‘Pomona A to Z’: a mid-alphabet break

[I remember that Peter Apanel, who helped suggest this series, figured I’d do all 26 “Pomona A to Z” columns in a row, three times per week, wrapping the whole thing up in nine weeks. Yeah, they’d have loved that in Upland. Even writing one per week was proving difficult, and with the research time, it was impossible to get ahead on them. So, to give myself a breather, I put the series on hiatus a few weeks.

First, though, I put out a call for reader response and devoted the column below to what I got. As you’ll see, it was frustrating to me that something so time-consuming and so labor-intensive was getting so little response. J, K, L and M had passed without a single comment. Did anyone care I was doing this?

I also used the following column to explain my rationale for the series: to shine a light on Pomona but also to try to shake people out of this “glory days” mentality. Time to get over it, folks. My feeling was, let’s live in the present and appreciate Pomona for what it’s got now.

If you’re keeping track, this column was originally published Oct. 17, 2004.]

Pomona needs a boost, so ‘A to Z’ lends a helping hand

For those who came in late, it’s B for Break here for “Pomona A to Z.”

Yes, my series is taking a mid-point hiatus for battery recharging. Have no fear: “A to Z” will resume soon with the letter N — in November, naturally.

Consider today’s column a “DVD extra,” providing exclusive commentary on the series. (As with any DVD bonus, feel free to ignore it.)

Let’s start with a question from reader Phyllis Willis: “Enjoying the series, and just how did you happen to choose this subject?”

Phyllis, it was a PBS documentary, “Pittsburgh A to Z,” that inspired this little series of columns. As for why Pomona, I’m convinced it’s the most fascinating, diverse, urban and downright funky city in the valley.

There’s a second reason. Reputation-wise, Pomona is sort of the local version of Pittsburgh. It’s the underdog, the gritty place everyone jokes about, puts down or avoids.

Now, Pomona’s certainly got its problems, but as they say, perception lags behind reality. Unfortunately, the city’s steady turnaround hasn’t sunk in for a lot of people who remember only too well the bad old days when Pomona hit bottom.

Poignantly enough, those blinders are worn by a lot of Pomonans, too.

Maybe I’m stepping out on a limb here, but let me share an observation. Longtime Pomonans often rhapsodize about how great their city was in the old days and how awful it is today.

Yes, Pomona fell far and hard. But 40 years is long enough to cry over spilled milk. Besides, lost aerospace jobs and a withered downtown are hardly issues particular to Pomona.

So part of my mission with “Pomona A to Z” is to say, hey, let’s appreciate Pomona for what it is, not just for what it was.

To that end, you may have noticed that every single one of my choices and runnerups is still around today.

That’s deliberate. Ditto with focusing some weeks on very modern aspects of Pomona, whether it’s the mix of cultures or the clubs and restaurants favored by a new generation.

Enough from me. Here’s what you had to say:

* Ray Bragg: “I appreciate and read with enthusiasm your ‘A to Z’ choices for Pomona. It is refreshing because you haven’t just fallen back on the easy, ‘old,’ historical alphabetical choices. Instead, you have blended them with ‘new’ choices, because that is what makes a city vibrant — it has the capacity to change over time…”

* Pat Page: “It is good to see something positive for a change.”

* Jaime: “Just wanted to tell you that we look forward every week to your series. Don’t change anything.”

* Ruth Wells: “I have kept them all. … Very interesting are the various items listed but passed by for each letter.”

* Gene Harvey: “When you start looking in detail at one city, you find out all the interesting things about it.”

* Teresa Delgadillo: “(Your series) informs me about the city which I’ve lived in for 12 years. … I actually cut out your articles and go see some of the places you refer to that I don’t know about. Second Street Bistro is probably the best … my boyfriend and I tried it and it was fantastic.”

* Fred Goul: “You are doing a great job with the alphabet soup for Pomona. Suggest you might change the ground rules for the second half of the Pomona alphabet and combine some of the letters. Besides, just
how much material can you find with Q, V or X on Pomona?”

* Monique Ramirez: “I couldn’t believe that nobody has written you since the letter I. Well, I just wanted to say that I love reading the ‘Pomona A to Z’ columns. I’m a third-generation native of Pomona.”

* Bernice Alexander: “Although I live in Upland, I am enjoying your thoughts on Pomona.”

* Danny McColgan: “Just wanted to say that I do like your ‘Pomona A to Z’ articles, being a second-generation Pomonan who started reading and delivering the Prog when I was a youngster in the early

On a personal note, the 10 responses this week were more than I’d received for all 13 “A to Z” columns combined. So I appreciate the support. This series might be the most fun I’ve had in 17 years in journalism.

Coming up: More of the same. I know it’s a bad thing when John Kerry says it about a second Bush Administration, but I hope you’ll enjoy N through Z anyway.

Especially Q, V and X.

(David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, in that order.)

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  • Annie Muss


    If this blog meanders back to the “things that are no longer here” topic, here’s an interesting link:


    [That’s an awesome site, put together by a Pomona guy. — DA]

  • Being an Inland Valley resident since 1986, I’ve enjoyed your articles on Pomona. Outside of the Fair and the antique stores, I don’t have a positive opinion of Pomona, but your A-Z has highlighted many bright spots in a city that has seen better times. I really enjoy walking through the antique stores in old downtown as it is just like walking through a time machine.

    [Glad you’re enjoying the series, Ron. There’s plenty to like in Pomona. One just has to look closely and sympathetically. — DA]

  • Annie Muss


    It isn’t that we don’t appreciate the A-Z series or the Restaurant Of The Week, both of which largely relate to present day – versus the “glory days”. On the contrary – it’s just that for most of us we just haven’t had the opportunity to try the places yet so we can offer personal experiences YET. Plus, there is only so many ways to respond and say THANKS for the new suggestions of restaurants to try or hearing about other interesting facts.

    Rest assured, we’re all out here reading and appreciating each of your posts whether we respond or not.

    Just be patient with us and realize that it’ll take some time for some of us to visit the restaurants and try the food so we can respond. Or, perhaps in at least one instance, gain carnal knowledge of all the pretty young waitresses, experience chemically induced hallucinations and party with the ghosts of Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison, and Elvis…

    Ahem, anyway, in defense of the overwhelming nostalgia responses, many of us have personal stories to add when just given the chance to weigh in. I can understand why that thread generates what must seem like an avalanche of responses.

    [First, thanks for your nice note. There seems to be some confusion, though, probably because I took for granted in my “A to Z” intro that everyone would understand I was talking about the original reception to the series when it was published in 2004. Readers at the time were keeping mum. Granted, they’re not saying a lot now either, but that’s all right. I’m putting these columns on my blog so they’ll be archived where people can get to them. As for “the good old days,” I was referring to people in general who deride Pomona; that had nothing to do with my blog. — DA]

  • Annie Muss

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    Anyway, keep up the great work David. You’re our local version of the late Ralph Story.

    [Except livelier! Just teasing. That’s a nice compliment, Annie. — DA]