In the Pomona City Council race for the District 6 seat, Debra Martin has a slogan I don’t think I’ve seen before. I don’t know if Pomona needs her or not — that’s for District 6 voters to decide — but a prankster could certainly have fun appending to the bottom of the sign the phrase “like a hole in the head.”
The first public mural since the adoption of Pomona’s public art ordinance, the above piece was completed in August by artist David Flores and depicts Karl Benjamin, the late Claremont painter, who died in July at age 86 and who had approved the mural. It’s on the west side of the Pomona Billiards building at 400 W. Second St., which dates to 1911.
Read more about the mural, and watch a video about it, here.
Sunday’s column (read it here) takes the president of Pomona College on a tour of two significant sites in Pomona: the corner where the college began in 1888, and the house, now relocated, that used to be on that corner.
Above, David Oxtoby, the college president, admires the monument at Mission Boulevard and White Avenue that now seems incongruous outside Angelo’s Burgers. A thumbnail image of the plaque is at left.
The home at that site, which constituted the entirety of the campus, was moved to Hamilton and Phillips boulevards in 1947. Below, college official Don Pattison, homeowner Maria Barajas and Oxtoby walk toward that home. Classes were held there for the fall 1888 semester only before the college packed up and moved to Claremont.
One addendum to the column, because someone has already asked about this: The site described as “north Pomona” near today’s Webb Schools that was planned for the Pomona College campus was not in Pomona, nor would it be today. I couldn’t include every fact but perhaps I erred in not explaining this, or in not writing “north of Pomona.”
As I understand it, the land was called Scanlon Mesa and was eyed as part of a new town that would be named Piedmont. Had the college been built there, perhaps it would have changed its name to Piedmont College. But a SoCal-wide land bust circa 1888 (not so dissimilar from our own housing crash) scotched a lot of big dreams, and Piedmont was one of them.
The college is marking its 125th anniversary (the charter was granted Oct. 14, 1887). Here’s the anniversary website. Events are planned all year, but an open house and celebration are set for the weekend of Oct. 13 and 14.
The Greek Theatre in 1922, from the Pomona Library Digital Images Collection
Reader DebB writes with a request for information:
“Maybe this is old news to everyone except me. But this evening my neighbor told me that there was once a Greek theater at the base of Ganesha Hills in Pomona. According to him, Huntington Drive went directly up to the theater until the 10 freeway cut it off. He remembers playing in the abandoned bowl as a child in the mid-60s.
“I just looked at the Google satellite image of the area and you can see a good-sized concrete pad just off Val Vista St. The way the hill wraps around, it looks as if it could have been an amphitheater at one time. We live just east of Ganesha Park, and I’ve driven by that gated pad a number of times and always wondered what it is/was.
“I find this curious and interesting. What was it like? What kind of shows did they have? What was its time period? Searching Google, however, only brings up links to the theater at Pomona College. So I wondered if any of your readers or your Pomona historian sources might know about/remember this theater?”
Deb, it so happens that I once wrote a column on the Greek’s history. I’m representing it here for posterity. Maybe next time someone searches Google, they’ll find it. But this also provides the chance for readers to chime in with their own memories.
The column originally appeared Oct. 15, 2006.
While shopping at the Cost Plus in her new town of Oxnard, my former colleague Wendy Leung was unexpectedly reminded of the city in which she lived before relocating: She found hand cream, shower gel and shower lotion marketed as the “Pomona Travel Collection.”
“All the toiletries I need for a visit to my former hometown,” Leung remarks wistfully.
According to the tag, the items are “inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean” — oh, the old Roman goddess angle — and are “available in four scents: Sicilian Orange, Turkish Pomegranate, Grecian Fig and Spanish Almond.”
What, nothing that smells like antique stores, salsa or Donahoo’s chicken?
The Dewey Decimal set’s hearts will flutter as they contemplate this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of top librarians from around the area. This summit occurred Tuesday in the special collections room of the Pomona Public Library — the Inland Valley’s answer to Yalta — to brainstorm ideas for the beleaguered library’s future.
Referring to my column mention of the event, in which I speculated that they were probably sipping tea from china cups and nibbling on Lorna Doone shortbread, Pomona Library Director Bruce Guter says refreshments were “bottled water and Costco muffins.” Well, it’s a new era.
Pictured are, from left, Pomona Library Director Bruce Guter; Rancho Cucamonga Assistant Library Director Michelle Perera; Whittier Public Library Director Paymaneh Maghsoudi; City of Pomona Human Resources Director Sue Paul; Southern California Library Consortium Executive Director Rosario Garza; L.A. County Actiing Chief Deputy Librarian Yolanda De Ramus; Los Angeles County Librarian Margaret Todd; Rancho Cucamonga Library Director Robert Karatsu; and — the big gun — California State Librarian Stacey Aldrich.
The picture was taken by Pomona Library Services Manager Muriel Spill. You’ll want to print a copy and frame it — after tracking down all the librarians for their signatures. Good luck!
