When Ronald Reagan and Bob Hope visited Chaffey College

Photos courtesy the Images of Pomona blog

On Nov. 3, 1990, former president Ronald Reagan came to Chaffey College to stump for fellow Republican Pete Wilson, who was running for governor.

“You have to make sure people know they are violating their heritage by not going to the polls,” Reagan told an audience of 400, according to news reports. “They are supposed to be telling people elected to office what to do.” He contrasted this with other countries, where he said people in office tell the public what to do.

Wilson was there, as were many other Republicans seeking office. Bob Hope warmed up the crowd. “We’ll all be glad when this election is over,” Hope said. “Pete Wilson will be governor, and the rest of us will be able to get our regular commercials back on television.”

Reagan made at least one phone bank call, to Ontario resident Vena Stout, 78. “Hello, this is Ronald Reagan,” the call began. He urged her to get out and vote, which the lifelong Republican promised to do.

If you’ve forgotten, Wilson did indeed win.

Thanks to the Chaffey College library staff for digging up news clippings of the event, just in time for Presidents Day.

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Column: In Ontario, remembering a brother lost in Vietnam

Here’s the story of Antonino Ruggeri, a young man from Ontario who died in the Vietnam War. It came about like this: His sister phoned our newsroom and I picked up. She wanted a remembrance notice of some sort about her brother. She’d probably have been happy to buy an ad, but it seemed like a story I could do something with. We met at our office Jan. 28, I went home afterward and pretty much stayed there for the next two weeks. But with Tuesday being the 50th anniversary of his death, I’m pleased to have this be Wednesday’s column, the first after my (semi-) return to work.

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Reading Log: January 2019

Books acquired: “Can and Can’tankerous,” Harlan Ellison

Books read: “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records,” Amanda Petrusich; “Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles,” Jonathan Gold; “After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame,” Lynell George

Belated January, readers. I can’t say I’m particularly excited to share my reading from January, for a couple of reasons. I finished the last book on Jan. 13, which seems like forever ago, and a bout with pneumonia, from which I’m still suffering as I type this, has not only separated this Reading Log further from my actual reading but sapped me of the usual enthusiasm.

Well, we must muddle on, mustn’t we? So here are summaries of my three January books, none of which have any relation to any other, other than their all being nonfiction. Huh, and December was all nonfiction too, wasn’t it? What is happening to me?

Do Not Sell (2014): Why does a tiny subset of collectors focus on obscure music in an outdated form, 78 rpm records? It’s probably half about the content and half about fetishizing the past, Amanda Petrusich concludes after her deep dive (which includes an actual scuba excursion into a river in search of 78s). Still, she decides they’ve done the world a favor by rescuing blues, jazz, country, gospel and other music that would otherwise have been forgotten. Her exploration of this subculture is carefully observed, affectionate and, naturally, very funny.

Counter Intelligence (2000): Jonathan Gold’s only book to date, collecting some 290 reviews from the ’90s. I could never figure out how or why to read it. But then he died, I pulled it off the shelf and read one or two reviews nightly for roughly seven months, and that was perfect. Outdated, sure, but many spots are still in business, and the reviews are enlightening about different cuisines. Sometimes, they’re mic-drop hilarious: “I’m all for stately homes, but if hungry people had political clout, Hong Kong Low Deli is the kind of thing the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission might be dedicated to preserving instead of a bunch of old buildings that don’t even have restaurants in them.”

After/Image (2018): This collection of essays, reportage, memoir and photographs never cohered for me. Whoever wrote the back cover and inside flap seemed to struggle as well to sum up what the book was about. Lynell George, a journalist formerly of the LA Times, has thought a lot about L.A., but possibly too much; she seems offended that over four or five decades, L.A.’s built environment has changed and newcomers want to write their own stories. (Also, there must be an average of one copy-editing mistake per page, mostly involving oddly placed, punctuation. And yes, that comma was intentional and an example of what I mean.)

That’s that for the summaries, and I suppose I did all right at that. “Do Not Sell” came used from Powell’s Books in Portland in 2016, “Intelligence” was bought used at Glendale’s old Brand Books circa 2006 and “After/Image” was a birthday gift last year. It was the thought that counted.

What did you read in January, readers? Also, as this is the first Reading Log of the year, anyone want to share reading goals for 2019?

Mine include reading the last four books from my last Powell’s visit (before visiting again); keeping up with my annual authors Smith, Heinlein and Benchley; and reading my oldest unread books, from the mid-’90s. And yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. I’d like to be finishing off the remainder of my 20th century books, but there are just a few too many. Ah, life.

Next month: modes of transit.

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Make that pneumonia

Did I say flu? On Sunday, after several days of little sleep, much coughing and zero improvement, I began wondering if I might not have pneumonia, as the symptoms — shortness of breath, coughing and fever — matched mine. One visit to the emergency room and one chest X-ray later, my diagnosis was, alas, confirmed. (My bill to myself will be in the mail.)

I’m resting at home with an antibiotic and an inhaler and beginning to gain appetite and strength. Not sure when I will be back at work, but hopefully next week, if not in time for a Sunday column. Wish me well and pine, please, for my return.

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Out with the flu

Readers, I came down with the flu Sunday night and have pretty much been out of commission ever since. Thus, no column Wednesday or Friday, and no Restaurant of the Week or other posts here. That said, I’ve pulled myself together to write a Sunday column, because its topic absolutely had to be covered that day. I hope to be back with a Wednesday column too, after a weekend of taking it easy, but we’ll see.

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