A wild boar running loose in Loma Linda recently was captured and destroyed. I feel bad. The poor pig probably was seeking refuge. It figured that Loma Linda, founded by the Seventh-day Adventists and a bastion of vegetarianism, would provide a safe haven. Nobody would try to hunt it down with knives and forks. Surely Loma Linda, of all places, would offer political asylum to a poor pig on the run. But nooo …

There’s a lesson here for all of us. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.


When I claim that the Inland Empire is one of the most interesting regions in the nation, as I am wont to do, given the fact that I am running for the job of Emperor, I sometimes will get an argument.

Not often, but sometimes.

I always reach for my trump card. It’s a piece of evidence that’s impossible to dispute, and guaranteed to win the debate.

Here it is:

Arcadia Publishing, a large and prestigious South Carolina company that produces local history books throughout the United States, spends an inordinate amount of time, attention and resources in the Inland Empire. The company has published almost 80 books here, and there are more in the works. It’s an astonishing number for a two-county region, and it speaks volumes about us.


How many Arcadia volumes are there for Los Angeles County? About 50. How many for Orange County? Fewer than 40. How many for San Diego County? Not quite 20.

So, how can we explain the fact that there are 80 titles for the Inland Empire? Well, it probably has something to do with our size (San Bernardino County is the nation’s largest) and our population (there are more than 150 individual communities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties). Most of all, it has to do with our history and geography. We have a crazy wealth of Wild West towns, pioneer railroad towns, mining boom towns, citrus boom towns and Route 66 landmark towns. We have the state’s oldest wine country (the Cucamonga Valley) and its newest (the Temecula Valley). We have some of the nation’s most famous mountain resorts, and nearly all of the nation’s best-known desert resorts.

“The Inland Empire is an amazing place,” says Debbie Seracini, an Arcadia editor. “We’ve done so many books there already, and we plan to do a lot more.”

The most recent Inland Empire books in the Arcadia line are “Yucaipa: 1940s-1980s” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society, which offers a fascinating account of the city’s formative years; “The Cajon Pass” by Alice Eby Hall, which tells the story of our region’s most prominent gateway; and “Community Hospital of San Bernardino” by Joyce A. Hanson, Suzie Earp and Erin Shanks, a chronology full of great stories, including an account of the day in 1954 when entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was admitted after a terrible car accident in north San Bernardino. His life was saved, as well as his eyesight in one eye, and he showed his gratitude later by returning to the city and putting on a gala fundraiser that featured co-stars such as Judy Garland, Sidney Poitier, Shirley MacLaine, Tony Curtis, Danny Thomas, Diahann Carroll, James Garner and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Upcoming titles in the Arcadia line, and I can share this information with you exclusively, include “Chino” by Nancy Sanders and Tom de Martino, “Edwards AFB” by Ted Huetter, “Hesperia” by Gary Drylie, “Needles” by Jim Conkle and Linda Fitzpatrick, and “Wildomar” by Bob Cashman. Also in the works: Books on Victorville, Barstow and Rancho Cucamonga.

And now, if you’re ready, I’m going to run by you the whole list of Arcadia’s currently-available Inland Empire list, and I’m going to remind you that this treasure trove of local history is a godsend at this time of year for hurried and harried holiday shoppers. The books, all affordably priced, are available at bookstores, from online booksellers and from the publisher at (888) 313-2665 or

The list of authors includes myself, so there’s a tiny scrap of self-promotion here, but that’s OK. As future Emperor of the Inland Empire, I’m allowed to do it. Self-promotion is an essential part of my campaign. Besides, I am telling you about nearly 80 books, so I am giving you lots of choices, right?

East Valley: “The Cajon Pass” by Alice Eby Hall, “Colton” by Larry Sheffield, “Cherry Valley” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Tom Chong, “Community Hospital of San Bernardino” by Joyce A. Hanson, Suzie Earp and Erin Shanks, “The Harris Company” by Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Hanks and Robin S. Hanks, “Loma Linda” by the Loma Linda Historical Commission, “Redlands” by Larry E. Burgess and Nathan D. Gonzales, “Redlands Postcard History” by Randy Briggs and Fred Edwards, “Rialto” by John Anthony Adams, “San Bernardino” by Nick Cataldo, “San Bernardino Postcard History” by Steven Shaw, “San Bernardino Fire Department” by Steven Shaw, “San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department” by M. David DeSoucy, “San Timoteo Canyon” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Peggy Christian, “Yucaipa” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society and “Yucaipa: 1940s-1980s” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society.

West Valley: “Early Pomona” by Mickey Gallivan and the Historical Society of Pomona Valley, “Fontana” by John Charles Anicic Jr., “Kaiser Steel: Fontana” by John Charles Anicic Jr., “Lordsburg and La Verne” by Marlin L. Heckman, “Montclair” by the City of Montclair, “University of La Verne” by Marlin L. Heckman and “Upland” by Donald Laine Clucas with Marilyn Anderson and the Cooper Museum.

