J. Willard Monninger
October 29, 2002
November 19, 2002
Hanson: This is an interview with Willard Monninger in San Bernardino,
California at his home; and this is Joyce Hanson for the San Bernardino
Oral History Project. Hi, Mr. Monninger.
MONNINGER: Good afternoon.
Hanson: Why don't we start out talking about your family and how your
family got to Southern California.
MONNINGER: Well, I was born in Kansas and my dad worked for the Santa
Fe Railroad back in Ottawa, Kansas, which was a similar shop orientation
deal that San Bernardino had at that time. He came out here and brought
our family out here in 1919 because there had apparently been some of
the people from Kansas coming out to San Bernardino in a like situation.
So he came out in 1919 and brought us out to look around and kind of get
an idea as to whether he was going to make the move or not. He decided
he did and so they sold back their home and furnishings, etc. and we came
out here then in 1920. So we've been in San Bernardino since 1920. He
worked for Santa Fe out here, of course he had worked for them back in
Kansas I imagine about, oh at least ten years I would imagine. But he
left them in 1922 and went on his own as a carpenter. He helped, well,
he was active in the carpenter trade for a long time and actually helped
build Lake Arrowhead Village that first year, which was being built at
that time, 1922-23. So he has been active ever since.
Hanson: Did you know about any of the resorts up in Arrowhead at that
time? Were they building new resorts?
MONNINGER: They were being developed. Certainly Lake Arrowhead was just
being developed and that was when they built the village; the first village
that was being built in Lake Arrowhead. It was called Little Bear Lake
at that time. It subsequently took the name of the Arrowhead landmark,
which is on the side of the mountains here in San Bernardino. But that
was the first development really in Lake Arrowhead. Crestline had been
in a process of development by a couple of developers. In fact my dad
and family bought a lot and subsequently built a cabin, and that was when
they built cabins, not houses. But I think he built that in 1923, so I've
been up in the mountains ever since 1923. The resorts, we really didn't
have any reason to go to Big Bear Lake, and so we concentrated primarily
on the Crestline area and so I've hiked around the Crestline area. I've
walked on the bottom of Lake Gregory before it was built. I walked all
around the hills there for a long time. Interestingly enough, when we
came in 1920 the folks, rented an apartment down on "F" Street where the
San Bernardino City School District office is now located on the east
side of "F" Street there, below Eighth, from a family by the name of Webber.
They lived around on Eighth Street down the next block, they had then
at that time, developed a grocery store and an ice making machine and
so on like that in Crestline. So they used to have the cars chug up the
mountains and stop in Crestline and get some ice and water to cool off
and so on. I can remember the first attempt that my dad had at trying
to go. Of course we had a picnic up in the Waterman Canyon, which used
to have a couple of nice picnic areas. The stream was going, there used
to be water in the stream. But anyway, going on up from the picnic areas
on up to the crest in an old 1918 Chevrolet. There were switchbacks at
that time. He couldn't quite make the one switchback, so he backed down
and forgot about it. But anyway of course later on he made it several
times. But there was a time when you'd meet cars coming down the switchbacks
and you going up around a little hairpin turn, why you had to kind of
back down a little bit and get around to go up the mountain. But the switchbacks
were an interesting part of the growth of the mountain area.
Hanson: Were there a lot of accidents up there because of that?
MONNINGER: No. I can't say there was no. I don't know of any.
Hanson: People were careful then.
MONNINGER: Well, there wasn't as much traffic as there is today; certainly
not near as much. But Crestline was my second home you might say. So we
played horseshoes in the middle of the village at that time with the old
Native Sons. Of course one of the things about Crestline later on was
the Native Sons had a clubhouse there right just off the top of the village
and they had a 4th of July barbecue and so forth and so on with entertainment.
So we can always remember going back and getting some BBQ beef and beans
and bringing them back to the cabin and eating them. So it has changed
a little bit. That is of course before the lake was ever built. The town
has expanded again. Later on, way later, my wife and I, with the family,
built a cabin there in Crestline in 1960. So we had it for about 30 years
before I sold it.
I can remember my family, actually after a few months of rental down on
"F" Street, why then they bought the home on Base Line. That home had
been built probably just a couple of years at the most when they bought
it. But it's no longer standing. There again, Base Line at that time was
you might say the farthest north of real business development at that
time. But anyways, my brother and I used to sit out on the curb and one
would take maybe a Ford and one would take a Chevrolet and we'd count
and see who got the highest number within a short period of time. I mean
you know, those are just little incidentals, but I used to throw a softball
back and forth to the fellow who was the co-owner of the service station
over on Base Line and Arrowhead. We'd throw the ball back and forth across
the street, but you can't do that anymore. So, my folks had the home on
Base Line and I lived there until I got married in 1941 and then they
subsequently sold it. But, well I don't know whether you wanted any more
background as far as that era is concerned.
Hanson: Do you want to tell me about some of the things you kids did for
fun? What kind of games did you play?
MONNINGER: Oh, we had a good neighborhood bunch from Base Line on down
to 11th Street. There were a couple of boys that lived down on 11th Street
that were friends. There were a couple of girls, one girl on 11th Street
and a couple of them lived on Arrowhead halfway between 11th and Base
Line. So we had a good bunch that used to get together practically every
night in the summertime and play around, whether it be (I don't know),
what kind of games really. (laughing) I can't recall specifically, but
they weren't any difficult games I guess. But we had a good bunch. They
grew up together in the neighborhood. The only one that I still know of
that is still around is one that lives out in Highland that lived part-time
in one of the houses. I don't know what the relationship was; she wasn't
a direct daughter, but she had living accommodations there at the one
house. She still lives out in Highland and I see her occasionally. But
the other fellas are all gone. I'm the only survivor except my brother
and I; my brother's still living.
I can remember we used to go barefoot for a large part of the summertime
and thought nothing about it, but then we'd come home and my mother always
had a tub of water there, we had to wash our feet before we got to bed.
I later joined the Boy Scouts and went to Camp Arataba up in the mountains
during one vacation period. But it belonged to the Boy Scouts. I went
for several years. That was one of my activities that I later became active
in and worked on the executive board of the Boy Scout Council for a good
number of years and received some awards from them.
But as a youth going to school, we walked from Base Line and Arrowhead
up to the high school, which was basically 18th and "E" Street. It was
a good mile away and that was the usual thing. There were no buses that
brought people back and forth to school at that time. But later on one
of my first part-time jobs I kept a shoe repair shop that was over on
Base Line and Arrowhead on the southeast corner. There was also a drug
store and grocery store and a shoe shop and a bakery and a barber shop.
