Memories of Pomona


1437 Gibbs St., where the Nelsons lived. Photo by Ren.

New reader Greg Nelson sent me a long, fond epistle a few weeks back about his childhood in Pomona. Warm, detailed, it’s worth reprinting in full. I did cut one section for use at a later time. And now, take it away, Greg:

“I just stumbled on your blog and loved every picture and phrase. My family moved to Pomona in 1956 when I was 4, from New Orleans, and I didn’t leave until I went to college. Our first house was at 1714 Calatina Drive. It was down in the south and right on the edge of the wilderness at the time. It got its name from the developer, who crossed the L instead of the T in Catalina. They decided they liked it like that. We moved uptown later.

“I graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1966 and from Damien in 1970. During my first year at Damien it was still called Pomona Catholic, or ‘PC.’

“We dated the girls from Sacred Heart and St. Lucy’s, and occasionally from Pomona, Ganesha, and Fremont Highs.

“At St. Joseph’s I served many a mass (more than a hundred) for Monsignor English, the 6-foot five pastor, who was a millionaire before he entered the priesthood, and built St. Joseph’s with his own money. It was hard to serve mass there because the altar was a lot higher than at most churches because of his height. Sometimes we went to mass at Sacred Heart because they had a 7 PM Sunday mass.

“My best friend was Lloyd Purpero, whose dad, Carl, owned a pancake house called Breakfast At Carl’s, and also a place called Perp’s.
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Remembering Atwood’s

The passing of Jack Atwood has revived memories of Atwood’s Department Store, which from the 1930s to the 1980s sold general merchandise in downtown Upland, at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Ninth Street.

The building later burned in a fire and was demolished. The lot sat empty for a decade until a very nice two-story retail and commercial structure plugged the gap a couple of years ago.

At this point, that’s about all I know, although I’m hoping to write something in my column soon about the store. What can any of you tell us about Atwood’s — the store and the family?

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Archibald and Foothill, Cucamonga


This undated postcard image, presumably from the 1950s, is in the collection of the Ontario Public Library. This was downtown Cucamonga.

As Frank Zappa wrote in his autobiography:

“Cucamonga was a blotch on a map, represented by the intersection of Route 66 and Archibald Avenue. On those four corners we had an Italian restaurant, an Irish pub, a malt shop and a gas station.

“North, up Archibald, were an electrician’s shop, a hardware store and the recording studio. Across the street was a Holy Roller church, and up the block from that was the grammar school.”

His memory was pretty sharp. In 1965, the year Zappa left, this would be what you’d have found at or around this intersection, according to research by Kelly Zackmann of the Ontario City Library into phone books and criss-cross directories:

NW corner: Caf Italiano (9690 Foothill), the Zappa-mentioned “Italian restaurant.” Ancil Morris’ Cucamonga Service Station was next door to the west and still stands, albeit closed and fenced off.

SW corner: Cucamonga Caf (9671 Foothill), which is listed under ice cream in the phone book. Must be Zappa’s “malt shop.” Now it’s The Deli and Carl’s Liquor.

NE corner: Cucamonga Hardware (9710 Foothill) must be the “hardware shop.”

SE corner: Ray Ford’s Texaco station (9705 Foothill) was there, if apparently not operating by 1965. Nearby was The Tavern (9741 Foothill), which may be the “Irish pub” Zappa mentions. Was this the same pub known as Shanty Devlin’s?

Zappa’s studio was at 8040 Archibald, on the west side above Estacia Street and next to Citrus Electric (“electrician’s shop”) at 8036. South of them, below Estacia but above Foothill, were the Cucamonga Justice Court at 8076 and Cafe Italiano.

The “grammar school” Zappa mentions was Central Elementary, which is still there (7955 Archibald). Zackmann couldn’t locate a Holy Roller-type church across the street from the studio via phone records. But then, why have a phone if you’re going to speak in tongues?

If you’ve never been to The Deli, by the way, not only is the place worth it for the food, but one wall boasts a series of B&W and color photos of the intersection from various eras. Well worth a look.

Zappa maintained that when Archibald was widened in the mid-’60s, his studio was among the casualties. I think there’s a drive-through dairy there now. Is the courthouse building still there? I don’t know. There is some disagreement among old-timers as to whether the row of older buidlings on the west side above Foothill is original or not.

Feel free to add to or correct any of the information and suppositions above.

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Upland in the 1940s, part 2

Continuing Shelby Garrett’s memories of old Upland:

“Over on Foothill at Fifth Avenue was Booth’s Market on the SE corner and a small filling station on the NE corner. In 1948 there was a miniature golf course on the SW side of Foothill and Third Avenue. We had such fun playing there.

“In the early ’50s, over towards Second Avenue on the south side of Foothill, was the Shopping Bag, Upland’s first big supermarket. It was so different from the neighborhood grocery stores we were used to. Jan’s Drive-In to the east of the market was a local spot to hang out.

“On the north side of Foothill from Third Avenue on over to Euclid there was nothing but orange groves. On the south side were groves too, from Second Avenue west to Euclid, until Bob & Dave’s Chevron Station went in on the SW corner of Second and Foothill.

