Hal Linker reminisces, part 4

Day 4 and we’re barely one-third of the way through his e-mail. Don’t worry, we’ll take a break this weekend for the Restaurant of the Week and “Pomona A to Z.” Here’s what Hal has to say about movie theaters and a fondly remembered restaurant:

I remember the opening of Cinema I and II and their SMOKING SECTIONS and ashtrays. The Montclair Theater on Holt began life as a single-screen theater in the late 1960s before becoming a tri-plex by the 1970s with, yes, smoking sections — from back in the days when we had nothing to fear but fear itself.

Pre-Cinema I & II you could find me at The Fox, United Artists in Pomona or the Village in Claremont. What gorgeous theaters these were. Unfortunately, the last thing I ever saw at The Village Theater was a Cheech and Chong movie and the place really was Up In Smoke. At some point a restaurant was opened at the old theater and later shops. I think the restaurant was called Square One or Harvard Square. Maybe it’s still there.

I used to love the corn chowder soup at The Old Montclair Peanut Company. My date got sick once there after consuming too many Rusty Nails. I warned her that Drambuie was bad stuff and shouldn’t be messed with! All I got for my cautions was puke on my shoes and pants.

Isn’t that how it always is? And yes, Harvard Square Cafe is still in the old theater space and goin’ strong.

Next time: bars and nightclubs.

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  • Chris

    There used to be a third movie theatre in downtown Pomona. It was called the State and was on Garey, a block or two north of where the Fox is. It went by the wayside before the United Artists, became a pawn shop, if memory serves. I also fondly remember Chung King, a great Chinese restaurant almost right across the street from the United Artists.

  • Bob House

    I’d like to know how long Chung King lasted. As a kid in in the ’50s, ordering Chinese from Chung King was pretty darn exotic (but then, so was pizza). CK even delivered all the way to Claremont in those days.

    [Chung King lasted until, I dunno, 2002, 2003, something like that. -- DA]

  • Dave

    I remember those theaters in Montclair having an enclosed room in the back called the ‘cry room’ for small children who couldn’t keep quiet during the movie… an invention far before its time and well needed nowadays. Perhaps they could call it the ‘cell phone room’ now?

    [One problem with that: Moms know their children's crying is annoying, whereas people on cell phones often seem oblivious. -- DA]

  • MVarney

    What a hoot. These reminisces are great. David I am so glad you are printing them! Trips down memory lane are fun. If I remember and have been to all of these places am I now officially an old fogey?

    [I hope you haven't been to the strip clubs too, Marilyn. -- DA]

  • Jim L

    I remember when Chung King was exotic and as a child it seemed a bit mysterious to me. I also remember it usually being part of a “dinner and movie” experience. In the ’60s and even ’70s CK always seemed to have a thriving business and getting a table usually involved a long wait.

    I returned again around 2001 though and sadly we were the only diners there. We were served by a sole employee that appeared to be doing every duty himself. While enjoying the egg foo yung, we gazed out through the graffiti-etched front windows at the closed neighboring shops, knowing Chung King’s demise was imminent, not unlike Espiau’s on Holt, St. Charles Grill, Badens, Apex Cafe, Firehouse Inn, Orlando’s, to name but a few.

    [Sigh. -- DA]

  • Kevin Salveson

    Square One was a restaurant back in the late ’80s in the Claremont Village located where Tutti Mangia is today at 102 Harvard Ave., about two blocks south of Harvard Square. I worked there as a runner for a summer. It had an excellent chef who relocated from LA to bring top shelf cooking to Claremont, but he eventually moved on. He prepared a new menu every night and even fed the staff nightly before the restaurant opened. Lovely place. — Kevin Salveson

    [I did not know that. Thanks, Kevin. -- DA]

  • Sean

    I have a small pack of matches I found in my wife’s grandfather’s house from “The Old Montclair Peanut Co.”

    The phone number is a 714 area code so it must have been a while ago.

  • Sean

    Another thing about the matches that really makes me laugh is…On the back of the matches it says

    COUNTRY STYLE DINING IN A UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. CHILDREN’S DINNER PRICE BY THEIR WEIGHT ON OUR OLD FASHIONED SCALE.

    Wow with all the overweight children now days this scale could have gotten them sued or closed down with all the crazy laws nowadays.