But he [the shoe repair shop owner] went to the mountains on the weekends
in the summertime so he wanted somebody to just keep the place open, take
shoes in and collect money for the shoes that were picked up. So I did
that for maybe a couple of summers. Then later on, during high school
days, I worked at the bakery. After school I washed the pots and pans
at the Quality Bakery and cleaned up the mess during every day. So that
was some of my first jobs. I worked at Quality Bakery for a couple of
years after school hours. One of my disappointments I guess is the fact
that the football games and other activities were always in the afternoon.
That was before they had lighted athletic fields. So I missed the football
games because I had to wash the pots and pans at the bakery, but I have
Later on, after I graduated from [high] school my first full-time job
was at Quality Ice Cream Company, which was on Base Line and Acacia. There
were several of us there; a couple of us were young fellows and we worked
there during the summertime. So we used to help with the ice cream, go
in the old cold room and have to kind of scrape down the ice that had
accumulated on the walls where they froze the ice cream. I put the lids
on the little cups of the ice cream that was made. We'd get a whole stack
of strawberries that were brought and delivered in the morning on certain
days and we would have to pick the stems off the strawberries and that
was one job that we didn't like. Then they would freeze them until they
would use them throughout the year in strawberry ice cream.
I had ambitions and I went to Valley College then in September. I graduated
in January as a mid-year student, which they don't have nowadays, but
I was a January midyear's kid. So that was the summertime. Before that,
all I ever did was mow quite a number of lawns; particularly during the
summer vacation periods I kept lawns for the people while they went away
for a week or two weeks. I cut them and other times I just mowed lawns
around until the summer job with the ice cream. Then later I went to Valley
College. I enrolled in the middle of September and that lasted for less
than a couple of months. I wasn't doing well in French primarily. I hadn't
taken language prior to that and at least it was difficult for me to get
my tongue twisted around the French language for the first time.
I then had an opportunity through a friend of mine that had gone to work
for a bank. They were expanding and they needed another couple of people
to work in the bank and if I was interested to come one down (which I
did). So that was on November 11, 1935 when I started in the banking business.
My career varied from that point on. Well, of course, that was back in
the days when they had messengers and the city warrants and the county
warrants were not drawn on a bank as they are today. They still issue
warrants, but they're drawn on a bank and paid through a banking business,
but you had to collect all the city and county warrants and the post office
money orders from the day before. We would take those and then we'd go
over and make the rounds, walking around and cashing in the money orders
and the city warrants and the county warrants. I'd make those three stops
and make the rounds coming back and get paid for the county warrants that
we had or the city warrants or post office money order. We would get paid
by check and bring them back and get paid.
So that was a messenger job, besides being a bookkeeper. It was a stand-up
bookkeeping job; you had to stand up and slap an old ledger sheet back,
upside down and trust that you could wind it up to the point of where
it was last posted and not over-post in other words or something like
that. So the bookkeeping job was a toughy. In those days, that was before
the wage and hour laws were applied to banking. Banking was exempt originally
for hours laws. And so we worked actually until our work was done. In
the banking business we have to have a record of everything, and everything
has to get out on that day's business; nothing can be held over and say,
"Well we'll get rid of those checks tomorrow." We have to get rid of them
today. So, it was coming to work at 8:00 o'clock, it was 7:30 or 8:00
o'clock probably and working until you got your work done.
That was particularly frustrating at the end of the month. No one was
smart enough at that time to have cycle billing; everything had to go
out on the end of the month. You can imagine whatever number of customers
you had, well they all had to proved and taken and transferred over to
a new statement sheet at the end of the month. After that day's posting
is done, you had to do that day's posting, and then you had to transfer
them over to a new statement and get the old statement mailed out. Then
you had to of course prove them, the fact that you did your work right,
the fact that the balance is right, and then you made up the statements
and counted the checks and made up the statements and then took them to
the post office. That was a long day, always on the end of the month.
That was probably, we took the mail over to the post office probably anywhere
from 10:00 o'clock to midnight getting those statements out. It was a
In the banking business they used to have a wide carriage typewriter to
keep track of everything and we had young women that were typists. A wide
carriage typewriter is about, well almost 18 inches to two feet. But there
was a long sheet. They had to have a record of every check that we handled,
that left our hands. So the date of the check, the payee of the check,
the last endorser of the check, the amount of the check, and of course
the maker of the check all had to be typed out on a line that was a singular
category. One-by-one those checks would always be typed up as to what
happened to them. That was our record, that was originally. Then, low
and behold a few years later why then someone got a photographic machine
so you could put the checks in, you'd stack them up and you'd take a picture
of the back of this one and the front of this one and then you'd flip
that over so you had the back of that one and the front of this one and
you'd flip them over so you had punch, punch, punch, punch. And that was
the beginning at least of not having to type it up. Well then somebody
later on improved that to the point of where you could feed them in and
then you had to feed them in one way and then you could go back again
and feed them in upside down so you'd get the back of them. But at least
it was fed in; you didn't have to punch them one at a time. Then, later
on of course, you had the films that came out and why of course all you
do is just throw them right through the machine and got their record.
But originally, when the checks were handled, way back in the beginning,
we had to sort and approve the items. I don't know whether you know anything
about proving and the proofing machines in the banking business, but we
used to have little batch sheets. The batch sheets then you'd have check
on us, checks in town, anything out of town and the other items and so
on, then you would have the deposit items and they all had to balance,
so you'd pick up a bunch from the teller and you'd prove them. That was
our batch sheet, so later on, of course, the machines were all doing that
by machine to find out whether they had everything balanced and whether
the checks were listed right. But those checks then, we had correspondence
in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Chicago and New York that I can remember
and we'd find maybe two or three checks from the New York area in the
eastern coast area, and we'd stick them in the mail. We'd mail them off
to Chase Manhattan (Chase National Bank at that time) and just stick them
in the mail. They'd get them two or three days later, they'd prove them
up. Same with Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now, why those checks
in New York would be in New York tomorrow morning. They were on a flight
even in our own system later on, why we even had airplane pickups because
we had branches out in Blythe and El Centro. They'd bring them on into
Riverside where our headquarters was at that time in order to get them
in process early. So the speed up of the clearance of checks has materially
changed from what it was originally. That was life in the banking business
to begin with.
