Geico was filming a commercial in downtown Pomona this week and the photographer known as Ren sent me this image. It is, he says, a man covered in (fake) money. (Do his friends tell him, a la “Swingers,” “You’re so money”?) A second photo showed two long rows of of parked motorcycles along West Second. How does the man wearing money factor in? I’m sure it’ll all make sense on TV.
Click on the postcard for a larger view. It’s undated, but someone who knows cars could probably narrow it down. (Update: The Pomona Public Library tells me the photo, which is in its collection, was taken or perhaps developed on or about Oct. 29, 1943. That certainly narrows it down.)
The view is looking west from Garey Avenue. The BofA building on the southwestern corner is long gone, but the replacement building is also a bank, currently Chase; the building on the northwestern corner was razed to make way for the Garey underpass. Some of the others remain, notably the First National Bank building in the background, flag on the roof.
Reader John Brown mailed me the card, saying a family friend in Minnesota had found it while antiquing. The city attorney of Ontario, Brown wrote: “With rare exceptions this past year, I realize we may not have provided you with sufficient journalistic fodder. To make up for that, I could not think of anyone better situated to appreciate the enclosed postcard than yourself.”
Anyone recognize any of the businesses above?
After 63 years in business, Westmont Hardware in Pomona (1612 W. Mission Blvd.) will close early next year. Above are owners Patsy Koning and Russell Riedel. The store was founded in 1949. Riedel started there as a teenager in 1967, became manager in 1975 and bought it in 1989. Sunday’s column is about the couple and the homey store, an anomaly in this day of big-box hardware stores.
Friday’s column brings the news that the netting over the six-story Chase Bank in downtown Pomona is gone after two years (!). The picture above was shot by me on Thursday; the picture below was shot in late 2010 by my colleague Jennifer Cappuccio Maher.
After that news comes briefs from around Pomona, a few restaurant notes and reaction from two prominent Claremont women about the lack of women on the March City Council ballot.
Reader Mark Junge writes that he discovered this blog by Googling something — we get a lot of new readers that way, and it’s great — and thought to drop me a line in hopes of jogging his memory.
“I used to live in Pomona and saw many changes there before getting married and moving away. I was hoping you might know about a couple of things:
“1. At what is now the Indian Hill Village, when it was still an open/outside mall, they used to put up a tall tinsel Christmas tree outside of the old JJ Newberry’s. I know I’ve got a picture or two of that tree, but I can’t find it right now. Do you have any pix of it, either on your blog or elsewhere?
“2. There used to be a desert painter who, I believe, emigrated over from Germany. He used to show at the weekend Griswold’s art shows, and he used to have a studio in the small building across the parking lot from the old Boys Market. Would happen to know his name, or could you tell me who might know that? (The current owners of Griswold’s doesn’t have records of that time — I checked).
“I hope to spend more time reading your blog online. I can see it’ll bring back lots of memories! (By the way, I now live in Yucca Valley outside of Joshua Tree National Park.)”
I don’t have a picture of the old Christmas tree, but surely someone (Darin Kuna? Ren?) does. And I don’t know anything about the desert painter in Claremont, but perhaps one of you do. If so, leave a comment.
A long but interesting piece by Pomona College Magazine’s Agustin Gurza about the troubles at the Pomona Public Library, headlined “The Book Budget Bind,” can be found here.
In their defense, city administrators argue that Pomona has been hit disproportionately by hard times, leaving them with only painful options for cutting the budget. The city’s tax base, already weak in comparison to some wealthier neighbors, was crippled in recent years by the flight of major retailers. Car dealerships shut down. Big-box stores like Toys “R” Us left town. The result: Pomona’s sales tax per capita was $87 in fiscal 2010-11, compared to $316 for the nearby city of Ontario.
The paradox in this municipal numbers game is that the deeper the economic crisis, the more people need their free library. That is especially true, supporters say, in a poor, predominantly Latino city like Pomona where people may not have Internet access at home and rely on the library for school research, job searches and even adult literacy lessons.
The Metrolink station in north Pomona has a nifty new piece of public art. It looks like a railroad water tower and has vintage-style images on two sides. Metrolink dispatches all its trains in six counties from an adjacent facility there in Pomona — yet another feather in Pomona’s cap — and is upgrading its communication and dispatch system.
The agency first proposed a simple, bare antenna for the station off Garey Avenue, between Bonita Avenue and Arrow Highway. City Hall, unimpressed, made a counter-offer.
“We wanted a better design and suggested a water tower with orange crate labels reminiscent of the old citrus packing labels of the area. They agreed,” said Mark Lazzaretto, the city’s community development director. “Our Cultural Arts Commission eventually chose the two images on the tower from a few samples that Metro provided. It was built within the last few weeks. Cool, huh?”
Indeed. Above is the view on the west side; below is the east side view. That station, located in an industrial area, was previously rather bleak, but with a new platform and expanded parking lot installed a couple of years ago, and now this tower, things are looking up. Good job all around.
Sunday’s column (read it here) is about Measure X on Tuesday’s ballot, a $38 parcel tax that would almost double the hours at the Pomona Public Library and provide it with stable funding. If the measure fails, and since it needs two-thirds approval there’s a good chance it will, it’s hard to say what might happen. A continued bare-bones existence, maybe.
Friday’s column (read it here) is about the community-led effort in Pomona to encourage people to read the novel “Zorro” by Isabel Allende and to take part in related activities.
The Nov. 1 appearance by Isabel Allende and Nov. 10 Chalk Art Festival are the two big events still to come.
A few other highlights:
* This Saturday brings a chance for the community to see a one-hour version of “Don Giovanni” at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church. Tickets are $20.
* The Diamond Bar Library will screen “Mask of Zorro” with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones on Nov. 5 and the animated “Puss in Boots,” about a swashbuckling cat, on Nov. 9.
* A Pomona screening of the 1940 version of “Zorro” with Tyrone Power is in the works.
* At 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Pomona Library, a genealogical talk traces Allende’s family — which includes overthrown Chilean president Salvador Allende — and at 7 p.m. at Pilgrim Church, a presentation on the rancho era of California will be given by Bob Smith.
I didn’t have space in my column to talk about the book, but I liked it. It fills in the gaps in the Zorro story by recounting his childhood, adolescence and young adulthood in California and Spain and expanding his sidekick Bernardo’s role. We see Zorro slowly acquire his costume and his skills. At almost 400 pages, it’s probably too long, and action is at a premium, but it’s there.
If you’ve read it, what did you think?