Had a great time at the annual Pioneer Picnic on Sunday. The Community Building was full of Chinoans from near and far who came together to share their common love of their hometown.
I enjoyed speaking to many, and hearing stories about their family's past in Chino. Steve Frady shared with me about his grandfather Bob Frady, a newspaper writer who partnered with his father and eventually became the owner of the Chino Champion from 1925 to 1949. Bob Frady and woodworker Sam Maloof are being inducted into Chino's Hall of Fame, and both had family members in attendance.
Grandchildren of Harvey and Bertha Gray, pioneers who owned the Gray Building on 7th Street, where the Chamber of Commerce is now, were also at the picnic. I had corresponded with the cousins a while back when writing a story about their family, and it was good to finally meet them genuinely face to face, rather than just through Facebook. Robin Gray Adams, Sheryl Gray Crow, Karen Gray Von Euw and Mike Gray shared photos with me from their family that were taken in Chino all the way back to the 1920s. Mike came the farthest, from Florida.
Former City Councilman Al Yankey flew in from Indiana to attend with his longtime friend Al McCombs, who was paid tribute at the end of my slide show. I wouldn't have many memories to share if Al McCombs hadn't saved photos for the 63 years he's been in Chino. Randy Echito and his brothers Martie and Gary were there. Their father Marty Echito owned a Mobil Gas Station on 6th and Riverside Drive in the 1950s, and later owned Marty Echito Insurance. Randy has been a great source of information to me over the years--often naming people in photos that I come across.
Ryan Cummins, president of the Chino Valley Historical Society, presided and excited attendees by giving away raffle prizes. Lynda Flathers, the picnic chairman, ran all over the building with her apron on, making sure everyone was fed, the desserts served, and the kitchen clean. She worked behind the scenes, during the scenes and after the scenes. Her devotion to the picnic, along with her team, really made the Pioneer Picnic a success.
I was honored to have been asked to present a slide show, for the second year, on memories of Chino. Having run the Chino Memories group on Facebook for over three years, I was full of stories from others who had shared with me, and partnered them with images from around town. Several times those in attendance applauded, such as when the image of Ozzie's, a popular teen hangout in the 1950s and 1960s came up.
When an image of a dairy was shown, I recalled that I had been told many times that when it smelled like cows, it smelled like...and the audience shouted "money!" They were true Chinoans and appreciated that smell, which some hated.
The picnic lasted about two hours, and I honestly could have stayed two more hours talking with people. Many came up to me and shared their story, and I filed it in the memory box in my mind....because who knows, someday I may pull that memory to share with others. After all, sharing memories is what keeps memories alive.
Kerry Cisneroz, a longtime Chino Valley resident, enjoys sharing memories and nostalgia of the community, which can be found daily in his Facebook group, “Chino Memories – Yesterday & Today.”