I guess the bank manager thought I was something rather creative, so two
of the little side jobs that I had in the bank was being put in charge
of the advertising having the boss bothered with it and I also was the
so-called building manger. Thanksgiving day, 1935, that was only about
two weeks after I was hired, there was a big fire, which was probably
in my mind, the largest fire we've had in San Bernardino, at least as
far as the business buildings were concerned and it destroyed the Stewart
Hotel which was down on Third and "E". It was at least four stories high,
maybe five in some sections, so it was a big fire that burned clear down
to the first floor. So I began to wonder whether I was going to be on
unemployment after seeing that fire and going down and watching it. But
then the bank bought the property and rebuilt the second floor as an office
building. The hotel was destroyed and that was the end of that particular
Part of that fire damage though was that some of the old records that
they had stored down in the basement got water-soaked and were destroyed.
These were the records of the San Bernardino National Bank that was on
Third and "E", which went broke during the depression. If you know anything
about water soaked records, they can stink. So we burned incense there
for a long time trying to get rid of the smell of those old soaked records
following the fire in 1935. But anyway, going back, the bank built an
office building, then put me in charge of collecting the rents and answering
the phone calls from the tenants and trying to make them happy. You found
out that you never can make everybody happy, especially as far as the
air conditioning is concerned. We use to have one lawyer call me up and
say, "Hey it's too hot, too hot, can't you get some cooling up here."
It was either too hot or too cold. I endured being the building manager
for a while.
I subsequently handled the advertising. Citizen's Bank, which had developed
a banking system at that time, covered primarily Riverside County and
a little bit of San Bernardino County. Then Citizen's Bank came over to
San Bernardino in 1935. They had a Colton branch and then later had a
Rialto branch. We were getting into San Bernardino County as well. So
we had a fair number of branches, but they were all just individual branches
doing what they wanted to do. So the bank directors finally decided that
they needed some centralization. So I was selected to be that guinea pig.
I used to have little interest in looking at ads and I still do, but nonetheless,
as far as making them up, I wasn't proficient as far as creating ads,
but I had help. So I went over and was working for about three years as
a so-called P.R. [public relations] man handling the newspaper advertising
and the publicity articles during the transition of our bank from a kind
of a small bank to a pretty good-sized institution to be reckoned with.
So during my term we adopted a logo, which was never used before. Before
this, every time an ad appeared in a paper in all the different cities,
every one was a little bit different. So, we established a logo (there
were about three different variations over a period of years), then finally
we selected one and kept it for a while. I had that, I handled the newspaper
publicity for the change off in management of the bank when one president
retired and they brought in another president from the outside, which
was not exactly a well-known thing that they liked to do. They always
wanted it to be within, so I had some relationships there in advertising.
But I kept that going for about three years and then I went back to the
branch where I returned to being a loan officer.
I was a loan officer after I came back from the service (I'm jumping around
a lot). But when I came back from the service I was a loan officer handling
the G.I. Bill, which was the right for the veterans to have a business
loan or a house loan. We made a few business loans for those people going
into business, but that was washed out (they don't have that anymore),
but I used to make real estate loans beforehand I did these other jobs.
So when I came back why then I also had that G.I. Bill loan business to
see after. I was a loan officer then for a number of years. I was an assistant
manager at the Third and "E" office. I had been an assistant cashier and
then later on they changed the title to an assistant manager. There were
two or three assistant managers, so I was just one. Well I guess I got
my first appointment as a manager in 1957.
In 1957 I got the managership at Loma Linda when we opened up a new branch.
For the first time they were given banking services there. They had not
had a bank there at that time. Way back, up to the depression, they did
have a bank, an independent bank, but it went broke and went out of existence
during the depression days and so they didn't have anything for a good
number of years until we went over there in 1957. So I opened that with
good success and then they [the bank] opened up second branch in Rialto,
so I was named manager of the branch in Rialto on Foothill Boulevard.
I went over there and I stayed in Rialto then for about five years and
then I was transferred back to San Bernardino to the Highland and Wall
office on Highland Avenue, which they had established during the time
I was in Rialto. So then I came back to Highland Avenue and I was there
until I retired in 1980, when I retired after about 45 years.
Hanson: That's a long time.
MONNINGER: A couple months short of 45 years. Covered quite a lot of varied
change. But it was a nice relationship. I enjoyed the business and I enjoyed
meeting and talking with and helping a few customers and disappointed
a few others, but nonetheless, for the most part I can still see customers
around town that come over and way hello, so it's nice.
Hanson: I have to switch the tape over here and then I want to ask you
a couple of questions. (End of tape 1, side A)
(Tape 1, side B)
Hanson: You started in banking in 1935, which was during the depression.
MONNINGER: November 1935, pretty well the end of the depression.
Hanson: Were a lot of people still very leery of banks bank then, about
putting their money in the bank? Were they still a little shy about doing
that or did you see any problems?
MONNINGER: I don't think that was true. I don't think that there was a
reticence about having a banking relationship at that time. Of course,
San Bernardino did experience some difficulties during the depression
in banking. I had an account with the family, or the folks had accounts
at the San Bernardino Valley Bank, which was one of those that was closed
and was not reopened and so my little savings account that I had (maybe
$100), around the second year [after the closing] I probably got about
$90.00 back out of the $100. The San Bernardino Valley Bank closed, the
San Bernardino National Bank closed, the San Bernardino County Savings
Bank, which was affiliated with Savings and National Bank, they both closed,
so there was at least three and I think maybe even a Farmer's Bank. Well
at least three banks were closed and not reopened. The Bank of Italy survived
and was reopened and later became Bank of America, but was originally
Bank of Italy. Gioninni, an Italian from San Francisco, yes, it was The
Bank of Italy originally, for a good number of years until it was changed
to the Bank of America. The American National Bank, which is no longer
in existence, but it was also reopened so that there was at least the
two banks that reopened after the depression; the American National Bank
and the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America. So we were
basically the third bank, Citizen's Bank, that came in in 1935. When you
think about it, we had about five banks earlier, up to the depression
time, and of course then we subsequently only had three.
Hanson: How hard hit was San Bernardino by the depression.
MONNINGER: Well it was hard hit; you can't escape any of it around the
country. I would imagine that there was a lot of railroad employment and
still is. The Santa Fe Railroad cut back, certainly I would imagine probably
in half from what they may have had originally. I don't mean originally,
but at the peak of the period prior to the depression. There wasn't any
other large employment. I can't really think of any other large employment
in San Bernardino up to that point really. But it was affected certainly.
