Millard Sheets’ PFF mural

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Photo by Barbara Smith

Friday’s column talks about the mural in the PFF branch at 399 N. Garey Ave. in Pomona that will close June 19. It’s a hard mural to photograph because it’s so long, but the above photo, sent in by reader Barbara Smith, gives you an idea. You can see an equally panoramic view (in B&W) of the mural at the Pomona Public Library’s website, or a series of color images on Photobucket’s website that lets you look at the whole thing in pieces. The building opened in 1956 and presumably the mural dates to that year too.

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Remembering Upland’s Taco Jiffy

Reader Bob Butcher left a comment on our ever-popular Things That Aren’t Here Anymore thread recently — part of our Reminiscin’ category — which prompted a response from his old friend and former Taco Jiffy employee Sally (Switzer) Lasby.

Taco Jiffy? Turns out that’s the forerunner of today’s Taco King, the place on Foothill in Upland with the charming sign with a cactus and the motto “Home of the Bean Special.”

I reconnected the two of them and Bob us sent the following e-mail. I’m presenting a portion of it here, lightly edited, because it may bring back memories for some of you. For the rest of us, it’s an entertaining read. Take it away, Bob:

“Do I remember Taco Jiffy? I spent five years of my life there pumping out Mexican delicacies to the public.

“I fondly remember some of the ‘special customers,’ like the group that came weekly from Otis Elevator in RC (not here anymore). The Hells Angels roared in weekly. They had just recently formed and were headquartered in an old stone house in north Rancho Cucamonga.

“And then there were the ‘frantic’ 10 Cent Taco Monday Nights! A prominent coupon in the Daily Report TV section produced really long lines of hungry bodies. Then there were the frequent visits of Vince Vella, better known as “Little Oscar” (the world’s smallest chef) and the famed Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile. They parked it in front of the place and Vince gave the kids OM whistles and then came inside where my Mom would fix him a vegetable tostada.

“Across the street from Taco Jiffy was Weitzel’s Yum Yum Burgers and Frostees (not here anymore), home of the fantastic Atomic Burger — gigantic and delicious. And east of that, the original Noble Inn (not here anymore). All of this was just east of Bill’s Ranch Market (not here anymore), the Chevron gas station (not here anymore) — and across Foothill Blvd was/is Upland Memorial Park.

“Do I remember Taco Jiffy? You better believe I do!!!”

Wasn’t that fun? Thanks, Bob.

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Be my fan on Facebook

Yes, I’m now one of the cool kids with a Facebook page. (This probably means Facebook has peaked.)

If you’re one of the Facebook masses, check out my Facebook fan page. I post links to each column and blog post. If you’re already reading everything, then don’t worry about it — unless you want to declare yourself a fan, and I’d be happy to have you.

My hope is that having these links show up on Facebookers’ home page will remind people, or tempt people, to check out the blog or the column. We’ll see how it goes.

As of Tuesday, without any publicity, 82 people had signed up, including an Upland councilman, Cal Poly Pomona’s police chief and a wine expert. Oooh, I’m such a status-seeker.

I’ve let the page spread virally (like swine flu?) and promoting it here on my blog is the next step. At some point it will get a mention in my column.

Join now and you can still say you’re a charter member (not that it carries any added benefit)!

You can also beta-test the Daily Bulletin fan page.

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An afternoon in L.A.

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Saturday I climbed aboard a Metrolink train for an afternoon in the big city (no, not Upland). On the way I decided a good plan, since I was interested in hitting Virgin Megastore’s sale at Hollywood and Highland, would be to try Skooby’s for lunch. Skooby’s is a well-regarded hot dog stand at Hollywood Boulevard at Cherokee.

I had a dog, fries and Coke for $7.59. The dog (natural casing, all beef) was grilled to perfection, the fries (Idaho potatoes, with zero trans-fat peanut oil, and seasoned), with a few potato chips mixed in, were even better, with the side of aioli dipping sauce proving addictive.

Virgin’s closeout sale is now 50 percent off CDs and DVDs. I picked up two Van Morrison retrospectives, the deluxe edition of Love’s “Forever Changes” and Los Campesinos’ second album. They’re playing the Glass House on Aug. 22, btw. I went to the Virgin in NYC’s Union Square during my vacation, making me a bicoastal closeout shopper.

The Disney Soda Fountain by the Egyptian Theater was packed with (ugh) families, so I rode the Red Line back to Union Station and had a slice of apple pie and an iced tea at Philippe’s before heading home.

One reason I do these outings is to give myself some distraction-free reading time. I took along Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer,” his slim 2006 sequel to 1957′s “Dandelion Wine.” I recently reread “DW” for the first time in three decades. “FS” got mixed notices from fans, but if “DW” was a home run, I’d say “FS” was a triple. With two train rides, two subway rides and two restaurant stops, I read the book from start to finish.

Next!

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Goddess of Pomona shuts down (temporarily?)

