F

ifty years ago January 25, at shortly after 1 p.m., the Pomona Freeway opened through Chino.

It was about three weeks late because heavy rains caused landslides to threaten the new highway to the west, in Diamond Bar. A half-hearted ceremonial opening and parade had been held just after New Years, in which the Pomona Model T Club and some civic leaders attended, but for some reason Chino Mayor Bob McLeod didn’t show up and the organizers forgot to invite the chairman of the San Bernardino board of supervisors to speak.

The event connected the county, from Euclid Avenue, with Los Angeles, and was a major turning point in Chino’s history. A large number of home building permits awaited in the city and surrounding county area. The community, long considered an out of the way farm town with prisons, had its first main connection with the rest of southern California. The route wasn’t  where the city wanted it to be. Ontario may have had its way with the route, but it also got the dirt after successful lobbying by Chino.

The new freeway had two depressed lanes in each direction. Few in the state highway division could  have envisioned the traffic the 60 gets today as part of the nation’s  most congested vehicle area.

Some things never change in a half century. That year the local chamber of commerce was fighting the noise from Ontario’s expanding international airport, and the city council was fighting its only massage parlor after police arrested the owner and an employee of Susie Wong’s. An emergency ordinance was passed requiring massage parlors to have more than a business license.

The local historical society, led by former school superintendent Levi Dickey, held its first membership meeting. The Champion was carrying three full page supermarket ads a week -- Alpha Beta, Vons and Michael’s, plus large ones from T.G. & Y., Mills Furniture and Pomona/Savings and Loan, only two of them left here, and not using us.

The prisons were having their troubles. The Youth Training School on Euclid Avenue, no longer existing, was still looking for two of six boys who escaped from a work party, and the women’s prison found two cold and hungry escapees on the grounds. Escapes have become a real rarity these day, thanks to increased security. New houses are located nearby, never heard of back then.

On New Year’s Day, Chino lost one of its most prominent citizens. Charles D. Warner, 74, a lawyer who served 22 years as city attorney as well as being active in many civic posts and events including the county fair association, county bar association, Chino American Legion, Chamber of Commerce, Rancho Ride and Rotary Club.

Growing Chino attempted to better combine the operations of its fire department under a single organization with the rural department run by the county, and get together with Ontario on a common boundary. Both attempts took several more years to accomplish.

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