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.
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.
A reader said I should write about the demise of the Inland Empire’s two Nordstrom stores, which closed in May (but were essentially already closed) without fanfare. That was a good idea, and I took her up on it for Wednesday’s column. It didn’t hurt, naturally, that the column might appeal to readers across a geographic span.
Montclair’s humble drive-in, the Mission Tiki, appears to be the only theater operating in all of Southern California. I take in a screening of “Knives Out” and talk to patrons for Sunday’s column.
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.
Remember the old caboose in Montclair that in recent years sat in a plaza by the Monte Vista Avenue onramp to the 10 Freeway? It’s trundled out of town, donated to the Rail Giants Train Museum at Pomona’s Fairplex. I write about that in my virus-free Friday column.
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.
“It gets your attention,” Montclair mayor says approvingly of the new electronic reader board sign at Montclair Place mall. What do you think? Also: a jazz musician leaves the area in style, a “Motherless Brooklyn” screening is hosted by the novelist whose book was adapted, and more, all in Wednesday’s column.
Montclair’s drive-in opened in 1956 and is closing for good in late December due to years of slowing business. The property has been sold for a business park. I offer the details and the drive-in’s history in Friday’s column.
Montclair has a big new piece of fire equipment, bought at a relative bargain price. I write about that, and then dip into the ol’ mailbag for recent-ish reader comments about Bruce Springsteen and Ritchie Valens. That’s all in Wednesday’s column — plus a Valley Vignette teasing Friday’s column.