Archibald and Foothill, Cucamonga

33282-cucamonga50s.jpg

This undated postcard image, presumably from the 1950s, is in the collection of the Ontario Public Library. This was downtown Cucamonga.

As Frank Zappa wrote in his autobiography:

“Cucamonga was a blotch on a map, represented by the intersection of Route 66 and Archibald Avenue. On those four corners we had an Italian restaurant, an Irish pub, a malt shop and a gas station.

“North, up Archibald, were an electrician’s shop, a hardware store and the recording studio. Across the street was a Holy Roller church, and up the block from that was the grammar school.”

His memory was pretty sharp. In 1965, the year Zappa left, this would be what you’d have found at or around this intersection, according to research by Kelly Zackmann of the Ontario City Library into phone books and criss-cross directories:

NW corner: Caf Italiano (9690 Foothill), the Zappa-mentioned “Italian restaurant.” Ancil Morris’ Cucamonga Service Station was next door to the west and still stands, albeit closed and fenced off.

SW corner: Cucamonga Caf (9671 Foothill), which is listed under ice cream in the phone book. Must be Zappa’s “malt shop.” Now it’s The Deli and Carl’s Liquor.

NE corner: Cucamonga Hardware (9710 Foothill) must be the “hardware shop.”

SE corner: Ray Ford’s Texaco station (9705 Foothill) was there, if apparently not operating by 1965. Nearby was The Tavern (9741 Foothill), which may be the “Irish pub” Zappa mentions. Was this the same pub known as Shanty Devlin’s?

Zappa’s studio was at 8040 Archibald, on the west side above Estacia Street and next to Citrus Electric (“electrician’s shop”) at 8036. South of them, below Estacia but above Foothill, were the Cucamonga Justice Court at 8076 and Cafe Italiano.

The “grammar school” Zappa mentions was Central Elementary, which is still there (7955 Archibald). Zackmann couldn’t locate a Holy Roller-type church across the street from the studio via phone records. But then, why have a phone if you’re going to speak in tongues?

If you’ve never been to The Deli, by the way, not only is the place worth it for the food, but one wall boasts a series of B&W and color photos of the intersection from various eras. Well worth a look.

Zappa maintained that when Archibald was widened in the mid-’60s, his studio was among the casualties. I think there’s a drive-through dairy there now. Is the courthouse building still there? I don’t know. There is some disagreement among old-timers as to whether the row of older buidlings on the west side above Foothill is original or not.

Feel free to add to or correct any of the information and suppositions above.

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  • John from Fontana (back then)

    Look at that blue sky and the absence of traffic. If traffic goes away maybe that blue sky will return…

  • Linda Frost

    Foothill and Archibald had the Bank Of America on the Northeast side. It was a tile-roofed building that survived through the depression and after. My children’s great-grandfather was the manager during the depression.

    I do not know if the justice court building is still on Archibald or not, but I appeared before the court back in the early 1980s to contest a traffic ticket. That was in the day when they actually had an assistant district attorney to prosecute.

    My attorney uncle said I should represent myself, so it would not look like overkill. I had to declare to the court that I was personally acquainted with and had helped get the judge elected, which was okay with the district attorney. However, I did my homework — charts and graphs, etc. The judge dismissed the case, even though the officer came and testified against me. Doing my homework was the key.

  • Matt Swift

    This was the first intersection in all of RC to get a traffic light. It is one of the worst, if not the worst, intersection for traffic accidents to this day.

  • Gavin

    Let me say thanks to Ms. Zackmann for her good research. And props to David for this post.

    Wouldnt it be nice if the City of Rancho Cucamonga had an old town pedestrian area?

    I wonder if Zappas impression of a “Holy Roller church” might have been the Cucamonga Rock Church (formerly Cucamonga Community Church, c. 1907) just a bit further up on Archibald and Church St. It is now a designated historic landmark.

    [Possible, although in the mid-'60s it was apparently a Methodist Church, which isn't what most people would consider Holy Roller. -- DA]

  • Amy

    Thank you for this interesting bit of history. We moved to Alta Loma in 1975 and I’ve often dreamed of what the area must have looked like 50-100 years ago.

    I know to some the old gas station boarded and chained off must be an eyesore. However, I must say I’m ever so glad it is still there.

  • Dave Morgan

    Did anyone notice the stop sign right next to the green light?! That could have contributed to some of the accidents to which Matt refers…

  • Kathy (Laub) Tiegs

    Wonderful picture, David. As I recall, the n/e corner of San Bernardino Road & Archibald was home to the Cucamonga Times. On the west side of Archibald, south of San Bernardino Road, was the justice court, and the Cucamonga Library.

    I have lived in RC since 1954 and enjoy fond memories of the quonset hut in which I grew up, and the groves throughout the area. My father, Boyd Laub, dismantled a quonset hut from Roger Young Village in LA…the village was the nation’s largest WWII veterans housing project and was dismantled in April 1954 to make way for the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot and later, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. My father reconstructed the quonset hut for our family of six within our 10-acre lemon grove on Church Street…the quonset hut remains standing today in the remaining 1-acre grove.

