La Loma

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This is La Loma “pure California brandy, 100 proof,” manufactured in December 1930, according to the label, at “U.S. Fruit Distillery No. 400, Guasti, Cal.”

Although the bottle says it’s a full pint, there’s only a smidge left after eight decades of evaporation and leakage.

I was gifted with the brandy, as were my colleagues Liset Marquez and Thomas Cordova, on a visit last week to the stately Latimer house in Ontario. The home at 945 N. Euclid Ave. had just received official recognition for its restoration and we wanted to see it.

The family, which made its money in citrus, has roots going back to the Chaffey family and has an appointed mayor, an elected mayor and a city treasurer in its family tree.

To cap our visit, Maggie and Frank Latimer gave us the brandy from the basement. Maggie’s packrat ancestors had kept seven cases of the stuff and she and her husband hand them out to selected visitors.

I think my colleagues took theirs home, whether for libation or display purposes I know not. I’m keeping mine at my desk. As I don’t drink it’s not of much practical use, but I like the idea of playing old-time newspaperman by keeping some hootch close at hand.

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