Riverside County: “Arlington” by Georgia Gordon Sercl, “Around Anza Valley” by Margaret Wellman Jaenke, Tony Mauricio and the Hamilton Museum, “Canyon Lake” by Elinor Martin, “Corona” by Mary Bryner Winn, “Corona Postcard History” by Mary Bryner Winn, “Jurupa” by Kim Jarrell Johnson, “Lake Elsinore” by Edythe J. Greene, Elizabeth Hepler and Mary Louise Rowden, “Lake Elsinore Postcard History” by the Lake Elsinore Historical Society, “Lake Mathews and Gavilan Hills” by Kathleen Dever and Judy Whitson, “March Air Force Base” by William J. Butler, “Menifee Valley” by Elinor Martin and Betty Bouris, “Moreno Valley” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and the Moreno Valley Historical Society, “Murrieta” by Marvin Curran, Loretta Barnett and Rebecca Farnbach, “Murrieta Hot Springs” by Rebecca Farnbach, Loretta Barnett and Marvin Curran, “Native Americans of Riverside County” by Clifford Trafzer and Jeffrey Smith, “Norco” by Marge Bitetti, “The Norconian Resort” by Kevin Bash and Brigette Jouxtel, “Resorts of Riverside County” by Steve Lech, “Riverside Postcard History” by Steve Lech, “Riverside: 1870-1940″ by Steve Lech, “Riverside: Then & Now” by Glenn Edward Freeman, “Riverside’s Camp Anza and Arlanza” by Frank Teurlay, “Riverside’s Mission Inn” by Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson, “Rubidoux” by Kim Jarrell Johnson and “Temecula” by Loretta Barnett, Rebecca Farnbach and the Vail Ranch Resoration Association.

Mountains: “Big Bear” by Stanley E. Bellamy and Russell L. Keller, “Big Bear Postcard History” by Russell L. Keller, “Crestline” by Rhea-Frances Tetley, “Idyllwild and the High San Jacintos” by Robert B. Smith and the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, “Lake Arrowhead” by Rhea-Frances Tetley, “Lake Arrowhead Postcard History” by Roger G. Hatheway and Russell L. Keller, “Mt. Baldy” by Kimberly J. Creighton, “Oak Glen and Los Rios Rancho” by J.R. Sanders, “Rim of the World Drive” by Roger G. Hatheway, “Running Springs” by Stanley E. Bellamy and “Wrightwood and Big Pines” by Pat Krig and Barbara Van Houten.

Deserts: “Apple Valley” by Michelle Lovato, “Banning” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw, “Beaumont” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Jeff Fox, “Death Valley” by Robert P. Palazzo, “Hemet” by the Hemet Area Museum Association, “Indio” by Patricia Baker Laflin for the Coachella Valley Historical Society, “Lancaster” by Norma H. Gurba,
“The Marines at Twentynine Palms” by Thomas Q. O’Hara, “Palm Desert” by the Historical Society of Palm Desert, “Palm Springs Postcard History” by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham, “San Gorgonio Pass” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society, “Twentynine Palms” by Vickie Waite, Al Gartner and Paul F. Smith.

General interest: “Cleveland National Forest” by James D. Newland, “Missions of Southern California” by James Osborne, “Native Sons of the Golden West” by Richard S. Kimball and Barney Noel, “Route 66 in California” by Glen Duncan, “Skiing in Southern California” by Ingrid P. Wicken.

Finally, there’s my own book in the series, “Inland Empire” by John Howard Weeks, which is a grand tour of the whole place.

The whole incredible, fascinating, amazing place.

I think we all can agree on that.

Read more John Weeks at Contact him by email at


The deadline for submitting recipes for possible inclusion in the “San Bernardino Bicentennial Cookbook” has been extended to Dec. 31. For more information, call (909) 381-8251, or visit online at Also, read my Dec. 6 column on the subject at

I’ve submitted a few recipes myself, including this one:


This is a quick and delicious chili that is made with ground beef of the exact kind and with the exact seasoning mix used by the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice (Mac), who opened the world’s first McDonald’s restaurant in 1940 in San Bernardino. In 1948, they converted their establishment to a drive-in and also developed innovative methods of food preparation and service that pioneered the modern fast-food industry.

Also, San Bernardino Chili uses pinto beans, not the kidney beans more commonly found in chili. This is my nod to the fact that San Bernardino also is the birthplace of Mexican fast food — ground zero for the founders of Taco Bell, Del Taco, Bakers, Taco Tia, Naugles and others.

Moreover, San Bernardino Chili is spiced not with Louisiana pepper sauce, as is common, but with good strong Inland Empire hot sauce. I use La Victoria Salsa Brava Hot Sauce, bottled in Chino, but another good choice is Lindy’s Premium Red Taco Sauce, made by a company founded in San Bernardino generations ago.

San Bernardino Chili

2 pounds ground beef, 80 percent lean, 20 percent fat
1 teaspoon salt
One-half teaspoon Accent (MSG)
One-half teaspoon black pepper
One-half teaspoon onion powder
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup tomato or V8 juice
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
6 ounces hot sauce

In large saucepan, break up beef and add salt, Accent, pepper and onion powder (the McDonald’s seasoning mix). When meat is broken up add onions and garlic. Stir until meat is browned. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, then simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until chili is thickened, stirring occasionally. If extra thickness is desired, partially mash the chili with a bean or potato masher. Serve hot.