Adds Guter: “Everyone’s smiling because we were thinking about all the good things that could be done for the Pomona Public Library. Or maybe about Lorna Doones….”
Recently I posted here about the Phillips Mansion. Now let’s focus on its neighbor, the Currier House (pictured), a distinctive 1907 home commissioned by A.T. Currier (1840-1928), a state senator, sheriff and philanthropist who was a leading citizen of the Pomona Valley.
The house is original, but the background isn’t. In 2004 the structure was relocated to Pomona from its original location in what is today’s City of Industry. The photo was taken sometime after the move. The house was placed next to the Phillips Mansion on the same lot, 2640 Pomona Blvd., and like the mansion is owned by the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley.
As is evident from the photo, the house needs a lot of work, but at least it was saved from the wrecking ball. The neighborhood is industrial and the two homes really stand out from their surroundings.
The Currier House’s architect was Ferdinand Davis and the construction cost was $12,000 (no doubt a lot of money back then). Read more about the Currier House and Phillips Mansion on the website of the Historical Society.
Below is a new, and fascinating, report by the Pomona Public Library on how the institution fared during the Great Depression: The staff took pay cuts, curtailed book and magazine purchases and examined patrons’ bags to avert theft. The library was able to stay open 12 hours per day, six days per week. Similar solutions today are unlikely, but the document is timely given that closing the library entirely is a possibility.
(Tonight’s Pomona council agenda includes a proposal to keep the library going at one-fourth the current cost by outsourcing operations and tapping money set aside for sidewalk and street repair, an illustration of the dire straits in which the city finds itself.)
What follows is the library’s report, in full.
Characterized by many difficult problems caused by the worldwide depression, the
year nevertheless has brought unusual opportunities for service. In the economic
stress there has been a tendency to fall back upon the library as a source of inspiration
and helpfulness as well as entertainment and instruction, and more than ever we are
impressed with the fact that the public library is the heart of the community.
-Pomona Library Annual Report, 1933.
Every day observations in the library impress us anew with the thought that the library is the heart of the community, and that it is the single spot in the whole town which makes everyone equally welcome, and, as someone has said, “enables the least privileged to really feel at home in the democracy of the mind.”
-Pomona Library Annual Report, 1934
It has been noted that not a single public library in America closed its doors during the
Great Depression of the 1930′s. In fact, new public libraries were started in 48 of the 50
states and territories between 1930-1940. A reading of Depression era Pomona Public
Library Annual Reports, which were prepared by the Board of Library Trustees and
longtime City Librarian, Sarah Jacobus, confirms that the community and the Library
survived the depths of the Depression without having to close the library or substantially
reduce library service.
During the worst Depression years of 1931-1934, the reports show that Library service
continued without interruption, although not without stress. In 1931, the Library was
open 353 days of the year, 7 days a week, 12 hours per day, including 3 hours on Sunday. The Library’s operating budget was just over $41,000, and the Library employed 18.5 Staff. Of the City’s 20,000 residents, 14,000 were library card holders.
Reader Bob House directed me to the website What Was There, which presents vintage photos of cities, lets you scroll over them for a larger view and also connects them with Google Street View so you can see what the same scene looks like today. Only a handful of Inland Empire photos are there so far, but one was a gem: this picture of the Pomona Fox Theater with “Gone With the Wind” on the marquee.
The photo, from the L.A. Public Library archives, is said to date to 1940, which would be the original run of the movie. “Continuous shows daily from 1 p.m.,” the marquee declares. At four hours, “GWTW” is so long there were likely only two more screenings per day, at 5 and 9.
Reader Bill Ruh (see the comments section) says the car looks like a 1950 Studebaker to him, meaning the photo is likelier from the 1954 theatrical re-release.
One reason this photo (which I’d never seen before) jumped out at me was that Ann Rutherford, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s younger sister Carreen, died Monday at age 94.
Two firsts for the movie occurred at other theaters in the Fox chain. Its first public screening took place on Sept. 9, 1939 at the Fox in Riverside, and it premiered on Dec. 15, 1939 at the Fox in Atlanta, Ga.
Incidentally, the adjacent business in the above photo appears to be Seaboard Finance Co., with “loans” the likely word in the window.
Two readers, Jaime and Don, separately told me a CiCi’s Pizza commercial was filmed in downtown Pomona, Don after observing the filming in January and Jaime after watching the finished product on TV weeks later. I’d never heard of CiCi’s Pizza and barely watch TV anyway, so this news didn’t do much for me.
But eventually I decided to look for the commercial online. It’s clearly in downtown Pomona. As one commenter says on YouTube: “I saw this being filmed. We were wondering why a pig was hanging out of the sunroof and window. They filmed all day. It was at 3rd and Main in Pomona CA.”
You can see the full commercial here, but all the Pomona stuff is in the embedded video above. So now I sort of know what CiCi’s Pizza is, but I still don’t think I’ve ever seen one.