Librarian Summit

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The Dewey Decimal set’s hearts will flutter as they contemplate this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of top librarians from around the area. This summit occurred Tuesday in the special collections room of the Pomona Public Library — the Inland Valley’s answer to Yalta — to brainstorm ideas for the beleaguered library’s future.

Referring to my column mention of the event, in which I speculated that they were probably sipping tea from china cups and nibbling on Lorna Doone shortbread, Pomona Library Director Bruce Guter says refreshments were “bottled water and Costco muffins.” Well, it’s a new era.

Pictured are, from left, Pomona Library Director Bruce Guter; Rancho Cucamonga Assistant Library Director Michelle Perera; Whittier Public Library Director Paymaneh Maghsoudi; City of Pomona Human Resources Director Sue Paul; Southern California Library Consortium Executive Director Rosario Garza; L.A. County Actiing Chief Deputy Librarian Yolanda De Ramus; Los Angeles County Librarian Margaret Todd; Rancho Cucamonga Library Director Robert Karatsu; and — the big gun — California State Librarian Stacey Aldrich.

The picture was taken by Pomona Library Services Manager Muriel Spill. You’ll want to print a copy and frame it — after tracking down all the librarians for their signatures. Good luck!

Adds Guter: “Everyone’s smiling because we were thinking about all the good things that could be done for the Pomona Public Library. Or maybe about Lorna Doones….”

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Food Truck Thursday

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A half-dozen food trucks are congregating at Fairplex each Thursday this summer through August, an event called Food Truck Thursday. It happens from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The best part is, admission and parking are free. The entrance is at Gate 1 on McKinley Drive west of White Avenue and the Sheraton.

A friend and I met there last Thursday. The trucks were After School Special (a chef’s takes on kids’ food), Gourmet Genie (falafel, fish tacos), Brats Berlin (sausages), George’s Greek (gyros, chicken) and Shave It (shaved ice).

I had a meatloaf burger ($8) and NuGrape bottled soda ($2.50) from After School Special and a gyro from George’s ($7). The meatloaf (with queso fundido) was amazing. My friend had a falafel wrap ($6) and fish taco ($3.50) from Gourmet Genie. His wrap was bigger than a burrito. And he had a mac ‘n cheese “cupcake” ($4) from After School Special, which he really liked.

They set up shaded tables near the trucks, a nice touch. People were there, but the people-to-food-truck ratio was low enough that you didn’t have to wait long in line. The food trucks seem to be changing weekly. I’ll be going every Thursday I can. Nice idea, Fairplex.

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Two days in LA

I haven’t shared anything here about a Metrolink weekend in a while, but I had one this past weekend. You can read about, and see photos of, some of the activities below on my Twitter page, @davidallen909. In short, I bought a $10 weekend pass and took off.

Saturday I rode the Purple Line and the Rapid bus to LACMA, where I got in for free through a great deal for BofA customers: free admission the first full weekend of the month. After a snack at one of the lineup of food trucks across the street, I caught a couple of exhibits, met up with a friend and saw “Levitated Mass,” the 340-ton rock. Very big, very cool. (Seeing the rock is free to all.)

We walked to the Farmers Market and had a late lunch at Short Order, then walked back to LACMA where I took the bus and subway back to Union Station.

Sunday I took the new Expo line to the 33rd Street stop and walked to Mercado La Paloma, where I had lunch at Chichen Itza, a Yucatecan restaurant. I had conchinita pibil (a kind of slow-roasted pork), which I’d been introduced to in Mexico City, as a torta. Quite good. I then walked along Jefferson to Exposition Park and strolled through the Rose Garden before taking the Expo Line back downtown.

There, I peeked around the green construction barrier to eyeball the Grand Park between City Hall and Bunker Hill, which opens later this summer, before walking back to Union Station for the ride home.

On both Metrolink rides, I read newspapers and almost the entirety of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness” while leaving the driving to others. And all those trips and transfers cost only $10.

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Currier House, Pomona

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Recently I posted here about the Phillips Mansion. Now let’s focus on its neighbor, the Currier House (pictured), a distinctive 1907 home commissioned by A.T. Currier (1840-1928), a state senator, sheriff and philanthropist who was a leading citizen of the Pomona Valley.

The house is original, but the background isn’t. In 2004 the structure was relocated to Pomona from its original location in what is today’s City of Industry. The photo was taken sometime after the move. The house was placed next to the Phillips Mansion on the same lot, 2640 Pomona Blvd., and like the mansion is owned by the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley.

