Memories of Upland (and San Antonio Heights)

Sue Stone grew up in San Antonio Heights in the 1950s and ’60s, attended Sierra Vista Elementary, Upland Junior High and Upland High, now living in Ventura County. She found my blog and enjoyed mentions of “old” Upland.

Here’s what else she had to say:

“I very well recall my family going to the Sage Hen for dinner on special occasions. When it was changed to New China, I don’t think we ever went back. We also would go to the Sycamore Inn on very special occasions. I remember when a prime rib dinner was something like $3.95, and then when it went to $4.95, my father was incensed.

“Another restaurant I loved was Martinez’s on Foothill Boulevard, and their tacos were the best I’ve ever had over all these years. I tried to search out the recipe online, but I was never successful.  Other places from the old days: Stinky’s at the NW corner of Mountain Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, the Magic Lamp on Foothill, Taka Taco on the west side of Euclid somewhere south of 11th Street, The Stuffed Shirt at the NW corner of Foothill and Euclid, Betsy Ross Ice Cream on the north side of Foothill, and the Donut Shop on the east side of 2nd Avenue.

“There was the Central Market on 2nd Avenue. I was always fascinated by the sign that said ‘In Uplands (sic), it’s the Central Market.’ There was a pricey women’s clothing store called Town and Country downtown. Atwood’s was a very nice, small department store with wood floors and wood display shelves. I loved the old Carnegie library and spent many hours there. When the new library was opened, it was very disappointing because it had no atmosphere whatsoever.  I could go on and on but won’t take up much more of your time.” [No bother at all, I assure you.]

“In one of your columns, I saw a photograph of a small white church in San Antonio Heights, read the caption and thought I’d send you a bit more information about that building. As a child, I attended Sunday school there when it was called Bethany Union Church, and I have a Bible that was presented to me by that church on October 13, 1957, according to the handwritten inscription.”

“As an added piece of information, across the street somewhere from this church was a tiny, old market, the name of which escapes me, probably because everyone in the Heights referred to it as ‘the little store.’ It had one of those screen doors that banged whenever someone walked in or out. It was like something out of Mayberry.

“I hope these recollections add just a little something to your knowledge of the past history of Upland and the Heights. It was a great place to experience my childhood years.”
Thank you, Sue.
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Smudging the citrus groves

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People who grew up here into the 1960s can recall or maybe took part in the wintertime ritual known as smudging. If temperatures dropped to freezing, a citrus crop might be ruined, and thus orchard heaters were put out in the groves and lighted to generate artificial heat. In a sense, they were the forerunners of the heaters used on restaurant patios, except these burned oil and created a blanket of haze.

It was a process that might last all night, as heaters were set out, lighted, checked, refilled or relighted. On the Rancho Cucamonga History page on Facebook, Jane Vath O’Connell recently penned a reminiscence of those days, which she invited me to share.

I remember the frosty nights in Alta Loma when my family would sit around the radio and listen to the ‘frost reports’. In every rancher’s kitchen it would be the same sight. If they predicted a freeze, my brothers would call their Alta Loma High School friends. Time to go to bed. Mom & I would stay up to check the grove thermometers. When it got to 29* we would wake my dad and brothers. My brothers would call their friends and there would be a commotion in the house while they assembled and I would drift off to sleep with the sound of the wind machines used to keep the air flowing through the groves. Throughout the night, I would hear the guys as they came back to the house to get food or hot drinks to get them through the night.

The next morning, when I got up for school, there would be a thick, black haze in the air and my brothers would be allowed to sleep in. Half the boys in Alta Loma High School would be absent and that’s just the way it was in this farming community. Dad was making breakfast for me, not having slept at all. He had to go to work but would first stop by Growers Service on Baseline and Hellman to order more smudge oil. I would go with dad sometimes and always enjoyed jumping off the loading dock amid the smell of smudge oil.

I’ve heard many stories of how those long, cold nights turned many boys into men. As did many ranchers, my father had a ‘day job’. He would come home after work that day and try to catch some sleep as the whole process started again.

