The greater San Bernardino California area has so much interesting history providing the backdrop for our high school times and experiences. Some of it has been captured by historians and others in pictures and history files posted on the internet. So we thought it would be neat to do a little "San Bernardino history" research and share some of the information we have found on this website.  Our  Classmates can explore the information, and maybe add to it,  as we look forward to the Class  of 1967 Reunion. Hope you enjoy the findings.....
Email links and submissions to

Some great overview history of San Bernardino is at the City Library site


Chauncey Spencer, Security Officer and so much more

We knew Chauncey Spencer as the security officer at San Bernardino, a job that he started in 1962. He later became the Police Commissioner for the city of San Bernardino. There was a depth to him that most of us were completely unaware of. The following article will help to enlighten us. You can read more about him in the reviews of his autobiography, "Who is Chauncey Spencer" at

Chauncey Spencer
By Jamie C. Ruff, Richmond Times - Dispatch, February 4, 2004

Before there were the Tuskegee Airmen, there was Chauncey Spencer.

And without Spencer, a Lynchburg native, the Tuskegee Airmen might never have existed to help pave the way for the integration of the nation's armed forces. In 1939, war was raging in Europe. America, aware that it might soon be involved, needed pilots. But the leaders of the Army Air Corps believed African-Americans lacked the intelligence, courage and initiative necessary to fly a plane, said Todd
Moye, chairman of the National Park Services Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project.

The Army Air Corps went to Congress and explained it needed several thousand new pilots. Congress began debating a bill to establish civilian pilot training at colleges and flight schools across the country. Little thought was given to African-Americans who wanted to fly and serve their country.

Then, in May 1939, Spencer and Dale White, both African-Americans, flew a rented biplane on a 10-city tour that started in Chicago and ended in Washington - and drew national attention.

"They proved the ridiculousness of Jim Crow and the inaccuracy of American racism," Moye said.

The two pilots met Missouri Sen. Harry S. Truman. Surprised to learn that blacks were denied entry into the Air Corps, Truman inspected their plane and told the pilots, "If you've got guts enough to fly that thing, I've got guts enough to fight for you." Truman helped establish funding for the training of black pilots at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

By the end of World War II, Tuskegee had turned out 992 pilots, 450 of whom had been sent overseas for combat. About 150 lost their lives. The Tuskegee Airmen never lost a bomber under their protection and were "the only unit in the war ... that could make that claim," Moye said.

Three years after the war, Truman, then president, ordered the U.S. armed forces to desegregate.

One of three children of Edward A. Spencer and Anne Spencer, a noted Harlem Renaissance poet, Chauncey was born in 1906 and "grew up in a household that had visits from civil rights leaders in the early 1900s," said his daughter, Carol Spencer-Read. Inevitably, she said, he was an activist in the struggle for equality.

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order prohibiting discrimination in federal agencies and industries with government contracts.

Spencer, who had been working as an instrument repairman at an Air Force base in Ohio, was sent to the Air Force base at Tuskegee to work undercover as an aircraft mechanic in order to study and report on the conditions there.

After Spencer submitted his report on discrimination at the base, Tuskegee's commanding officer was replaced and new policies were put in place.

"Is it an oversimplification to say that had Chauncey Spencer not done what he did in 1939, and had not continued to fight for equal rights during the war and afterward, that it would have taken the military and the United States as a whole much longer to desegregate than it did?" Moye asked rhetorically. "It may be, but it's not far from the truth, either."

In 1983, Spencer was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.
Spencer was 95 when he died on Aug. 21, 2002.


*  The Art of Ramon Contreras and the Mexican Muralists Movement

Click here to see information about a 2009 exhibit at the San Bernardino County Museum showcasing The Art of Ramon Contreras and the Mexican Muralists Movement.


Ramón Contreras was born in Mexico in 1917 and moved to San Bernardino when he was one.

Ramón decided to be a mural artist at the age of 10. In his junior year at San Bernardino High, he took a commercial art class.

In 1935, Ramón entered the National Higgins Ink Drawing Contest, earning fourth place among more than 3,000 entries. For two years he represented his school with a one-man exhibit at the annual exhibit of the Pacific Arts Association for public school and college art.

In 1936, he painted a mural for the San Bernardino High School library. Measuring 70 x 4 feet, it depicted the everyday life of old Mexico. This mural was later moved into the school’s auditorium, where it still hangs.

During this year, Ramón painted other murals at Glenn Ranch, California; the Desert Inn in Palm Springs; and the Los Angeles Public Library. His art was shown in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and Hollywood. He was the only student ever accepted in major galleries including the Stendahl Galleries of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach Art Gallery, Barker Bros. of Los Angeles, and the Desert Inn Gallery.

In 1937 Contreras returned to visit his birth country of Mexico where he met Diego Rivera. Rivera said, “Ramón — you must go on as you began, study by yourself, observing and listening to your own.” He graduated from high school in the winter of 1937 and began studies at Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles on a two year scholarship. 

Ramón was the youngest artist ever invited to attend the San Francisco International Exposition, held in 1939 and 1940. He showed “Going to Church” at both expositions. His last painting, it took him nine months complete.

In 1939 Ramón was diagnosed with cancer. He died at the family home on July 31, 1940. He was 21 years old. 

One of his lithographs is on display at the Smithsonion Museum of American History

(Pete strikes again!) 


 CLICK HERE for more historical information on Ramon Contreras - SBHS Class of 1935 and see pictures of the SBHS Auditorium with the art in place!

(Additional research by Kathy Granath Peterson  - Thanks!)

 * The Mug has dished up pizza for 62 years

 from an article by John Weeks, San Bernardino Sun Staff Writer

 Posted:   01/11/2011 

Read more John Weeks at and Contact him by e-mail at

When I came of age in the early 1970s, and could enjoy the combined pleasures of an ice cold beer and a nice hot pizza, there were two places I loved to go, the Gay '90s Pizza Parlor in Redlands and The Mug in San Bernardino.

Interestingly, both of them have achieved a kind of immortality.

The Gay '90s was a favorite haunt for Les and Glen Charles, two brothers who attended the nearby University of Redlands and who would go on to screenwrite the classic TV comedy "Cheers," set in a neighborhood tavern. Les, who for a while tended bar at Gay '90s, later would say that much of the inspiration for "Cheers" came from that place.

Sadly, the Gay '90s is long gone, though one of its signature pizzas, the Rita's Special with cashews, carries on under a new name, the Gay '90s Special, at the Redlands Gourmet Pizza Shoppe on State Street.

The Mug in San Bernardino also can boast of having celebrity connections, not to mention great pizza. But The Mug also is developing an immortality of a different kind - the literal kind. It still is going strong after 62 years in business on Highland Avenue.

Strong evidence of its popularity, and its importance as a community landmark, was provided last week when Mug co-founder Tony Trozera took the podium as featured speaker at the January meeting of the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society. A standing-room-only crowd turned out on a cold night to listen to him.

"We keep our menu simple," he said. "That's what we've always done. People say, why don't you add this or that? I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It probably was in 1972, some time in the fall, when a college buddy and I visited The Mug for the first time. We enjoyed the food, the no-nonsense ambiance and the friendly presence of Tony Trozera so much, we went back again. And again. In fact, our trips to The Mug became an almost-weekly ritual for several years.

I suppose it's possible to say that - nutritionally speaking, at least - The Mug helped put me through college!

Trozera is a native son of San Bernardino, born to Sicilian immigrants in the old Ramona Hospital at Fourth Street and Arrowhead Avenue. The family lived for a while in Reche Canyon, to the south, and Trozera grew up there. But his future beckoned him back to San Bernardino.

In his talk to the historical society, he recounted the days when he and his brother sold citrus fruit to motorists from a stand at Highland Avenue and Muscupiabe Drive. They had to make a move when Stater Bros. opened its first San Bernardino store there.

The Trozera boys decided to open a small beer bar several blocks west on Highland Avenue. It proved to be popular, but customers said they wanted food, too, so the brothers started serving tacos.

But then their entrepreneurial mother got involved and a fateful decision was made to switch to Italian cuisine. In 1948 Mary Trozera and sons Tony and Vince opened The Mug at 1588 W. Highland Ave.

It was the first restaurant in town to serve pizza, and it was an immediate hit.

"Our mother made the sauce from scratch," Trozera said. "She didn't use a recipe. She just put in a pinch of this and a pinch of that. We watched her for a couple weeks and wrote down everything she did. That's how we came up with our recipe."