As is evident from the photo, the house needs a lot of work, but at least it was saved from the wrecking ball. The neighborhood is industrial and the two homes really stand out from their surroundings.

The Currier House’s architect was Ferdinand Davis and the construction cost was $12,000 (no doubt a lot of money back then). Read more about the Currier House and Phillips Mansion on the website of the Historical Society.

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Column: Claremonter carries a torch for London

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Sunday’s column (read it here) is about Gretchen Fagg, a Claremont native who now lives in London and loves it. She works for the Mayor’s Office on Olympics planning, so she’s right in the thick of things this summer.

I interviewed her when I was in London in February and saved my notes until closer to the Olympics, when the column would be of more interest. Consider it one last salute on my part to my Great Britain vacation.

The photo at right was taken on the Westminster Bridge over the Thames on a wet (so what else is new?) afternoon with the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben in the background. It screams “London,” doesn’t it? Then Gretchen offered to take my photo. That one is below. I didn’t know what else to do, so I spread my arms.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pasta Cucina Rustica

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Pasta Cucina Rustica, 2086 Foothill Blvd. (at D), La Verne

Opened in 2010, Pasta Cucina Rustica is owned by the same family that has Aruffo’s in Claremont, an Italian restaurant I like. The La Verne location, which has a different menu and a similarly upscale casual vibe, is in a storefront in the Stater Bros. center, one of the city’s string of shopping centers along Foothill. It replaced Gambino’s.

The interior has wooden tables and booths, tile floors and vintage Italian advertising posters. It’s a little fancy but not off-putting. I was there for lunch with two friends and their baby and they immediately liked it (the baby’s reaction could not be determined).

The menu has pasta, seafood, sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas, desserts, wine, beer and coffees. They also have items in smaller portions for seniors. Entrees top out at $17.

We had the parma rustica panini ($10), a ham and mozzarella sandwich on cheese-encrusted bread; a salsiccia pizza ($11) with sausage, peppers and sweet onions; cheese ravioli ($9); and a child’s portion of cheese ravioli ($7).

We all liked our entrees to greater or lesser degrees, with the sandwich being the highlight. The small loaf of rosemary bread they brought out was also delicious. The pizza had a barely-there crust with a cracker-like rim; it was unusual, but the one who ordered it liked it. My cheese ravioli was about what you’d expect.

My ravioli lunch portion, incidentally, was exactly the same size as the child’s portion, but $2 more, leading one person to joke that a budget diner might want to order child’s portions to go. Who would know? Also on the child’s menu: Nutella and red raspberry jam sandwich, provolone and mozzarella grilled cheese and chicken parmigiana strips. You know, that’s not a crazy idea…

Service was friendly and understanding of an infant’s needs, not to mention adults’ needs. We enjoyed ourselves.

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Column: ‘Oz house’ lore turns out to be a Baum tip

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The house at 1105 N. College Ave. in Claremont that many think was owned by “Oz” author L. Frank Baum (but wasn’t) is the subject of Friday’s column. Read it here.

The house is now for sale for a cool $2.85 million. Real estate broker Geoff Hamill’s page about the house is here and a virtual tour can be taken here.

At right is Ashlee Robinson, 13, who greeted people at the open house last Sunday as Dorothy Gale and said, “Welcome to Oz. There’s no place like home!”

Below is a view of the backyard maze as seen from the guest quarters above the garage. “Adults and kids really liked it,” former owner Shirley Rude told me. Can’t blame ‘em a bit.

(A 2008 post on my blog about the house can be read here.)

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All States Picnic, 1948

This surfaced recently on YouTube: photographs of Ontario’s All States Picnic from 1948 done for Life magazine by Allan Grant and turned into a video montage by Gary Cliser. The video lasts six minutes, and there’s some neat stuff. The pictures can be seen individually on this blog.

According to Wikipedia, “The All-States Picnic, an Independence Day celebration, began in 1939 to recognize the varied origins of the city’s residents. Picnic tables lined the median of Euclid Avenue from Hawthorne to E Street, with signs for each of the country’s 48 states. The picnic was suspended during World War II, but when it resumed in 1948, it attracted 120,000 people. A 1941 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon listed Ontario’s picnic table as the “world’s longest.” As native Californians came to outnumber the out-of-state-born, the celebration waned in popularity until it was discontinued in 1981. It was revived in 1991 as a celebration of civic pride.”

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