‘Hal Linker’ reminisces, part 10 (and last)

As the crazy man in the sandwich-board sign could tell you, The End is Near. Today ends the serialization of the mammoth e-mail from reader “Hal Linker.” Well, except for a single-topic piece that’s worth its own entry, sometime next week.

Based on the number of comments, a lot of you have enjoyed this string of recollections of the valley in the 1960s and 1970s. This last section might be my favorite, as “Hal” talks about the early years of Montclair Plaza:

I remember when the Montclair Plaza opened in the single-level format. My mom and older sisters would go shopping for dresses and stuff and I went along, being as I was still (barely) not old enough to drive. I would ditch the women and drool over records and stereos.

We used to park on the Broadway side of the mall. I can still remember the smell of leather and patchouli and the stereos with light boxes playing Smith’s “Baby It’s You,” or Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” blasting out of the record department in JC Penney’s, or Jethro Tull’s “New Day Yesterday” resonating in the May Company record department.

Thunderclap Newman was making a joyful noise at Pedrini The Music Merchant amidst all the pianos and organs. It was Creedence, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Abbey Road, CSN&Y, Ten Years After, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane time, baby. Almost everything being released on record was great (at least from my perspective).

That’s what was happening when the Plaza opened. It was the advent of the black lite poster, the strobe light era. The counterculture becoming the over-the-counter culture and hitting the mainstream. But the tunes held up pretty well. Sadly, everyone forgot about the Pomona Mall and Pomona hit some bad times.

Yes, the Hollander and the Jolly Roger were the places to eat in the mall. Jolly Roger, dimly lit with great burgers, served me booze when I was 15. Yes! (Nobody cared then. It was in many ways a much cooler time, with much less government control and brainwashing.) I don’t remember the Slob’s Big Boy someone mentioned being in the Plaza. Must be a memory block, maybe it came later or maybe that person is wrong.

Orange Julius was near See’s Candies past JC Penney and served dogs. Across Moreno was Van De Kamp’s which much later became Tiny Naylor’s for a bit. Eventually, the Hollander moved outside of the mall into a space previously occupied by Dugan’s Music. That was the death of the Hollander — bad move, but they might not have had any choice.

Speaking of Dugan’s, next to it, with an adjoining door, was Discount Record Center. This was a rather small long narrow store but its selection was amazing. I loved to browse there and was awed with their full catalogs on most of my favorite artists. They even had all of Zappa and the Mothers’ stuff which, even then, was an extensive catalog.

I actually worked there for about two months before realizing it was a dead-end career. I dug the tunes but seemed I was demonstrating bongs to more people than selling records. Those girls from the adjacent Marinello’s Beauty School kept coming in there and buying bongs so I followed one of cutest of them to Venice where she opened up a salon and we lived happily, but not ever after.

Was this succinct enough for you? They don’t call me enormo-mail for nothing. But, dammit, this blog deserves it!

Very kind of you, “Hal.” Everybody give him a hand for a job of memory-plumbing well done.

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