The Mug has been serving up pizza and pasta for 62 years now, and Trozera has been there the whole time, greeting customers and treating everyone like family. Even celebrity patrons have become friends for life.

I once interviewed Academy Award-winning actor Gene Hackman, a San Bernardino native, and before I could ask him a single question, he asked me one: "Is The Mug still there?" He gave me his trademark grin when I said, "Yes!"

Auto racing legend Mario Andretti visited The Mug whenever he had an event in the area. He became such a regular that a large signed picture of him went up on the wall.

"People keep coming back, generation after generation, so I guess we're doing something right," Trozera said. "You know, these health inspectors come in and say, do this and do that. I tell them, hey, we've been here for 62 years and we haven't poisoned anyone yet, so give me a break."

Trozera laughed, then added, "They're just kids, these health inspectors. They go to college, I guess, but they don't know anything about running a business. They don't know anything about running a restaurant. I tell you, it's like everything else these days. The inmates are running the asylum."

Posted by Pete Sigwardt

*  The City of Fast Food

From a blog by Jack Keller

As some of you may know, I grew up in Muscoy, an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County, just outside of the city limits of San Bernardino, California. Some of what I am about to relate I have known for years, but some of it I just recently learned, but it all has to do with growing up in the City of Fast Food.

I remember as a kid never eating fast food and then it just sort of took over. I didn't realize it was all starting right in my hometown. It had actually started in 1940 when Richard and Maurice (Dick and Mac) McDonald opened their McDonald's Barbecue restaurant on E Street in San Bernardino. A few years later Dick McDonald studied his sales and discovered that 80% of his business was generated by hamburgers. They closed down the Barbecue restaurant and on December 12, 1948 they reopened the converted E Street shop as a fast food restaurant called simply, McDonald's, and introduced their Speedee Service System. Fast food was born!

In an article by John Weeks in the San Bernardino Sun and the Daily Bulletin, Chris Nichols, a historian with the Los Angeles Conservancy said, "Every major fast-food company has something to do with the corner of 14th and E streets." In the same article Chris recalled a famous anecdote in McDonald's lore.

"One day, Glen Bell...sat in the car outside McDonald's with Neal Baker... and John Gallardi... and tried to figure out how they did it." How the McDonald brothers could serve so many people so quickly was what intrigued the trio. McDonald's serviced a seemingly never ending line of customers at a revolutionary pace. As those in the car later discovered, the McDonald brother had become masters of innovation.

The brothers collaborated with the owners of Toman Brothers Machine Shop in San Bernardino to create spatulas that were the perfect size for flipping burgers, milk shake machines with shorter spindles so workers could make shakes right in the paper cups, and ketchup dispensers that doled out perfect dollops of ketchup.

"That sounds like a little thing, but it makes it so they could do this anywhere, and it would be the same everywhere," Nichols has said. The McDonalds' innovations put the "fast" in fast food and the brothers were generous with their secrets, sharing them with others.

James A. Collins, chairman of Collins Foods International, the largest Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee and the operator of Sizzler Restaurants recalls his own tutelage at McDonald's, starting in 1952. "We all took our lessons from the McDonald brothers. There was a fraternity of us, and every one of us saw the McDonald's in San Bernardino and basically copied the boys."

The "fraternity" included those three buddies who pulled up in one car, on that day in the early 1950s, and were so impressed with what they saw.

Glen Bell of Muscoy, and the driver of that famous car, opened Bell's Hamburgers on the corner of Oak and Mount Vernon Avenues in San Bernardino. After a while, Glen began experimenting with adding tacos to his menu. The tacos were a hit and in 1954 and 1955 he opened 3 Taco Tia restaurants dedicated to serving his tacos, the first at the corner of Base Line and Acacia. They still exist today.

In 1952, another Muscoyvite and passenger in that famous car of lore, Neal Baker, a friend of Glen Bell's who had helped Glen build his first few locations, decided to try his hand in the business and opened the first Baker's Drive Thru on Highland Avenue. Baker's may have been the first fast food place I ever went to. As a kid, if we got fast food it was usually tacos from Baker's.

They had a "Taco Tuesday" where you could get eight tacos for a dollar. Over the years it dropped to six, then five, then four, then three, then two for a dollar. But they still make a great taco. Baker's pioneered the "twin-kitchen" concept of American and Mexican fast food under one roof. They never expanded like the other chains and only have around 40 locations, but I do still go out of my way to get to one.

Glen Bell opened a Bell's Burgers location in Barstow and convinced his employee Ed Hackbarth to move up to Barstow and run it. Ed successfully ran the location after they changed it into a Taco Tia. Eventually Ed leased the location from Glen.

In 1956 Glen opened his first El Taco restaurant in Long Beach creating another chain which he sold in 1962 when he opened a restaurant in Downey named after himself, Taco Bell. He quickly expanded to eight locations (which are still open today) and sold his first franchise to Kermit Becky in 1964. Today, Taco Bell is the nation's largest Mexican fast-food chain, with more than 6,000 outlets.

Glen loved the food business and in 1961 convinced his commissary manager, San Bernardino friend and the other passenger in that famous car, John Gallardi to open a restaurant of his own. John wanted to sell something other than tacos and settled on hot dogs. In an interview in the Orange County Business Journal Gallardi recalled, "Glen's wife named the company. I was at dinner one night at their house and Bell's wife was looking at a cookbook and said you ought to call it wienerschnitzel. I told my wife going home nobody in their right mind would call a company wienerschnitzel. Three days later, I said, 'Hell, it's better than John's Hot Dogs.'" Today, Wienerschnitzel is the world's largest hot dog chain, boasting almost 350 locations.

Also in 1961 the McDonald brothers sold Ray Kroc the business rights to their restaurants for $2.7 million dollars; they retained the original McDonald's, which they rechristened The Big M. A few years later Kroc opened a McDonald's across the street and eventually put the McDonald brothers out of business. Today, the Kroc restaurant remains boarded up. The original McDonald's was demolished in the late 1960s, though a McDonald's museum exists at the original site (with a building built in the 1970s), which is run by Albert Okura, founder of the local chicken chain, Juan Pollo.

In 1964 Ed Hackbarth who leased Bell's Taco Tia in Barstow opened his own restaurant in nearby Yermo called Casa del Taco. Casa del Taco expanded to become a chain of its own, eventually shortening its name to Del Taco. Today, there are more than 400 Del Taco restaurants.

Years later Dick Naugle, while installing equipment for the first Del Taco drive thru, would become interested in the business and would team up with Harold Butler from Denny's and open up a taco place called Naugles. It was a Mexican fast food franchise similar in many ways to Del Taco (only the food was much better). Naugles rapidly grew to 225 restaurants under the ownership of Harold Butler, who sold the company to Collins Food International in 1985 (yeah, the same Collins Food International that is run by James Collins who worked for the McDonald brothers on E Street in 1952). In 1988, Del Taco and Naugles merged, and all Naugles franchises were converted to Del Taco franchises.

Much of the menu at Del Taco today is actually the Naugles menu, where the "Macho" food items all originated.

In the California State University San Bernardino Magazine, in referring to the business innovations introduced into the food industry in the ’40s and ’50s, Neal Baker said, “All of these places really started here and San Bernardino never really gets any credit for it.”

So that makes San Bernardino and my little community of Muscoy, in one way or another, a part of the births of McDonald's, Bakers, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Wienerschnitzel and Naugles, like I said, the City of Fast Food.

Neal Baker still owns land in Muscoy and donated the property for the new enlarged Muscoy fire station which opened last Fall, and just recently donated a large corner lot adjacent to the fire station to the county, with specific orders it is to be a Muscoy Community Center.

I remember in the 1970s that Naugles was the only fast food place in San Bernardino that was open 24 hours a day, so if you wanted a burger or a burrito in the middle of the night or late on the weekend you had to go to Naugles to get one.

I'll never forget the night in the Naugles' drive-thru when a shoot out happened right in front of me between a guy on foot and an off-duty police officer in the truck two cars ahead of me. There were women in cars getting punched through their open windows, bullets flying, shattering glass, women screaming, men yelling and very shaky Naugles employees walking from car to car to give you your food and help you back out of the drive thru and away from the building.

Ah, those were the days and nights in the City of Fast Food!

