Thursday, April 02, 2009

Colton Piano Company

Vern Schafer had a piano store in Colton. I went to school with his kids (through junior high). After that time, he began to make it into a chain. There were stores in Colton and several locations in the Los Angeles area. Then it suddenly vanished.

In case anyone from Colton was wondering, Colton Piano Company is alive and well in Northern California, far from Colton, in the San Francisco Bay area.

Nice, huh?

Colton, California - - the HUB City

When I moved to Colton from Oceanside, I noticed how proud the Coltonites really loved the town's nickname:

the HUB City...

What did this mean?

A few years before we moved there, there were two main highways which intersected in them middle of town.
  • US 70, US 99 - - I Street (now Valley Boulevard)
  • US 91, US 395, California 18 - - Eighth Street (now La Cadena Drive)... the truck route turned east on I Street to Mount Vernon Avenue (former 14th Street)

When they put in freeways, Highways 70 and 99 became Interstate 10. It was the San Bernardino Freeway west of the Colton Interchange and the Redlands Freeway to the east of it. Highways 91, 395, and 18 became Interstate 15 to the north of the Colton Interchange and was known as the San Bernardino Freeway. South of it, it was known as the Riverside Freeway.

A few years later, when it was decided to make Interstate 15 go all the way down to San Diego, they rerouted Interstate 15 NOT to go through Colton. This changed a lot. The new Interstate designation of the road became first Interstate 15E (E for East), then to Interstate 215, making it not a primary Interstate, but a secondary one.

Suddenly, Colton was no longer the HUB City. Even Larson's Hub City Drug Store dropped "Hub City" from its name and became Larson's Drug Store.

Roy Rogers Museum

Located in Victorville, California, it was one of the most inspirational places I ever visited: the Roy Rogers Museum...

Born Leonard Slye in 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio, he became a cultural icon of life in the American Southwest... the King of the Cowboys! Roy Rogers!

The museum was wonderful. These guys kept everything. Cereal boxes with Roy's picture on the front. His old clarinet he played in high school band. Drawings his kids did in school. This was the world's largest refrigerator door! I could spend hours in this place.

It closed down in 2002 in Victorville, having originally been located in Apple Valley, where Roy and wife Dale Evans are buried. Roy died in 1996 and Dale died in 2001 at the age of 88. Their grave is located at Sunset Hills Memorial Park.

Everything moved... including the taxidermized remains of Trigger, Buttermilk, and Bullet...

And it all moved to Branson, Missouri, in 2003...

The museum in Victorville is now the local office of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. Victorville's police department.

Roy Rogers Fast Food

It was started by Marriott in 1968 in Falls Church, Virginia. To be honest, it had very little to do with a cowboy star, except that the company paid him to use his name.

The menu included burgers, roast beef sandwiches, fried chicken, and a lot more. Roy's picture was everywhere.

There used to be several outlets in Southern California. But it always was an East Coast chain... only those of us who lived on the other side of the country never realized that. For some reason (and I've looked everywhere) the chain suddenly disappeared from the face of the West Coast in the early 1980s.

It was a tremendous shock for me, when the Army sent me to Fort Dix, New Jersey, to find a Roy Rogers hamburger stand in nearby Wrightstown. It's gone now, since the nearby post was taken over by the New Jersey National Guard. But you can still find Roy Rogers in the area.

Even in Times Square, New York City.

Kenny Rogers Roasters

Kenny Rogers began his Roasters restaurant chain in 1991. Within four years the restaurant had locations in Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries.

Sadly, there is only one Kenny Rogers Roasters location in the United States, at the Ontario Mills Mall in Ontario, California, not too far from my home town of Colton.

I now live in Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, in the province of Misamis Oriental, the Philippines. We don't have a Roasters. The nearest one is about twelve hours south (by bus) in Davao. Besides the Philippines, they still have locations in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They are also in Brunei and China and will soon be in Dubai and Australia.

Cucamonga, California

Cucamonga was a real place that ceased to exist when it incorporated in 1977, joining the other unincorporated communities of Alta Loma and Etiwanda. Since it took the name Rancho Cucamonga, the former Cucamonga handle was completely forgotten.

It was famous for wine. All but one of the vineyards are gone. Today it's a residential, retail, and light manufacturing area. The Metrolink commuter train station, near the Epi Center baseball park for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (of the California League) is on Jack Benny Drive...

"Train leaving on Track Five for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cu-ca-monga!"

TV Editorials...

Remember the days when the news would end five minutes early so some old guy would tell you how he felt about something that didn't make any difference to you?

Boy, I sure miss those days.

This is a picture of Van Sauter, who used to give editorials on Channel 2 in Los Angeles several times a week.

Foremost Milk

Foremost began as a project of James Cash Penney (JC Penney? Right!) Foremost was actually the name of his prized bull, Langwater Foremost

Foremost became a national dairy in the 1950s with Foremost milk being sold in all 48 states, plus three territories (Alaska, Guam, and Hawaii.) 

Today Foremost milk is sold by several companies using the name. There is a Foremost Cooperative based in Wisconsin. There is a Foremost Dairy working out of the Coca-Cola plant on the island of Guam. In California, Foremost milk is produced by Heartland Farms. And Foremost milk is also sold in Malaysia, the Netherlands, and many other countries around the world by Friesland Foods.