“In 1950, Yum Yum’s Frostee Freeze was put in by Mary Weitzel on Foothill across from the Memorial Park. In their recreation and eating area on the side of the building there was a jukebox. Teenagers went there for great hamburgers, shakes, malts and dancing. The adults got wind of the fun we were having and several of them came in to dance with us often.

“Across Foothill at the ball park, my brother, Kirby, used to announce the ballgames.

“For fine dining, people went to the Magic Lamp (formerly Lucy & John’s) or to the historic Sycamore Inn, both east on Foothill past Grove Avenue.

“In 1951 the Swim Club was built out on West Foothill. They had great folk music by various artists performing around the pool.

“Another unforgettable place was Stinkey’s on the NW corner of Mountain and Foothill. They had the best hamburgers in town and were open all night for the boys and men who went out smudging in the wintertime. Jack, the owner, always had a cigar with a long ash on it in his mouth, but I never saw it fall off into the food.

“Matteo’s Pizza was out on Foothill and Central, as was Lloyd’s. Both great places to eat.”

Hope you enjoyed the piece. Anyone have memories of these places to share, or just general comments on the above?

Two short comments by me: I believe the Shopping Bag building is now Pep Boys; if memory serves, circa 2000, construction exposed a brick wall with a painted sign for Shopping Bag to motorists on Foothill, until further construction covered it up.

Also, the idea that Foothill was lined with groves is hard for us to picture today, but it does explain an odd news item I saw in an old Daily Report (’40s? ’50s?) about a controversial zoning plan to make Foothill a (gasp!) commercial district!

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Upland in the 1940s

I always enjoy Marilyn Anderson’s monthly Hometown Spirit newsletter published out of downtown Upland’s Cooper Museum and available for free around town (I get mine at the museum or at my periodontist’s).

I’ve meant to share a long chunk of a couple of essays published there last year and written by former Uplander Shelby Garrett. He wrote about his family’s arrival in Upland in 1943 from Alabama and about the businesses along Foothill Boulevard back then. They deserve a wider audience. Marilyn said it was fine with her. Take it away, Shelby:

“Dad was able to get us a 3-bedroom, pre-fab home in Parkside, the huge 550-unit project on the SE corner of Campus and Foothill. Big parking lots separated the groups of houses and there were nice grassy areas between the houses. They had basketball courts and every day when Dad came home from work we’d all go play.

“In the ’40s, most people still had ice boxes for refrigeration. The Union Ice Company truck delivered daily to the project. The blocks of 25 to 50 lbs. would be loaded onto a two-wheel pushcart rolling up and down the sidewalks going from house to house delivering various quantities. Tom, the ice man, would let me split the blocks with an ice pick and give me 50 cents for helping him. Boy, was I rich!

“There was a large open field from Eleventh Street down to the San Antonio Hospital on San Bernardino Road, where I used to go rabbit hunting. And quite often Mom would have rabbit to cook for our supper.

“On the NE corner of Foothill and Campus was a little white stuccoed service station with Pegasus, the Flying Red Horse, as its symbol, later to become a Mobil station. Right next door to the east was a little cafe called Pow’s Chow. Mr. Pow was in business there for many years.

“On the NW corner was Gilliland Gardens Nursery, the greenhouses and the small Upland Motel. In 1945 they moved their business to the north side of Foothill at Third Avenue. My parents bought the old nursery and motel, making the nursery house our home and moving the greenhouses over to Third Avenue. Mom later had her office (Garrett/Tyberg Real Estate) in that house.

“On the SW corner of Foothill and Campus was Martinez’ Grocery Store and next to it was Martinez’ Long Bar Restaurant, where you could get an excellent Mexican dinner for about $1.75.”

That wraps up the four corners of Foothill and Campus: Gilliland Gardens, gas station, Parkside and Martinez’. Shelby’s piece concludes here tomorrow with more ’40s-era Foothill businesses.

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More memories of old-time Ontario

My May 13 column on Jim Bowman’s memories of growing up in Ontario in the 1950s and ’60s prompted a loooong e-mail from reader Linda (Shaffer) Frost amplifying on some of Bowman’s points and dropping new names of old-time Ontario businesses.

And if you’re into that sort of thing — which we here at The David Allen Blog most assuredly are — then the nostalgia makes for good reading.

Here’s an edited version:

“Since I am waxing nostalgic, I have a few things to add to Jim Bowman’s recollections about Ontario back in the day. I grew up there, too. I would have been born here had it not been that my father was stationed in Massachusetts during the war. I was 18 months old when I arrived in January of 1947.

“The first thing my parents did after purchasing a home was to subscribe to the Daily Report and to begin Shady Grove Dairy delivery. The bottles were glass and had tiny cardboard caps with a pull-tab. Cottage cheese came in colorful, anodized aluminum tumblers, and oleo came in a plastic bag with the dot of color. Owl Lucky Star Market was the first supermarket, followed by King Cole Market, and shopping was a family affair.

