Column: Montclair writer spins tales about 1970s Compton

Mary Hill-Wagner of Montclair has published a memoir titled “Girlz ‘n the Hood,” which is about her childhood in South L.A. among 10 siblings and the mother who fiercely supported them. It’s kind of wild, sometimes sad, sometimes raucously funny. I read her book and then we had a good conversation about it and her mother for my Wednesday column.

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Taking the stairs in Montclair

As you may have gleaned from stray references in a few columns, I’ve gotten into climbing stairs daily, which isn’t easy to do when you live in a single-story home. This means I’m always on the lookout for stairs. At Montclair Place mall recently, I was leaving Barnes & Noble by its parking lot entrance when I spotted this impressive new set of stairs a few paces east leading to the upper-level AMC theaters — and gasped.

I went up and down five times. How many steps? I counted. Something like 42. Each trip up counted as two flights on my fitness app. This has to be the best semi-public staircase in Montclair, if not in many of our cities.

Only one other person, who looked like an AMC employee, took them while I was there. Everyone else lazily used the escalator.

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Memories of the Midway

Reader Harry Wright emails about a favorite topic here on the blog, the long-gone Midway Bar in Montclair, just past Claremont on Foothill Boulevard:

“The Midway was a flourishing establishment when I arrived at the Claremont Colleges in the fall of 1967. An extremely liberal attitude regarding proper identification ensured a regular clientele of baby-faced collegians. Both the Midway and the nearby eatery Stinkys were convenient to the colleges and for bikers speeding up and down Foothill between Pomona and San Bernardino. A belly full of greasy burgers from Stinkys then the Thursday night special — 50-cent pitchers at the Midway — was a stellar evening for the economy minded.

“There was an uneasy truce between the school boys and bikers that at times boiled over, resulting in fists flying, but never weapons, at least that I witnessed. Law enforcement visits were infrequent, but spurred a mad dash of college kids out the back or standing on the seat in a toilet stall, while an older patron also in the stall could exit if summoned by the cop to present proper ID.”

The world is always in need of stellar evenings for the economy minded. Thanks for the note, Mr. Wright.

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Column: Drive-in to stay open through summer 2020

Some good news for fans of drive-ins: Montclair’s Mission Tiki Drive-In won’t close near Christmas after all but will remain open through next summer. The developer doesn’t need the property right away, so the drive-in will keep showing movies and hosting a swap meet through winter, spring and summer. I write about that in Friday’s column, along with sharing some of the reaction to its closing.

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