World Trade Center - - NYC

I lost friends there. 

Mirafone Tubas

Miraphone was one of the first German musical instrument companies that surfaced after the end of World War II. Using patterns from pre-war German and Czech (Czechoslovakian) tubas , the company began in Bavaria in 1946. 

They looked for a market outside Germany. In the late 1950s, they looked to America. This was the time when Tommy Johnson (1934-2006) began playing for many cartoons and television shows in Hollywood. So working with the Lockie Brothers (which distributed foreign musical instruments), Tommy became the company spokesman and was featured in a few of the magazine ads.

The spelling of Miraphone was changed to Mirafone for the American market. Mirafone had warehouses in Downtown Los Angeles and the Sun Valley neighborhood of L.A. before moving to Santa Clarita (Valencia), California, in 1990. Then the outlet was sold to a Netherlands percussion company and moved to suburban San Antonio, Texas. A few years later, Miraphone stopped with the idea of having a warehouse in the United States and did all its work from Waldkraiburg, Germany. 

My fellow tubists argue with me (I own a 1962 Mirafone 186-5U CC) but I think there is a difference between the Mirafone and the Miraphone tubas. But no matter now... they only make Miraphones now.

Miraphone's website.

Busch Gardens (Los Angeles)

Anheuser-Busch (makers of Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch beers) opened a brewery in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles in 1954.

Twelve years later a family amusement park was put in with the beer making stuff.

Busch Gardens lasted just a few years. Its great magnet was the offering of free beer. All the beers that Busch made could be had just by showing a driver's license (for anyone over 21 years of age.)
Supposedly the kiddies were supposed to have fun. But I'm sure the ride home was hellish. 

Hoffy's Hot Dogs

Hoffman Brothers was one of the greatest meat companies in Los Angeles. They made terrific hot dogs and bacon. But the message of how great their meat was wasn't getting out.

So, in the 1970s, they hired Pat Boone as the company's comercial spokesman. In Los Angeles they surpassed Oscar Mayer, which had been the leader in hot dogs, thanks to national advertising.

But Pat got into other things. 

You can still buy Hoffy's hot dogs at most Los Angeles area supermarkets. But Hoffy's best are not available to the general public, except as prepared hot dog sandwiches served at Pink's in Hollywood. These are the kind with a natural skin... the kind that crunch when you bit into them!

New Coke

Do you remember this? In 1985, after being beaten mercilessly by Pepsi Cola's marketing techniques the folks at Coca-Cola had the wild idea that they should make their drink more like Pepsi.
Coke's formula was virtually unchanged since the amount of coca leaves was diminished early in the twentieth century. But Coke was suffering. So they all threw their hands up and came up with a new product which wasn't as good.
Sales plummeted. Less than three months later, Old Coke (now called Coca-Cola Classic) reemerged on the shelves. 
Did you know, they kept New Coke (later known as Coke II) on the market until 1990?
By the way... For those of you who say there is no difference in Coke and Pepsi: Coke has an overwhelming flavor of lemon juice. In Pepsi, it's cinnamon.

California Baptist College

It began as a small school on the grounds of the First Southern Baptist Church in El Monte, California in 1950.  In 1955 an old folks' home in Riverside opened and it became the campus of California Baptist College. For years, they offered only Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in a number of subjects. After about thirty years in existence, they offered a Bachelor of Music degree (known as the LBM, the Long Bachelor of Music program, since most students couldn't do it in less than five years.)
After dropping out of college in 1978, spending seven years in the US Army, I entered Cal Baptist (CBC) in Spring Semester 1986. I graduated with the Bachelor of Music degree in Tuba Performance in 1989. I believe I am the last person to have earned that degree. It was eliminated a few years later. 
For years the college had been trying to get bigger. We always seemed to have an enrollment of 666 students, not a good number for a Christian university. In the 1990s, a new president was elected to head the institution and eventually the name was changed to California Baptist University. Today there are over 4,000 students and, while it does not offer a Bachelor of Music, it does offer a Master of Music degree... and about 20 other graduate degrees.
As far as the changes, for a family man struggling to get through college, I liked the older school better. It helped me to grow up with a small, tight knit community, with whom I wasn't always so afraid to make mistakes.  
I didn't go to CBU. I went to CBC.

Dressing up to go out

There was a time when, if you wanted to go out, you had to dress up. Even if you were going on vacation, whether you were a passenger on an airplane or a train, you had your traveling suit (most people had two or three). I can remember seeing people in 1963 wearing curlers at the supermarket (I was five or six at the time.) I thought that was absolutely rude.

Why did people dress that way? It goes back to our rural roots. We'd dress down to stay home and dress up to go out. No one wanted to see what we wore at home when we were shopping, even if we were just going out to get a couple of onions and a half gallon of milk.

With the urbanization of America, we began to dress down a lot more. The hat industry suffered. Did you know there was a time when you didn't go out unless you were wearing a hat? I usually do wear a baseball cap when I'm out today. But that's not exactly what you call dressing up to go out. That's play clothes.