Snow in ’49

A picture on this blog of snow in Upland in January 1949 (see it here) was seen by Steve Graves of Northern California, who was poking around online to confirm memories of a childhood snow he witnessed in Chino that was probably the same year.

I’ll let him tell it.

“I lived at the Boys Republic at the time. My father was director. I recall awaking in the morning and seeing snow across the entire valley to Mt. Baldy. There was a layer of dark smoke from the smudge pots laying across Pomona and the foothills.

“I think I was in the first grade. The other staff children at the Boys Republic took two days off school and played in the snow. It lasted well during the two days and didn’t begin melting in earnest until the second day. Sledding the Chino hills was quite fun, as I recall; great snowmen as well. I wish I had a picture of the view from BR to Mt. Baldy across the valley. It was white as far as the eye could see.

“Do you have any resources that I might review to refresh my memories of that event? I know you mention microfilm at the library but I am now far from the valley.

“Thanks for your consideration. By the way, I was interested to see posts by Bob House. I knew his son at Claremont HS and Bob at Cal Poly and from the Claremont area.”

Bob who? Just kidding. As for the snow, if anyone has a photo of the event in question, send it over and I’ll post it here. I’m wondering if Boys Republic might have such photos.

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One giant reindeer

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Photo by Priscilla Fuchita

Eight tiny reindeer? In Chino, there’s one giant reindeer.

“This could be the biggest reindeer in Chino or maybe in the IE. He stands over 15 feet tall and is over 8 feet long,” reports reader Steve Burdi, who built the reindeer with his wife, Connie, over the course of a month.

Ginormas, as they call it, was erected Dec. 11 by the Burdis with help from Steve Kreft, Patrick Sullivan and Tony Dean and decorations by Lisa Dean and Stephanie Sullivan.

“My wife and I thought this would be a great Christmas gift for the families and children of Chino, as we have been residents of this great city for over 25 years,” Steve Burdi says, “and also for neighboring cities to drive by and take pictures of our newest member to the Burdi family, Ginormas the Reindeer.”

See him at 4073 Polk Court, Chino. If he flies off to help Santa, the neighborhood may shake.

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Now here’s some Chino trivia!

A couple of times recently in my column I’ve razzed the city of Chino for its brief, lame collection of trivia to celebrate, in wan fashion I must say, its centennial.

Al McCombs, owner of the Chino Champion newspaper, picked up the gauntlet and concocted his own Chino quiz for his “Rolltop Roundup” column in Saturday’s paper. I have to confess I couldn’t get a single answer correct. But I learned a lot. And I was tickled by McCombs’ hands-across-the-valley plug for my column.

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Chino Theater

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Photo: Neil Nisperos

If you’ve ever been through Chino (and if not, why not?), you’re sure to have seen one of the city’s most striking buildings, the one-time movie theater on Central Avenue near Riverside Drive.

A tower has the word “Chino” in vertical letters, and according to a story by my colleague Neil Nisperos (he of the accompanying photo), the red neon, long gone, will soon be replaced at city expense.

Using redevelopment funds, the city will pay $15,000 for that work as well as $1,200 a year for electricity and upkeep for 20 years, plus $600 per year to the property owner.

The idea is that the sign will restore some beauty and interest to Chino’s main drag. Well, it can’t hurt.

The movie theater opened in 1947, around the same era as Upland’s Grove, which has a similar scale and look. By the early 1960s, the theater had become a bowling alley, and since 1992 it’s been the T-Shirt Mart.

That’s like a capsule history of the American economy!

I’d like to know more. Anyone want to share their memories of this building?

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Secret menu in Chino

New Orleans was, as you’d expect, awesome. Also, still devastated from Katrina and Rita. I’ll write about both aspects in a column or two in the coming days. I’ll probably blog here about the food.

In the meantime, comments left last week have been posted. Let me direct your attention in particular to a belated comment for the Cock-a-Doodle calendars post left by an unnamed server there. He offers some informative comments on the venerable Chino restaurant, including a report on its “secret menu.” Shades of In-N-Out!

No, you can’t get the biscuits and gravy Monster Style, but the inside tips about the strawberry shortcake and other items is well worth a read, as well as his fond remarks about Albert the cook and Dotty the waitress.

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Cock-a-Doodle calendars

When I visited Chino’s delightful Cock-a-Doodle for lunch last year before writing about the restaurant’s 50th anniversary, I marveled at the vintage calendars papering the walls in the hallway outside the restrooms. They’re obviously not original to the ‘Doodle since most predate its existence.

Here’s a note from reader Toni Bagley about the calendars:

“At the Cock-a-Doodle Restaurant on Central Ave. in Chino, there are a ton of calendars on the wall. We are all so curious about them! They are small (maybe 7″x9″) annual calendars starting in 1926 going through 1961. A few years are missing, but not many. They were provided by a business called Soper Bros. It appears that Soper Bros. sold most anything farm or house related.

“The calendars are covered with pencil notations. Most curious are certain ‘holidays’ or ‘events’ that no one understands. One is ‘Ember Day,’ and another is ‘Rogation Day.’ What do these things mean?

“I’ve lived here 30+ years, but haven’t run across anyone who can explain the history of the calendars. They’re a real ‘show-stopper’ as you are waiting to get into the Ladies Room! Well, they don’t ‘stop’ anything (!), but they are an attraction.

“Thanks for delving into this, David. Also, while you’re there, delve into the biscuits and gravy!”

Anyone know the story behind the calendars being there (I’m guessing they were donated), the history of Soper Bros. or what Rogation Day or Ember Day would refer to?

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Chino in Chino

On my way back from an interview Wednesday afternoon in Chino, I stopped in at Comic Madness, a comic shop in that burg, for my weekly fix. Music was playing as I browsed but I wasn’t paying attention.

Suddenly a lyric jumped out at me: “Got a wife in Chino, babe, and one in Cherokee/First one says she’s got my child, but it don’t look like me.”

Of course it was “Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead, a song I’m well acquainted with. First time I’d ever heard the Chino line while in Chino city limits, though.

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