*  Remembering Swingin' SB

From a blog post from Nicholas R. Cataldo, Local Historian, July 25, 2006

San Bernardino was an exciting town during the 1960s. That was the decade when my family and I first set foot in this area. California State College (now Cal State San Bernardino) opened its doors to 293 students in 1965 and the Inland Center mall was completed a year later with three anchor stores - Sears Roebuck, May Company and the Broadway. Two new high schools were built during the '60s. San Gorgonio welcomed students in 1965, and the Cajon High School campus (it was initially known as San Bernardino High-North) opened in 1969. The city's population topped 100,000 during the same era.

The beautiful California Theater is where I saw "The Jungle Book," my first movie in San Bernardino. A short time later, it began hosting live acting and musical performances as the grand old movie palaces were giving way to a new wave of modern theaters.

On Aug. 29, 1967, the Inland Cinema opened on Orange Show Road. The first movie house to be built in San Bernardino in 30 years, the 1,232-seat theater was a San Bernardino showcase. The grand opening was attended by movie stars Troy Donahue, Tippi Hedren (star of Alfred Hitchcock's `'The Birds," Ed Begley, Richard Arlen and Margaret Blye.

San Bernardino Mayor Al Ballard was also at the grand opening. They all arrived in a parade of antique automobiles accompanied by the Lakewood Youth Marching Band. Featured was the Inland Empire premiere of the James Bond thriller "You Only Live Twice."

On July 12, 1969, the Sun-Telegram reported that San Bernardino's $2.7 million Central City Mall, which had been in the works for 15 years, had finally become a reality.

"People are jockeying to get in. Only a few months ago, they were standing back," said George Romney, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "I can remember when `urban renewal' were dirty words. This may become a beacon of light to other communities in the United States."

To commemorate the occasion, a circus-like atmosphere was created near the construction site on Third Street. More than 1,000 spectators attended the event.

'This community is united in a common purpose for a better future," Ballard said. "This project will be a resounding success and will set the pattern for cities across the nation."

When my family and I settled in San Bernardino after a cross-country move from the East Coast during the summer of 1966, I was a month shy of turning 12. In San Bernardino, I saw a "hippie" for the first time, discovered what lack of humidity was like, tasted my first taco and tostada mispronounced "taaco and tostaada" courtesy of my New Jersey accent and eventually got caught up with the "E Street Cruising" scene.

I also found out that one of my favorite rock groups the Rolling Stones had recently appeared in San Bernardino for the fourth time. The concert hall where they performed, a rather quirky facility on the National Orange Show Events Center grounds with a fraying aluminum tinsel ceiling, wooden benches for seats and less than desirable acoustics, was popularly known as the Swing Auditorium.

The Swing Auditorium was the happening place in the Inland Empire. With a seating capacity of around 6,000, big-name rock stars brought in a lot more people who crammed into the limited standing room section.

During the 1960s, the "Swing" played host to some of the biggest rock musicians in the world.

The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Three Dog Night, and Elvis and played there. So did Boston, Alice Cooper and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

When the Rolling Stones performed at the Swing for the first time before before 3,500 hysterical teenagers on June 5, 1964, it was also the legendary British rock band's American debut.

But there were many other noteworthy performers as well.

One of the true outstanding pioneers of rock 'n' roll, Chuck Berry appeared at the Swing Auditorium before an enthusiastic crowd on Aug. 13, 1965. He wooed the crowd with such legendary hits as "Maybellene" and "Roll Over Beethoven."

Famed rock band Jim Morrison and The Doors made their first appearance at the Orange Show on July 4, 1967. Perhaps it was because at the time they were and "up and coming" group of musicians and local promoters were not quite sure of the fan reaction to their sound, the Doors performed inside the tiny Kaiser Dome. However, the band, which was sponsored by local radio rock 'n' roll station KMEN-AM (1290), bowled over the screaming 1,600 or so in attendance. Needless to say, their second visit to the Orange Show grounds which was the following year saw them inside the more spacious Swing Auditorium.

Fresh off releasing their No. 1 hit, "San Franciscan Nights," rock band Eric Burdon and the Animals performed to 5,000 exuberant fans at the Swing on Nov. 17, 1967. Sponsored by KMEN's rival local radio station, KFXM-AM (590), promotional ads and reviews raved about the group's innovative "English psychedelic light show with a fog effect." Ticket prices started at $2 per person.

Wow, those were some great times! Wouldn't it be great if the grandiose plans our civic leaders are now planning for San Bernardino can recapture some of that excitement.


*  Excerpt from an interview with John Morthland

John Morthland, SBHS Class of 1965, brother of our classmate Christine Morthland, was the editor of the Tyro Weekly in 1965. The following is an excerpt. To see the full interview, go to

Making It Up As We Go Along - Interview With John Morthland

By William Crain

John Morthland, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was an active participant in the mid-wifing of rock writing. He assisted its transition from teen magazine coverage and the occasional uncomprehending daily paper piece to something more vital and alive, which attempted to capture the spirit and concerns of both the music and its avid listeners. John worked as an editor and writer at Rolling Stone in its early incarnation, has freelanced for numerous other publications, and in the early 1970s was an editor at Creem magazine. He was among the first group of rock writers to branch out and write extensively about other genres such as blues, gospel, country and soul. In the early 1980s he authored The Best of Country Music, the first comprehensive guide to C&W. In the past two decades John has successfully made the transition from writing exclusively about music to writing on a wider range of topics for general interest magazines, in particular Texas Monthly, where he is currently a contributing editor.

I visited with John on several occasions this past summer, discussing his experiences in the early days of rock writing, his friendship with some of its other leading lights, the differences between working for Creem and Rolling Stone and his editing of a new anthology of Lester Bangs's writing, due for publication in the summer of 2003.

-  -  -  -  - -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

William:   Let's talk about how you got started in rock writing, some background on where you were living and what you were doing when you first started.

John:   I was a student at Berkeley, and in my senior year my roommate and best friend took a Poli Sci course, and his T. A. was Langdon Winner. Langdon was best friends with Greil Marcus. They were both Poli Sci grad students at Berkeley and lived a couple of blocks from each other. So I became friends with Langdon through my roommate Darrell, and Langdon came over to the house a couple of times. And that summer of '69 I wound up living in a house up in the Berkeley hills where Langdon lived. An old woman named Mrs. Altrocchi--a widow of an Italian professor at the University--had three of four rooms that she rented out to students and I just needed a place for the summer, and one of Langdon's roommates there was going away for the summer. So I moved in there and Greil lived, literally, up the street a few doors and around the corner. A five minute walk away.

So I met Greil and he had just taken over as Review Editor at Rolling Stone, and I started writing reviews for him. I didn't really know what I was doing but at the time hardly anyone did, 'cause rock writing was pretty new. Some were better than others for sure, but we were all in a lot of ways making it up as we went along. I think some of us were really heavily influenced by the weightier film critics, like Pauline Kael. There were two or three film critics at the time who had a lot of cachet in both popular and academic circles. And I think some of the early rock critics took cues from them, but probably most of us weren't really too influenced by anybody, just making it up as we went along.

William:    Right, actually that's part of what I like about that period. It reminds me in a way of what happened in underground comics. It was out of the limelight and no one was taking it seriously, so there was room for things to develop, and interesting things can happen that probably wouldn't have happened if it had been under more scrutiny because people would have been more self-conscious about what they were doing.

John:    Yeah, you know, you could sort of make your mistakes in print in those days and learn from them. You make your mistakes and you see them and you recognize them as mistakes immediately. And that's something that's hard to do nowadays because there is a certain level of competence required; it's a form now, and it's pretty institutionalized. But that was one of the great things about back then--you really learned by doing it, and by trial and error. You'd make horrible mistakes and embarrass the shit out of yourself, but you learned from it and you didn't do it again.

William:    Prior to your experience meeting Greil and writing these reviews you interviewed the Rolling Stones, right?

John:    Yeah, that was when I was in high school.

William:    This was what, 1965?

John:   Fall of '64.

William:    And so it was the whole band, with Brian and all?

John:    Yeah.

William:    What was that experience like?

John:    Well, you know, I was a 16 or 17 year old kid, it was really odd and exciting.

William:    Was it a press conference?

John:    No, it was backstage at this hall in San Bernardino California, which is where I grew up. Mostly I talked to Keith 'cause he was the big yakker. He really sat down and talked--the others you just sort of caught on the fly. Brian was in and out, flitting all around, and Jagger was sort of unapproachable, but you could get in a few questions. And Wyman and Watts were hanging out talking to the cops about their guns and stuff. [laughs] I was young and naïve and definitely didn't know what I was doing then. There was nothing but teen fan mags, and the questions that you asked rock stars were the silliest.

