Lacey, WA (Olympia). Back in the ealy ’60s I worked for a short while as an agent at Hal Linker Travel when it was on Wilshire Blvd. I do not recall the name, but a very personable lady ran the office for Mr. Linker. There was one other gentleman in the office, beside me (a young lad in my twenties; I am now 67 and retired from NWA).

    Does Mr. Linker remember their names?

    Thanks for any comments.

    [Hal Linker is probably long gone, Raymond; the commenter on this blog isn’t really Hal, but rather someone who adopted the name for his own purposes. Sorry for confusing you. — DA]

  • terry cordoba

    i was born just off skid row on hope st., 11-17-50
    like the november 17th soviet spy group. i was
    conceived on st. valentine’s day, by??? elephino.
    and so documents can be faked perfectly, even
    birth certificates. security was tight all
    over the universe as the korean war dragged on.
    and marilyn monroe and sterling hayden and
    mona avis and errol flynn got invited to moscow
    russia to have dinner w/ stalin. stalin pissed
    off marilyn, so she stabbed stalin in the forehead
    with the shrimp cocktail fork. and the war
    ended immediately. for this the foursome was
    given the hero of the soviet union medal
    and went back to america to do other ‘works’.
    years later, stalinists killed her. see, what
    you see, is not what is there, only what
    they want you to see. i preferred global zobel
    myself. although i was forced and drafted to
    watch the linker family show, every darn weekend.
    in tarzana where i lived most of my life.
    under edgar rice burroughs, except for 1967
    when we spent 7 months in europe. and we went
    all around usa and canada many times. travelling
    can wear ya out. i’m exhausted just thinking
    about it. now it’s a major event to go around
    the corner to pancho villa’s mexican drive
    thru taco shop here in san narcos, ca.
    another day, another dollar, another collar for
    johnny dollar. radio shows of the past, present
    and future. sayonara. colonel sin, by queensley amis.

  • Ed Weeden

    Dear Mr. Allen,

    I was intrigued to see the comments of Hal and Hadla Linker. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Hal and Hadla for my life. I know that’s an outlandish statement, but as a child in the 1950s I grew up glued to the Television set watching their journeys all over the world. That started a deep enthusiasm for travel within me. I spent a career with the Navy, travelling all over that. I also had a second career with Xerox Corporation and travelled to over 80 countries during my years there. Finally, I married a British wife and am now living in England as a dual citizen of both the U.S. and U.K.! Me, my wife and our two daughters travel each summer — a local European trip one year, a ‘New World’ trip the next. Last year we visited Reykjavik and Iceland, this year it’s the Rockies (U.S. and Canadian). I am very glad to hear that they are still with us, and hopefully well and enjoying life. Thank you Hal and Hadla for shaping me and introducing me to a love of the world and travel!
    Ed Weeden, Lincoln – England

    [I don’t have the heart to tell him the “Hal” and “Hadla” who commented here turned out to be pseudonyms for a local couple; the real Linkers no doubt passed on years ago. But wherever they are, we appreciate Ed’s heartfelt comment. — DA]

  • M. L.

    Hal is my grandfather. The guy talked about here almost certainly is not him, as he died in 1979. @Raymond A. Rios, Do you remember meeting Hal and Halla? I never got to meet Hal, and I wonder what he is really like. I would appreciate it if you told me what it was like when you met him.