Column: 5 years a slave in San Bernardino, respected in DTLA

Do you know the name and story of Biddy Mason? Not enough people do. She was brought to San Bernardino a slave in 1851, won her freedom in court in 1856 and became a nurse and midwife in downtown Los Angeles, a landowner and a philanthropist. I tell her remarkable story in Sunday’s column. It also answers the question of which historical figure with a connection to San Bernardino led me to take Metrolink last weekend, as hinted in last Wednesday’s column. Some guessed right; others guessed Wyatt Earp or Edith Head.

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Paparazzi descend at PPL To-Go

Informed that the Pomona Public Library, after five months of dormancy, would begin allowing patrons to reserve books and pick them up, I made a point of reserving one Aug. 17, the first day. I happened to be first in line, as I’d hoped.

I had already taken advantage of similar services in Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario and would not have wanted to leave out Pomona. After all, the Pomona Public Library is my favorite institution in that city (narrowly beating out Mi Cafecito and Donahoo’s Chicken).

On Aug. 24, I showed up minutes after noon and became the first to pick up a book. I’d hoped for that as well. Martha Ramos, the circulation supervisor who had taken my reservation by phone, handed me my book. Library services manager Anita Torres documented the handover for posterity from multiple angles and a safe distance. I am what passes for a celebrity in Pomona.

Torres told me that 60 items had been reserved in that first week. I was just the most timely in retrieving one.

Here I am with my book. Probably I should have leapt into the air and clicked my heels for the camera.

The final photo is mine. I checked out a Shakespeare play, “Henry VIII.” Demand is light, I suspect, but I promise to bring it back by its due date, Pomona.

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Ray Bradbury at 100 (and in Upland at 69)

The centennial of Ray Bradbury‘s birth (Aug. 22, 1920) was cheered by fans on Saturday around the world. Bradbury, of course, left us in 2012, no doubt for Mars.

Bradbury has long been proclaimed my favorite author going back to fourth grade, when I first encountered a couple of his stories (starting with “There Will Come Soft Rains”) and became enraptured. In some ways I’m less enchanted as an adult, but he left such a deep imprint that any latter-day favorites can’t dislodge him.

Anyway, in cleaning out my camera roll recently, I found a few Bradbury-related photos I meant to do something with and never did. The Upland Library’s Friends bookstore in 2018 (?) had a copy of “The Toynbee Convector” at an attractive price and with a delightful inscription: “To David.”

I could have bought it and passed it off as a personalized copy! Who could have proved me wrong? Actually, I have a few signed Bradbury books already, and the coincidence of the inscription made me less interested in buying this, so I didn’t. (There’s the germ of a story there: Man magically rewrites his personal history by adding items with his name inscribed in them, and the encounters become real.)

As a bonus, the copy had a Bookworm bookmark. So that’s reason enough to post the photos here: We now know that among Bradbury’s appearances at the much-missed downtown Upland bookstore was one on Dec. 2, 1989. The bookstore was the subject of a column of mine in 2018; read it here.

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Blog is back up

The blog went down on Thursday, not letting me comment or post and not letting anyone else comment either. But as of Saturday morning, magic having been worked behind the scenes, the handle jiggled, the blog unplugged and plugged in again, or what have you, everything’s back online and functioning (fingers crossed). Friday’s column will go up shortly, with Sunday’s column to follow on Sunday. Whew.

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Column: Accused councilman calls into ‘awkward’ meeting

I follow up on the recent Pomona drama involving the disgraced councilman with some subsequent developments, like that he attended a second closed-session meeting (#awkward) and also that a member of Congress has denounced him. And I spare room for a sendoff for Kent Crowley, a local history buff and gentle character who boosted the connections of “Wipe Out” and Frank Zappa to Rancho Cucamonga. Both those items are in Sunday’s column.

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