Inland Valley Photo Quiz No. 2

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Remember our first mystery photo? Here’s another one. The subject is out in plain sight in the Inland Valley and, in keeping with the idea behind these quizzes, is known by some of you, but not all of you. Can you guess what and where it is?

(The “busy” background, nearby trees and dull coloring made a good photograph difficult, but I did my best.)

Like last time, I will withhold posting your comments to avoid spoiling the fun if someone gets it correct right away. Wild guesses are encouraged. Comments and the answer will be posted here Tuesday morning.

UPDATE 6:38 a.m. Tuesday: The contest is closed, the comments posted, and it looks like I underestimated how recognizable the scene is. Or perhaps I underestimated how many Montclair readers this blog has. Either way, almost everyone guessed that the above scene is of a statue outside Montclair City Hall, with the council chambers in the background.

Congratulations to Lisa, Kathy, Kristin McConnell, Shirley Wofford, Derek Deason and Desdave. But kudos to Bob House for trying.

We’ll do this again soon and I’ll try to be even sneakier.

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Restaurant of the Week: Los Portales

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Los Portales, 10244 Central Ave. (at Kingsley), Montclair.

I’d seen Los Portales for ages in the strip center behind the estimable Cafe Montclair, but hadn’t yet gone in. That is, until looking for a new place to eat before Monday’s Montclair council meeting and finding most restaurants on Central closed, Mondays being what they are. Los Portales it is!

I was pleasantly surprised how large the interior is and how nice it looked. There were at least four dining rooms and the one where I was seated had banquette seating, those wooden booths with high backs. Chips, salsa and a menu were quickly delivered. The place was moderately busy.

The menu has plenty of seafood and steak dishes in the $10 to $15 range. Not having time to linger, I opted for the fish taco plate, grilled ($9.95). The two tacos had at least an entire filet between them, more fish than Rubio’s would put in a half-dozen tacos, plus some cabbage, diced tomatoes and cilantro on corn tortillas. Double tortillas would have made the tacos easier to eat, but I felt like I got my money’s worth. The plate also came with beans and rice. A horchata ($2.25) washed it down well.

My first impression of Los Portales is positive and it may be one of the valley’s better Mexican restaurants. Anyone else been there? Do any of you know the location’s history?

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A dangerous world, but there’s insurance for that

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On my way to Masala Bowl in Chino Hills the other day, I spotted an insurance office seemingly tailored to Russell Crowe.

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That reminded me of an Ontario insurance office that apparently targets that subset headed off to Africa with pith helmets, guns and native bearers. At least the insurance looks affordable.

However, my hopes of a trifecta of oddly named insurance offices was thwarted when a visit to the Mountain Green center in Upland revealed that Survival Insurance is no more. Survival Insurance didn’t survive? A sobering note for us all.

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Claremont’s parade shows its independence

I’m not much on parades, unless I’m the grand marshal of course, but Claremont always has an entertaining July 4th parade. Since I ran out of room in Wednesday’s column to note some of my favorite moments, let me belatedly mention them here.

The Goddess of Pomona clad in a white gown and a laurel rode on an electric cart from Pomona College. But don’t ask me to explain why a boombox was playing “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Friends of the Bernard Field Station carried signs on sticks for various plant species. Go, coastal sage scrub!

The Claremont Ukelele Club played lilting tunes on the namesake instrument while riding in a flatbed truck. The truck, for obscure reasons, dragged an 8-foot papier mache turkey on a wheeled platform with a wordy placard I couldn’t see well from the sidewalk, although it seemed anti-military. Did anyone see it or get what it was about?

Less obscurely, a vehicle for a senior housing development carried several seniors blowing bubbles with bubble fluid and wands. A placard on the side read “Claremont Manor Rocks.” Perhaps in no other era would even a retirement community be said to rock.

Loud applause greeted parade entries for gay marriage, peace and an end to the death penalty. You don’t see that stuff in Upland.

But where were the Claremont Grammarians, who rode in the last few parades in a panel truck decorated with placards like “I Before E” and “Don’t Use Contractions”?

