That Zornes mural in the Claremont Post Office

Zornes’ most-viewed work is the mural inside the Claremont Post Office, which wraps around all four interior walls. (Photo by Gene Sasse)

The 1930s mural in the Claremont Post Office that wraps around all four walls near the ceiling is sometimes said to depict the view from the four points of the compass. When I wrote about Milford Zornes in my column in January, I said that was the lore, but that his son-in-law hadn’t heard the story.

It’s probably true: In my files I later found a 2007 Claremont Courier story about a talk the 99-year-old artist gave to the local Democratic Club concerning the mural.

“His design proposal was accepted without change,” reporter Bob May wrote, “and depicted the views one would see if they were on the post office property, looking in the four directions, north toward the mountains, west toward the citrus industry, south toward horse pastures and farms, and east toward the colleges and a Mexican settlement.”

(While the design was accepted without change, that’s only because Zornes fought for it and Millard Sheets, a WPA official, intervened on his behalf; postal officials didn’t like the design and had wanted the mural confined to one wall.)

Subsequently I went into the Post Office, admired the mural anew and took photos. The mural is overhead, and much longer than single photos can convey, so consider my photos merely a general guide.

This is the view looking north toward the mountains.

This is the view looking west toward the former citrus area.

Here’s the view looking south toward Chino.

And here is the view looking east toward the colleges.

“For all the criticism it took, I think that time has settled the fact that Milford was right about putting it on four walls and not one,” says son-in-law Hal Baker, who wrote the Zornes biography that was the subject of my January column.

Have you visited the Claremont Post Office? It’s at 140 N. Harvard Ave., and well worth a look. You can get a dose of culture while also mailing a letter.

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Merry Christmas (for many)

The Nativity displays outside Claremont United Methodist Church always offer food for thought and a social message. This year’s highlights refugees. Artist John Zachary’s purpose is always to make us remember those in want in a time of plenty. I couldn’t get the banner in view while also the bright sign, but as you might guess, it reads “…Turn swords into plowshares!” The “Immigrants and Refugees Welcome” banner repeats to the left of the main sign in Spanish.

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Column: Soup Night couple became base for Sue Grafton scene

A scene in Sue Grafton’s first alphabet series novel, 1982’s “A is for Alibi,” is set in Claremont. But it turns out the scene, about a couple who lived on Baughman and made soup, was based on a real couple with whom she was friends. I tell the story of Lin and Ted Humphrey and their once-locally famous Soup Night parties in my Wednesday column.

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Microbus’ microburn

A few hundred people gathered Saturday night at Claremont’s Bixby Plaza to watch a replica microbus (made of papier-mache) burn as part of Pomona College’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA art show.

The bus was pulled into place, then fireworks began going off at ground level. Recorded sounds of gunfire, breaking glass and shouted Spanish were played, the better to replicate the chaos of drug cartel violence in Mexico. It was eerie and slightly disturbing.

At the end, the “It’s a Small World After All” song played, perhaps to puncture the tension, perhaps to remind us that such scenes take place in our hemisphere, or perhaps to stick that song in our heads and drive us up the wall. (I was still catching myself humming it the next day.)

The bus was largely still intact, which I don’t think was the plan. We were all directed to repair to Frary Dining Hall for refreshments and a look at the “Prometheus” mural. When we left Frary, the bus was down to a skeletal frame. Hmm, what did we miss?

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