Serves 6 to 8.


The deadline for submitting recipes for possible inclusion in the “San Bernardino Bicentennial Cookbook” has been extended to Dec. 31. For more information, call (909) 381-8251, or visit online at Also, read my Dec. 6 column on the subject at

I’ve submitted a few recipes myself, including this one:


This salsa is made entirely of red/orange ingredients, so it’s very
bright and colorful. It’s also very delicious! Of course I use my own home-grown San Bernardino garden tomatoes, but any good red flavorful tomatoes will work. To peel tomatoes, make two or three shallow slits in each tomato and put in boiling water for 20-30 seconds or until skin starts to blister. Remove with slotted spoon and plunge immediately into cold water. When tomatoes have cooled, skins slip off easily.

10-12 red tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 small red onions, chopped (raw onion gives the salsa more
crunch, but you can lightly saute, if you like)

1 large red bell pepper, fire-roasted, roughly peeled and chopped

2-6 habanero peppers, fire-roasted, roughly peeled and finely
chopped (use more for lots of heat, fewer for less heat)

Salt (and sugar, optional) to taste

1-2 teaspoons olive oil, optional

Mix ingredients together, drain excess juice if thicker salsa is
desired, then enjoy.


The new book “No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts,” which is discussed in my Dec. 4 column (check it out at, is full of writings old and new by authors living and dead. They all offer a unique take on the Southland’s great deserts.

My favorite passage in the book is by John Steinbeck, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who chronicled a 1960 trek across the Mojave Desert in his 1961 memoir “Travels With Charley.” Far from viewing the desert as a wasteland, full of desolation, he saw it as teeming with a powerful lifeforce. In fact, he said, if mankind eventually succeeds in wiping out life on Earth, for most of it, the desert may hold the last hope of survival and salvation.

Here are his words:

“One may look in vain for living creatures in the daytime, but when the sun goes and night gives consent, a world of creatures awakens and takes up its intricate pattern. Then the hunted come out and the hunters, and hunters of the hunters. The night awakes to buzzing and to cries and barks.

“When, very late in the history of our planet, the incredible accident of life occurred … a new thing emerged, soft and helpless and unprotected in the savage world of unlife. Then processes of change and variation took place in the organisms, so that one kind became different from all others. But one ingredient, perhaps the most important of all, is planted in every life form — the factor of survival. No living thing is without it, nor could life exist without this magic formula. Of course, each form developed its own machinery for survival, and some failed and disappeared while others peopled the earth. The first life might easily have been snuffed out and the accident may never have happened again — but, once it existed, its first quality, its duty, preoccupation, direction, and end, shared by every living thing, is to go on living. And so it does and so it will until some other accident cancels it. And the desert, the dry and sun-lashed desert, is a good school in which to observe the cleverness and the infinite variety of techniques of survival under pitiless opposition. Life could not change the sun or water the desert, so it changed itself.

“The desert, being an unwanted place, might well be the last stand of life against unlife. For in the rich and moist and wanted areas of the world, life pyramids against itself and in its confusion has finally allied itself with the enemy non-life. And what the scorching, searing, freezing, poisoning weapons of non-life have failed to do may be accomplished to the end of its destruction and extinction by the tactics of survival gone sour. If the most versatile of living forms, the human, now fights for survival as it always has, it can eliminate not only itself but all other life. And if that should transpire, unwanted places like the desert might be the harsh mother of repopulation. For the inhabitants of the desert are well trained and well armed against desolation. Even our own misguided species might re-emerge from the desert. The lone man and sun-toughened wife who cling to the shade in an unfruitful and uncoveted place might, with their brothers in arms — the coyote, the jackrabbit, the horned toad, the rattlesnake, together with a host of armored insects — these trained and tested fragments of life might well be the last hope of life against non-life. The desert has mothered magic things before this.”


It’s not a good idea to lose your way in Death Valley, of all places. There are many woeful stories to prove the point.

Fortunately, it need never happen again, thanks to a new book titled “The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park” (University Press of Colorado, $23.95) by T. Scott Bryan and Betty Tucker-Bryan.

No one should be without it who undertakes an adventure in America’s most famous and daunting desert, which extends its southern reaches into San Bernardino County.

The book includes three dozen treks throughout the park with point-to-point directions and mileage figures given to the one-tenth of a mile. That makes for easy — and safe — navigation.

The book has chapters for bicyclists, hikers and campers, as well as motorists.

The 454-page paperback is actually a second edition of a title that first appeared in 1995, but it has been updated and improved throughout and is, in effect, a brand-new book.

In addition to the navigation helps, the book contains interesting chapters on the geology, history, climate, plant life and wildlife of Death Valley.

“The Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park” is available at bookstores, from online booksellers or from the publisher at (720) 406-8849 or