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Upland in the 1940s, part 2

Continuing Shelby Garrett’s memories of old Upland:

“Over on Foothill at Fifth Avenue was Booth’s Market on the SE corner and a small filling station on the NE corner. In 1948 there was a miniature golf course on the SW side of Foothill and Third Avenue. We had such fun playing there.

“In the early ’50s, over towards Second Avenue on the south side of Foothill, was the Shopping Bag, Upland’s first big supermarket. It was so different from the neighborhood grocery stores we were used to. Jan’s Drive-In to the east of the market was a local spot to hang out.

“On the north side of Foothill from Third Avenue on over to Euclid there was nothing but orange groves. On the south side were groves too, from Second Avenue west to Euclid, until Bob & Dave’s Chevron Station went in on the SW corner of Second and Foothill.

“In 1950, Yum Yum’s Frostee Freeze was put in by Mary Weitzel on Foothill across from the Memorial Park. In their recreation and eating area on the side of the building there was a jukebox. Teenagers went there for great hamburgers, shakes, malts and dancing. The adults got wind of the fun we were having and several of them came in to dance with us often.

“Across Foothill at the ball park, my brother, Kirby, used to announce the ballgames.

“For fine dining, people went to the Magic Lamp (formerly Lucy & John’s) or to the historic Sycamore Inn, both east on Foothill past Grove Avenue.

“In 1951 the Swim Club was built out on West Foothill. They had great folk music by various artists performing around the pool.

“Another unforgettable place was Stinkey’s on the NW corner of Mountain and Foothill. They had the best hamburgers in town and were open all night for the boys and men who went out smudging in the wintertime. Jack, the owner, always had a cigar with a long ash on it in his mouth, but I never saw it fall off into the food.

“Matteo’s Pizza was out on Foothill and Central, as was Lloyd’s. Both great places to eat.”

Hope you enjoyed the piece. Anyone have memories of these places to share, or just general comments on the above?

Two short comments by me: I believe the Shopping Bag building is now Pep Boys; if memory serves, circa 2000, construction exposed a brick wall with a painted sign for Shopping Bag to motorists on Foothill, until further construction covered it up.

Also, the idea that Foothill was lined with groves is hard for us to picture today, but it does explain an odd news item I saw in an old Daily Report (’40s? ’50s?) about a controversial zoning plan to make Foothill a (gasp!) commercial district!

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Upland in the 1940s

I always enjoy Marilyn Anderson’s monthly Hometown Spirit newsletter published out of downtown Upland’s Cooper Museum and available for free around town (I get mine at the museum or at my periodontist’s).

I’ve meant to share a long chunk of a couple of essays published there last year and written by former Uplander Shelby Garrett. He wrote about his family’s arrival in Upland in 1943 from Alabama and about the businesses along Foothill Boulevard back then. They deserve a wider audience. Marilyn said it was fine with her. Take it away, Shelby:

“Dad was able to get us a 3-bedroom, pre-fab home in Parkside, the huge 550-unit project on the SE corner of Campus and Foothill. Big parking lots separated the groups of houses and there were nice grassy areas between the houses. They had basketball courts and every day when Dad came home from work we’d all go play.

“In the ’40s, most people still had ice boxes for refrigeration. The Union Ice Company truck delivered daily to the project. The blocks of 25 to 50 lbs. would be loaded onto a two-wheel pushcart rolling up and down the sidewalks going from house to house delivering various quantities. Tom, the ice man, would let me split the blocks with an ice pick and give me 50 cents for helping him. Boy, was I rich!

“There was a large open field from Eleventh Street down to the San Antonio Hospital on San Bernardino Road, where I used to go rabbit hunting. And quite often Mom would have rabbit to cook for our supper.

“On the NE corner of Foothill and Campus was a little white stuccoed service station with Pegasus, the Flying Red Horse, as its symbol, later to become a Mobil station. Right next door to the east was a little cafe called Pow’s Chow. Mr. Pow was in business there for many years.

