‘Pomona A to Z’: Z is for Zanja

[Well, here we are at the end of our little recap of my 2004-05 "Pomona A to Z" columns. I had the topic for Z picked far in advance, relishing the neatness of ending the series the way it began. People kept asking what Z would be but I think the only person I told was Mickey Gallivan, and that's only because I interviewed her for it. This column was published June 19, 2005.]

You’ll really dig Pomona’s letter Z

Zounds! “Pomona A to Z,” which began in this space last (gulp) July 18, today finally reaches the 26th letter: Z.

Yes, it’s been a zigzag path to Z, but now we’re at the zenith of the “A to Z” ziggurat!

Here we can sip zinfandel, munch on zwieback and dance to zydeco music, while reminiscing about the Z Channel and musing about the zeitgeist.

But let’s hold the zeal until Z is revealed.

Admittedly, my job would be a lot easier if Pomona had a zoo. But to my surprise, the city is zaftig with Z’s:

* Zarzuela, or Spanish musical theater, performed annually at Ganesha Park by (whoa!) the L.A. Opera.

* Jim Zorn, a former quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks who set 10 school records in football at Cal Poly Pomona.

* Tom Zasadzinski, Cal Poly Pomona’s official photographer.

* Dorothy Ziolkowski, a hard-workin’ volunteer for the Friends of the Pomona Library.

* Zzooms Bail Bonds, located near the police station, the better to zoom in to get you out.

Blow me down with a zephyr!

Our Z, of course, is none of these. Admittedly obscure, this Z was there at the start of Pomona, and it’s still there today.

It’s zanja.

(No, not ganja, which was there at the start of Jamaica, and is still there today — zanja.)

Pronounced “sahn-ha,” this was the stone-lined ditch that carried water to Pomona’s first settlements.

It was dug beginning in 1840 to bring water from San Jose Creek to the adobes for irrigation and personal use.

“It was the first water system,” says Mickey Gallivan, president of the Historical Society.

Short segments still exist outside the three remaining adobes: La Casa Primera and Palomares Adobe, which are public, and Alvarado Adobe, which is privately owned.

I learned about the zanja when I visited La Casa Primera (1569 N. Park) for the letter A. Docent Luis Guerrero showed me the ditch in the back.

Going out the way “A to Z” came in, we’re back to the beginnings of Pomona.

Two ranchers, Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, were given title to 15,000 acres of former mission land in 1837, when California was still part of Mexico.

Vejar settled in the south. Palomares took the north, building La Casa Primera, the first house in the Pomona Valley.

He soon had a neighbor. He invited his cousin, Ygnacio Alvarado, to build a house a stone’s throw away.

(Archaeological note: This stone has not been found.)

Alvarado dug the zanja in 1840. It was enlarged as more settlers moved in and needed water, according to an 1888 report by the state engineer.

Palomares moved to a new, larger home in 1854, now known as Palomares Adobe (491 E. Arrow Highway), and a zanja was dug there, too.

A drought in the early 1860s killed thousands of cattle in California, making vast ranches hard to sustain. Vejar borrowed money at predatory rates and lost his holdings.

Palomares’ widow sold 2,000 acres of the homestead in 1874 for $8 an acre to two investors. The sale spelled an end to the Rancho San Jose days — but paved the way for Pomona!

Investors sold off lots for the fledgling city, which incorporated in 1888 with a population of 3,500.

Progress eventually zonked the zanjas.

“The little ditch that had brought water from San Antonio Canon across the sandy waste lands became tunnels and pipe lines and irrigating ditches …” wrote Bess Adams Garner and Miriam Colcord Post in a Historical Society pamphlet.

In L.A., a zanja resurfaced, literally, in March 2005. The Zanja Madre (“Mother Ditch”), the city’s primary water source from 1781 to 1904, was discovered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was grading land for a rail line.

The 4-foot-wide, brick-lined ditch was quickly reburied out of concern people would develop an interest in history.

In Pomona, the zanjas have been seen by generations of children on field trips to Palomares’ two adobes. The adobes are open to the public from 2 to 5 p.m. each Sunday.

The longest zanja is at La Casa Primera. Two feet wide and almost two feet deep, it’s lined with rock and has a bottom of dirt and pebbles (and dead leaves and weeds).

The zanja begins at the corner of Park and McKinley, then winds behind the house. It passes under a fig tree reputed to be 150 years old and disappears into the pavement at the rear of the property.

A zanja runs through it.

Hey, that could be a movie!

(David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, columns that should be ditched.)

