Column: Last day of the Callender as Marie’s in Claremont closes

Wait, a column on a Monday? Well, after hearing from three heartbroken readers that the Marie Callender’s in Claremont had closed after 45 years, I stopped by the restaurant Friday morning, thinking that if they’d lost their lease, and that was the last day of the month, that might be the last day I could find someone on the premises.

The owner happened to be there, answered all my questions and posed for a photo. I already had a Sunday column mostly done, which couldn’t wait, and have a column planned for Wednesday. What to do?

So, after filing Sunday’s column Friday and breaking for lunch, I returned to the office and cranked out a Callender’s column, with photo gallery, in a breakneck 90 minutes. Bonus! I wish they were all this easy.

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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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