I met Candelario Mendoza, the Pomona educator and school board member who died Tuesday at age 89, only once.
That was two years ago at an event at Mountain Meadows Golf Course. The trim Mendoza was resplendent in a white suit, friendly and full of energy as we spoke.
He asked if I’d read Matt Garcia’s “A World of Its Own,” a history of immigrants in the Southern California citrus industry before World War II, in which he was quoted. When I said I hadn’t, he left — he lived practically across the street — and came back a few minutes later with a copy for me.
His vigor lulled me into thinking there was no rush in writing about him. I had hopes of one day sitting down with him for a piece on his very long history in Pomona, specifically about his years as a disc jockey and as emcee for dances at Pomona’s fondly remembered Rainbow Gardens night club, about which he’s quoted in “Land of a Thousand Dances,” a history of Latino music in L.A.
Well, that history has all been documented — besides the two books, Mendoza was hardly a stranger to Bulletin and Progress-Bulletin readers over the years — and yet I’m sorry other news and history pieces kept getting in the way of my writing about him.
I’m sure Mendoza would have had a lot to teach me.