Own your own Zappa house

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A real estate listing for 257 Oak Park Drive in Claremont bills the house as “the Childhood Home of Legendary Musician Frank Zappa!” Own it for $360,000, reputation included.

The Zappa family lived there beginning about 1959, according to my own research, when Frank was already 18. The family had briefly rented a nearby home on St. Augustine Avenue after relocating from Lancaster. After a few years on West Oak Park Drive the Zappas moved to Palo Verde Street in Montclair before moving away in 1968.

Thanks to the indefatigable, and aptly named, Bob House for forwarding the listing.

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  • http://empoprise-ie.blogspot.com/ John E. Bredehoft

    I assume that the people who are selling the house are “only in it for the money.” (Groan)

    Actually, I shouldn’t be joking about the sellers, since the house is a short sale. The bad economy hit the old Zappa homestead.

    I need to read a good Zappa biography. I was aware of his connections to Ontario and Cucamonga, but not Claremont…

    [The Barry Miles-penned bio is the standard text, I think. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    Yes, the Zappa family lived in Montclair, across the street from me and my family, in the late 60′s. I never got acquainted with them, before they moved away. About that same time, the local newspapers were running the story, about young Frank in Cucamonga, and the, trumped up, (you said, in your column) obscenity charges. I did not know that he was the son of our neighbors, and did not closely follow the story.

    Frank’s father was also briedly of some repute — after they left Montclair, I saw the elder, Mr. Zappa, as a guest on the (Channel 7) AM Morning Show, with Ralph Story. He was plugging something or some system he had invented. I cannot remember what it was. Perhaps someone else, who has done research on the Zappas, would know what the elder Mr. Zappa was promoting in the early 70′s. I believe Frank’s father was a teacher, when they lived in Montclair.

    [I believe he had worked as an engineer and perhaps as a weather forecaster so he had a strong science background. Thanks for the info, Shirley. -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I wonder if the Real Estate agent has promised the home’s future buyer, a Certificate of Authenticity.

  • Patrice Zappa-Porter

    Hi, I am Frank’s sister, Candy, and want to clear up a couple of things.

    We lived in Montclair from 1961 to 1967. We moved back to Montclair in 1968 and then to Burbank, CA, the same year. My father, he was on Ralph Story’s show, talking about a book he wrote on gambling called “Chances and How To Take Them,” published in 1966. It’s a book that was a scholarly, mathematics-based discussion of probability and gambling.

    About the house for sale on Oak Park Drive, we lived there in 1959. Frank lived there briefly and moved out that same year. We also lived in the house next to it in 1952. A lot of the facts of our lives are in the upcoming Volume 2 of my book “My Brother Was A Mother” due out by the end of the year. Thank you.

    [Thank you, Candy, for clearing up a few facts for us. Love the title of your book! -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    In 1968, as us 8th graders came to math class at Fremont Jr. High in So. Pomona, Mr. Dobbin wasn’t there but a smallish, somewhat “bushy” substitute teacher was there in his place. On the chalkboard he wrote out “Mr. Zappa,” and because we were mostly all Doors, Cream and Stones fans….we ALL knew who Zappa was….even though we had never ever seen a weasel…we knew it could rip our flesh!

    [Ha ha! That's cool, Bob. -- DA]

  • Patrice Zappa-Porter

    hi Candy Zappa, again! I was recently out in Claremont this past Friday to attend the funeral of the longest living person on Oak Park Drive in Claremont, CA; Edith Ewing. She was 95 and she lived across the street from us. On our way to the cemetery, we passed our two houses that we lived in on Oak Park Drive and I realized that the house for sale was the one we moved to first in 1952, I was a baby, and Frank was about 11. It was the house next to it that we lived in around 1958-1959. Sorry for any confusion!

    [Thanks for correcting the record, Candy. And I was sorry to hear about Edith Ewing. I met her, and you, a few years ago at her house during a documentary filming. -- DA]

  • Anonymous

    Hi Candy. I have lived 23 years in a home on Longwood Ave in Claremont (between Foothill & Baseline). A couple of years ago an elderly lady walking past my house stopped and mentioned to me that Frank Zappa lived in our house for a short period of time. Any credence to that?

  • barbara f

    Hello to Candy, who I just found here! That was wonderful to hear of your dad’s book. Because it charged my own memory banks.

    Sometime in the late 50s, my Frank and your folks came over for dinner at our house (parents meeting parents of their children’s friends). I was young, a few years older than Candy. My only topic of conversation (which I really worked on as a kid to bring something interesting to the table rather than “pass the salt, please” and awkward idle small talk of adults who didn’t really know each other) was about a book I had just heard about, written about working the numbers in cards at Las Vegas (How to win at the tables) as written by Alan Harris (now Mark Damon, movie producer).