William:   favorite color...

John:    favorite color and all that kind of stuff. But it was incredibly exciting and scored me a lot of points with kids at school--and I really needed that.

William:   Where did that interview end up seeing print?

John:   In a local daily. On the weekends they'd have a teen section, it was in there. They were sort of semi-straight interviews but nothing like you'd see today. They were pretty...shallow.

William:    Those early Stones records I love, I've spent quite a bit of time collecting mono copies of those.

John:   Oh, it's incredible stuff, yeah. And just the experience of being at a Stones concert then, and the way they looked and their live show at that time...the level of hysteria was really unprecedented, for me at least. I was too young to have been at the early Elvis shows. I had never seen anything like it, and it was really so exhilarating. And you really identified with the Stones 'cause they were the ones that none of the adults liked. They weren't cute like the Beatles and their music was a lot raunchier. You identified with them and they really played to that. But those shows, you couldn't even hear the band in those days, couldn't hear the music at all. But just watching them was amazing.

*  San Bernardino Oral History Project

Interviews by Dr. Joyce Hancon, Associate Professor, Department of History, California State University, San Bernardino

Click here to see over 30 interviews of San Bernardino residents from1880 to 1999, along with photos about Family Life, Events, Work Life and Portraits.

(Thanks to Pete Sigwardt for finding this!)

*  History of the Harris Company

On April 16, 1905, Philip and Herman Harris put an advertisement in The Daily Sun:

Harris’ Opening: On Wednesday, April 19, we will formally open our doors to the public of San Bernardino and vicinity…A cordial Invitation to visit our store is extended to you all. We are strangers among you, but have come to stay and we want to get acquainted…We have come here prepared in every way to do a large Dry Goods business. If courteous treatment, low prices, good goods and honest methods are appreciated here then we will certainly have no difficulty in gaining your trade. We mean every word we say and say just what we mean. Try us…Harris ‘Has It For Less.’

Read more by clicking this link: Harris Company

Click on this for an excerpt from the book: The Harris Company by Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Ianks, and Robin S. Hanks.



 * The Rialto WIGWAM MOTEL  - excerpts from the website 

History of the Rialto, CA Wigwam No. 7

"California Here I Come!" Disney's Pixar film Cars brings a new storyline for all ages by touching on the past, historic Route 66. The director has done a fantastic job of integrating Route 66 icons into the animation, ones that you'll find our your 66 trip! The Wigwam Motels will be one of them, shown as the Cozy Cone Motel in the animation, which is a blend of the Wigwam Motel, Blue Swallow Inn and Roy's Cafe. The Movie is also a definite eye-opener to the current Route 66 issues that include of preservation, rehabilitation and tourism topics. 

The California Wigwam Motel was built within the city limits of San Bernardino in 1949, a period when citrus groves flourished. The motel would later acquire a Rialto postal address, creating confusions as the property actually sits in San Bernardino. This Route 66 Motel is fun for all, located only minutes from Colton, Grand Terrace, Redlands, Big Bear, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, and Bloomington, CA. This location would mark the final of 7 Wigwam Motels that were constructed. The motel's village-style arrangement of nineteen 30-foot-tall tepees made from wood framing, concrete and stucco draws much admiration from all generations. Each individual wigwam is carefully equipped with all the traveler's essentials with grounds that includes of grass area, an outdoor barbecue grill and kidney-shaped swimming pool.
The mastermind behind this retro motel was a clever man by the name of Frank Redford, who was heavily influenced by the native Indian culture. He would bring his imagination to a reality in the early 1930s explained in the following section.
A total of only seven Wigwam Motels were built throughout the nation, of which three managed to remain preserved. Two of the last three remaining rest along historic Route 66 in the states of Arizona and California, while the other rests in Redford's home state of Kentucky. View our favorite links page to learn of the other 2 remaining Wigwam Motels.
The remodeled classic motel continues to live on going on its 59th anniversary through the support of car enthusiasts, families, foreigners, historians, preservationists, roadies, tourists, travelers and many others for generations to come. Share a piece of history with your friends and family by surprising them to a stay in a Wigwam!
The Wigwam: Concept to Reality
The coming of the automobile broadened the concepts of recreation and leisure. Unlike travel by train - for decades the most common means of long-distance transportation used by Americans - motoring could be itself, part of a vacation, not just the means of reaching a destination. In the early 1920s, "auto camping" became the rage, and campgrounds sprang up all over the country. By the end of the decade, however, the camps' latrines and common showers, and the increasing patronage by itinerants brought about by the onset of the Depression, made these facilities less desirable for many motorists. The next step was the cabin or cottage camp, or the proto-motel. The tiny individual tourist cabins usually emphasized the attractions of the region; for example, mock colonial houses in New England, adobe huts in the Southwest, and the wigwam in Kentucky.
Frank Redford turned his interest in Native American history into a business in 1933 when he built a teepee-shaped building near Horse City, Kentucky, to display his collection of relics. The following year he added a group of teepee-shaped cabins to entice visitors to stay the night and named it "Wigwam Village." Redford obtained a patent for his innovative building design in 1937, and that same year he constructed a second village in the northern outskirts of Cave City, Kentucky, near Mammoth Cave National Park. By the early 1950s, seven wigwam villages had been built in the south and southwestern United States.
The typical wigwam village consisted of individual teepee cabins placed around a larger teepee which served as an office and lobby. The 18 steel-and-concrete tepees of Cave City's Wigwam Village No. 2 vary only in size and number of windows. At 52 feet tall and approximately 35 feet in diameter, the gift shop and office is the largest. Each of the 15 sleeping units is approximately 25 feet in diameter and has two windows. The exterior walls are painted white accented with a bright red jagged lower edge at the top of the cone, a bold zigzag band encircling the building halfway up the wall, and a narrow zigzag band with small triangles along the inner edge of the window openings and marks similar to exclamation points at the corners. In the narrow bathrooms created by a partition at the rear of the sleeping units, the floor is covered with red-and-white tiles and the walls and stall shower repeat the zigzag motif. Four slender metal poles project from the top in imitation of branches of wood.
In its fanciful emulation of an Indian encampment, Wigwam Village No. 2 exemplifies a unique type of architecture created for automobile travelers along the American roadside. It is one of the most historic forerunners of a practice that has been referred to as place-product-packaging - the commercial use of architectural imagery denoting product or regional design characteristics by service-oriented establishments along the American roadside. The motel placed items in the room that patrons could take home as souvenirs. These items, including ashtrays embossed with images of teepees, served as advertisements as well. The gift shop sold t-shirts and miniature plastic teepees. In addition, teepee-shaped signs along Kentucky's highways advertised Wigwam Village.
The golden age examples of roadside Americana began to disappear in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the burgeoning Interstate system. Superhighways took most of the tourist traffic away from the smaller U.S. roads like Rt. 66 and Rt. 31, and the motels along these routes began to go out of business. The Wigwam Villages were no exception: Today, only three the of the original motels remain: Cave City, Kentucky; Holbrook, Arizona; and Rialto, California.

(posted by Pete Sigwardt) 

* For the KMEN/KFXM Radio listeners during the 1960's .... found this link 

Doug says  " Until the year 1966 my main interests were reading and collecting comic books (Superman in particular) Then I started listening to the radio here in San Bernardino. I listened to KFXM and KMEN and a new hobby started. Not just listening to the radio, but getting involved by wondering what new song was coming out, talking to the DJs, winning contests and of course collecting records and just loving the music I heard on the radio along with the radio station and DJ's. This became a big interest in my life. Now 40 years later, it's not much different."

(posted by Pete Sigwardt)


 Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino

Major Rock Shows 1967-69

This post is from Rock Prosopography 101, August 7, 2010

(a handbill for the December 13, 1969 show at the Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, featuring the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and The Fish and The Flying Burrito Brothers. h/t Brad for the scan)

The Swing Auditorium, on E Street in San Bernardino, had been built in 1949 and had a capacity of up to 10,000, making it one of the largest rock arenas in use in the 1960s. Many non-Californians assume that San Bernardino is part of Los Angeles, but that is only true in a very broad sense. The city of San Bernardino is actually 60 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, and even further from Santa Monica or the Coast. Given the history of Southern California traffic, that can sometimes be two hours of more of driving, at any time of the day or night. Thus San Bernardino was really new territory for 60s rock bands, far away in many senses from Los Angeles proper.

