Gathering together some odds and ends, I share reader responses to recent columns on Rancho Cucamonga’s name, drive-in theaters, the Harada House and more, all in Wednesday’s column.
Following up on my recent column on Rancho Cucamonga’s first mayor, I return to the topic of how the city with the funny name got its funny name. That is Wednesday’s Christmas Eve Eve column.
It’s rare that you get to talk to the first mayor of a city, at least without the aid of a spirit medium, but I was able to sit down recently with Jim Frost, who led Rancho Cucamonga from 1977-1980. He talks about his family’s roots in Etiwanda and the incorporation of Rancho Cucamonga in my Dec. 9 column.
They’re not yelling “Play ball!” at LoanMart Field in Rancho Cucamonga. Minor League Baseball was canceled nationwide on June 30. I visit the home of the Quakes to hear about it, and then write about the first summer without baseball in the city in nearly three decades, for Wednesday’s column.
Victoria Gardens is a strange place to visit these days, with visitors scarce and pop standards continuing to play from the sidewalk speakers, like it’s a few days after the end of the world and nobody’s living to shut them off. But two months into the shutdown, the mall is beginning to wake up. I take a look around in Friday’s column.
Area libraries are closed up tight, but Rancho Cucamonga’s twin branches are doing curbside pickup of books and other physical materials, and one branch’s computer center is open for those without internet or a computer at home. “People are finding out about it, which is what we want,” the library director says. I write in praise of an innovative library in Sunday’s column.
Remember the vineyard at Haven and Fourth in Rancho Cucamonga that had its last harvest in 2017? It’s languished, but with development delayed, the public will get a chance to buy the vines individually ($25 each) and dig them up for home replanting. The 1930s vines may be the oldest within city limits. I write about this, with details of the sale, in my Friday column.
I return to the subject of the former Virginia Dare Winery’s role as a setting for various old TV episodes, in this case for “The Magician” with Bill Bixby. A reader met him. The winery also turned up in various L.A./SoCal architectural guidebooks during its period of abandonment. All that makes up Wednesday’s column.
In passing I mention having found two guidebooks Monday night while rearranging a bookcase. Funny how things work out. I’m midway through taking books off shelves, dusting the shelves, blowing dust off the tops of the books, culling a few books (not enough, but some) and neatening up the rest.
Monday night I was doing all this with a bookcase that has my L.A.-related books (plus travel, plus mysteries…that’s just how it’s worked out). I own two editions of “An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles” and, eyeing them before replacing them, wondered if I needed the oldest one, from 1977, which I’d picked up at the Last Bookstore a few years ago. It turns out it’s got several Inland Empire listings, including the winery. The subsequent edition eliminated the hinterlands to stick to L.A. County. OK, so I’ll keep it.
The next book was the similar “The City Observed: Los Angeles,” a guidebook that likewise has a bunch of Inland Empire listings. The winery is in that book too, with an almost literary description that I decided was worth quoting.
So I brought it into the office Tuesday morning and added the info to the column in progress. More proof, if any is needed, that assembling these columns has a fair amount of happenstance to it, not to mention luck.
For years I’ve been meaning to write about the filming of an episode of “Combat!” in the 1960s at Cucamonga’s then-abandoned Virginia Dare Winery. A nod to “Combat!” in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” provides an excuse. I write about the winery’s moments of TV glory — including “Rat Patrol” and “The Invaders” — in Friday’s column.
Since our office used to be on Fourth Street in Ontario, and now is only a bit farther east at Archibald and Fourth, I’ve passed this RV and Off Road shop at 10234 E. Fourth for, it seems, my entire 22 years here.
I don’t know the first thing about this shop, other than “gear, parts, repair,” but the sign’s lettering always caught my eye. And I have a recollection that in its latter days there was a cross on the facade, presumably to signal that the owner would treat you fairly.
It’s been closed a while with a construction fence around it. I’d meant to stop for a photo for posterity, but there was no obvious place to park. Recently, though, driving east to lunch past the building, I realized I could park at the Havengate complex immediately east at Center and Fourth streets. On my way back, I made a point of doing so.
According to the official sign, the building is going to be demolished for a new one at 58,000 square feet for industrial, office, manufacturing and warehousing. The site, 2.76 acres, is enormous compared to the size of the existing building, so I’m sure it will be a better use of the property.
Farewell, RV and Off Road. You no doubt left a larger mark on the world than this blog post, and probably did so with big tires, but you are memorialized here anyway.