A courthouse memento

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There’s a long wooden bench for customer seating at Toyotech, an auto repair business in Montclair. Where did it come from? From the old courthouse that used to stand at Sixth Street and Mountain Avenue in Ontario, now the site of a shopping center.

Toyotech owner Rick Kaplan used to be a deputy in the sheriff’s substation at the courthouse, which closed in the late 1980s. The hard wooden benches were used as seating in courtrooms. The bench, salvaged prior to its demolition, showed up at Toyotech before Kaplan bought the business in 2004, but he recognized it.

“Everyone thinks it’s a pew from a church,” Kaplan said with a chuckle. “That couldn’t be further from the truth!”

The full-length cushion is a recent addition, a gift from a customer — and much appreciated.

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Wiggle room

After a photo appeared with my column of the platter of fried worms I had in Mexico City…

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…I took my car to my mechanic in Montclair for an oil change. He and his wife welcomed me back from Mexico with a surprise: a bowl of worms. Of the Gummi variety, on a bed of crushed Oreos. I have the weirdest — but nicest — readers.

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From bytes to bites

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In Montclair, the CompUSA building at 9059 Central Ave. at Moreno Street, vacant since 2007, is preparing for a new, non-retail tenant: a very large Asian-themed restaurant. Paradise Buffet will occupy 14,000 square feet and seat 300, according to City Hall.

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Mounted up in Montclair

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At 7 p.m. Wednesday, heading south on Central Avenue and stopped at the light at Mission Boulevard, I was startled to see two cowpokes also waiting for the light to change. Once across the intersection, I pulled into the gas station and grabbed these two shots.

The pair kept going past a natural stop, Farmer Boys burgers, which even has a drive-thru. One horseman was on a cell phone. Does the no-phone-while-driving law apply if you’re on horseback?

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Traffic advisory continues in Montclair

Central Avenue above the 10 Freeway is now nice and smooth, as is Monte Vista Avenue, after recent repaving that narrowed lanes and choked traffic.

However, the lanes are not yet striped, only marked with those Post-It note-like temporary markers. Painting the lanes, whenever that occurs, could mean more inconvenience for motorists.

Thus, your cautious correspondent declines to lift his advisory to avoid Montclair. If you happen to live in Montclair, my advice is to stay below the 10. Repeat, stay below the 10. Thank you.

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Baja Montclair

Passing by the former Tony Roma’s on Montclair’s Monte Vista Avenue, I noticed a banner up on the building promising a new restaurant named Rockin’ Baja. It gives a web address, www.rockinbaja.com. Another banner says “Now Hiring.”

According to its website, Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina specializes in buckets of shellfish, especially lobster tail, crab and shrimp, prepared “baja style.” (I hope this doesn’t mean there’s sand in it.) There are seven California locations: San Diego (2), Newport Beach pier, Oceanside, Burbank, La Quinta and San Jose.

Sounds more promising than Tony Roma’s, “a place for ribs” where I ate a total of one time.

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The Good Earth bargain

I stopped at Borders in Montclair Thursday on my way back to the office from buying Vampire Weekend tickets in Pomona. Wanted to check a reader-contributed Pomona factoid from, of all things, Rachael Ray’s magazine.

In the new-release section, there’s something really new: a table of cardboard boxes full of $3.99 books. Little of interest, unsurprisingly, but for some reason, perhaps a miscalculation of a Pearl S. Buck revival that never happened, they have something like 20 trade paperback copies of “The Good Earth.”

If you ever wanted to read it, this would seem to be your time. In no rush, I picked up the lone copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night.” At $3.99 for a novel that lists at $15, I couldn’t believe my luck.

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‘N Things

Linens ‘n Things at Montclair Plaza is liquidating, part of the closure of one-fourth of the chain’s American stores after a bankruptcy filing. I pass by on Monte Vista Avenue almost daily and see someone standing there with a sign advertising the latest discount. It’s now 20 to 50 percent.

If you want linens, sure, you can go to Linens N Things without guilt. But what if you’re in the market for things?

That gets dicier, because Upland is home to the sublimely named Thoughts N Things, a much smaller operation that would appear to compete directly for the things market.

Discounted things or mom-and-pop things? Gad, what an ethical dilemma.

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Beatle browse

I hit Rhino Records’ 15 percent off sale on Memorial Day, but I also made time for Montclair’s Circuit City, which was having its twice-a-year sale in which all CDs from $10.99 to $13.99 are discounted to $9.99. The selection gets skimpier every year but 10 bucks does make some “wobbler” CDs worth taking a chance on.

You get used to seeing CDs misfiled at chain stores, where the customers’ sloth is probably matched only by the employees’. My compulsion for order sometimes compels me to carry a few into their rightful place, especially for musicians I like.

Funniest misfiling of the day: Under the “George Harrison” tab, there was one single CD. Who was it by? Paul McCartney. I guess at this point in history, it’s all the same thing.

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Nothin’ but Narod

The vanished community of Narod, which usually makes me think of the insult-name Nimrod, was pronounced NAY-rod. Located in then-unincorporated territory that is now part of Montclair, Narod retains a certain cachet among oldtimers, as well as those of us who like funny names.

Here’s a portion of an e-mail from Bill Gunn, a former Ontario boy (his dad owned a typewriter shop downtown), who tells us a bit more about Narod:

I knew Narod very well. My mom had friends that were down and out who lived there in the late 1940s and we used to visit and help them out.

Narod, I hope someone has pictures of it, because it’s a hard place to describe or believe — two-story buildings lining the west side of Central below Holt. It was catty-cornered from the old Valley Drive-In Theatre which was on the northeast corner of Holt and Central. Narod was on the southwest; but 1/4 mile south of Holt.

Narod was for very poor people, illegals and folks drawing minimum social security, etc. But for a 5- to 10-year-old boy it was just another interesting place to explore.”

The lore on Narod, incidentally, is that it was named by a railroad man named Doran, who simply reversed his name. Anyone want to add other facts, near-facts or good guesses about Narod?

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