‘Little House’ in Pomona

Ms. Lois asks that we plug the 43rd annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Sociable at the Pomona Public Library this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., and this blog is happy to comply. Because rain threatens, the event will take place indoors but should be no less fun for the younger set. Wilder, of course, was the author of the “Little House on the Prairie” series of books.

You can learn all the details in a series of posts on the library’s blog. Did you know Melissa Sue Anderson of TV’s “Little House” series visited Pomona in 1975? I didn’t. You can learn more about the library’s connection to Wilder from my “Pomona A to Z” piece here.

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Remembering Valenti’s and O’Reilly’s

Chaffey High alumnus Dave Linck reminded me of a couple of oldtime Ontario restaurants: one that may be the original Inland Valley pizza parlor, or darn close to it, and a beloved burger emporium with a buffet line of condiments.

Take it away, Mr. Linck:

“Here are a couple old Ontario places to jog the bloggers:

“Valenti’s Fine Foods on South Euclid: One of the few places in the early ’60s to serve pizza. I had my very first pie there, served by owner Phil Valenti, whose brother, Frank, ran the Texaco station on Holt near Vine. Both places are long gone. The pizza was amazing, with so much mozzerella (and fresh oregano) it ruined me for all others to come.

“Another long-gone fave was O’Reilly’s Buffet Burger on Holt near Mountain, which is now housing The Paint Bucket. O’Reilly’s was beloved among we kids because they sent you a coupon for a free ‘Buffet Burger’ on your birthday. O’Reilly’s served burgers, broasted chicken and dip sandwiches.

“There was a ‘buffet bar’ where you could dress your burger as you liked, as well as a twin ‘sundae bar’ where you could do so with ice cream sundaes. It was always crowded and I am sure lots of people will respond with their own memories of this long-gone icon of burger cool.”

I’m sure they will too. Readers?

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Wednesday column preview

In other news from Monday’s Pomona City Council meeting (most of the rest is in Wednesday’s column):

* Beforehand, Councilman Tim Saunders approached me and held out his arms, showing off the perfect fit of his suit’s sleeves. I had noted in a column that Saunders, who is known for his Hawaiian shirts, at his first meeting wore a suit with sleeves down to his fingertips. “After Mr. Blackwell here wrote his article,” Saunders joked, he bought four suits. I thanked him for being a good sport.

* Without comment, the council awarded a contract to Aramark to provide meals to prisoners at the city jail for $7.05 each per day. The wag sitting next to me circled that figure on his agenda and whispered, “You’d starve to death.”

I wondered why it’s $7.05. If prisoners get bread and water, maybe the nickel is for a slice of lemon.

* Sensitive students from the Claremont Colleges said they had witnessed police traffic checkpoints in Pomona, with one finding the spectacle “horrifying” and another saying solemnly, “We saw things we’d never seen before.” Which is, if memory serves, kind of the point of college.

* A grant application for checkpoint money was approved 6-1, but not without an hour-long discussion, and a minor dustup. Councilman Steve Atchley, whose remarks kept being interrupted by hecklers, finally said he found opponents’ arguments “specious.” “I’m not going to explain it,” he added. “You’re going to have to look it up.” Three people walked out in protest.

“It was a little condescending, I’ll admit it,” Atchley later told me sheepishly.

Well, it was a long night — the meeting lasted more than four hours. Groan. But I did get a column out of it.

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Reading log: January 2009

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Since I’ve written about my reading goals for 2009, I might as well share what I’m reading. If I remember, I’ll write one of these posts each month. The idea, and the form, are unabashedly swiped from Nick Hornby’s (now-defunct) books column in The Believer magazine.

Books bought this month: “Shakespeare Wrote for Money,” Nick Hornby; “Highway 61 Revisited,” Mark Polizzotti; “Exile on Main Street,” Robert Greenfield.

Books read this month: “Billy Budd and Other Stories,” Herman Melville; “The Demolished Man,” Alfred Bester; “Double Indemnity,” James M. Cain; “Bradbury Speaks,” Ray Bradbury.

I liked all four, to one degree or another. “Billy Budd…” has already been featured here. “Demolished” is a ’50s SF classic in which a man plans the perfect murder in a society where the police are mind-readers. The book holds up. “Indemnity” is lean and mean and makes me want to rent the movie version again — script by Raymond Chandler, no less. The Bradbury book is a collection of essays and, although I’m a fan, is hit and miss.

Four books in January? I might actually meet my goal of 50 books this year — or at least 48.

Incidentally, I had saved “Double Indemnity” to read someday on Metrolink, because the book is a mere 125 pages. Last Saturday I took the train to L.A. for lunch and a museum visit. I opened the book on the train and by Union Station was at p. 40. I read a few more pages on the subway. At lunch at Pete’s Cafe I lingered and read more.

After the museum I walked to Clifton’s, where I enjoyed a slice of pie and a drink and read. At the subway station I got in another four pages. At Union Station for the return home, I boarded the waiting train, turned to p. 80 and started in. When we stopped in Claremont, I had two pages left. Well, I couldn’t ask them to hold the train, so I walked to my car and finished the book in the Metrolink parking lot.

A book in a single day? Haven’t done that since I was in short pants. Credit a very short book and a very gripping story.

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Super, without the bowl

Continuing my lifelong avoidance of the Super Bowl, I spent Sunday afternoon 1) eating lunch outdoors at The Habit in La Verne, reading the LAT Travel piece on a car trip up the California coast, 2) catching a matinee of “Last Chance Harvey,” the Dustin Hoffman/Emma Thompson romance, at the La Verne Edwards, which drew a good crowd of middle-agers and seniors, 3) mopping my floors and 4) reading from a Harlan Ellison story collection at the Coffee Bean in Claremont, which was at half-capacity, unusually.

I hear the Steelers won. Whatever.

Incidentally, “Last Chance Harvey,” while not brilliant, was charming, as long as you can accept the lovely Emma Thompson as unattached and lonely. The movie is down to two showings per day, and is playing at only this one theater, so anyone so inclined is encouraged to zip over there before Friday.

How did you spend your Super Bowl Sunday?

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