The cities and counties of San Bernardino and Riverside are generally known today as The Inland Empire, part of Greater Los Angeles in some broad ways and a separate planet in others. Those who have never lived or spent time in Southern California have a tendency to think of Greater LA as a single entity but in fact it is more of an ecosystem, both culturally and economically. San Bernardino has had a lively music scene since World War 2, but the music was infused by the different universe of the Inland Empire. This is not some long-lost phenomenon; the Empire has always had a distinct relationship to Los Angeles, providing a space for Orange Groves, Factories, Aerospace and now Exurbs, with the accompanying boom and bust cycles coloring each development.

An amazing post by blogger and musician David Lowery (from the groups Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker) looks at how the physical and economic landscape of the Inland Empire has infused his music over time. I took his excellent meditation as an opportunity to look at the arrival of the modern rock concert in the Inland Empire, at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino.

While the Swing was apparently used for many "Teen" rock shows in the mid-60s, with one important exception touring bands did not begin playing there until late 1967. Rock shows in California followed commerce, which had followed the major Interstates and which ultimately replicated the history of railroad construction. The patterns of late 20th rock band touring were laid on top of the network of railroads built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 60s rock bands played San Francisco and Los Angeles first, and then extended their range to places like Santa Barbara and San Diego in the South and Portland and Seattle in the North, all along the US-101/I-5 corridor. All those places had established concert venues with major rock bands before psychedelia migrated East to San Bernardino.

San Bernardino
San Bernardino has an interesting history dating back to at least 1810, too lengthy to go into here. Given its isolation and the unimportance of Southern California with respect to San Francisco, it played little role in California History (if the Mormons had not returned to Salt Lake City from San Bernardino in the late 1850s, perhaps that history would have been different, but I digress). The city and county of San Bernardino are in a dry desert that is not inherently friendly to development. Like almost all of Southern California, without importing water and having a railroad to export production, the city and county had little chance to thrive. The Southern Pacific Railroad, who effectively created modern Los Angeles by including it on the SP Main Line, chose for various reasons to site their junction at Colton, in neighboring Riverside County. This left San Bernardino high and dry.

San Bernardino found a rail link through a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In the Southwest, the general direction of the Santa Fe gave rise to the communities that linked the famous Route 66, one of the first Interstate Highways. The metrically preferable name of San Bernardino got it included in the 1946 Bobby Troup song of the same name, later covered by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones, among others.

San Bernardino and the Rise of Greater Los Angeles
Architecture Critic Reyner Banham, in his classic 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, demonstrated conclusively that the history of Los Angeles development was intrinsically tied to the development of railroads. Most important of these was the interurban Pacific Electric Railroad, which linked a series of then-disparate communities in such a way that they were a greater whole that existed as a single economic entity. The map below is part of the Streetcar map from 1920, and anyone who has even visited the Los Angeles area will recognize the blueprint of the freeway system that would arrive before and after World War 2 (click to see the map: part of the Pacific Electric Railway route map c. 1920, from Reyner Banham's Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971: Harper & Row)

The Pacific Electric Railway reached San Bernardino in 1911. At that point, despite the enormous distance from San Bernardino to the Coast, it became part of greater Los Angeles. The outline of Interstate 10 and Interstate 215 are visible on the streetcar maps, because as Banham eloquently observes, the railway created the interlocking communities that were ultimately served by the Freeways. As a result of the Pacific Electric, San Bernardino became a part of Los Angeles while places to the North, like Palmdale and Lancaster, did not.

The Inland Empire In the 1960s
World War 2 brought enormous growth to California, and Greater Los Angeles in particular benefited from the expansion of the Aerospace Industry. Norton Air Force Base opened in 1942 near Downtown San Bernardino, and it contributed greatly to the growth of the area. During the great boom in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s, the "Inland Empire," which more or less defined the area from the San Bernardino County line (abutting Los Angeles County) to the Nevada state line, moved from being a land of orange groves to a community of factories and suburbs. Riverside County, just to the South, and lacking any large cities, also became part of the broader Inland Empire. New suburbs grew up all around both counties, as people flocked to Southern California from elsewhere to work in the various industries located in the Empire.

In the 1960s, the Inland Empire was full of teenagers, and they jumped on the rock and roll train of the 1960s without hesitation. The Empire was far from Hollywood, however, so local garage bands were surprisingly successful, as there was an audience of eager teenagers ready, ready, ready to rock and roll. However, while the rock stories in Riverside and the surrounding area in the 1960s are great ones, it has been told brilliantly and in amazing detail by Ugly Things magazine, so I will not recap them here. Suffice to say, teenage groups like Bush and The Misunderstood did not have to compete with the rock stars of the day, as they almost never ventured far inland, and local teenagers became rock stars in their own right.

The Rolling Stones
While rock bands of the mid-60s completely ignored San Bernardino, which may have well have been Kansas as far as they were concerned, there was one amazing exception: The Rolling Stones. For whatever reason, the Stones made their American concert debut at the Swing Auditorium on June 5, 1964. Keith Richards recalled the crowd fondly, as they knew all the words to the songs, and of course Keith had heard of San Bernardino because he knew the lyrics of "Route 66." The Stones returned to San Bernardino on May 15, 1965, to an apparently equally rapturous reception, but after that they played nearer the Coast, and Inland Empire teenagers still had to get their live music through their local heroes.

Rock Touring In the 1960s
Prior to the Fillmore and the Avalon, rock bands only toured to accelerate the sales of records. Most concerts were sponsored by local radio stations, and even headline bands performed short sets, typically around 30 minutes. Numerous local acts would fill out the bill, sound systems were dismal and lighting was pedestrian. Serious bands saved their best performances for nightclubs in big cities, where there was more of an opportunity to play well, but even those were few and far between.

The Fillmore and the Avalon elevated the rock concert to Art, in parallel with the great albums released by the likes of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. A rock concert became a Serious Event, treated reverentially and subject to analysis and criticism. Professional sound and adequate lighting were part of the "concert experience," just as they would be on Broadway. At first this concert aesthetic only took hold in some Underground enclaves in a few big cities, like San Francisco and Santa Monica. As some of the groups who embodied that aesthetic became popular, like Jefferson Airplane and The Doors, they started to tour around the country.

The initial "Fillmore Circuit" roughly followed I-80 and I-5, more or less paralleling the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail routes  as they headed East. Bands played the West Coast (I-5) and headed East through the Sierras towards Chicago, stopping off to play Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha or Des Moines on the way. From Chicago they headed to New York, via Cleveland and Detroit, and then worked the I-95 corridor along the Eastern Seaboard. Famous 60s venues like the Boston Tea Party, the Fillmore East, Philadelphia's Electric Factory and Miami's Thee Image were all arteries off the rock and roll "Main Line" of I-95. The lesser known venues of the West Coast stuck close to either US 101 or I-5 (from the Hippodrome in San Diego to the Fillmore, thence to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland and Eagles Ballroom in Seattle). 

By 1968, however, rock music had exploded way beyond the confines of a few big cities. FM radio was booming, teenagers everywhere read Rolling Stone magazine, and there were a lot of bands out touring. Managers and booking agents started to see that there was plenty of pent up demand for rock shows out in the suburbs. Just as the railways had extended their reach from big cities in order to create suburbs,  rock tours followed the same map. Bands on a West Coast tour discovered they could play a show near Los Angeles one night and then play Orange County or San Bernardino the next night for an entirely different audience.

The Swing Auditorium
The Swing Auditorium was central to San Bernardino County, and more accessible to Riverside County than any venue in Los Angeles County and most of Orange. Every account I have read of the Swing Auditorium recalls it as an aging dump with terrible sound, and yet those recollections were surprisingly fond. What follows is a list of rock concerts at Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino from 1967 to 1969 that feature touring rock bands, as the rock universe followed the path of the Pacific Electric Railway and brought a high-but-not-lonesome sound to the Inland Empire.

February 4, 1967 Buffalo Springfield
This was probably a regular radio station style show, and the Springfield probably played a brief set. Such shows were probably common at the Swing, and this one is only memorialized because Neil Young and Stephen Stills were in Buffalo Springfield.

April 15, 1967 The Turtles/Sandpipers

July 14, 1967 “Crepuscular Happening” The Grass Roots and Battle of The Bands 
Ugly Things #28 described this event in some detail, and it was probably typical.   The battling bands included The Good Feelins (from San Bernardino), The Torquays (also SB), Blues In A Bottle (Riverside) and Smoke (LA).

