Thursday, February 26, 2009

Travel Thursday: Pomona, California

Welcome to Pomona

30 miles due east of Los Angeles, where LA County meets San Bernardino County in the heart of what's known as the Inland Empire, Pomona is the town where I grew up. Route 66 runs through the northern part of town, and the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) runs east and west through the heart of it, bisecting the town into north and south divisions. Many years ago, Pomona was filled with orange groves; today, it's mostly strip malls and tract housing and some industry. When I was young, parents of kids who lived in nearby Claremont or Upland or Alta Loma warned their children not to go to Pomona, because it was "dangerous." I don't think that's changed. The LA County Fair is in Pomona ("the biggest county fair in the world!"), and another admonishment I heard from adults while I was growing up was, "Don't go in the Fun Zone, or you'll get knifed!"

Despite all the danger, I managed to get out alive, and still make a point of visiting every time I'm in Southern California. My good friend Walt still lives there, in a loft in the building which used to house the local newspaper (a paper that we both worked for at one time). There are some great antique shops there, and plenty of SoCal history, but it's the Fair that really draws me. When I was growing up, all the kids in Pomona public schools would get free tickets to the Fair each year, and I always went. I continued that tradition as an adult, and even after I moved away, I made a point of trying to get down there every September for a day or two at the Fair.



Hotel Mayfair

Long defunct, the Mayfair was a once-elegant hotel that later housed transients and had a dive bar that was a very interesting place to be at about 6 AM.

I Worked Here

When I was 15, I lied about my age and got a job at this drive-through dairy. Beer sales went through the roof as we supplied most of the parties for local high schoolers.

Spaces Available

This trailer park is on Foothill Blvd., old Route 66.

Coates Bicycles

Also on Route 66.

Pomona Wine Cellar

Pomona has lots of great neon, though lately a lot of it has fallen into disrepair.

Pala Day

For a few years, I lived in a house just a block up from this old motel. Even then, it was a pretty seedy place.

Mt. Baldy Above Pomona

The San Gabriel mountains dominate the skyline to the north, but when I was young, the air pollution was often so bad you couldn't see them.


Tom Hilton said...

Great pics, lovely memories.

Donna said...

thank you for both the images and memories...yes!
I spent 3 years with a traveling carnival in my oddly spent youth. We played a big, big fair each year down by Houston -- the show never got anywhere wild and exotic (to me) like southern Calif though.

Generik said...

You traveled with a carnival? Wow. That's so cool! And SoCal seems exotic to you? Double wow! I don't know that I would ever have described it that way when I lived there. In fact, I couldn't wait to get out. I guess any place that isn't familiar can seem that way, though. I remember the first time I was in Boston, how different the architecture and the local vegetation seemed to me. It's all relative, I suppose.

In any event, thanks. One of these days I should probably post a set of Fair pictures -- I have dozens, as you might suspect!

Donna said...

Yes, post fair pictures please. All the images I have were either taken with a borrowed poloroid or are sketches I made along with paintings done from memory.
Between many moves as a kid and the carnival years I saw most of the country but never got to SoCal until my 40s (san diego) -- more foreign, in my imagination, than much of europe.