“On the NW corner was Gilliland Gardens Nursery, the greenhouses and the small Upland Motel. In 1945 they moved their business to the north side of Foothill at Third Avenue. My parents bought the old nursery and motel, making the nursery house our home and moving the greenhouses over to Third Avenue. Mom later had her office (Garrett/Tyberg Real Estate) in that house.

“On the SW corner of Foothill and Campus was Martinez’ Grocery Store and next to it was Martinez’ Long Bar Restaurant, where you could get an excellent Mexican dinner for about $1.75.”

That wraps up the four corners of Foothill and Campus: Gilliland Gardens, gas station, Parkside and Martinez’. Shelby’s piece concludes here tomorrow with more ’40s-era Foothill businesses.

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Restaurant of the Week: Masala Bowl

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Masala Bowl, 4200 Chino Hills Parkway, Chino Hills.

Indian food is still a mystery to most of America, unlike many other ethnic cuisines. Masala Bowl is a small chain — locations in Irvine, Tustin, Chino Hills and Plano, Texas, with more coming — that attempts to remedy that by offering a simplified menu and walk-up service.

The Chino Hills location is in the Chino Hills Marketplace, a sprawling shopping center just off the 71 Freeway. Inside there’s a flat screen TV with Indian music videos and a few decorative touches, but mostly it’s the standard exposed-pipe, no-frills interior.

The woman at the counter (who was Indian) explained the menu. They have tandoori-cooked dishes and wraps, but the primary entree is curry. There are seven curries, from mild to spicy, and eight meats or vegetables, meaning 56 possible combinations.

I got lamb tikka masala ($7.49 on its own), which is chunks of lamb in a creamy tomato sauce. It arrived at my table in a plastic bowl with basmati rice. Pretty good stuff. I got the meal as a combo ($9.48) with a soda and samosa bites ($1.19 on its own), crispy pockets filled with potatoes. I also ordered garlic naan ($2.49) and bhel ($3.79), a puffed rice mixture with chopped onions and tomatoes.

The bhel was interesting, a sort of dry, crispy salad, but perhaps an acquired taste. The samosa bites were just okay. I couldn’t finish all this, so lids were brought for the two bowls, which were easily portable.

Well, Masala Bowl is no Haandi, but it’s not meant to be. As a low-priced, casual introduction to Indian food, it’s worth a visit. I noticed another couple of restaurants in the Marketplace I hadn’t tried and another one across the street when I exited the parking lot onto Pipeline, which means I’m already looking forward to my next excuse to head to Chino Hills.

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Perry Mason in Ventura

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Did you know Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner used to practice law in Ventura? Gardner had an office in a stately downtown buildiing and walked a couple of blocks to the courthouse to try cases, while writing a few of the earliest tales of the defense lawyer in his office. On my visit to Ventura, I photographed a plaque on that office building, which has been renamed in honor of Gardner.

Perry Mason used to be hugely popular in Gardner’s series of 80 (!) novels as well as in movies, radio and the Raymond Burr TV drama. Like a lot of mid-century mystery novelists, Gardner, who died in Temecula in 1970, seems to have faded from public consciousness. I tried reading one of his Masons during my mystery-reading phase of childhood but didn’t get far, which was probably my fault, not his.

You can read more about him here.

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T. Willard Hunter, 93

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The elaborately named T. Willard Hunter, one of Claremont’s biggest and grandest characters, died Monday night. (Tony Krickl of the Claremont Courier got it first.)

Hunter is best known for having started the Speakers Corner segment of the Fourth of July festivities in Memorial Park in which anyone is allotted 10 minutes to speak on any subject they choose. But he was also a frequent contributor to the Courier and the Bulletin, wrote a few books and spoke all over the country.

He also founded the annual Labor Day Walk from the San Gabriel Mission to Olvera Street in 1981, L.A.’s 200th birthday, to commemorate the city’s founding. The nine-mile walk follows the path of the city’s first settlers.

You can read more about him in the Bulletin on Thursday and in my column Friday. Here’s a photo of him holding forth (Fourth?) at a previous Speakers Corner.

Know him, ever meet him or ever hear him? Post a comment below. He was one of a kind.

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