Sunday’s column starts with a summary and dialogue from the Nov. 6 episode of a CBS adventure series that involved Pomona. After that come a half-dozen Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
After probably two years of procrastination, I get it together to head to Riverside on a Saturday to check out two classic restaurants and a used bookstore — with the spur being two PST: LA/LA art shows, now on view. I write about the day trip in Friday’s column.
Donahoo’s Golden Chicken, 5749 Mission Blvd. (at Riverview), Rubidoux; open daily, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; cash only
Only three Donahoo’s chicken locations remain, I believe: Ontario, Pomona and Rubidoux, which is just west of Riverside. The chain’s history isn’t well-documented, which I’ll have to rectify sometime, but there used to be more locations around the state.
I’ve been to Ontario once or twice and to Pomona dozens of times, which is more a reflection of where I am when I want takeout rather than the relative quality. I’d never been to or seen the one in Rubidoux, but it was in my mind to try it one day.
That day came last Saturday, when I drove to Riverside for the afternoon. I ended my day at Donahoo’s, taking Mission west out of town and pulling up to Donahoo’s, in a standalone little building with what must be an original 1950s-’60s sign. It was kind of adorable. There’s only a couple of parking spaces, but the lot next door is good too since you won’t be there long.
It’s takeout only, just like the other Donahoo’s. I got the chicken strips box lunch ($7.55), which came with five pieces, a small salad, a roll and fries. They cook the chicken to order and it was ready in 10 minutes, handed over in a brown cardboard box inside a plastic bag. I got on the 60 Freeway when it met Mission at Valley View, headed home and ate there.
It was a different meal than Pomona: crinkle-cut fries, which they also do in Ontario and which are the original style, rather than the Pomona steak fries; a green salad, rather than slaw or macaroni as in Pomona; and a different, lighter batter for the chicken. It tended to slip off the chicken, which was disconcerting, but the taste was good. I liked the fries and roll; the iceberg salad was meh.
I ate half the meal that night and saved the other half for lunch the next day. Not bad for $7.55.
I would return, but probably won’t, given there are closer Donahoo’s, but I’m glad I went and am glad this one is still around. And yes, like Pomona but unlike Ontario, there’s a rooster on the roof.
After the police chief’s ouster, I attend my first Upland City Council meeting of the year as they approve a contract with an interim police chief, who promises to calm the waters. In the, er, interim, I offer my take, and a few jokes, in Wednesday’s column.
Books acquired: “True Stories of Claremont, CA,” Hal Durian; “Buster Keaton Remembered,” Eleanor Keaton and Jeffrey Vance
Books read: “The Puppet Masters,” Robert Heinlein; “The Toynbee Convector,” Ray Bradbury; “One Hundred and Two H-Bombs,” Thomas M. Disch; “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” H.P. Lovecraft; “Love Conquers All,” Robert Benchley
Greetings, readers. We’re well into fall and the end of 2017 is in sight, which is something of a relief. But that also means that if we have reading goals, time is running out on achieving them.
Of the (now) 266 unread books on my shelves, some authors are represented multiple times. I try to read at least one per year by many of them to gradually whittle down the backlog. While progress may not be as great as wished for, I looked at my row of Robert Benchley books recently and realized that after one per year for seven years, I’ve now read almost all of them.
October’s choices were made up entirely of give-or-take perennials.
From Heinlein’s classic period, his 1951 novel “The Puppet Masters” is about an alien invasion by big slugs who control individuals by (ugh) attaching themselves to humans’ spines. It’s clever, propulsive and genuinely creepy. Also, the government-mandated nudity angle was funny. Hey, how else are you going to know if your neighbor, or your congressman, is controlled by a slug nestled between their shoulder blades if you can’t see them in the buff?
Bradbury’s 1984 story collection is the last of his regular books that I hadn’t read or reread; a few years ago I picked up shortly after this point to read his copious number of late-period books that I’d never had the heart to read (most did indeed turn out to be disappointing), then started over at the beginning to reread his classic ones.
“The Toynbee Convector” is a terrible title, a tipoff of what’s to come. Of the 23 stories, only five (Trapdoor, The Love Affair, A Touch of Petulance, West of October and At Midnight, in the Month of June) have the old snap. Some of them are old but never collected, I believe.
Most of the rest are sad, aimless or eye-rollers. Unpleasantly, several semi-autobiographical stories are about an adulterer, and nine (I started keeping track, it was such a thing) involve a grown man weeping. There is some lovely writing, of course, such as about the Family, a Bradbury staple: “Some were young and others had been around since the Sphinx first sank its stone paws deep in tidal sands.” Still, as a fan, I warn you: Do not start with “The Toynbee Collector.”
