I grew up outside of town in the county. Our house was on a dirt road that ended at the orange groves down aways. It really was the greatest place to live, with fields all around, Mr. Cooper's barn across the road, and orange groves. But when you live down in the boondocks, a trip to the grocery store is a big deal. But a trip to the five and dime...magic!
In the 1950s, they built a Sears and Roebucks up a few streets from us. That became the cornerstone for the Pomona Valley Center, the mall we always called "Sears." "Hey, I'm going up to Sears!" meant going to any store in the open-air mall. The mall had a drug store, a fabric store, and a clothing store. And J. J. Newberry's.
Sears was Dad's store. The fabric store and Long's Drugs was Mom's stores. And my store was J. J. Newberry's. What kid doesn't like a five and dime? I remember shopping at Christmas time for gifts. My sister and I both must have at least five dollars by Christmas, to spend at least one dollar on five people: Mom and Dad, Sister, and Gramma and Nanny.
Newberry's was the perfect store to find affordable cool gifts! My sister and I would walk up and down the aisles, Mom watching over us, as we searched for exactly the right gift for our five people. We'd finger all the little stuff in the center bins. We'd check out the toys. In the basement, we'd check out even more stuff. Newberry's was a child's dream come true.
As I grew older, Sears would become even more important. By the summer I was almost 13 years old, I could walk to the mall with a friend. To get there, we had to cross Mission Blvd (which was Route 60, a major road through the Inland Valley), walk aways to East End Ave, cross over the railroad tracks, and on up to Holt Blvd, another major route from Los Angeles-to-San Bernardino. Actually we avoided going all the way to East End by crossing the fields to First Street, then over the railroad tracks. The lower mall parking entrance was well before Holt Blvd. So it was a great walk for your pre- and teen girls. We would laugh and giggle and wave and flirt with the drivers as we walked.
Newberry's had a record section. It is where I bought my first album, Teenage Triangle, with Jimmy Darren, Shelly Fabares, and Paul Peterson (on whom I had a massive celebrity crush). I bought tons of 45s--much more affordable than albums. Newberry's had lipstick and other make-up. I remember buying lipstick and keeping it in my purse because I wasn't old enough to wear make-up. Looking back, Mom had to know. I mean, my lips were pink :)
But the best part of Newberry's was the lunch counter. I mean c'mon! A lunch counter! You could buy stuff and then eat lunch! Amazing!
So when my friend and I would walk to the mall, we each had to have at least 50 cents. This was needed because one of us would buy the cokes at the lunch counter (25 cents each) and the other would buy the pictures at the photo booth (50 cents for four pictures), which was conveniently located right there at the end of the lunch counter! A win-win situation!
And then, after we looked through all the records, drank our cokes, and took our pictures, we would walk through to the mall itself and wander a bit. And then, we'd head home, retracing our steps back to East End, Mission, down Pipeline to my house.
Ahhh life was good. Lunch counters, photo machines, five and dimes, all together in one place. My own kids had malls to wander. Big under-cover malls that had bunches and bunches of stores to peek into. But, poor thangs, they didn't have a J. J. Newberry's with a lunch counter and a photo machine. I think their lives were a bit deprived.
And so it goes