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Where they can cut

You may have heard the L.A. Times is cutting not only 150 jobs in its newsroom, but 15 percent of its pages. The Guide and Highway 1 are goners, with more sections and pages likely to get the heave-ho, according to the LA Observed blog.

Gazing into my crystal ball, I predict the Times, in its quest to cut pages without harming itself, will have no choice but to drop its Pomona coverage.

Granted, based on stories so far in 2008, that will free up…what? Maybe five column inches per month? I’m a pretty thorough reader and what with a Home feature on a garden, a Calendar piece on an art show, a California feature on the mayor and a couple of other news stories, Pomona has been the subject of perhaps five stories, plus a few briefs, through all of this year.

And this has actually been a good year for Pomona by Times standards. The L.A. County Fair is usually good for one story and maybe a standalone photo. Sometimes that and a couple of briefs is all Pomona gets in a year.

So, it’s safe to say the fifth-largest city in L.A. County can be ignored without readers even noticing the difference.

As for what else the Times can cut, any mention of the 909, from Riverside to La Verne, could also go. I read the so-called Inland Empire Edition and it’s a rarity to have any Inland Empire news in it. Drop whatever there is, mostly obits of Claremont artists, and you’ve freed up, oh, two more pages per year, maybe three.

After that, Times, you’re on your own. What do I look like, your Innovation Editor?

(Completely seriously: Speaking as a devoted Times reader, 150 jobs is a lot to lose. You could put out an entire newspaper with 150 people. The Daily Bulletin, at its peak, had around 120 newsroom positions, and now it’s more like 50, a number of whom are shared with the San Bernardino Sun. So the cuts are in no way a good thing.)

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El Super!

To get into Pomona on Friday morning, I took Indian Hill to Holt and was pleased to see the new supermarket replacing Food 4 Less on that corner is nearing completion. The construction fence is down and the store’s exterior looks about done. It’s called El Super and the building looks much better than the slowly decaying Food 4 Less did.

The interior still needs work — I could see scaffolding through the open front door — but it can’t be long now.

This part of town could really use improvements and attention. It’s nice to see the rather sharp-looking supermarket, which replaces an eyesore.

Speaking of attention, the City Council on Monday discussed buying an empty lot just east of the Bekins tower, a welcome sign of interest.

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Restaurant of the Week: KiKiRyKi

kikiryki1

KiKiRyKi, 344 S. Indian Hill Blvd. (at Arrow Highway), Claremont

That dull, gray shopping plaza at Indian Hill and Arrow was updated into a more colorful, eye-catching design in 2013, but even before that, it had a couple of intriguing eateries, among them┬áKiKiRyKi, which I tried at the urging of a friend who’s a fiend for the place.

It’s Claremont’s other Peruvian restaurant, the finer one being Inka Trails on Foothill near Towne. That place has atmosphere and is a bit pricey. KiKiRyKi is cheaper and you order at the counter, but the food seems practically as good.

Before you ask, I don’t know what the deal is with the upper-lower name, which reminds me of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in “L.A. Story” — you remember, SanDeE* (“capital S, small A, small N, capital D, small E, capital E, star”). Just as confusing, you walk up to the entrance under the sign and a small sign tells you to use the entrance to the left, which is under a sign reading Pollos.

Well, they do specialize in rotisserie chicken, but we skipped it. I had the Lomo Saltado ($9.99, below) and an Inka Kola in a can ($1.75). My friend got the Tallarin Saltado (also $9.99) and, to split, a fish ceviche ($11.99).

The ceviche was dressed in lime, cilantro and slivered onion, with a hunk of sweet potato on the side. Simple and tasty. Our lomo dishes were beef with chunks of tomato and onion, mine served on papas fritas (french fries), with rice on the side, the other with spaghetti. Mine was quite good. The sole disappointment was the dry rice, but as it was on the side I just left it. The Inka Kola was pleasantly unnatural, tasting like a Fanta soda crossed with bubble gum.

People on Yelp like the place too but, alas, none explain its name. In fact, Yelp calls it Pollos Kikiryki.

kikiryki2

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‘N Things

Linens ‘n Things at Montclair Plaza is liquidating, part of the closure of one-fourth of the chain’s American stores after a bankruptcy filing. I pass by on Monte Vista Avenue almost daily and see someone standing there with a sign advertising the latest discount. It’s now 20 to 50 percent.

If you want linens, sure, you can go to Linens N Things without guilt. But what if you’re in the market for things?

