Then and now, San Dimas

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On the occasion of Fresh & Easy’s opening in San Dimas a few weeks ago (Feb. 23, to be precise), Gene Harvey sent me this vintage photo, circa New Year’s 1991, of himself and wife Judy atop their Canyon Theater sign on the same site. The Harveys (both doing well, I might add) were known for performing ballroom dance moves together prior to starting each film, hence the pose.

“If a picture were taken today from that exact vantage point (it is facing east) there is only ONE item that would still appear,” Gene says. “No, it’s not the Holy Name of Mary sanctuary in the background. Even that was later replaced with a new building. It is the yellow fire plug!”

I visited the place myself last weekend and confirmed Harvey’s assertion, shooting a photo on Bonita Avenue looking east toward San Dimas Canyon Road, highlighting the hydrant while working the store into the frame.

Concerning the older photo, Gene adds: “One note of trivia. On the car, the Canyon Theatre phone number is a reminder that the good ol’ 909 was once the 714.”

You can read more about the shopping center in a previous blog post with many entertaining comments.

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  • http://www.hughcmcbride.com/blog hugh.c.mcbride

    Fantastic photo — but 1991 now qualifies as “vintage,” huh?

    As soon as I go chase some young street toughs off my front lawn, I’ll be heading over into the corner, where I can curl up in a ball & whimper to my aging self for an hour or so … :-(

    [Hey, if you can buy 2010 vintage wine (you can, can't you?), I'll stand by a 20-year-old photo of something long gone as vintage. Even though in retrospect I probably should have chosen a different word... DA]

  • Gene Harvey

    David,

    Thanks for the comments and taking the trouble to go photograph the yellow fire plug after these 20 years! I may not still have the Canyon Theatre, and the corner has certainly changed completely, but I still have the car.

    It turns 80 this year. Its a 1931 Ford Model A; and I still have Judy (or she has me, or something like that).

    I operated the Canyon Theatre from 1973 (it had been built with the Center in 1966) to 1998. Then I allowed it to sink with Titanic. We ran “Titanic” as our final movie and ran it for no less than 13 weeks!

    We, along with the State Farm agent Terry LeVotch, and Angelo with his Bravo Burger stand, were the final hold-outs at the Canyon Center. The buyers of the property refused to renew our leases, told us we might as well leave because they were soon developing the property into something new, and then allowed the property to remain vacant for 11 years!

    The buildings deteriorated into a real mess before finally being bulldozed in 2009. I managed to salvage one lonely piece of orange tile from the front of the Canyon Theatre.

    For many years, every space was occupied and we had an active Canyon Center Merchants Association of which I was president. And yes, in the final several years, one day a week, Judy and I would ballroom dance on stage to the live music we were having local musicians play preceding our classic film presentations. Marvelous and wonderful memories. But all things must pass (except for the 31 Ford).

    If anyone from those days (merchants, customers, employees) would like to say Hi to Judy and me, wed love to hear from you. GeneMovieGuy@yahoo.com or (909) 208-9264.