I know my dad, he managed to still get carpenter work for a couple days
a week maybe, two or three days a week, and that sustained us. He managed
to sustain the family without any difficulty during the depression days.
There was some building going on, but one of the things that helped to
sustain San Bernardino, in my mind, was its location as a buying center.
San Bernardino basically and traditionally had always been the center
buying power, buying source in other words from the mountains and the
desert. The desert and mountain people came down so the retail businesses
at least had a little bit of a spread between customer relationships,
not just dependent upon the individual local citizenry, so that helped.
We had, of course, the typical chain stores. We had Montgomery Ward, we
had Sears and we had Penney’s and beyond the Harris’ Company
and the other localized stores. Back in those days, we did have a lot
of individual localized stores; not all of them were chains. We had those
national chain stores, but that was it. But now we don’t have very
many of the local boutique stores; individualized dress shops and men’s
stores and shoe stores that we once had. There was quite a variety, a
lot of nice individual stores that we had prior to the mall being built,
then mostly the chain stores came in. One thing that I might mention,
going back to my early days in the banking business that might be of interest
is the fact that San Bernardino was the mecca for the buying and the distribution
and retail buying for all the mountains and the desert.
But if you’re acquainted with Death Valley, why there was a character
by the name of Death Valley Scotty. Death Valley Scotty, was what he went
by, made everybody believe that he had struck it rich and he used to come
into San Bernardino periodically and throw a little money around once
in a while. He’d make the rounds of the bars and the banks or whatever
and distribute a little bit of money around. So he got kind of a reputation
you might say. Interestingly enough at a timeshare in Palm Springs they
have a couple from London, England that comes over at the same time and
they loved the desert. Well we were talking about the desert and I said,
“Oh, Death Valley Scotty” and they said, “Oh, you know
Death Valley Scotty?” I said, “Well yes he used to come into
the bank and throw around a little coins or money.” So he was one
of those people that made a reputation in the folklore of San Bernardino.
He, of course, had a nice home that he had built up there in Death Valley,
which is a beautiful nice home. It was, of course, sustained and financed
by an insurance man from Chicago all the time, but he didn’t have
anything. He was the front man and made a good name for himself.
Well, I don’t even know what our population was back in 1930. I
don’t know, I would imagine it wouldn’t be over 40,000 maybe.
I’m sure it probably wasn’t over that. I think we got up around
45,000 or 50,000 in 1940, before the war. I don’t think we were
much over 50,000 probably in the census in 1940. So I really don’t
know, but we had quite a varied population as far as the work force is
concerned, but the only major employer that I can think of was the Santa
Fe Railroad. Of course Colton had the Southern Pacific at that time. And
the orange packing business of course was a mainstay as far as agriculture
was concerned. Do you have any other questions that you can ask?
Hanson: I have lot of questions for you. You said you were in the service
during World War II?
MONNINGER: Yes, yes. I was only in a short time. I was married in 1941
before the war was declared. In fact, I had two children by the time.
There was a draft that was going on at that time and before I was drafted
I had been married and had two children. I had the second daughter before
I was drafted, so I didn’t go in until 1945, so then I came out
in one year, about ’46. I served my infantry training up at Camp
Roberts, which was in Central California. In the good old summertime in
the hot desert, hot hills there in the desert. In the summertime it wasn’t
the best time in the world for having infantry training. About that time,
giving credit to the dear old army, they did put in a national call for
those people that were so-called “office workers.” So anybody
that worked for a bank or an insurance company or clerical category of
some kind were pulled out. I was one of those that was pulled out of Camp
Roberts, probably out of a total of maybe 25,000 people that were up there,
they pulled out about 150 of us and disbursed us around the various bases
around the country to do clerical jobs. So then I ended up in the finance
So I went then and served in the finance department at Fort Riley, Kansas
until I was discharged. Fort Riley, Kansas is back to kind of the territory
where I grew up, where I was born, I didn’t grow up there. I was
only 2-1/2 when I left. But it was an old military base, it was a large
military reservation and of course they had a little bit of everything;
they had about three or four different categories of everything to the
Air Force to the artillery, to the plain old infantry and so on. We lived
in old stone barracks that were a permanent barracks they had there. It
wasn’t bad at all, so I consider myself having the life of Riley.
One of the interesting things that happened during the time I was there,
during that wintertime, and I always mention it from time to time when
Christmas comes around, is the fact that I had a cousin that lived in
Junction City, which was one of the nearby cities that was off the reservation
base. So Christmas Eve I was going in by bus and getting off in Junction
City and walking the streets there and a light snow fell. So we had the
snow falling and the music coming out of the houses and the lights were
all on in the houses it seemed like. It was just a typical Christmas setting
it seemed like to me. I remembered it very much in the sense of how pleasant
it was. But then the next morning, Christmas morning, bright sunshiny
day, fresh white snow all over the whole grounds and everything. We went
out to my uncle’s farm out in Kansas about ten or fifteen miles
away for Christmas day. But, it was just a beautiful setting on Christmas
that I can always remember.
Hanson: It’s one of those postcard Christmas card things that you
MONNINGER: Yes, it was.
Hanson: What was happening here in San Bernardino during the war years?
What were the things that were going on around town that were different
MONNINGER: Well, I think during the early part of the war years what became
Norton Air Force Base was established. The base was established out there
as a military base. I don’t think it really became active until
about ’43 or something like that; a year or so after the war had
been underway. But it then subsequently grew and was an important part
of the military activities in San Bernardino. I was a member of a service
club, an exchange club. The officers I know one-by-one got drafted into
the army and pretty soon the old membership kind of got knocked off. You
know, a fair number of members during the early part either from volunteering
or going into the service or else being drafted. So it did affect a good
number of people naturally, being drafted into the army. But I don’t
remember any big activity per se other than the establishment of Norton
And I think, of course, as your stories have related before, that kind
of closed out our central, I say central red light district down on South
“D” Street. “D” Street only went down to the railroad
track at that time, which is only about a block below Second or a half
a block below Second, below Rialto. It was only a short distance down
to the railroad track and that didn’t go through. So that was the
red light district on South “D” from below Third Street primarily
from Second Street on down south. So we had a reputable red light district.
It was a reputable one because you could talk to people across the country
and they knew where San Bernardino was by hearsay or one way or the other.
I would say by hearsay because they weren’t all visitors to San
Bernardino, but it did have a reputation. It had a well-known reputation.