That gets dicier, because Upland is home to the sublimely named Thoughts N Things, a much smaller operation that would appear to compete directly for the things market.

Discounted things or mom-and-pop things? Gad, what an ethical dilemma.

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Lantz on France

After Monday’s Pomona council meeting, I approached Councilwoman Paula Lantz, asked if she’s still on the Foothill Transit board (she is) and then asked, “How come you’re not in France?”

Nine board members or employees of the bus agency are in France for a transportation conference, as noted on the Foothill Cities and Claremont Insider blogs.

Lantz, who laughed at the question, explained that the whole thing was overblown. A private company operates Foothill Transit under contract for a set price. That company, Veolia Transportation, is paying for the trip itself, at no extra cost to taxpayers or bus riders, she said, because of its perceived importance.

“I read the blogs,” Lantz added, specifically referring to Foothill Cities. She then added the Insider to the list, noting it had mentioned her (approvingly) concerning the transit agency’s vote to reject turning portions of the carpool lanes into toll lanes. The vote, she told me, was essentially retaliation against the MTA for refusing to fund the Gold Line. The toll lane money would have included $47 million for Foothill Transit, but a majority of board members, herself included, felt the deal was a poor one, she said.

Unfortunately, the clerks were waiting to close up the council chambers, so I wasn’t able to ask Lantz if she reads other blogs. I figured the best way to find out if she reads mine would be to write about her.

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Searching made simpler

For you “Restaurant of the Week” fans, you may have noticed that some weeks back I began adding the name of the restaurant to the entry title.

I liked how it looked, so more recently I went back through all the past entries and standardized things by adding the restaurant name to all the old titles. Now they’re all consistent. Makes scanning the list a bit easier, I think.

You can find all the entries, as well as a few other dining-related items, by clicking on the “Inland Valley Eatin’” category on the right-hand side of this page. (The “Eateries Past” subset has nostalgia entries and comments about fondly remembered dining spots.)

I see there are now 43 “Restaurant of the Week” entries covering around 50 meals. Plenty of eatin’, and readin’ too.

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Pomona restaurants are all over the map

Looking up Pupuseria Cuscatleca (shoot, I had to type the name all over again) for a blog post last week, I Googled it. One hit that came up was a surprise to me: a page from Pomona’s city website where you can search for restaurants.

Good ol’ Pomona, hiding its light under a bushel again.

Check the page out here. The list is actually fairly up to date — I noticed Pho Vi and Philadelphia Broasted Chicken on the list — although Osuna’s ought to be deleted, as it became El Molcajete, which has a separate entry, a year or two ago. There are numerous places I’ve never even heard of, perhaps topics for future culinary exploration.

I’m pleased to report that, based on the list, Pomona has a restaurant for 24 letters of the alphabet, missing only U and X. Restaurateurs should feel free to take that as a challenge.

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‘Pomona A to Z’: Y is for YMCA

[Here we are at the penultimate letter! Yellow Cab made a pitch to be the letter Y, telling me they've got several vintage taxis in their Pomona yard, but since that's not open to the general public, I opted to go with the YMCA. Besides, the Y is one of the most prominent buildings in Pomona -- even if, as noted below, a lot of people don't realize it houses a Y.

The only update of which I'm aware is that Yesteryears, one of the runnerups, is no longer in business. This column was published June 12, 2005.]

This ‘A to Z’ should have no one asking Y

Yay! Today — not yesterday — “Pomona A to Z” yields the floor to the letter Y.

By any yardstick, Pomona has great examples of Y’s. Oh, you think I’m a yo-yo? Then pay attention to this yarn.

Yes, stop yammering on your cell phone, eating yogurt and adjusting your yarmulke! Whether your chromosomes are X or Y, just eye this list of Y’s, yonder:

* Yesteryears nightclub on West Second Street, one of the Arts Colony’s live music venues.

* Yamamoto of Orient, maker of fine Japanese teas, located in a west Pomona industrial park.

* Yellow Cab, which began as City Transit in 1926 at Main and Second and now serves the entire Pomona valley with taxis and paratransit buses.

Yowza!

Anyway, yada yada yada, let’s just go to our Y.

The literal Y. The YMCA.

One of the most recognizable buildings in Pomona, the red-bricked YMCA stands at 350 N. Garey Ave., where it takes up most of a block.

“There’s a lot of brick recognition,” quips J.J. Diaz-Ceja, the membership fitness director. “Everybody walks by and recognizes the brick.”

Yet not everybody knows it’s a Y, despite the modest neon sign on the building’s corner.