Thanks, Jane. One aspect of her story that I hadn’t understood before, but which makes perfect sense, was that for many, farming was a sideline, probably because citrus isn’t a year-round crop. You might tend your grove, even all night when it was freezing, and then go to your real job.

Does anyone have memories to share of that era?

Photos are courtesy of Jane Vath O’Connell

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Remembering Lord Charley’s

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Lord Charley’s (2035 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, at Central Avenue) operated from 1971 to 1991, followed by another decade as Charley’s Pub and Grill, which closed in 2002. Sunday’s column (Aug. 6, 2016) will be about the restaurant.

Here are some photos courtesy of co-owner Linda Keagle and phone directory ads courtesy of the Ontario Public Library’s Model Colony History Room.

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Above and below, two views of the dining room. Linda Keagle says: “The rock fireplace was originally part of the old Matteo’s Italian restaurant. That building was torn down in the ’60s and the second generation of the Matteo family rebuilt the present structure around the old rock fireplace. We took over the location in 1971. The fireplace was open to both the dining room and the bar and was a major part of the ambiance.”

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Linda says of the above photo: “This particular table was the ‘family table’ for the Keagles. There were six chairs at the table when we dined there, the two of us and our four young kids. By the way, we were all present when we closed the restaurant in January 2002. Lots of wonderful memories of dinners with our family and our friends.”

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The above ad was in the 1972 phone book.

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The above ad was from 1980.

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The ad above appeared in 1982. The English lord is now going hatless. And he’s eating as well as drinking.

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Linda brought a menu to show me, mounted on oak.

Did you ever eat at Lord Charley’s or Charley’s Pub? What do you remember?

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Nixon at ONT in 1972

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Three days before his landslide victory over George McGovern, President Nixon made an appearance at Ontario International Airport on Nov. 4, 1972. It was to be a star-studded event, with appearances by John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Jimmy Stewart and Chad Everett would be there too. Thanks to Jane O’Connell of Alta Loma for the poster image. (She recently sold the original on eBay.)

Were you there? If so, leave a comment with your memories.

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Remembering Don’s Hobby Hut

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Above, the vacant lot where Mustang Books used to stand.

In January I posted about the demolition of Mustang Books, a long-standing dirty book emporium on Upland’s Central Avenue. But that wasn’t the first business in that building. Michael Guerin, who was the subject of a 2012 post about the Grove Theatre Pal Club of his youth, emailed me about more innocent shop of the 1960s. Take it away, Michael:

“Every time I pass the site of the former adult bookstore on the west side of Central just south of Foothill I am reminded of an earlier hobby shop that occupied the building.

“It was the 1960s and the concrete block building at the front of that lot was owned by a man named Don Domes and operated under the name Don’s Hobby Hut.

“This was at the time the only decent place to buy model cars and airplanes, early remote control aircraft and other hobby stuff.

“Don was a trendsetter in that he even had discontinued Revell or Monagram plastic model kits up on the high shelf available for some exorbitant price for those that were real aficionados.

“That place may have kept me alive in my elementary school years even into early teens.

“I don’t know that anyone’s mentioned it and it certainly doesn’t show any Google searches but I thought I would reminisce about it anyway in case it comes up in other conversations about local history.

“I think it closed down in the late ’70s or early ’80s and later as we all know it became a hobby shop of a different sort before being closed down and later bulldozed.”

Thanks, Michael. Now, if someone ever Googles “Don’s Hobby Hut Upland,” they’ll get one useful result.

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‘The dips’

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I’ve heard of “the dips” and “the bumps,” both of which were wiped out by progress but which were beloved by young people. Some of you commented on them a few years back on this blog on an unrelated post.

But then this photo popped up on Facebook’s “Growing Up in Upland” page, courtesy of Darin Kuna. It dates to 1939 and shows 19th Street between Upland and Alta Loma, looking east. Notice the dip?

Reader Rich P. explained the lay of the land in a comment on this blog back in 2008:

“The 19th Street bumps were on the Cucamonga Creek wash, between the flood control channel just west of Sapphire and Campus. They were wiped out by the Colonies project. They were dangerous, because some people would drive slower in case some nut was making a blind pass in the other direction, and the nuts would pass these slower drivers. My daughter loved the bumps at normal (not airborne) speed.”