One of my favorite local blogs, www.goddessof pomona.com, since last Wednesday has been displaying a generic Blogger.com template with the message “This blog is open to invited readers only.”

Is the Goddess of Pomona pulling up the drawbridge?

I e-mailed the Goddess to inquire and she said she’d shut the blog down of her own volition due to “anonymous attacks in the comments section of late. Especially after learning the source of the latest comments.” She didn’t elaborate, but said the attacks have made blogging “not so fun.”

“So until I decide what to do, I’ve put a lock on the blog,” she said.

I suppose I should point out the irony of an anonymous blogger complaining about anonymous commenters, but that’s the blogosphere. I do hope she returns.

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Mt. Baldy plane crash turned into book

I was unfamiliar with the story of Norman Ollestad until an e-mail from tireless reader Don J. about Ollestad’s new memoir, “Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival.” The pertinent details:

A Cessna 172 crashed into Ontario Peak in the San Gabriel Mountains on Feb. 19, 1979. There were four passengers: a pilot, a young woman, an attorney and his 11-year-old son. The pilot and the father were killed and the young woman died hours later, leaving the boy, Ollestad, to make his way down the mountain alone.

In the freezing cold, he slid down the hill on his pants, holding a stick in his fractured hands to brake his descent. Ten hours after the crash, he made it to Mt. Baldy Village and was taken to a hospital, bloody and bruised but alive. Whoa.

The book has already been optioned by Warner Bros. for a movie. Here’s the Amazon link for the book.

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Restaurant of the Week: Taste of Asia

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Taste of Asia, 2007 Foothill Blvd. (at D), La Verne

Taste of Asia opened last year in the former Caribbean Gardens space in the small, ’70s vintage Oak Tree Center on the north side of Foothill and near the movie theaters. (It’s easy to overlook the center, but in a plus, the small parking lot is shaded by actual oak trees.)

Inside, Taste of Asia is modern and slightly upscale, although the paper rather than cloth napkins stuffed in the glasses will throw you off. The menu is mostly Thai but with some Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.

I’ve been there three times so far and expect to keep going. Everything I’ve had so far has been good: Steamed fish with lime ($9.95), with minced garlic and carrot, and lime sliced thin as communion wafers; yellow curry chicken ($8.95), yum seafood salad ($10.95), Vietnamese hand rolls ($5.95) and, most notably, off the “chef’s recommendations” list, tropical salmon ($14.95), which comes grilled on a bed of spinach and topped with mango, tomatoes and onions.

Yes, I love Mix Bowl in Pomona, but Taste of Asia is on a different order of magnitude, slow food rather than fast food.

It’s a family operation, and Chef Virada comes into the dining room every time to go table to table to chat with customers and make sure everyone is satisfied. Framed diplomas in the hallway to the restrooms show that she trained at a culinary school in Bangkok. But she was working at Bausch and Lomb before opening Taste of Asia.

“This is my dream, to have a restaurant,” she told me. We can all pinch ourselves and be happy her dream is our reality.

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How to take Metrolink

Reader Frank Scimia e-mailed recently after reading about one of my L.A. excursions via Metrolink:

“I enjoy reading your blog and have a question regarding your day in L.A. It sounds like fun and something that I would like to do with my family. The only problem is that I have never ridden the Metrolink…gasp! Can you give a first-timer some tips? I live in Rancho and don’t have a clue on what train to take and what station to get off at. Also, how far is the walk to Hollywood Blvd?”

I responded to his e-mail but figured I’d share my response here since others may have the same question. Taking the train isn’t difficult, but I can see how it might be intimidating for a first-timer, especially since you kinda have to know the schedule in advance (it’s not like trains are pulling in every 15 minutes) and there are no employees, just ticket machines.

Here’s what I told him:

“Always happy to encourage riders on Metrolink. You can find the schedule at www.metrolinktrains.com. You’ll want the schedule for the San Bernardino Line. You buy tickets at the station. The machines can be confusing at first but other riders can help.

“From Union Station, which is the end of the line, you would take the Red Line subway to either Hollywood and Vine or to Hollywood and Highland. No big walk — you’re right there!

“Transferring from Metrolink to the Red Line is free with your ticket (for now — Metrolink officials are rethinking the free transfer policy).”

From Union Station, one can also take the Gold Line to Chinatown, Highland Park and Pasadena, or walk across the street to Olvera Street or walk about four blocks to Philippe’s, not to mention walking or taking the Red Line to other downtown sites, etc.

I find a lot of people confuse Metrolink and the subway. It all makes sense (I think) if you actually go there, and then look at the maps at Union Station. After a trip or two, you start feeling like an urban expert, and for me it beats driving, paying for parking, etc. Just be cognizant of the times the trains depart for home and factor in the time you need to get back to Union Station.

Here’s a link to Metrolink’s official “How to Ride Guide.”

Any other questions or comments?

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