Yes, it was a well know red light district.
I might mention the fact that during the time I was a teller there at
the bank on Third and “E” Street, which was the closest bank,
I was the one teller window issuing cashiers checks and money orders and
so the girls would come up and buy them. So I issued cashier checks to
these girls periodically that would come up and maybe make $100 and send
it back home, probably to mother, saying, “Oh gee, the secretary
business is pretty good you know? Here’s $100.” I don’t
know who they sent it to; I don’t know. But I mean nonetheless,
they didn’t keep it for themselves, they sent it off to somebody.
So I can remember writing up cashier’s checks for some of the girls
and they were nice looking girls. A little powdery money, but we used
to have quite a number of them. But, I don’t want to say that they
entirely left town, but they were disbursed from the centralized downtown.
Hanson: I had heard that. One person told me that three of the ladies
lived across the street from her parents.
MONNINGER: Well, and they still prevail around town. There's periodically
made mention about some of the prostitutes are still around. But San Bernardino's
red light district was just kind of recognized. We used to have some of
the doctors that kind of made wealth by making their trade off of them
as well as some of the other people around town. But I can remember being
a teller and waiting on a few of them once in a while, buying cashier's
checks and supposedly sending them off to somewhere.
Hanson: What about the Japanese population here during the war.[phone
MONNINGER: I don't think we had much Japanese; we had some Chinese. Well,
we did have some. In fact I went to school with one that was in my class
in high school. I know another young lady that still lives here. I still
see her once in a while. She was in a class a year or so before me, Japanese,
but not a large population. We did have some Chinese, and I don't remember
any Chinese young people, but we did have some Chinese down on Third Street
that ran from about Arrowhead over to Mountain View, primarily in that
area. We used to have some old Chinese homes, businesses and laundries
and so on. But they operated way back in the '20's. But we didn't have
a large mixed population. In fact, even the Hispanics were not… I guess
I had two black students that were with me in my graduating class and
probably not more than three or four Hispanics, really.
Hanson: Right after you graduated from high school there was a flood here.
MONNINGER: Well in '38, that was after I graduated, right. In 1938 was
the big flood; a large flood that took place during the time I'd been
around, and it was a real destructive flood. Actually, on the south end
of San Bernardino primarily around Mill Street, there were some service
stations and a motel and some houses. We used to call them courts at that
time, little individual houses on a court that was pretty well washed
out and quite a bit of damage down on the south end of San Bernardino.
There was very little up on the north end that I can recall at all at
that time. We have had, of course, the experience of having Sierra Way
being more or less built as a low level type of central area for the drain
off of the water. That was before flood control ditches were built. Sierra
Way used to carry pretty much the runoff from the mountains, and it was
pretty heavy. And off course, we used to have bridges across Sierra Way.
There were about two or three bridges, so I went to school at Base Line
between Arrowhead and Mountain View and we used to have a bridge over
there right below Base Line. There was one bridge and they'd have to use
it. There were two sections, they'd pull one out and make them join to
pull them across whenever they'd have a heavy rainfall, so that was it.
Sierra Way was never used for a driving thoroughfare during the rainfall,
and it still isn't.
Hanson: I've been on Sierra when it's rained.
MONNINGER: Not even today, I can remember getting stalled up there. But
those old bridges, I think they had two or three of them across Sierra
Way in order for students to get across to go to school. But the flood
area primarily affected the southern part of San Bernardino and destroyed
a fair number of buildings. My dad, at that time, was a carpenter working
wrecking one of the exhibits in the Orange Show, and the soot and the
sand came up to pretty much the floorboard of his car before he could
get it out of there and tow it. So that was the aftermath of what he suffered.
So, I don't know what the loss of life may have been, if any, but there
certainly was a large destruction of property. But I think most of us
that were around here can remember the flood of '38, because it was a
lot of water. When you have a heavy snowfall during the wintertime and
it's still up there and the water pretty well soaked the ground with heavy
rains and then when you have more rain continuing for a few days, why
there's no place for it to go except run off, and it did run off. I can
remember going up City Creek afterwards and seeing the Santa Ana River
Bed. You look at it today, maybe there is a flood of water, you know,
that's the stream, that's the river. But when you get that widespread
rocks all over the whole widespread area of a block or so wide it was
a lot of water and you go up particularly into the City Creek area where
they have it going up to like Forest Home and so on like that, where the
Santa Ana comes down. It's interesting to still see the evidence of heavy
rocks on the side of the streambed. It really knocked those rocks around,
that's for sure, it brought them down. So, the flood of '38, that was
a big earmark in the day as far as floods were concerned.
And then of course we had the fire of 1980. That was horrible fire. I
didn't realize the extent, you could see the mountain fires. You could
see the fire in the mountains in one area and pretty soon it go over to
another area and pretty soon we heard it was in other area. But I personally
didn't realize it was destroying all the homes at the same time. You know,
I didn't realize that. You could watch the fire down here, but you didn't
know what was going on at the north end. It was a heavy destruction up
there. You've probably got some of the records up there, but it was 280
homes that were destroyed. It was a pitiful looking mess afterwards. There
was just nothing left except maybe a standing tile shower or something
like that or a fireplace standing from one place to another. And that
was cause of death then I think there at that time. Several people were
killed at that point. But it really did destroy the north end all the
way from Northpark Avenue northward from there. I've got pictures that
I still have of the aftermath of that. Have you ever seen them?
Hanson: I've seen some that were in the newspapers, but I haven't seen
anything that the newspaper didn't print.
MONNINGER: Well these were the aftermath pictures of the newspaper articles
that I've kept. It's hard to imagine.
Hanson: Down in the California Room they had a picture of one of the people
who lost their house in the fire and he was sitting looking at this burned
ruin of a house, very sad, very sad.
MONNINGER: Yes, the whole possessions get destroyed and it's a real shocker
as well as despair knowing what in the world's going to happen now? [phone
Hanson: We're coming to the end of this hour, but why don't you tell me
some of the things that you wanted to talk about and we'll make another
appointment. I'll come back and talk about some thing that you want to
MONNINGER: Well you asked about some of my involvements.
Hanson: Yes, we want to talk about that.
MONNINGER: You do?
Hanson: Yes. But I think we're going to wait until next time because we
don't have enough time left to do all that.
MONNINGER: Well, all right, we can skip it if you want to do that.
Hanson: No, I want it, we'll just do it next time.
