In reading a memoir about 1940s newspapermen in LA, an anecdote involving Pomona begged to be shared, even though, or maybe because, it’s in such bad taste. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by two Culture Corner items and a follow-up to my Salsbury Scooters column.
In its seven decades the Pomona Concert Band has had just two conductors. An anchor point in a changing world, the band kicks off its 70th season Friday. I provide a history in Wednesday’s column. Above, the band performs in the late 1950s at Ganesha Park.
Photo of ’69 Chevelle Gasser courtesy of Super Chevy
“Growing up in the Pomona Valley during the early to mid-’70s meant being around the baddest muscle cars and hot rods in So Cal,” Nick Licata writes in an article for Super Chevy, a magazine for Chevrolet fanatics.
Licata continues: “On just about every block it was common to see an open garage door on a warm summer night with a few young gearheads listening to Led Zeppelin while wrenching away on a hot rod of some sort.”
Early teens like Licata would ride their Schwinn Sting-Rays on Saturday nights to a vacant lot behind a Garey Avenue Taco Bell, where more than 50 muscle cars would be shown off by their owners. They would be treated as local celebrities by the kids.
Reader Ed Tessier, who sent me the story, says he found its take spot-on. He adds that in south Pomona in that era, “low rider culture was a bigger deal on many blocks and the radios were pumping out Mexican pop.” Not everyone was into Zeppelin.
In the local history category, Wednesday’s column recounts the story of Salsbury scooters, a beloved brand that was briefly made in Pomona, in a factory that was highly touted but, sad to say, quickly failed.
By the way, trying to get a photo in which I was not reflected in the glass of the picture Jeff Hodge is holding was tough! This one, in the shade, was fine, and you can see the scooter art, but you can’t see much of the factory building.
A movie to be titled either “Callahan” or “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” did some filming in late March in downtown Pomona. Stars are Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill; director is Gus Van Sant. So it’s an actual movie, not one of those no-budget indie things that’s never released. It’s about a real-life cartoonist, John Callahan, who turned to drawing after a car accident at age 21 made him a quadriplegic; the funny title is that of his autobiography.
Assuming Phoenix was in town (*update: I’ve since seen a photo of him downtown), this would be his second time: He filmed an exterior scene for “Inherent Vice” on Second Street in 2013. Two visits? This means Joaquin Phoenix has been to downtown Pomona more often than some people who live in Pomona.
Photographer Ren sent me a few shots. The ones that grabbed me were of the former restaurant at the corner of Main and Third streets, transformed for the filming into a pie shop. Click on the images for a slightly larger view.
Once Chung King, and later Casa Jimenez and El Patrona, the space was turned into a lobster restaurant for the filming of a TV pilot, “White Sheep,” in March 2016. A few would-be customers lined up outside thinking it was real, despite the cameras moving around. Alas, it was no more real than the pie shop. (The series is still listed as being in development.)
The pixie dust is gone now and the restaurant is back to being La Patrona — and closed.
As usual, many singers and bands performing at Coachella next month will also give concerts in Pomona. I’ve got a list. I’ve also got other items from around the valley, a couple of them about music for the older set. That’s all in Friday’s column.
John Clifford finished his quest of dining at every restaurant (and restaurant-ish place) on Pomona’s Garey Avenue with this week’s post on his blog Eating Garey Avenue about Castaneda’s. He wasn’t especially impressed. Last week’s penultimate eatery was a Jack in the Box.
“It’s done, stick a fork in it. Yay, I’ve successfully eaten at all 56 currently open eateries on Garey Avenue…” he begins. He ends with a note that starts like this: “Thus ends the GREAT ADVENTURE. I hope that you’ve enjoyed following as I visited some good, some mediocre, some questionable, and some exciting spots along Pomona’s main north-south corridor.”
He may continue blogging, but about random restaurants around town about which he’s curious, or even about other matters. For now, he says, he’s going to take a well-deserved break from worrying each week about getting to the next restaurant up the street.
My column about our interview at Los Jarritos about his project can be read here. The photo above is from Los Jarritos as John prepares to take a photo of his food.
To check out the sad state of the Pomona City Stable recently, the 1909 brick building that’s collapsing, I drove down White Avenue, parked along Second Street and strolled down the sidewalk on the east side of White under the railroad overpass for a better look at the structure on the opposite side of the street.
The east side is where I noticed this piece of concrete (below) that’s newer than the original 1960s sidewalk. It’s full of the kind of graffiti that gets drawn into wet cement, with “1982” written in one corner (partly visible in the photo).
The best readable graffiti (seen above): “The Go-Go’s forever.” Now that’s 1982!
Just under that: “I’m too hip.”
The 1909 Stable may or may not survive, but as far as history goes, at least there’s this fun 1982 sidewalk…
John Clifford, a regular on this blog, is also the blogger behind Eating Garey Avenue, in which he’s been documenting his quest to eat at every restaurant on that Pomona street. He’s almost done. I offer early congratulations via Wednesday’s column. Above, Clifford takes photos of his plate at Los Jarritos while “the lovely Mrs. C,” as he calls his wife, Deborah, watches.
A man’s quest for photos of his late wife led him to the Pomona Public Library, where a vast collection of photo negatives turned up a packet of photos from their 1957 wedding. The story makes up Sunday’s column, an early Valentine’s Day edition. Above, senior librarian Pat Lambert holds up one of the negatives; below, a scan of one of the negatives, showing Jess Kraus and his bride, Janet.