    Frank of course was more interested in hearing how Mark had sent Sabu the elephant boy in his stead to a “fan club” meeting. Do you remember seeing a copy of Alan’s book floating around? If so, I’d love to know the name of it.

    I remember you and me riding bikes a bit on the cul-de-sac near St Augustine place, too … not too often, but once and awhile I would make it over there and hook up with you.

    And to Anonymous, I recall hearing about Frank living in such a place way up near Baseline, but only for a month or so. I don’t know for sure, I’m placing that 1961-62. The place was inconveniently located and seemed just an interim spot, I think, but who knows for sure anymore? I don’t know that it was actually on Longview.

    Well, enough of the really old days for now.

  • barbara f

    To Anonymous somewhere on Longview: I remember that house as being a straight precise shot 2 or more miles north up Mills (before the road turned to go past the studio Lindley Mixon was starting to build and become the windy road leading to Mt Baldy).

    At that time, the only houses on North Mills were sparse and few and far between. So you’d go above Foothill and the population began thinning out, and there were a few houses, one on one side and lots of groves and orchards, and then one on the other side.

    One house on North Mills (on the right side, I’ll add) still had the grove manager and his family living there, and he had or his father had helped clear the ground for the groves of the river rock … and he had a huge pile of white and light gray river rock piled in his yard in the back. The accumulation of years of hand labor was twice as big as his home and twice as tall. When rains came and turned up a rock, he would put it in a bucket and carry it home to his pile. He’d been doing this for year after year.

    Then as I recall, there was some building project that the grove owner heard about and decided all those rocks were his after all, ’cause he could make some little bit of money off those rocks. And he wasn’t as I heard interested in sharing any of the dough with his manager who had been the one collecting the rocks all those years. So there was some sort of lawsuit, as I recall, which happened after trucks and bulldozers arrived one day maybe without advance notice, maybe with it, to take away the rocks.

    Oh, Claremont! I don’t think it was much fun to live in a grove house back then, given the attitudes of some grove owners and all, but there were small cottages and outbuildings nestled in them that some artists and college students rented to live in.

  • barbara f

    Speaking of the river rock (which was a great building material, worn smooth from centuries of water softly abraising, and oblong in shape, more than several pounds each, which held the heat evenly, like a brick used in an oven … these were treasures, something nature made to be used in some careful and artful design rather than something to be tossed away as rock fill and then covered up with tons of dirt) … ever hear of the rock houses designed by the Czech architect over in Upland or what became Montclair?

    They were a group of 6-8 rock houses, like those in old Czechoslovakia, that’s all there were and all he could afford to build … but he had in the 1920′s added a special something … water pipes on the roof so people could have FREE SOLAR HEATED WATER!!!! In the 40s, the utility company quietly bought up the houses and dismantled the rusty pipes so no one else in the neighborhood would get such an idea!!! This is a true story from the old days!

    [If you're referring to the Russian Village homes, as I think you are, Joe Blackstock wrote an excellent history of them in our paper recently. Look for it online somewhere. -- DA]

  • barbara f

    Thanks, Dave, I just read Blackstock’s current piece, and recall others from long ago likely still in your paper’s morgue. Stys! Here’s a photo (and the author says Stys was Czech, which is how the then near thirty-year old story was handed to me fifty or more years ago. Even though the name is Polish in origin, meaning a “grouser” or “complainer”.

    http://www.squidoo.com/fieldstone_homes

    Maybe the utility company story belongs elsewhere in the vicinity over somewhere to the East to another such small development in the area, but I linked them together in my mind ….

    Anyway, in a long and typically convoluted manner, Mark Damon’s “fan club” meeting eventually led to having Emmet Sargent cellist appear on Frank’s first record, Freak Out, which was one of the confluences of influence that I witnessed at the time.

    So, I was there, in a manner of speaking, and of course now stripped of all context as both music and history is, the only persons who would even maintain a passing interest would be avid catalogists and music historians, as all believe every single story there has to have been about that has been told … probably all the really interesting ones have.

    [I've written probably a dozen or more Zappa-related columns over the years, and every time I write one, somebody else pops out of the woodwork with a fresh anecdote. I love them all. -- DA]

  • barbara f

    Well, Dave, as the universe would have it, I may be visiting with Emmet’s cello again soon … and this likely will be a poignant reunion given the circumstances. I probably should have put these small snippets of early stories out in the world somehow and using a slightly different format than I find here, as some of these anecdotes might help clarify what was really going on at the moment creatively speaking and so add to the compendium of biography and histories as having to do with persons known as Frank Zappa and who became Captain Beefheart. But truth is, I always was a rather private person and I was leading my own life.