MONNINGER: Well I think I've been relatively active in the community for
a long number of years. The bank considered that if you were manager of
a branch you were expected to be part of the community, which I had been
anyway previously. But I can get into that later on, both from the standpoint
of the Boy Scout Council as well as the United Way.
Hanson: Yes, you have a lot of activities here that we could cover, so
I want to make sure we can give an hour to those also.
MONNINGER: Well, it's been an hour now hasn't it?
Hanson: Yes, how about that. I told you time goes fast doesn't it?
MONNINGER: Well, yes. I've had a couple of interesting experiences. One
of my interesting activities was the fact that I was County Chairman of
the United States Savings Bonds. I was County Chairperson for a year and
another fellow that was President of the Title Company - well they only
keep them for a year or so. I did that for a year, but it was during the
year that they had the Liberty Bell Tour around the country, so I had
the Liberty Bell and I was standing over there on Third and "E". I had
the old Liberty Bell dinging away. But I was the County Chairman for a
big name, but I didn't work myself to death you understand. But we did
have a community function that we had there and I got my picture with
the editor of the paper and all that sort of junk.
Hanson: That's not junk, that's important stuff. So that was a program
to promote savings bonds I would assume, right?
MONNINGER: Uh huh. We had a luncheon the Southern California Chairperson
came out. I don't know whether you'd know the names, but Jim Guthrie was
the editor/owner of the Sun Company. Leslie Harrison of the Harris Company,
and we had them at a luncheon that I was in charge of. So we tried to
promote the savings bond as much as possible during that time. Here's
a picture. That was 1950, after the war, it wasn't during the war. But
they still promote savings bond sales, as far as that goes. But they used
to have a concerted effort at that time. They had individual city chairpersons
and so on like that down the line. But I was county chairman.
Hanson: It's a big county.
MONNINGER: A big county.
Hanson: I think that's pretty important, in this county.
MONNINGER: But it's been interesting to be an old native around San Bernardino.
[End of Interview]
Hanson: This is an interview with J. Willard Monninger and we're at his
home in San Bernardino. Today is November 19, 2002, and this is Joyce
Hanson. Mr. Monninger, you were telling me a story about your mom leaving
MONNINGER: Well, certainly when I was, I don't know how old, but certainly
I was a very little kid. I went with my mother downtown, included in that
was a visit to the bank for her, and she left me there. She went ahead
and left me and didn't realize that she had her little old son with her
until a few minutes later; she came rushing back to the bank. But anyway
the bank officers were nice and I was taken care of. So it was just one
of the incidences that I can remember.
Hanson: So this is how you got into the banking business, right?
MONNINGER: Oh yes, that's how I got in the banking business, that's correct.
MONNINGER: But at least I can say that the bank officers were nice to
me, as I can recall, and that would continue. But one other thing, perhaps
as a teenager as we entered the September period of going to school, my
brother and I -- I had a brother two years older, and also a sister four
years older, but she's passed away along time ago. But my brother and
I, we used to go down to Penney's, that was our usual stop on Third Street,
which was between "E" and "F" on the north side, and we'd buy a pair of
corduroy pants and shoes. There again, I probably wore the pants all school
year, for all year long. So I remember always getting a pair of pants
and shoes at the beginning of the fall school year. But that's back in
my early youth.
Certainly I can remember when the Andreson Building was built, which is
now of course on Third and "E". Later on the Harris' Company building
was built on Third and "E" on the south corner. Others were the California
Hotel being built, which is now destroyed and knocked down. The Fox Theater,
which had a big double entrance, one on "D" Street and one on Court Street.
It's now part of the Sun Company holdings and they still have the Court
Street part of the Fox Theater building. But included in that later on
was a well known place of Mapes Cafeteria that was located on the corner
of that was located on the corner of that theater property. The theater
was back in a little bit. And then some of the stores that were down on
Third Street were primarily Sears down on the south end of Third Street;
Penney's was on the north side of Third in the middle of the blocks. We
had a place that the kids used to go to, the Chocolate Palace, which was
on Third Street. But we also remember men's stores in the past of Harworst
and Customers Men's Shoes and Shanes and Novendal Mar, which was a famous
old bar place down on the north side of Third Street between "D" and "E".
So those are some of the old buildings and stores that we can remember
having been built and also traded at.
Hanson: Let me ask you a question about the Chocolate Palace. I think
someone told me that used to be a saloon at one point.
MONNINGER: No, the Dumdum bar was a saloon.
Hanson: Someone told me that there was a saloon that became a candy store
during prohibition downtown. I thought he said it was - I'm wrong.
MONNINGER: Well they [the Chocolate Palace] sold candy, but also they
had a fountain bar on one side with tables in the back where kids used
to go after the evening or after a dance or something like that. They'd
go into the Chocolate Palace and get a little bite to eat or something
or other was the thing to do.
Hanson: Kind of like a malt shop kind of thing with ice cream?
MONNINGER: An ice cream fountain, but they had candy as well. It was kind
of a well-known hangout.
Hanson: Hangout before the drive-ins came in.MONNINGER: Oh, yes. Before
the hamburgers became predominant. But those are some of the early times,
but the thing I might mention also is the fact that San Bernardino (I
don't know when), but when we were going to the mountains ever since 1923,
why San Bernardino had a park that was San Bernardino's park up there
in the mountains between Crestline and Cedar Pines Park off of what they
called Playground Road. So we used to go over there when we were up in
the mountains and go over there for a picnic and maybe play ball or something
like that. So that's since been abandoned, but once upon a time San Bernardino
had it's own park up in the mountains.
Hanson: Did they have a name for the park?
MONNINGER: I don't know of any particular name that I can recall. It was
just San Bernardino. Los Angeles City, as an example, still has Camp Seeley,
which was down below Crestline, part of Crestline, but they call it Seeley.
Camp Seeley is part of Los Angeles City Parks Department, and it's still
been maintained all these numbers of years and still is maintained. New
cabins have been built. I was up there last year and they have some new
facilities, cabins that they have rebuilt, maybe some of the old ones.
But I used to go down there, my brother and I to play ball. We'd hike
down through the center of Crestline on down a mile or so down the road
was Camp Seeley.
Hanson: Oh, I wasn't aware of that.