“Laddie’s hamburgers, the first fast food hamburger stand, charged 15 cents for a hamburger. Yes, the Hot Dog Show held constant performances in a hot dog-shaped shop with a few stools in front. Taco Lita held court at the corner of San Antonio and Holt (previously A Street), and tacos were five for a dollar. Yes, and Mi Taco had its first store on East Fourth Street across from John Galvin Park. Unfortunately, Ford Lunch had a reputation for racial discrimination, so my parents never took us there to eat.

“My mother didn’t believe anyone should be mistreated, especially for race, and when it happened, she never forgot. FYI, another incident occurred back in the early 1950s at a place called Ed’s Caf on “A” street, when Ed refused to serve a black boy whose team had played my brother’s team in Pony League baseball game. His team didn’t eat there, and we never went to Ed’s either. My mother had nothing good to say about Ed or his caf.

“The California Theater gave competition to the Granada. On Saturday mornings, our mothers would pile us into the family sedan and haul us downtown where we would pick up tickets to the free kids movies on Saturday mornings. Popcorn was a dime, and big candy bars were 25 cents. We would go to Newberry’s and spend our pennies on Evening in Paris cologne in tiny blue vials. I can still smell it and am happy to say that my fragrance choices have improved with age.

“A highlight of every summer afternoon was walk to the plunge at Chaffey High School with a quarter tucked inside our bathing caps for the price of admission. That lasted until the polio scare sent us home to inflatable pools in our yards.

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Entrepreneur ensures PFF calendar didn’t go pff!

PFF Bank made it through the Great Depression but couldn’t weather the current depression. One bit of fallout from their failure that hadn’t occurred to me is the end of the bank’s long-running series of calendars featuring vintage citrus crate labels.

Stepping in to fill the breach is Randi Marshall of La Verne, who sells labels online on his eBay store. I read about this in John Weeks’ column in the Bulletin on Saturday. Marshall told Weeks he’d been selling PFF calendars for the past five years. “When I found out that the PFF calendar would not be printed this year, I took the liberty of printing one myself,” he said.

Marshall’s calendar doesn’t appear to say PFF anywhere, but each month has an image of a fruit crate label, just like PFF would have done. You can find the calendars here for just $5.99, plus $2.99 shipping. August’s art is from the King label in Claremont that appears from the thumbnail art to depict a lion. And here’s Marshall’s main page.

(While I was on his store, I couldn’t resist buying the Newsboy crate label for my cubicle.)

But back to the calendar. Cool of Marshall to continue one PFF tradition. Alas, I don’t think he’s offering free checking.

Anyone collect PFF calendars or have any particular memories of getting them?

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The kids’ table

Remember the kids’ table? It was, and perhaps still is, a staple of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

It was the smaller, lower table where the pint-sized members of the family were seated, the better to give the adults some peace and some time to catch up without constant interruptions. And, of course, it was fun for the kids to sit together — allowing us to catch up without (ahem) constant interruptions from adults.

I remember my cousins and I blowing bubbles in our beverages through a straw — no adult ever thinks this is cool — and making mashed potato volcanoes with our gravy. And yet, there was always envy of the grownup table. Once you graduate to the grownups’ table, you’re there for good. You leave behind the kids’ table for (sniff) good.

A metaphor for growing up, one might say.

What did you think of the kids’ table, and do you still have one at holidays?

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Montclair Plaza at 40

It was on Aug. 3, 1968 — 40 years ago today — that Montclair Plaza opened for a sneak preview, prior to an Aug. 5 opening.

That’s the subject of today’s column — which you knew already, right?

Lots of you must have memories of the Plaza. Stores and restaurants you enjoyed over the years (Bob’s Big Boy, the Hollander Cafeteria…). Shopping trips from childhood. Movies you saw back when the Plaza had a couple of theaters. Features of the mall you liked — the big clock, for instance. If you’re old enough, you might have been around to know what life was like before the mall, or what opening day was like.

So post away and we can create a sort of informal history of Montclair Plaza.

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Charles Phoenix and the Monorail

A fair-sized crowd turned out Thursday evening for the Charles Phoenix slide show at Fairplex’s NHRA Museum. I was told that 60 or 70 people, or more than half, had reserved spots after seeing a mention in Wednesday’s column, which was nice to hear. Nobody glared at me afterward so they must have had a good time.

Phoenix narrated vintage slides from his collection of various Pomona and Ontario landmarks. Among them: Tate Cadillac, Sears, Vince’s Spaghetti, the Fox Theater, Betsy Ross, the Agitator Shop, the Valley Drive-In, Donahoo’s Chicken and L.A. County Fair attractions such as the Fun Zone, the Flower and Garden Pavilion, the Clock Tower, the Garden Railroad, the Grandstand and the Monorail.

Ah, yes, the Monorail. It was built in 1962 — “Richard Nixon rode on it,” Phoenix said — and removed in the 1990s. It hung from an overhead track and plied the fairgrounds. The original design was by sculptor John Svenson, of all people.

A success? Not exactly.

“They forgot one thing. There was no air conditioning,” Phoenix said. “And the windows didn’t open.” As Quizno’s likes to say: “Mmmm…toasty.”

Anyone ever ride the fair’s monorail? And do you know if the ski lift replaced it and follows the same route?

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