Bow-wow! Fine art in Upland manager’s office


I had joked in my column that, after stripping his office walls, Upland City Manager Stephen Dunn might only be planning to redecorate, and that next time I saw him, he might have prints up of Dogs Playing Poker. (Dogs Playing Poker is, of course, famously low-brow art, akin to Elvis on black velvet.)

Next time I saw Dunn, he said he’d considered getting a Dogs Playing Poker painting just for the joke but hadn’t found one. The Fontana Flea Mart would surely have had one, Dunn remarked. I put that in my column last Wednesday.

That’s when Upland reader Harry Scahill stepped up. Scahill, who lives near City Hall, has an aged print of a Dogs Playing Poker poster that he dropped off with Dunn after reading my column that morning.

“I told Stephen, ‘You don’t have to go so far away. Because I live just three blocks up the street,'” Scahill told me later.

The poster is unusual: Scahill’s grandfather, Henry K. Kaiser, made a woodcut engraving of the poster, probably in the 1940s, and then printed copies. “He plagiarized it,” Scahill admitted cheerfully. The time commitment involved in carving Dogs Playing Poker into wood is frightening to contemplate. Scahill inherited the posters and was happy to give one to the city manager, who got a kick out of the whole thing.

“I’m going to have it framed,” Dunn told me.

They’re pictured below, with Scahill at left and Dunn holding the poster and the original engraving. It’s great to see the City of Gracious Living finally involved in the fine art world.

Others commented on the reference in my column too. At noon on the day the column appeared, a fellow Rotarian of Dunn’s wore a Dogs Playing Poker T-shirt to the group’s lunch. A resident came into Dunn’s office to mock-complain about the ridicule of Dogs Playing Poker, saying he happens to have that poster hanging in his bathroom. And Acquanetta Warren, an Upland employee who is also mayor of Fontana, chided Dunn for referring to the Bel-Air Swap Meet as the Fontana Flea Mart.

“I’ve got a lot of buzz about Dogs Playing Poker,” Dunn said.

Dogs Playing Poker originated as a series of cigar ads early in the 20th century. You can read about the paintings at and on Wikipedia. The most famous image, “A Friend in Need,” is reproduced at bottom.



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All fooded out

I know that’s not a word, but on Thursday and Friday, after finishing columns, I spent several hours writing five (!) Restaurant of the Week posts, about places I’d eaten at going back to February. They’re scheduled for May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 and emanate from, in order, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Pomona, Upland and Chino Hills.

I was relieved to have been able to find my notes, identify my photos, finish these and toss the notes. With these done, that’s one less thing to worry about during May. By then, I’ll be excited by the idea of photographing food, taking notes and assembling blog posts about them, but not right now!

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Column: Austin, Texas? Claremont couple can’t get enough of it

Friday’s column has some reader reaction to my column on visiting Austin, Texas. I sat down with a retired couple in Claremont who have been to Austin three times in the past three years, and whose most recent visit overlapped with mine. In a related item, I talk with an Ontario man who’s a world traveler and whose photo at the Taj Mahal recently appeared in both the Daily Bulletin and Westways.

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Restaurant of the Week: The Hat

kramer hat 009

The Hat, 857 N. Central Ave. (at 11th), Upland

I hadn’t been to a Hat in years, and that was at Victoria Gardens, so when a friend invited me to lunch at the one in Upland I agreed immediately. The location is funny, a somewhat desolate stretch of Central Avenue, but that may accentuate the novelty of the inviting sight of the broad windows and neon sign, especially at night. What is this doing here?

(It was worth doing this Restaurant of the Week solely for an excuse to return at night for a photo!)

They do have nine cold sandwiches, but the Hat is known for its pastrami dip, burgers, hot dogs and chili. It’s a popular spot despite (or because of) the location, with a steady stream of cars in the parking lot and the drive-through.

My friend had the cold ham and Swiss ($5.60, below), which he swears by. I got the signature pastrami dip ($8, below that). It’s a good sandwich, and there was so much loose pastrami that I could have made a half-sandwich out of it. Wonder if I could have bought half a French roll?

My friend praised the chili cheese fries, which I hadn’t had. I returned a few weeks later for that ($6.60) as an entree. Not my healthiest meal, obviously, but the chili is pretty good and ladled generously. I ate about two-thirds and took the rest home, where I got two small meals out of them.

The Hat was founded in 1951 in Alhambra. Upland’s location, which opened in May 1987, was the third and at that point was in unincorporated territory; it’s since been annexed into Upland. Jerry Cook, the general manager, opened this Hat and is still there daily, touching tables and chatting with customers. The chain now has 10 locations.

One thing I love is the guy behind the counter in Upland who calls out order numbers. He has no microphone. His lungs provide the amplification. He just bellows in what sounds like a Swedish accent, but almost certainly isn’t. “Nomber vorty-twooo-ooh!!” His volume and urgency make you hop to it — an action you would be unable to take after being weighed down by your meal.





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Mod! Westmont Estates


Westmont Estates is a 1950s subdivision in west Pomona south of Mission Boulevard and west of the 71 Freeway. The tract made the short list of Pomona Valley midcentury landmarks in Alan Hess’ book “Googie Redux.”

Attributing much of Westmont to architect Arthur Lawrence Millier, Hess wrote: “Millier, a local architect, designed these contemporary ranch houses and lived in one himself. Like other contemporary subdivisions, this one served employees of the nearby aerospace plant.” He was referring to General Dynamics.

Westmont was the subject of a 2005 column in my “Pomona A to Z” series.

Above is the home at 1827 W. 9th St., a typical example of the neighborhood’s modest ranch-style homes.

Below is Westmont United Methodist Church at 1781 W. 9th St. It was an overcast day, sorry, but you get the idea of the church’s neat architecture.


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Westmont Community Center mural, Pomona





While checking out the Westmont neighborhood of Pomona for a “Mod!” blog post, I spotted the Community Center, below, which has a certain flair to it. (It’s at 1808 W. Ninth St.) It was hard to photograph as it’s a long building, but perhaps some of the charm is visible.

On the center’s west wall was a surprising sight, a vibrant mural depicting young people playing music, dancing and painting. It’s titled “Using Your Imagination” and was painted by Pedro Pelayo in 1999. Above are two angled views, one head on (click for an expanded view) and one of the credit.

Nice work.


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