July 17, 1967 Jefferson Airplane

August 25, 1967 Buffalo Springfield

November 3, 1967 Buffalo Springfield/Yellow Payges/Mandala
Mandala were a high powered group from Toronto, Ontario.

November 17, 1967 Eric Burdon and The Animals/Blues In A Bottle/Caretakers/Good Feelins/Ancient Peach
Another typical event, sponsored by KMEN-am, with over 5000 in attendance (per UT #28).The new, psychedelic Animals had placed themselves firmly in the Fillmore camp, but they still played a lot of shows like this one, headlining over a number of local acts.

December 16, 1967 The Doors/Fly By Night Company/Friends And Relations/Winfield Concessions/Electric Chairs
I believe that San Bernardino got a fair number of dates in the Fall and Winter because touring was a snowy enterprise in other parts of the country, and the sunny Inland Empire was the beneficiary.

February 25, 1968  Cream/The Hunger/The Caretakers
A Commenter discovered this hitherto lost Cream date, presented by KFXM radio. Cream was thought to have played at Cal State Northridge on this date--perhaps they played two venues.

Cream was not only huge, but important, a serious live rock band. The Doors and the Airplane were great, of course, but they also had huge AM singles and a certain amount of teenybopper appeal, but Cream were revered like jazz musicians.

April 7, 1968 Steppenwolf/Blue Cheer/Cactus

April 20, 1968 Eric Burdon and The Animals/Friends and Relations/Yellow Payges/Electric Chair

May 25, 1968 Jefferson Airplane/Iron Butterfly/Boston Tea Party
Jefferson Airplane and Iron Butterfly were two of the biggest touring rock acts in the country at this point. This may have been the first major rock show at the Swing with a light show, since the Airplane toured with their own.

May 27, 1968 Cream
Cream returned for another date in May.

May 31, 1968 Mothers Of Invention

August 21, 1968: Steppenwolf / The Grass Roots / Sonny Love / Sonny Knight & The Soul Congregation / Chicago Transit Authority / The Fabulous Wahler / Three Dog Night 
"First Annual Inland Empire Pop Festival"

September 5, 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience/Vanilla Fudge/Eire Apparent/Soft Machine
Once Cream and Jimi Hendrix had both played the Swing, the venue was officially part of the touring circuit, however far it was from Los Angeles proper.

December 6, 1968 Eric Burdon and The Animals/New Buffalo Springfield

December 14, 1968 Chambers Brothers/Buddy Miles Express/Sir Douglas Quintet

February 1, 1969: Creedence Clearwater Revival/Canned Heat

February 18, 1969 Iron Butterfly/Steve Miller Band/P,G & E

March 28, 1969  Janis Joplin/MC5/Lee Michaels

April 26, 1969  Jefferson Airplane

August 8, 1969 Led Zeppelin/Jethro Tull
Imagine Jethro Tull as an opening act, and opening for Led Zeppelin at that. No wonder people have fond memories of the Swing.

August 30, 1969 Sly And The Family Stone

September 6, 1969 Iron Butterfly
Although Iron Butterfly's music seems dated today, they were a popular group in 1969, witnessed by the fact that they headlined the venue twice that year.

September 20, 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival/Lee Michaels

November 14, 1969 Moody Blues

November 21, 1969 Blood, Sweat & Tears

December 13, 1969 Grateful Dead/Country Joe and The Fish/Flying Burrito Brothers

The Grateful Dead began a fruitful history with the Swing Auditorium on this day. It being the Dead and all, there's a tape and even some quite amazing photos (thanks to Danny Payne and Brad).

December 31, 1969 Lee Michaels

As the Inland Empire population boomed, and the rock market swelled as well, the Swing became a regular port of call for rock bands in the 1970s. In September 1981, the Swing Auditorium was struck by a small plane, and ultimately the building had to be torn down. Even the briefest Google search, however, will show you that the ancient arena had a wealth of memories for its patrons. The Swing acted as a sort of cultural signpost for rock fans in the Inland Empire, as it was where bands from elsewhere put their feet on the dry desert, so its no surprise that despite the building's flaws it brings pack powerful memories for those who saw bands there.

Rock had moved from big cities to the suburbs by 1969, and San Bernardino was a textbook example (were I to write a textbook, that is). As the 1970s wore on, rock expanded beyond the anchors of the larger cities to the entire country, and individual suburbs of big cities became less important in their own right. When rock became the dominant form of live entertainment, major bands could play anywhere there was a population, and the need for rockin' suburbs anchored to a major metropolitan area was less critical, and the Swing was not replaced by a similar venue.

Local History

From the San Bernardino Library Services website.

San Bernardino's colorful history begins in the early years of the 19th century. Spanish missionaries were the first settlers to the region. Tradition has it that Father Francisco Dumetz made his last trip from Mission San Gabriel to the San Bernardino Valley and on May 20, 1810 set up an altar in a planned effort to convert the Indians living there. Padre Dumetz named the area "San Bernardino" after Saint Bernardino of Siena, the patron saint of the day on the Catholic Calendar.

In 1819, Mission San Gabriel established Rancho San Bernardino in the area. The main concern of the missionaries was the spiritual welfare of the Indians, but they also helped with their material well being by the bringing of water down from Mill Creek and introducing the best way to plant and irrigate crops.

However, all missions were ordered closed by decree of California's Governor Figeroa in 1834 and the mission period came to an end. But with its demise came the birth of the Great Spanish rancheros. The abandoned mission didn't stay vacant for long and soon became an important post on the trading route known as the Spanish Trail. Don Antonio Maria Lugo was one of the largest landowners in California. In 1842 he helped his sons and a nephew to purchase the Rancho San Bernardino.The Lugos operated the 35,000 acre cattle ranch until selling out to the Mormon settlers in 1851.

The biggest threat to life on the ranchos was the horse and cattle-stealing raids made by tribes of desert Indians. These attacks could wipe out a rancho's entire herd and many rancheros eventually gave up and moved out of the area. The stealing continued, however, until a company of nearly 500 Mormons arrived in the valley in 1851, making camp at the mouth of a creek which flowed briskly through the valley to the Santa Ana River. Overjoyed with the abundance of water, the dense growth of willows, cottonwoods and sycamores and the mustard and wild oats that grew on the hillsides, the followers named the stream "Lytle Creek" after their leader, Captain Andrew Lytle.

Dedicated to expanding Brigham Young's religious empire, the religious pioneers purchased 35,000 acres of the San Bernardino Rancho in 1851, for $77,500, with a down payment of $7,000. Having heard tales about the Indian attacks, the Mormons quickly built a stockade around the rancho and named it Fort San Bernardino. The families lived inside the stockade for the first few years, growing wheat and other crops outside and building a grain mill inside. But since the Mormons weren't raising cattle or horses, the desert Indians were no longer a threat and soon families were able to move out and build their own homes.

 The community thrived and in 1854 the City of San Bernardino was officially incorporated. Population at the time was 1,200 - 900 of them Mormons. San Bernardino was strictly a temperance town, with no drinking or gambling allowed.

In 1857 Brigham Young recalled his Mormons to Salt Lake City. Some went, taking great financial losses, while others opted to remain and struggled to continue on their own. In the six short years that the Mormons followed their mission at San Bernardino Rancho, they made numerous achievements, establishing schools, stores, a network of roads and a strong government.

Gold was discovered in Holcomb Valley in 1860 and men poured into the mountains through San Bernardino to try their luck at panning. For a time Belleville, in Holcomb Valley, was the largest city in Southern California with 10,000 residents, and it almost became the county seat, losing to San Bernardino by only one vote.

Times were rough and hard, just like the men who came in search of instant wealth, and numerous internal problems plagued the God-fearing settlers. The community survived and both the library and temperance associations were created at this time.

As the last years of the 19th century waned, the giant railway companies eventually found their way to San Bernardino, changing it from a sleepy town into an enterprising city. The Santa Fe, the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific railroads all converged on the city, making it the hub of their Southern California operations.

Competition between the railroads set off a rate war, which brought thousands of newcomers to California in the great land boom of the 1880's. When the Santa Fe Railway established a transcontinental link in 1886, the already prosperous valley exploded. Even more settlers flocked from the East and population figures doubled, from 6,150 in 1900 to 12,779 in 1910, the year that the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce was first organized.

As the years went by, San Bernardino floundered and flourished with growing pains, just as all communities do. The good times went hand-in-hand with the bad times. Today, of course, San Bernardino has grown into a civilized, urban center - a modern community with a bright future. The enduring spirit and vitality of yesterday's pioneers is still evident and is reflected in the pride of the community.