    While urban sprawl has taken away the rural landscape of RC, it will never take away the memories of smudge pots, wind machines, standpipes to release water for irrigating the grove, windrows of eucalyptus trees to deflect the Santa Ana winds, incinerators to burn trash, 2-lane Archibald Avenue, and other memories too numerous to list that I will always hold dear to my heart.

    [Awww. Thanks for sharing those fond memories with us, Kathy. -- DA]

  • Monty Seay

    Does anybody remember Cookie Carole’s of Cucamonga, if I remember correctly? It was a craft and hobby store. It was on the right side of Archibald one block or so north of Route 66.

  • Barbara

    The first building you see on the right was Ted Vath’s drugstore. Above that was Dr. Anton, M.D. and Dr. Kelsey, DDS. Above that was the ‘holy roller church’; just above that was Central School, which is not visible in this picture.

    Carl’s Liquor was half its size then, with a 5 & 10 cent store and the malt shop where the Deli is now.

    Southeast corner was Bob Ford’s Texaco and further east was the Tavern. Shanty Devlin’s was across Foothill on the north side.

    The Post Office and library were on the west side of Archibald, complete with metal rings in the sidewalk to hitch your horse in front of the P.O. A much simpler time.

    [Thanks, Barbara, for that rundown, and for clarifying that Devlin's and the Tavern were two separate businesses. You've added to our repository of knowledge here at the blog. -- DA]

  • John Berge

    Nice story David, brought back a ton of memories. Walking to Central School from our home in “Turner Park” off Turner avenue (now Hermosa) in the mornings through three or four citrus groves. Delivering the weekly Cucamonga Times and earning a few quarters for my efforts. Later, delivering the Daily Report; Jay Kim was my distributor — dropping the papers off in bundles. Mr. Kim would later become a Congressman, serving the 41st. District from 01-Jan-1993 to 31-Dec-1998. Frank Zappa did memorialize the Holy Roller Church in a song: “Cucamonga”
    “Out in Cucamonga
    Many years ago
    Near a Holy Roller Church
    There was once a place
    Where me and a couple of friends
    Began practicing for the time
    We might go on TV…”
    Thanks for sparking some great memories.

  • Kristi (Wheatley) Lefever

    Thanks for all the memories. The Stone church was the church we attended (Methodist) on Sundays. Central Elem, then on to Cucamonga Jr. High and Alta Loma High. My Mom has this postcard.

    I remember riding horses thru the orange groves, home from Turner Tract. My first love lived there (I was all of 12 years old :). The times we had in Cucamonga and Alta Loma will never leave my mind. Even tho we moved to Oregon in ’65, we’ve been back to see relatives many times over the years. It’s so sad to see all the groves gone, and the changes.

    One thing I can say has been done correctly is the land across the street from our old house has become a park, and not filled with houses. The land was donated for that purpose, by my Uncle John Schmutz. I think it is known as Lyon Street Park. There really have been a lot of changes since my grandfather and his brothers came to settle, and grow oranges. Too many houses, but just my thoughts. LOL

    Kathy and John I really think I remember you both.

  • Brad Hill

    I stumbled across this site searching for Cucamonga history. Nice site — oh the memories.

    A big shout out to Kristi Wheatley Lefever. How are you and your family doing? How is Nikki and Sosie? Oh weren’t those the best of times? No traffic, little smog and lots of room to play in. Dang I could only wish that my children had even half the freedom to play that we had back then.

    I remember the Stobe, Harvey and Billings families. I remember walking to Billing’s Market and getting groceries for my mom. I was only 6 or 7. I would take my red wagon to cart them home in. I remember the the old Lion’s Baseball Field that eventually became the public library and then the park/community center. I remember playing with my best friend Nikki, riding bikes up the big hill that was just south of our houses. I remember the Davis, Brandt and Hamilton families. I also remember Peter Laub and the Husa family. I remember Kristi’s uncle John Schmutz. I actually rented the white front house from him for a couple of years. Too bad it is gone now.

    Cucamonga was a great place to grow up at. It is sad to see all the change. What once was a beautiful place to live is now like just about all of the rest of SoCal. Cars and people.

    Kristi — say hi to everyone for me!
    All the best
    Brad

  • amy

    I miss that smell of neroli flowers in the air
    i miss the boonies…

  • Kristi Lefever

    Brad: I know, all the memories. Do you remember rolling down the hill in the barrels? Riding in the cart that Keni, our husky would pull? Having Mt.Baldy as our backdrop view (before the smog). Just being kids, and having fun. The bowling alley over the hill, everything. Everyone wants to say hi, but can’t find you on the net anywhere. How ’bout Facebook. Check it out. Kristi Lefever (Wheatley)

  • Michael Fallon

    Wow. Thanks for posting this picture. It brings back memories.

