Remembering Wilson’s in La Verne

Wilsons Front with Cars

Wilson’s on the La Verne border was first a sandwich shop, opening in 1930, and later a broiler, or steakhouse. It closed in 1962 and four years later the renovated building opened as La Paloma, which is still in business 50 years later.

The accompanying, undated images are courtesy of the La Verne Planning Department. The one above seems to be the earliest. Click on it for a larger view. The sign at the far right reads “Pure Orange Juice” and the fruit stand appears to be to the left. I really want to go back in time, travel narrow Route 66, pull over at Wilson’s for a sandwich and pie, and check out the orchard behind.

Below, a Wilson’s Broiler image and, at bottom, a Sandwich Shop postcard that shows patio dining.

There’s some history about Wilson’s in this La Verne Community News issue (see page 4) and this La Verne Magazine story, although the latter is more about La Paloma.

Wilsons Front

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La Verne’s Unisphere

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“Unisfera Flushing” by Flapane via Wikipedia

I’ve long been curious about the Unisphere-like metal globe at the La Verne Business Park on Fairplex Drive south of Arrow Highway (see top photo). Reminiscent of the Unisphere from the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York (see above), it’s such a striking feature for a small industrial park across the street from the NHRA speedway at Fairplex.

Finally I stopped to take photos. The stainless steel globe once had a fountain around it (see below), just as does the original, but ours has gone dry. (The original Unisphere is still in place, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and has been restored. It’s 12 stories high!)

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Public art was a requirement of the industrial park’s development, according to the city planning department’s Eric Scherer. “Ironwork Globe,” as it’s titled, was designed by Penwal Industries of Rancho Cucamonga, manufactured overseas, shipped in parts (see photos below) and installed in 2005. At the time, owner and developer Tofasco Inc. was said to be the worldwide leader in sales of camping and fold-able chairs. (Its website has a silhouette of the globe.)

The globe is 20 feet in diameter, much smaller than the New York version’s 120 feet but still impressive.

From the La Verne public art brochure:

“‘Ironwork Globe’ is an elevated steel sculpture placed at the center of a water fountain meant to accompany Tofasco, Inc. and represent their defining characteristics: passion for the business in which they are involved and their ability to effectively and efficiently bridge the divide between an increasingly international marketplace.”

Penwal, according to Scherer’s research in city files, drew sketches of other concepts, “including an oversized folding chair which would open and close as it rotated.” Wow! He adds: “If we had approved that, I have a feeling you would have already written a column about it…”

Undoubtedly. It might resemble some of the other giant chairs — rocking, wooden, Duncan Phyfe — turned into oversized sculptures around the nation and overseas.

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Column: Blocked Wal-Mart means end of Frisella’s in La Verne

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Sunday’s column begins with news that could be considered ironic: A mom and pop eatery in La Verne for 20 years, Frisella’s Roastery, is closing because a Wal-Mart isn’t going in, at least not soon. There were hopes a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would help revive an ailing shopping center with no anchor tenant, but with a lawsuit putting the market on ice, Frisella’s decided not to renew its lease.

Also, I’ve got Culture Corner items, more La Verne items and dialogue from an episode of CBS’ “Scorpion” about Pomona.

Above, manager Henry Durazo slices some of the restaurant’s signature tri-tip.

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La Verne Village Apartments

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The former Person Ford dealership site on Foothill Boulevard in La Verne is now a residential complex named La Verne Village, which has 172 apartments. It also has some retail space along Foothill. Waba Grill is coming as are other small shops.

The history of the site, once home to a revolving door of restaurants before the Ford dealership, has been explored pretty fully in a previous blog post.

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UC LV?

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This looks like a scene from UCLA this week, but it’s actually La Verne. Reader Nathan Keeler shot this at 3:50 p.m. Wednesday at D and Sixth streets, across from Roynon Elementary, where a car struck a hydrant and broke it. The water was jetting up 40 feet high, Nathan says. A little spot news on my blog. Nathan, by the way, is 16 and a resident of Claremont. Thank you, Nathan! Nice picture.

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Glenn Davis remembered

Glenn Davis Stadium sign

The newsmakers of yesterday can be forgotten over time. A new sign at Bonita High School in La Verne tries to rectify that in one case.
Reader Margaret Bohlka explains:
“Since you seem interested in local signs depicting history, I thought I’d share this story with you. The football stadium at Bonita High School in La Verne is dedicated to Glenn Davis. If you had to ask yourself ‘Who is Glenn Davis?’, you are not alone. After years of his name being painted on boards that were attached to the roof of the stadium restroom, a new professional sign has been installed.
“As you can see, the new sign notes the year he graduated from Bonita High School (though he graduated from the campus that is now Damien High School — minor point) and the year he won the Heisman Trophy.
“The 80-plus-year-old alumni of Bonita High who are still around to see the sign, and can actually see it, are very pleased and the younger generations no longer have to wonder, ‘Who is Glenn Davis?'”
For more on Glenn Davis, here’s his Wikipedia entry. In part:
“He and his twin brother Ralph played high school football at Bonita High School in La Verne, California. In 1942, Davis led the Bearcats to an 11-0 record and the school’s first-ever football championship, earning the Southern Section Player of the Year award. In 1989, Bonita’s stadium was dedicated in his name. The brothers were close and had originally planned to attend USC, but when their Congressman agreed to sponsor both him and his brother with appointments to West Point they decided to play football there.”
For the U.S. Military Academy’s team, Army, Davis was half of a rushing combination with Doc Blanchard, who was nicknamed Mr. Inside to Davis’ Mr. Outside. Blanchard won the Heisman in 1945, Davis in 1946. The duo made the cover of Time magazine. Davis went on to a pro career with the L.A. Rams but it was cut short by injury in 1952.
Davis’ Heisman was donated to Bonita and is displayed in the office.
All that would be a lot to put on a sign, but maybe they can paint a link to this blog post. (Kidding!)
* Update: Reader John Clifford kindly obliges with a QR code to this very blog post! Bonita can add it to the corner of the stadium sign…
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