MONNINGER: But Los Angeles still has that City Parks Department, and they
rent it out to people, so it's maintained. But they didn't have any of
the living facilities at the San Bernardino Park; it was just a daytime
park, but it was utilized quite a bit. One other thing that might be of
interest that not everybody certainly knows is that when Crestline was
being developed there was a bowl that was built, an outdoor bowl. It had
concrete steps down about four or five steps down with concrete benches
where the people could sit. They had a stage down below that was on kind
of a sloping hill. They used to have some outdoor entertainment. I don't
know exactly what they had, but we used to go down there. So a bowl was
built by the developers of Crestline, and later on when I built a cabin
in Crestline it was on Bowl Road, B-o-w-l. So Bowl Road was named Bowl
Road by reason of once upon a time it was an outdoor bowl. So that's some
of the early years. I might try to touch on a little bit about the early
years of going to work at the bank.
Hanson: Yes, please.
MONNINGER: I made a big deal of $60 a month, and that was the usual at
that time. I was paid once a month, no hourly timekeeping kept or anything
like that. We had to work until the work was done everyday. So I started
at $60 a month and we were all young men that started and one-by-one down
the line as the need expanded to hire more people, why we had a cadre
of a real nice bunch of young fellas. At that time they one-by-one got
married and one-by-one had children and so ultimately down the road we
had all families. But I can remember getting maybe $5 raises about ever
six months possibly. That was about the going rate I guess at that point.
I got married in February of '41 and I was making, I can't remember whether
it was $135 or $140, but I was making probably $140 a month when I got
married. So that was what we had to get by on and we could get by just
as easily then as what we can today. And as you can get by on $140 when
you got married I'm sure.
Hanson: Right. It was very different back then.
MONNINGER: I rented a furnished place, my wife and I, she's gone now.
But we rented a furnished place for pretty much the greater part of that
year of '41, but then we rented an unfurnished place in I think probably
the end of the year of '41 and paid $25 a month rent for the unfurnished
place and we purchased our first set of furniture. So we bought that over
a period of payments, which I may still have the old payment record over
there. So that was the beginning of trying to make ends meet, which we
did, and got by all right somehow or other.
Hanson: When did you and your wife first move into your first house; your
first home that you owned on your own?
MONNINGER: We rented for quite a number of years. We rented until after
I was in the service and then after I got out of the service I wanted
to make plans for building a home on our own and the price was (was that
before the war or after the war; maybe it was before the war). But anyway
the price was a little bit too much out of my range. It came in at $5,000
or something and that was a little bit too much at that time. I think
it was after the war, about a year after I returned, we made plans to
build a home. So we built it in about 1947; the year after I returned
we built the first house and that was a two-bedroom place over on Stoddard.
Hanson: Was there a severe housing shortage here after the war with everyone
MONNINGER: Oh yes, yes there was. I had been a loan officer and made personal
loans and home improvement loans and real estate loans, but I was also
assigned what we call the G.I. Bill, which was entitlement for business
loans as well as real estate purchase of homes. But the homes that were
purchased, and what was available were just pretty poor. The supply was
just not adequate from the standpoint of the need at that time because
nothing much was built during the war years. So that there was a need,
a demand for housing afterwards because the most desirable homes were
not available at that time.Hanson: So there would have been a big housing
boom here in the late '40's then?
MONNINGER: Yes. Actually, well when we built our place in '47 on Stoddard,
we were the only vacant lot. I might mention also that it was the only
vacant lot that had not been built on during that time on that block.
I paid $200 for that lot. I was probably 20 years old when I bought the
But that was a pretty cheap lot, $200. But of course it was worth much
more than that by the time we built on it. But I can remember when I was
making real estate loans that we didn't want to make real estate loans
on the north end of San Bernardino South of 40th between Waterman on over
to Sierra Way because of flood control. That area had been flooded once
upon a time, and that was before flood control up there on the north end
of 40th was built. Then you have those little terrains down over to the
riverbed there. So actually I've walked around all the territory now,
you can see the stamps on the walkways once in a while. The walks were
built in 1950. And it probably wasn't subdivided much before that, even
on Broadmoor, Parkside and all that north end area was probably not even
subdivided until the late 40's until after the war years.
Hanson: So that's really an after effect of that flood of '38 of how to
develop this area.
MONNINGER: Yes. I think you asked the question once upon a time about
the classmates, more or less what made up our classes. Now I went through
our annual frankly, and to give you an idea, I was a midyear graduate,
I graduated in January and of course the spring class was a much larger
one, but total between the two was about 450 graduates I would imagine.
Out of that total year there were about seven Hispanics, two blacks and
five Japanese. So you can see we had 14 people out of about 450 that were
minority students at that time. We had quite a number of Hispanics around
San Bernardino at that time, not near as many as now, but I assume a lot
of them apparently, the only thing I can figure is a lot of them just
didn't finish high school.
Hanson: Yes, which would have made sense.
MONNINGER: That would be one reason that I can surmise is the small numbers
of minorities at that point. So that made up our classmates at that time.
It was a little different from what it is today.
I mentioned too all the young bucks hired at the bank at that time. I
used to go with another fellow bank employee and they were all unmarried
young guys at that time. A couple of us used to go over to Kress', which
Woolworth's was down on Third Street, but Kress' was over on "E" right
beyond the Andreson Building. We use to go down and get a date and walk
up and down to see if we could find a date at Kress' with one of the girls
for that evening. Saturday night was a big deal. So then we waited out
front, at 9:00 o'clock you could always see about a half dozen men out
front of Kress' waiting for their dates for the evening, or possibly some
of them may have had a wife. But that was the deal of getting a date.
Hanson: Well, I've never heard of men hanging out in front of a five and
dime to get a date.
MONNINGER: Well we got a date before hanging out and then we had to stand
out and wait for them. But at the five and ten cent store there were a
lot of young girls.
Hanson: Yes, you're right.
MONNINGER: I went with a couple of them. One of them I married that worked
at Kress'. I mentioned of course about being at the bank and starting
at bookkeeping. One facet of that is the fact that we posted checks before
printed checks. Printed checks weren't individual printed checks, they
were for businesses. Businesses had their name on a check probably, in
most cases I'm sure they did. But the individuals were never printed checks,
they were all just individual and they signed their name. So then there
was a question of getting acquainted with those signatures and there's
a wide variance as to how people write. And to be able to have two people
identify, because one would post to the ledger and one would post the
statement and balance off to what signatures are - whose they are. But
you seen became acquainted with the signatures and you'd be able to read
signatures amazingly after a few years. That's one thing about it, and
somebody got smart and started in having printed checks and then of course
later on the encoding down below took all the joy out of what you have
to figure out on your own.
