Mr. Milk Bottle, Pomona

One of the silliest business signs in the Inland Valley is for Mr. Milk Bottle, an anthropomorphic container of milk outside a convenience store at 1533 Indian Hill Blvd. in Pomona.

The view above is looking south. That side is in decent shape, although the B is missing and the neon is long gone, just as it was when Charles Phoenix photographed it for his 1999 book “Cruising the Pomona Valley.” The paint was peeling like a bad sunburn when Phoenix visited, which is no longer the case.

“With bow tie, top hat and cane, this neon sign is dressed to a ‘T,'” Phoenix wrote, dating the business to “early 1960s.”

As the Waymarking site, which has a page on the sign, observes: “Mr. Milk Bottle advertises for a dairy/convenience store in Pomona, California. He holds a cane in one hand that is pointed at the store, and with his other hand he doffs his top hat to passersby.” I like a polite, friendly sign.

The other side of the sign is in worse shape, with almost every letter gone.

I was scrolling through microfilm of the Claremont Courier last spring when I spotted a Nov. 20, 1961 ad for the business, reproduced below. Mr. Milkbottle (ugh, I hate it as one word) seemed to specialize in milk, cream, half and half, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, ice cream and a few non-dairy items like bread, fruit punch and frozen pies (the better to go with ice cream). Click on the image for a larger view if desired.

Any former or current customers want to share a comment or memory?

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Dial ‘NAtional’ in Pomona

Reader Robin Young was in Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in August when she found a sure sign she was in the old wing: a sticker on the restroom’s towel dispenser with a NAtional prefix (62). As phone exchanges were dropped in 1965, that’s one old and well-preserved sticker! “It’s a time capsule,” Young says with fondness.

Carr Paper Co., by the way, was established in 1944 and lasted at least into the 1980s, and possibly beyond. Founder Dick Carr was also a longtime board member at the hospital and the boardroom was named for him. So it’s kind of heartwarming that one of his company’s stickers is still in place in a humbler spot in the hospital.

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Top Hat, repainted

Top Hat Liquor, a long-lived Pomona shop with a jaunty roofline and cosmopolitan name, got a new paint job in April, as seen in the photo above.

To explain in brief why this is news, I had taken a photo of the business last October when passing by (on my way to follow candidate Tim Sandoval as he canvassed a neighborhood — I wonder what ever happened to him?), then forgot about it until finding the photo in July and turning it into a quick tribute post on this blog. That’s the photo below.

People got worked up on Facebook over the peeling paint, vowing to organize a clean-up and painting day after a plan to contact the owner. Well-intentioned, but it went about as far as most such online efforts, which are easier to type than to carry out.

But then City Hall contacted me with the photo above. “You’ve given readers the ‘before’ photo. Here’s the ‘after’ photo,” writes Mark Lazzaretto, development services director.

The code compliance team noticed the condition of the business in early April and by the 18th, the trim had been repainted and some of the banners and signs had been taken down for a cleaner appearance, he told me.

That’s good news, as well as being a lesson for me about taking care when presenting photos a few months after the fact. Even situations that have not changed in years sometimes change when you least expect it.

A tip of the top hat to City Hall. The next round is on us.

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Coates sheds its name

Coates Cyclery closed in February, an end to a shop that began in downtown Pomona in 1934 and moved to 760 Foothill Blvd., just west of Towne Avenue, in 1965. There was talk that a bike shop would take over the storefront, but that was not to be. A pet hotel has moved in and altered the sign, formerly neon, while retaining its basic structure.

Reader Dwight Seibert was there to take photos for posterity, as seen above and below.

Was the old one a landmark sign? It’s in Charles Phoenix’s “Cruising the Pomona Valley” guidebook, which called it “one of the last classic neon signs on Foothill Boulevard.”

But the Museum of Neon Art’s executive director, Kim Koga, told me on my recent visit that she didn’t find the sign visually interesting enough for the museum. Context is everything.

Below is a closer view posted by Grace Verhoeven on the Eye on Pomona Facebook page.

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Top Hat Liquor, Pomona

This liquor store in Pomona (565 Dudley Ave.) could really use a paint job, but the angled roofline, high-society name and neon sign still have flair. As Charles Phoenix describes it in “Cruising the Pomona Valley: 1930 Thru 1970”: “This stylish modern liquor store is dressed in formal attire with its original neon sign.” The store was built in 1959.

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