I bought a bunch of Disch’s out of print books four years ago when I encountered them at a used bookstore in Goleta. Here’s the third one, an early collection of stories. Some are shaggy dog shorts, surprisingly silly for a writer who would attain Disch’s stature. The whimsical “Dangerous Flags” is a hoot. Many of the other stories are fair to good. To my mind only “The Return of the Medusae,” weighing in at a mere two pages, has a breath of mystery to it.
Lovecraft is another favorite; I read the five books by him I had, one per year, and in March bought two more to keep me going. The title novella is a 141-page dream adventure starring Randolph Carter, with no dialogue until the end and no chapter breaks; it’s appropriately strange and lovely, but conversely hard to get invested in. The remaining five stories also involve dream worlds. Worthwhile if, like me, you’re doing a deeper dive into HPL.
The essays in Benchley’s second book, from 1922, already mark him as a very funny stylist and observer of life, whether he’s writing about neighbors offering unsolicited advice as he tries to garden, contradictory exhortations from the stands during baseball games and the mental gymnastics required to translate Roman numerals. (The title, like ones to follow, gives no hint of its contents.)
“Love Conquers All” has the added bonus of a long section of his literary pieces, many of them very loose reviews of books nobody else would review, such as a train timetable, “Bricklaying in Modern Practice” and “The Effective Speaking Voice.”
I bought that one in 2001 at Pasadena’s Book Alley, the Bradbury in 1991 at Santa Rosa’s Treehorn Books, Disch in 2013 at Goleta’s Paperback Alley, Lovecraft at LA’s Last Bookstore and Heinlein sometime in the 2000s.
How was your October, reading-wise? Please let us know in the comments.
Next month: new, different authors.
The coffeehouse Mi Cafecito has become a hit in downtown Pomona. It was the brainchild of a couple who didn’t know anything about coffee but learned quickly. I write about their unlikely success in Sunday’s column.
Also, extra points if you can spot me in the background of one of the photos!
Sometimes one column leads to another. In July I wrote about the efforts at St. George Catholic Church in Ontario to raise money to repair the roof of its 1923 building, the next major part of which was a car raffle. The woman who won the raffle proved to be a good story in herself, a very active volunteer at the church who is of modest means and who bought a single $5 ticket. Corrina Garcia is the subject of my Friday column.
Schaefer’s Food N Drinks, 6939 Schaefer Ave. (at Euclid), Chino; open 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Schaefer’s opened over the summer, and a source at City Hall soon recommended the tacos. A few weeks later, when I was in Chino for my book talk, a friend brought up Schaefer’s and said it was a burger place. Realizing it was lunchtime, I decided to head over.
It’s in a new Stater Bros. center large enough to have several other eateries and businesses. Across Schaefer to the north are crops, and in fact the whole area is caught in an interesting transition, with a lot of empty land, some new tract homes and some farmland. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Schaefer’s is a new venture by Joe and Angie Guillen, who did catering for 30 years before opening a restaurant, according to a story posted inside. It’s a sit-down restaurant with a full bar and which features “from-scratch recipes,” a sign proclaims.
The menu has burgers and Mexican food, which is how it could be described as specializing in either, plus salads, sandwiches and a full breakfast menu that includes menudo. That first visit, I had the Frisco burger, one-third pound on parmesan cheese bread ($12), very good, plus thick-cut fries. It was very filling.
Figuring I should give the other half of the equation a try, I returned for a carne asada burrito ($7.50) on a lunch break. The lunch pricing means you get a drink, in my case an iced tea, for only $1 more. That’s a good deal. The burrito was rather light on the carne asada and I wasn’t impressed. But that’s okay. I think Schaefer’s is a winner.
For Wednesday’s column, I profile Mark Thorpe, the new CEO of Ontario International Airport. He was here in the ’00s working for the airport’s owner, Los Angeles World Airports, and saw its potential. Now under local ownership — one year as of Nov. 1 — he’s back.
I’d never been to the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia until October, when a friend and I met up there after years of idle talk. We met shortly after the 9 a.m. opening on a Saturday that promised to hit triple digits and did by the time we left around noon.
In the meantime, we paid our $9 admissions and wandered portions of the 127-acre grounds. The Arboretum was established in 1948 on Lucky Baldwin’s old spread. Paved paths wind past trees, flowers and native plants, as well as a pond and the Queen Anne home, formerly Baldwin’s, that became famous due to TV’s “Fantasy Island.” Baldwin also imported Australian peafowl. Descendants roam as well, a fun sight even if none displayed its colors for us.