“One question I often get from people is, ‘How long has this been a YMCA?’ ” Diaz-Ceja says.

Try “forever.”

Pomona began a fund-raising campaign for the stately, Mission-style building soon after the end of World War I.

Architect Robert Orr’s design, notable for its arched windows, was described in a 1919 fund-raising appeal as having been “pronounced of singular beauty and usefulness by the ablest YMCA experts of the Pacific Coast.”

A suitably impressed public contributed $300,000, all the more startling in a city of just 18,000.

Built on the site of the Palomares Hotel, which was lost to fire in 1912, the YMCA was dedicated in April 1922 with a speech by Gov. William Stephens. More than 1,000 citizens turned out.

As an orator from Iowa College put it: “Let this building be dedicated to brotherliness. Let us all join hands that we might feel the thrill of the Almighty, that men may grow up among brotherhood and achieve brotherhood. Keep yourselves related to a center of
brotherhood.”

Oh, brother.

The YMCA — the initials stand for Young Men’s Christian Association — started in England in 1844 as an attempt to apply Christian principles to everyday problems. It then spread to the United States.

Pomona’s chapter began in 1884 as a reading room and job-placement service. It soon faded until its revival in 1919, according to a history by Steven Escher.

As you’d expect, a lot of changes have occurred over the past 83 years.

First limited to men and boys, the Y allowed women and girls to become members in 1949. With no YWCA in town, they had been auxiliary members previously.

The auditorium, initially devoted to Bible study, was turned into a gym in 1940 due to growing demand for space. A $300,000 wing was added in 1958, expanding the building further.

When I visited last week, a pickup basketball game was going on in the gym. High above were the original stained glass windows — handy for anyone praying to make that jump shot.

Today’s Y has aerobics classes, weight machines and child care. While teens were the early focus, the Y now caters more to families.

Although Christian principles remain the organization’s bedrock, “anyone can join the YMCA,” Diaz-Ceja emphasizes.

Anyone from yokel to yacht dweller, I’m sure. Call (909) 623-6433 for membership details, or drop by for a tour.

The Y, by the by, is booming. Since the hiring of Phyllis Murphy as general director and CEO in 2001, the Y has grown from an anemic 400 members to nearly 1,200.

I enjoyed the chance to see the place. Although, admittedly, I was disappointed not to find any Village People.

One highlight was the indoor pool. Twenty yards long, the pool has the Y’s original logo laid into the aqua tile.

This is where generations of Pomona children learned to swim or took their Boy Scout swimming test. Today, it’s also used for lap swimming and aquatic aerobics.

“Unbelievable as it may seem, this is the original tile,” Diaz-Ceja brags.

The building was made a state landmark in 1985 and a national landmark in 1986.

After my visit, I could see Y.

(David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, year in, year out.)

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Restaurant of the Week: Pupuseria Cuscatleca

This week’s restaurant: Pupuseria Cuscatleca (whew!), 990 E. Holt Ave., Pomona.

I noticed this restaurant’s sign (I’m going to avoid typing the name a third time) some weeks back while taking Holt into Pomona for a council meeting, and finally returned for a meal at lunchtime the other day. It’s in an older, one-story building directly across the street from the Pala Motel. (It appears the restaurant relocated from 1380 S. Garey.)

The interior is L-shaped and the entrance is at the bottom right of the L. In other words, when you walk in, your view of the back half of the restaurant is blocked by a wall. I took a seat near the door and have no idea what you see if you sit toward the back along the left wall. Just one of those quirks of a space that may not even have been designed for a restaurant.

As the name implies, the restaurant has pupusas. I’ve had those in Upland. They’re Salvadoran and are like a corn pancake filled with a thin layer of meat, cheese and beans. The colorful menu downplays the pupusas and plays up seafood dishes, many of which looked pretty good from the photos and descriptions. But I decided to stick to the pupusas.

I ordered two, with pork — my options were two or three — and frankly one would have been plenty for me; they’re good but filling. There was a pleasant cabbage and carrot salad on the side. I also had an agua fresca of pineapple. I couldn’t see them make it, of course, but I could hear the blender whirring behind the wall. The frothy juice drink was served in a goblet and hit the spot on a hot day.

The server, who may be the owner or co-owner, was very nice to the visiting Anglo who probably stuck out like a sore thumb. There’s an A in the window and the place (see how I avoided typing all those syllables again?) serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Not sure what the individual items cost but the bill came to $6.50, which wasn’t bad for a satisfying lunch.

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