About David Allen

A journalist for more than 30 years, David Allen has been chronicling the Inland Valley for the Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. He is the author of three books of columns: "Pomona A to Z," "Getting Started" and "On Track." E-mail David here.

The sidewalks of San Dimas

Cleaning out some photos on my camera, I found a few from 2016 of downtown San Dimas’ Bonita Avenue, where the wooden sidewalks were due to be torn out and replaced by something more modern. The sidewalks, originally put in in the 1960s in an attempt to match the city’s Old West motif, were increasingly unpopular with merchants and anyone pushing a stroller.

To make this post more relevant, I stopped downtown recently and walked the new sidewalks. They’re wider besides being smoother, and a few benches and trees were put in, as well as a small town clock in classic style. The improvements were dedicated March 18, 2017, according to a plaque at the base of the clock.

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The La Verne tar pits

At the University of La Verne, the Cultural and Natural History Collections staff is using four vitrines in the window of the Campus Center for a series of mini-exhibits.

“We wanted to provide a brief visual escape while also displaying some of the objects in the Collections,” said Felicia Beardsley, collections director. “But, the exhibit is only four vitrines long, so if you blink you might miss it.”

Previous exhibits were about birds and about masks (including a gas mask from World War I). The current one, through Monday, has items from ULV’s La Brea Tar Pits collection. Yes, ULV has a La Brea Tar Pits collection. That’s also the source of the sabre-tooth tiger skeleton that’s on permanent view inside the Campus Center.

“Our goal is to provide a different exhibit every two weeks for the summer,” Beardsley told me. “So, for this summer, please take a stroll by the Campus Center, peer in the window, leave a nose print and tell a friend!”

I’ve done all the above other than the nose print — so unhygienic! — and am now telling friends, i.e., readers of my blog. Beardsley submitted the photos above; the one below is mine. (My photos through the glass had too much reflection.)

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Column: Some are coronavirus overachievers, some aren’t

Not all of us have had the time or mental energy to bake, garden, clean or read long presidential biographies. I haven’t achieved much, but I got a few things done when I took a week off. I write about that, and about what some of you readers have been doing, in Wednesday’s column.

This is one that I’ve been thinking about for pretty much the entirety of the pandemic, with my staycation, and the opportunity to achieve a couple of things, finally providing the spur to write it.

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Reading Log: June 2020

Books acquired: “The Bitter Season,” Robert M. Coates

Books read: “A Short History of the World,” J.M. Roberts; “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” Mark Twain; “The Twilight Zone Companion,” Marc Scott Zicree

Happy July! So nice to see you all, or at least imagine you, as we check in on each others’ reading lives.

I read three books last month, one of them an American classic that no doubt everyone, or almost everyone, who reads this post will have read. Yes, that staple of school reading lists, “The Twilight Zone Companion.” Er, just kidding.

“Short History of the World” (1997): Roberts packs a lot into 513 pages, from the first hominids (“History is the story of human beings, and it is the human past which concerns us”) to the fall of the Soviet Union. A remarkable summary, full of insights and broad trends, and I feel smarter for having read it, but it does require concentration; let your mind drift for a paragraph and you’ve missed 50 years of history.

“Tom Sawyer” (1876): In his first solo novel, after the co-write of “The Gilded Age,” Twain evokes his own rural American childhood of 35 years previous with humor and tenderness. I first read this on my own sometime in childhood, perhaps in high school, and recall seeing the 1973 movie adaptation upon release; rereading the novel as an adult, it was remarkable to encounter so many incidents that imprinted themselves on the American mind: not just the whitewashing of the fence but Tom gallantly taking Becky’s punishment in class, Tom attending his own funeral, Injun Joe’s leap out the courtroom window, the final encounter in the cave (which was actually less dramatic than I’d recalled).

“Twilight Zone Companion” (1992): Largely an episode guide, this isn’t a book you’re likely to sit down and read for pleasure, but it’s indeed an excellent companion if you’re watching the series. Which I did: After buying the series on Blu-ray four years ago, I’ve gradually watched all five seasons and 156 episodes, picking up speed in 2020 (gee, it’s like I’ve had extra time on my hands) and reading the book as I went along. The episode summaries are well done and Zicree’s judgments are sound; in fact, for a fan he’s surprisingly critical. (Apparently in the most recent edition he walks back some of his harsher judgments.) Interviews with many directors and actors, and old quotes from Serling, flavor the looks at each episode and season.

These were three of my oldest unread books. “Zone” was bought in 1994; it seemed like a good idea at the time, given the praise for the book. “Short History” was purchased in 1998 in an excess of enthusiasm after reading a positive review. I bought it on the same excursion as Cather’s “Collected Stories” and Thoreau’s “Walden,” which I only read in the past year, and, heh heh, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Seinlanguage,” which I read immediately. Talk about your reach exceeding your grasp. And “Sawyer” was bought used in 2002.

Leaving aside my Shakespeare omnibus from college, from which I’m reading one or more plays per year, only four remaining unread books from my backlog were acquired in the 20th century. Progress, right? I’m midway through one of them now and expect to read a second this month as well.

How are all of you doing with your reading? I’m pleased to have been able to focus enough to make it through “Short History,” and have just finished another long book for July’s Reading Log. It’s hard to focus in general anymore, and perhaps I’m focused on the wrong things, but at least my bookshelves are benefiting.

Next month: crime, punishment

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Remembering China Gate

Upland’s China Gate for years was considered by many — and certainly by me — the best Chinese restaurant in the area. I enjoyed at least a dozen meals there over the years. Finally in the past decade more exciting and authentic Chinese fare began showing up in cities like Chino Hills, Chino and Rancho Cucamonga. Before that, China Gate was as real as it got out here, and it was popular too.

The restaurant lasted roughly 40 years before closing in March 2018 as part of a shakeup of the Mountain Green shopping center. I’d heard the restaurant’s original owners had sold and that the quality may have slipped. Regardless, I meant to write something here or in my column but it just slipped through the cracks.

I did, however, take some post-closing photos, and what the heck, they may as well be shared here for posterity. Above is the exterior, which faced north.

Through the glass front door and windows I shot what was left of the very 1980s-looking interior.

And posted outside was the menu. A couple of people wrote farewell messages, a sweet touch. If you click on the full menu, you’ll get a larger version of it in case you’d like to scroll through the offerings and reminisce about a favorite.

Former Montclair resident Grace Corcoran remembers. She emailed me in April asking about the restaurant:

“Last year I was in Upland, looking forward to lunch at China Gate on Mountain; I simply can’t explain my deep disappointment to learn it was no longer there. They had a dish on their menu that consisted of steamed fish in a light white sauce with a hint of fresh basil flavor. It was the most refreshing and delicate entrée I’ve ever had in a Chinese restaurant. For the past year I have searched the internet — in vain — for a recipe for this dish. I have experimented in my own kitchen trying to replicate it. In all cases I have failed.”

I couldn’t help her, but she reminded me of China Gate, which led to this blog post. If you remember China Gate too, here’s your chance to comment.

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