Historical Treasures of San Bernardino Project

City residents were invited to bring family albums and personal photo collections to the Shades of San Bernardino Photo Day, June 19, 1999. This project was designed to help preserve the histories of the city's diverse communities.

Click Here to see the Historical Treasures of San Bernardino Project.

California of the Past Project

 During 2010, the City of San Bernardino celebrated a rich 200 year history.  Thanks to the hard work of the Bicentennial Committee, residents celebrated their heritage with parades, concerts, youth events and gala concerts and balls.  In 2010, San Bernardino Library was awarded a "California of the Past-Digital Storytelling" grant from the California State library to continue and commemorate the success of this bicentennial celebration by digitally capturing stories of our past. 

Click Here to see the California of the Past Project.


“E Street Cruising Memories”

By Steve Portias, San Bernardino High School Class of 1967

Starting off from Court Street, which was the lower part of E Street turn around area. That was unless there was a High School Football game at the Orange Show. Then it started at the Orange Show Stadium or maybe a concert at the Swing Auditorium.

Heading North on E Street and 6th where there was a Denny’s on the right side across from Pioneer Park and Municipal Auditorium.

As you got up to 9th and E Street where many of the New and Used Car Lots were located, you could go into Mission Pontiac where the Search Lights were against the curb showing off the new GTO’s which few could afford.

Then to the right side was one of the big Hang Outs of Eros and Bogart’s night club, where Van Halen made their very first appearance. Other names like Lee Michaels, Joan Jett and the Runaways, Idelwell South, Squeeze, and other name bands played. I still have the original tape of the first Van Halen concert there where Davis Lee Roth says, “We’re a little garage band out of Pasadena, and you people from Berdoo can sure party.” Originally Eros and Bogart’s was the Orange Bowl bowling alley, now a thrift shop.

Another block up on E and 10th on the right side was Ruby’s Drive In, which was another hang out.

Another block up was Sages shopping center which had a big parking lot where many of the cruisers would park…..then in the early 1970’s when “Streaking” was the craze that area on E Street and Baseline going north on that block where it was popular to strip down to your birth given clothes and run down the sidewalk and hopefully your friend had your clothes waiting for you.

Two blocks up from Baseline on the right side was another very popular nightclub with live bands which was originally called the “Cop Out”, then changed to “Ash Grove” and ended up as the “Family Dog”, now a vacant lot.

Another half block up at 14th and E was then most well know of all, the original McDonalds Drive-In which for some 30 years was packed full of kids and Hot Rods, which is still there as a Museum. Later the name was changed to the “Big M”.

Another half block up on the right side McDonalds moved to their new location and cruisers would go in one side and out the other, later it became “White Castle”. Next to it on the south side was and still standing a little store which was Muntz Stereo and 4 and later 8 track tapes and tape decks started at. The little store was packed full of kids buying the latest item on the market. Later it moved to Highland and Mt. View to a larger location.

Another half block up on E on the Left side was the Hudson Gas Station, now a vacant lot which was a big hang out for the Hot Rodders.

Next door to the Hudson was a well known bar called the “Green Onion”. The building still stands.

Heading north from there was “Bossy Dairy” on the right side which is still open where if you were 21 could buy Beer there.

Another block up on the left side was the “Carnation Restaurant and Soda”. Next to it was San Bernardino High School.

A couple of blocks up around 20th and E street on the left side was Uncle Johnnies Pancake House, now a thrift store, later became a early IHOPS, next to it was “Pail of Chicken” now torn down.

Then when you hit Highland and E Street to the right was the Last Drop Liquor store, which is still there, and off to the right side of Highland was “Snow’s Drive-In”, “Aquarius Night Club”, and “Bankers Night Club”. To the west side of Highland to “Snow White’s Drive In, now Laura’s Mexican Food, and then to one of the 4 “A&W Root Beer” car hop drive ins in town”

Many Hot Rods, Low Rider, Muscle cars, Motorcycles, and hundreds of custom vans from Inland Vans Berdoo would cruise and park along the curb to admire each other’s rides or set up Drag Races for small sums of money or bragging rights which would happen either on E Street or go to Cajon Blvd. or Green Spot with some hundreds of spectators would follow. Officer McDonald and Ron Covey were always hot on our trail, but gave many of us a fair shake if we cooperated.

Then when things slowed up a little on cruising or getting out of a football game or Drive In movie we would cruise to the end of E Street above 37th and below the Castaways Restaurant, which was Pancha Villa’s in those days. To “The Point” and park overlooking the city lights with our “Main Squeeze” and snuggle up in the front or back seat and talk about solving all the world problems. On a weekend night cars would be parked 3 deep, and then the Police would come and knock on the windows of any car that had fogged up windows.

Many Clubs were formed and cruised E Street, from Inland Vans Berdoo being the largest, to AMF Mustang Club, Coachman, Tyrants, Hells Angels, Barons, Caladex, Pharaohs, Over the Hill Gang, MOPAR Limited, Hornets, Tach Twisters, Red Mountain Boys.

Nothing like a garage built 55’ Chevy jacked up in front, Cheater slicks from Little Mountain Tire Service, Fender Well Headers, Tunnel Ram hanging out the hood, Plex-Glass Windows, Straight Axle coming to a Stop light next to a new Big Block Vette or Roadrunner to see who had bragging rights. Cars had names on the sides like “Super Fly”, “J&M Speed Center”, “J&L Machine”, “Ripped Van Ripple”, “Mongoose”, “Toy Factory”, and many others.

Seven nights a week people cruised E Street, with Friday and Saturdays having thousands, yes thousands of people lined E Street, as well as hundreds of cars from Berdoo or surrounding cities.

Many cruisers met their Husbands or Wives on E Street, and many bonds of lifetime friends formed.

Speed Equipment shops helped all of us with our needs, from Mt. Vernon Speed, San Bernardino Racing Equipment (which was later Super Shops), Joann’s Racing, J&M Speed, J&L Speed Shop.

Nation Wide known “Denvers Choppers” had several locations on E Street on 11th street, and on South E, an innovator with many of the custom bikes and choppers with Denver Mullins, having wild paint and customizing help from Mike Muffufa Craig, and Lil’Freddie Hernandez.

Wild Custom Paint jobs from Metal Flake, Spider web, Lacing, Candies & Pearls done by local talented people like Ernie Colunga, Delfino Montes, Gil Carasco, Bill Franks, and Grant.

The Origins of the San Bernardino Police Department
May 15, 1905
By 1850, California had won independence from Mexico in the Mexican-American War and had been admitted into the union as a state. In 1851, a group of 500 Mormon men, women, and children in 150 wagons arrived in the San Bernardino valley. In February of 1852, the Mormon pioneers purchased the 40,000-acre San Bernardino Rancho from the Lugo family for $77,000. The Mormons built a stockade on the property to protect themselves from raiding desert Indians and named it Fort San Bernardino.

As the population increased, up to 1,200 people, so did the need for law enforcement. In 1853, Brigham Young, President of the Mormon Church, appointed Bud Rollins the first law officer in the San Bernardino settlement. By 1854, San Bernardino was thriving and the City of San Bernardino was officially incorporated. With the vast majority of San Bernardino residents being Mormon, San Bernardino was a temperance town. No drinking or gambling was allowed.

San Bernardino remained a Mormom settlement for only five years. In 1857, Brigham Young recalled the colonists to Utah and many returned. Opportunists of all kinds soon filled the vacuum that was created by so many people leaving so quickly. San Bernardino soon earned a reputation as a tough town.

In 1868, the elected office of Town Marshal was established. The Office of Town Marshal would remain the law enforcement agency in San Bernardino until the town was re-incorporated under newly established rules of city incorporation in 1905.