    My dad and grandfather were co-owners, along with a man named Nelson, of Cucamonga Hardware from around 1975 until around 1980. I was in grade school when we moved from Pasadena to a new tract home off Church and Haven. Dad and Granddad bought the original building (sold here) and began purchasing land around the NE corner of Foothill and Archibald. They moved the original store to a larger building located to the east, behind the original store, and they opened a garden center to the south that, if I recall correctly, had a storefront on the north side of Foothill Blvd.

    Around 1979-80, a Builder’s Emporium opened up off Archibald and Baseline, spelling doom for my family’s business. They eventually sold the land they had bought on the corner to developers, who put in a shopping center with a Miller’s Outpost and several other stores.

    I’m not sure what the corner looks like now, since moved away from Calif in 1992. But this is how I remember events. I should ask my dad for more details.

    [Hey, that's a great little slice of history, Michael. Thanks for posting. -- DA]

  • Jack W

    OK – so the picture doesn’t show the building on the NE corner – it was the Bank of Italy until they moved across the street to the SE corner (Still there – Bank of America). My parents and their partners converted the building into a Mexican Restaurant (Casa Dinero? something like that). This was early ’70s I believe. Still looking for photos of that building.

  • Brent

    I’m surprised that no one mentioned Paul’s (Lucifora) Shoe store (8044 Archibald) that was right next to Zappa’s Studio.

    One could hear the loud music from Zappa’s studio when walking from the street parking area to Paul’s. I seem to recall that the shoe store was originally set back from Zappa’s studio, so that one had to walk past the side of it to get to Paul’s. Could be wrong.

    Also, did Zappa mention in his book anything about the Sheriff’s raid or “visit” to his studio? We can’t recall if it was due to the loud music or reports of obscene lyrics. I seem to recall that it had something to do with the lyrics.(Maybe an urban legend? Seriously, I believe that it was in the newspaper.)

    Also, Vaths’ Cucamonga Drug was on the E side of Archibald (8069)north of Cucamonga Hardware (listed as both 8040 Archibald and 9710 Foothill).

    Speaking of Vath’s Cucamonga Drug store — the Cucamonga Little League teams were named after their sponsors. My brother and I played for the Merchants (Vath’s Cucamonga Drug). The other teams were the Lions (Lions Club), the 7-uppers (7-up bottling), the Steelers (Etiwanda Steel), the Cincos (Cinco de Mayo Store) and the Sparks (Citrus Electric, 8036 Archibald)).

    I got the addresses/names above from the 1966 and 1967 Cucamonga Little/Minor/Pony League Yearbooks.

    Bill Reckert, Farmer’s Insurance Agency has an ad in one, or both of the above showing 8074 Archibald.

    Also:

    Dee’s Diner, The Ferreros, 9656 Foothill.

    Cucamonga Service Station, Richfield Oil Products, 9668 Foothill.

    Thanks for the interesting story. We used to ride our bikes down San Bern Rd. from right next to the Cucamonga Wash to buy a certain brand of cherry suckers.

    [Brent, Zappa was busted in a sting involved a smutty audiotape. Thanks for all the info on the area in the mid-'60s. -- DA]

  • Sue Sylvester Wing

    We moved to Cucamonga in 1970 when I was 5 yrs. old. We lived on Hemlock St. where the Rains House is (before Hemlock St. went all the way through to Vineyard). I remember the Mexican restaurant on the NE corner of Archibald and Foothill. My parents would take me there quite often. I seem to remember a staircase inside the restaurant. Since I was so young, I always wanted to walk up that staircase but never did.

  • Michaele Miller

    I remember moving to RC in 1975. My mother who now lives in KY worked at the restaurant on the corner of Archibald and Foothill. It was called the Casa Dinero. I remember eating there a lot. Albert was the cook. My mom had to wear a red v-neck shirt, short black skirts and white go-go boots as her uniform. I wish I could find a picture and send it to her now, the world is so different now from just 1975.

  • Jane Vath O’Connell

    I have an old post card showing the NE corner of Foothill and Archibald with the old Bank of America and my father’s (Ted Vath) first drug store and soda fountain next to it. I am trying to collect as much Alta Cucawanda history as possible.

    My brothers, Tuck and Tom, and I remember most of the blogs above. Paul’s shoes, Cafe Italiano, Texaco, Richfield, Shanty Devlin’s (remember Ernie’s in downtown Alta Loma?), the 5 & 10 where I got my first Barbie, and Dee’s Diner.

    David Allen you may contact me.

  • Timothy MacKay

    I’m trying to contact Jane Vath.

  • Jane

    Tim…my family has had the same phone # for 55 yrs. Note my married name above.

  • Timothy and Pamela MacKay

    Face Book search for Jane Vath O’Connell comes up with David Allen Blog. How does one get in contact Jane Vath O’Connell?

    [She's started a Facebook group, Alta Cucawanda Friends. Here's the link:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_101843879901564 -- DA]