Then there were “the bumps,” located on Base Line Road/16th Street between Claremont and Upland. Reader Tad Decker explained what those were:

“At the time, this was a long stretch of two-lane highway through barren, rocky scrubland. The road basically followed the natural topographic contours of the area, and thus was very hilly. If you traveled the road at a high rate of speed, you could be airborne for a second or two. This was great fun for me as a child with my dad driving, but the bumps were smoothed out by the time I was behind the wheel myself.”

Want to share a memory about the dips or the bumps? Leave a comment.

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Remembering El Adobe Village

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Rather than a town of ancient cliff dwellers, El Adobe Village was a shopping center in La Verne. Located at Foothill Boulevard and Wheeler Avenue, it was a unique-looking series of buildings. Let’s let Eric Scherer of the city planning department tell the story. There’s even a personal note to it.

“Originally constructed in several phases between 1977 and 1979, it was designed with Spanish-style architecture, interior courtyards, fountains, smooth plaster, large wooden gates at the entry points, ‘desert’ landscaping (what we would call drought-tolerant today) with the main anchor being a large Carlos O’Brien’s Mexican restaurant that had live entertainment. Some women would complain, however, as the walkways were purposely uneven and it was difficult to walk through the center while wearing heels.

“The building housed many shops, some of which remained within town at different locations after the center closed (Sarcas Ski and Sport, Bob Mastro pharmacy, and JML Haircutting (the only one still open today)).There was a Sgt. Pepper’s restaurant too… although it seems like that was just a sandwich/salad type place with no real theme (imagine the possibilities!). The center also boasted a pet store, a Chinese restaurant and a sweet shop.

“As a kid, being able to run around the interior corridors, play at the fountain and explore the place while my mom was getting her hair done at JML Haircutting was one of my favorite things to do growing up in La Verne.

“Having these interior corridors, however, proved to be the reason why the center was not successful. The development was designed mainly with access to the shops taken from within the courtyard area, with one building being located completely within the center, with absolutely no visibility from Foothill or Wheeler.

“The lack of visibility made it difficult for tenants to keep their doors open. Most people have very fond memories of the center, but apparently didn’t shop there enough. The building was torn down in 1990, the site sat vacant for many years except for the Carl’s Jr. on the corner, until the site was developed with Rite Aid in 1999 and soon after came AutoZone.”

Thank you, Eric. He also notes that the Cattleman’s Wharf/Toppers building, subject of a previous blog post, was next door. The accompanying photos from the planning department’s files give a rough sense of the property and were taken in 1981.

Do you remember El Adobe Village and its shops? Based on the photos, there was an Arthur Treacher’s fish and chips eatery.

* Update: At bottom, a 1980 ULV yearbook ad for El Adobe Village, also contributed by Scherer, had a map. My favorite business name: United Hairlines. (Salons always have the best names.) And note the El Adobe motto, “Like a stroll through Old Mexico…”

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El Adobe Ad 1980 MAP

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Remembering Yum Yum’s Frosty Freeze

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Frosty Freeze was a teen hangout on Foothill Boulevard in eastern Upland across from Memorial Park. Some called it Yum Yum’s Frosty Freeze, or just Yum Yum’s. From the sign, it looks like the phrase wasn’t necessarily intended as part of the name, but I can see the appeal of calling the place Yum Yum’s.

According to a reminiscence by Shelby Garrett, the stand went up in 1950, founded by Mary Weitzel: “Teenagers went there for great hamburgers, shakes, malts and dancing.”

One habitue was future crime novelist Joseph Wambaugh, who told me a few years ago that Yum Yum’s was a favorite hangout for him and the rest of the Chaffey High crowd in the 1950s.

Mike Guerin, who grew up in Upland, took the above photo in 1981 when Frosty Freeze closed. Note the sign in the window: “We Quit. Out of Business. We Will Miss You.” (Click on the photo for a much larger view.) Guerin says: “Just found this in my files. Fast food from a family restaurant. Millie was always at the register.”

Do you remember Yum Yum’s Frosty Freeze?

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