20 February 2016

The Latest Carbon Canyon History from The Champion

Today's issue of the Champion features two front page stories highlighting local history.  The first was David Kramer's talk, sponsored by the Chino Hills Historical Society, last Monday night about the history of Los Serranos Country Club, which his father, tennis legend Jack Kramer, purchased over a half century ago.

Kramer wore old-fashioned golf attire for the presentation, which covered the history of the site when it was the "Home Ranch" on the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, through the creation of the country club and the surrounding Los Serranos tract in the mid-1920s, and then through the Kramer family's full ownership since 1961.

Meanwhile, reporter Marianne Napoles, who penned the Kramer piece, also wrote another interesting article on John Klavins, a 100-year old native of the Baltic country of Latvia, near Russia, who has owned a 2.6-acre parcel in Carbon Canyon since 1962 that has been often discussed on this blog.

An ad for the Ponderosa Bar and Motel, Chino Champion, 6 February 1969.
The property still features surviving cabins and the old clubhouse from Camp Kinder Ring, the facility run from 1928 to 1958 by the Workmen's Circle Arbeter Ring organization in Los Angeles.
Later, a succession of social clubs occupied the site, which also housed the Ponderosa bar and motel and the Purple Haze bar, both of which featured nude dancing, during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

With legal problems attached to the operation of both Ponderosa and Purple Haze, Klavins decided not to renew the latter's lease and converted the structures on the property to rental unts, which they have been for the last forty-five years or so and which now accommodate fifteen residents.

The life story of Klavins is also remarkable.  Born in 1915, he remained in his native country until the outbreak of the Second World War, when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and his family's home and farm destroyed in the conflict.  Seized by the Nazis, he was sent to a labor camp in Germany, where he dug ditches for anti-aircraft guns.  His only sibling, a brother, was imprisoned in Siberia by the Soviets and died there.

An article from the San Bernardino Sun, 1 June 1971, about arrests for "marijuana and dangerous drugs" possession at the Purple Haze Bar "and adjacent cabins."
With the end of the war, Klavins was freed by Canadian forces and his fluency in several languages led to a job as a United Nations translator for migrants to America.  On his own arrival here, he got into the construction business and one of his projects was in Carbon Canyon--this being the construction of the Olinda Village shopping center.  Though long retired, he still lives in the same house he built in Orange sixty-five years ago and he intends to keep his Carbon Canyon property as long as he lives.

What happens after that, though, was encapsulated by a comment from one of his tenants, who assumed that, with the recent spate of development in the hills around the property, "like anything else, it's just a matter of time" before he and the other renters would have to leave, providing the Klavins property winds up being sold for more development.

Many thanks to Napoles and the Champion for continuing to promote the history of Carbon Canyon and the general area.

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