From 1853 to 1905, 15 men served as town marshals of San Bernardino:

Bud Rollins
Stewart Wall
George Mattheson
Frank Kerfoot
Charles Landers
Mark Thomas
John C. Ralphs
L. Van Dorm
Joseph Bright
Hughes Thomas
David Wixom
William Reeves
John Henderson
Ben Souther
Walter A. Shay
After the City of San Bernardino was incorporated under the new rules of incorporation, a Mayor and a Common City Council were elected to office. H.M. Barton was elected the first mayor of San Bernardino. He and the new council took office on May 8, 1905. One of the first orders of business for the new mayor and common council was to appoint a new police force to take office at 12 noon on May 15, 1905. Mayor Barton read a proclamation naming eight officers to the new police department:
John Bell Ketring
Robert O'Rourke
John A. Henderson
William H. Hurley
Edward Poppett
Benjamin Emerson
Richard Curtis
Robert Nish
Walter A. Shay Jr. (Born: 06-29-1866 - Died: 08-02-1931)
Chief of Police

At the time that Mayor Barton and the councilmen were appointing the city's new police force, Walter A. Shay, their choice for Chief of Police, still had approximately two years left in his elected position as San Bernardino Town Marshal. The mayor and council would have to wait until Shay's term expired in 1907 before they could appoint him as the city's first full-time Chief of Police.

Walter Shay was born on June 29, 1866 in San Bernardino. In 1892, he married Matilda "Tillie" McCoy and they lived at 495 N. "C" Street (now Mayfield Avenue). After trying his hand at farming, Mr. Shay began his law enforcement career as a San Bernardino County deputy sheriff in 1899. In 1903, he was elected to a term as Town Marshall for the City of San Bernardino. He held this position until being named Chief of Police.

W.A. Shay went on to be appointed as Chief of Police by three different San Bernardino mayors between 1905 and 1917. In 1918, Shay ran for and was elected as the Sheriff of San Bernardino County. He served as Sheriff until 1931 when he was succeeded by his nephew, Ernest Shay. Ernest Shay was in turn succeeded by Walter Shay’s son, Emmett Shay, in 1934.

Chief Shay died on August 2, 1931. He is buried at San Bernardino's Pioneer Cemetery next to his wife.

RICHARD HOLMAN CURTIS (Born: 1843 - Died: 1924)
Assistant Chief of Police
Richard Holman Curtis was born in 1843 in Kentucky. He was only seven years old when, in 1851, his parents brought their family to San Bernardino by oxen team.

Assistant Chief Curtis was one of the original members of the current San Bernardino Police Department. After being with the department for several years, Assistant Chief Curtis retired. He then worked as a schoolteacher and truant officer for the local school district and liked to spend his summers in the Lytle Creek Recreation Area as a fire warden.

Assistant Chief Curtis was 81 years old when he died in 1924. He is buried next to Mrs. Curtis in San Bernardino's Pioneer Cemetery

JOHN BELL KETRING (Born: 1860 - Died: 04-02-1947)
Police Officer
John Ketring was born in Linden Tennessee in 1860 and came to San Bernardino, via Tombstone, Arizona in 1882. In 1886, Officer Ketring married Clara Campbell. They made their home at 1142 W. 7th Street in San Bernardino where they raised two children. On February 3, 1905 Clara died and Mr. Ketring went on to marry his second wife, Mina Gunn, with whom he had a daughter.

Prior to becoming one of the original members of the San Bernardino Police Department, Officer Ketring operated a grocery store at 555 W. 3rd Street with fellow San Bernardino policeman and future mayor John Henderson. In 1905, Officer Ketring became a member of the San Bernardino Police Department where he remained as an officer for several years.

Lewis Ketring Jr., great-grandson of Officer Ketring, has some interesting thoughts about his great-grandfather. Lewis remembers that Officer Ketring was "mysterious and evasive” about the life he led before he came to San Bernardino. When asked about his early years he would become very defensive, say that that was another life and another place, and then immediately change the subject.
Lewis believes that Officer Ketring arrived in San Bernardino some time in early 1882. He has researched information that places Officer Ketring in Arizona prior to his arrival in San Bernardino and found that when he arrived in San Bernardino he lived in a boarding house owned by Nicholas and Virginia Earp.

Lewis suspects that Officer Ketring may have known the Earp brothers in Tombstone, Arizona and that when Morgan Earp was killed, Officer Ketring assisted Virgil and James Earp in transporting Morgan's body to California for burial in Colton. That would explain his acceptance into the Earps’ boarding house and possibly an introduction to Walter Shay by the Earps and his subsequent employment as a San Bernardino policeman.

Officer Ketring died on April 2, 1947. He is buried at San Bernardino's Pioneer Cemetery.
ROBERT GLEN NISH (Born: 01-30-1862 - Died: 07-07-1936)
olice Officer

Robert Nish was born in San Bernardino on January 30, 1862. On June 4, 1890, Officer Nish married Isabella Shellcy. They lived at 1268 W. 7th Street where they raised two children. Officer Nish began his law enforcement career as one of the original members of the San Bernardino Police Department in 1905. In 1910, Officer Nish left the San Bernardino Police Department and went to work as a deputy sheriff for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. He left the sheriff’s department in 1920 and became a railroad car repairman with the Santa Fe Railroad.

Officer Nish's family became distant to the San Bernardino valley area and his only known relative is his granddaughter, Mrs. Shirley Smith of Buena Vista, Colorado. Officer Nish died on July 7, 1936 at Loma Linda Hospital at the age of 74 after a long illness and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.
ROBERT EMMETT O'ROURKE (Born:02-19-1872 - Died: 12-06-1941)
Police Officer
Robert O'Rourke was born on February 19, 1872 in San Simeon, California. In 1900, Mr. O'Rourke and Emma McCoy (sister of Mrs. Walter Shay Jr.) were married. They made their home at 981 N. "F" Street in San Bernardino. Robert and Emma O'Rourke had no children. In 1908, Emma passed away and Officer O'Rourke left the San Bernardino Police Department and moved to Long Beach where he joined the Long Beach Police Department. He became Long Beach Police Department’s first motor officer and rose to the rank of Captain of Detectives.
While living in Long Beach, Officer O'Rourke married Mary Elizabeth Settles, with whom he had a daughter. In 1914, Robert O'Rourke left the Long Beach Police Department and moved to Santa Monica, California where he served with the Santa Monica Police Department as a detective for a short time. He left the Santa Monica Police Department after being hired by the Pasadena Police Department as a detective. He was the only person to ever be hired by Pasadena P.D. at the entry-level rank of detective. Mr. O'Rourke served the Pasadena Police Department for twenty years, retiring in 1941 at the rank of Detective Lieutenant.
Robert O'Rourke died in Alhambra, California of natural causes on December 6, 1941 at the age of 68. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Alta Loma.
WILLIAM HARRISON HURLEY (Born:02-19-1872 - Died:07-24-1915)
Police Officer
William "Hack" Hurley was born in Iowa on March 28, 1838. He came to San Bernardinoin an oxen wagon, via Utah, in 1859. Be was married to Serena Black and they lived at 310 N. "H" Street in San Bernardino.
Following his retirement from the police department, Officer Hurley became a rancher and lived in the area of Los Angeles County now known as the San Fernando Valley. He traveled throughout the state. According to his obituary, he was "one of the most fearless officers the city ever had and sustained the reputation he made in the Indian times of being afraid of nothing."
Officer Hurley died on July 14, 1915 and is buried at Pioneer Cemetery. Several of his descendants reside in Southern California.
BENJAMIN EMERSON (Born: 1880 - Died: 10-14-1914)
Police Officer

Through research it was discovered that Benjamin Emerson was born in 1880 in San Bernardino and lived at 426 W. 3rd Street with his wife. Not much more is known about Officer Emerson.

In 1908 Benjamin Emerson left the Police Department to pursue a career in sports. He
moved to 653 W. 3rd Street.
On October 14, 1914 Benjamin Emerson died after he became involved in a fight with a local newspaperman who pulled a handgun from his pocket and shot Mr. Emerson in the chest. Ironically Mr. Emerson died in the back of a police patrol wagon while being taken to County Hospital. Benjamin Emerson is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino.
EDWARD POPPETT (Born: 07-30-1869 - Died: 09-11-1961)
Police Officer
Edward Poppett was born on July 30, 1869 on his family’s farm in San Bernardino, located now near the intersection of Baseline Street and “D” Street. In 1889 he married Mary Poppett and they lived at 1284 North “D” Street where they raised four daughters.
Mr. Poppett began his law enforcement career serving as a city policeman for several years in San Bernardino prior to the City’s formal incorporation. In 1905 Mr. Poppett was selected to be one of San Bernardino’s first full-time uniformed policemen.
He continued to serve the City of San Bernardino, becoming the department’s first detective, a position he maintained until his retirement in 1952, after 47 years of service, a record that still stands to this date for a full-time officer.
Edward Poppett died on September 11, 1961, at the age of 92, and is buried next to his wife at Mountain View Cemetery. He has several descendants residing in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.