Hanson: No challenge anymore.MONNINGER: No challenge. No, they couldn't
stand to have to look at each one of them and wonder what it is. One of
the interesting things that we did in the bank at that time was supply
cash to a fellow by the name of Harry Webster. He used to have a little
old cigar bar out on West Third Street across from the Santa Fe. We'd
supply him with cash - go down and cash checks and bring him back in a
whole bundle of Santa Fe checks that people would cash in order to get
their money out of the check itself. But we used to transport cash down
to him in fairly large amounts actually and then he'd bring back a bunch
of checks. So for a couple of days there was a time when there was payroll
at Santa Fe twice a month. So I remember that as far as having to transport
the cash down.
Hanson: No armored cars.
MONNINGER: No armored cars, no armored trucks, no, not a bit. You mentioned
then about wanting to know of what I'd been doing with involvement as
far as the city is concerned, but also you mentioned about travel. So
I don't know whether you want to know about travel, where I've been, what
I've been doing?
Hanson: Sure, let's go there first and then we can come back to community.
MONNINGER: All right.
Hanson: Because I know you've been in a lot of community organizations.
MONNINGER: Well both my wife and I, we've had quite a good number of what
I think of as major travel. We went to Europe twice. The first time we
went over to England and then had two or three days in England before
we went on a tour, then over to Wales and, I mean over to Ireland and
then back to Wales and up to Scotland and then back down the central part
of England. So we had a tour there, and then from there we went on over
to Germany and toured around the continent there with my daughter and
son-in-law (one of the daughters). They were over there on international
They all teach English, regardless of where they are. So he applied for
a job over in Germany and was assigned there. It was outside of Frankfurt,
a small city outside of Frankfurt, but it was classified as the Frankfurt
International School. That encouraged us to say, "Well we can go into
Europe." So that's what we did. The first year then we toured around them
in part of Germany and over in Switzerland and Austria. But then the second
year we went over and didn't tour around so much but we did go to Rome,
Italy and so we've been to Rome and we've been to Paris, France and then
we went to Berlin, which was under the guise of the old Russian regime
at that time. Then also over to Vienna, Austria, which we hadn't hit before.
We had made those individual trips on our own. Berlin was a great place
to visit at that time. It was a wide awake city, but the East Berlin,
why you'd wait at the gate and half an hour, just having you wait there
purposely until they get a guide on the tour bus to take you on through
to the East Germany side. So we've had those interesting trips over to
Europe twice. We've taken several train trips, but one particularly, we
went across the country. Another one, we took a train to Chicago and then
rented a car there and went up into Canada and New York and back into
Washington D.C., and then we flew home. We've had a fair number of some
time share trips, particularly more recently we went over to Vermont for
an elder hostel program and had the fall foliage trip back east.
Hanson: That's beautiful.
MONNINGER: It was a very nice trip to see all the changing of the colors
than what we had been used to certainly. But since then, in the last few
years, I've made quite a number of trips. It seems like I've been on the
go quite a bit. Well, I went on a tour out to Wisconsin and Michigan and
flew into Chicago and stayed overnight and then went up to Lake Michigan,
the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. We went on up in there and came back
and went on up into Canada, the edge of Canada's Saul Saint Marie I think
Hanson: Yes, Sue Saint Marie.
Hanson: Sue Saint Marie.
MONNINGER: Okay. That's right. Then we came back down from there and went
over to Mackinaw Island and stayed there a couple of nights on Mackinaw
Island. It was an interesting place to see, how people can live without
automobiles. No automobiles allowed on the island. Interestingly enough,
you see the people, the UPS, not UPS, but - oh, that's United Parcel Service,
what's the other parcel service?
Hanson: Fed-Ex or there's UPS is United Parcel, or Fed-Ex or…
MONNINGER: Well it was United Parcel anyway, a truck came in on the barge
and on the side dock he would unload his truck onto an old horse drawn
wagon then he'd take the whole horse and wagon and go around and deliver
his packages and there sat his truck right there on the barge on the end
of the line. You know, it was just kind of comical. Of course having the
scooper doos around following the horses once in a while having to scoop
up after them. But it was an interesting stop. You've been to Mackinaw
Hanson: No I've never been there.
MONNINGER: Oh haven't you?
Hanson: I've never been there. People have told me about going there,
but I've never been up there.
MONNINGER: It's nice. Of course they have the wagons that people take
around or there are bicycles all over the place, or walking of course.
It's not far to walk for that matter. Of course that was I guess the original
Mackinaw fudge that you see in candy stores or some places. And of course
we were told ahead of time it's not - anyway it's Mackinaw Island and
it's not how it's spelled. It's not pronounced the way it's spelled. We
were told ahead of time, "Don't ever say that." But anyway we had a nice
trip there. That was on a tour group, but I've also traveled on a steamboat
river trip down from Pittsburgh to Memphis on a steamboat. That was a
first for me. In one year I traveled down to Florida for about ten days
or so and came back from there, went up on a cruise to Alaska and came
back from there after a short time and went over to Hawaii for about a
Hanson: You pretty much hit all the places that stick out on a map?
MONNINGER: Yes, we covered all the three points triangle of the United
States, that was for sure. We also made a trip to New Zealand and Australia
and then back to Hawaii just a year ago. I had several elder hostel programs
that I've attended. Then we've also had trips to Arkansas. This year we've
had trips to Arkansas and Yosemite National Park and Morrow Bay up in
the coast of California, Palm Desert down in the desert area and then
we went to Mexico. So I just got back from Mexico last month.
Hanson: So you have itchy feet.
MONNINGER: I've made a few trips. We've been over to Hawaii several times
and of course one trip we made up the Canadian Rockies quite a number
of years ago. The Canadian Rockies, Bampf, Lake Louise and all up to Jasper
and then back down to Vancouver, which was an interesting trip seeing
the Rockies and Canadian Rockies. They are a beautiful sight to see. It
was nice. But that was some of the major trips beyond the little shorties
around, the nature trips that I've taken.
Hanson: So tell me, out of all those trips, what was your favorite?
MONNINGER: Oh that's a good question that you shouldn't be asking. I would
say probably having a look-see at a little different world was going over
to Europe. Because both of the buildings, they are much, much older than
what we are used to. Naturally they have a little different culture of
feelings of people and I think that it would impress me as being one of
the most memorable. I've had a lot of nice trips around, but that would
be something that would stick in my mind.
Hanson: I've heard that from a lot of people. Being a historian, going
to places, I grew up in New England, so there are a lot of old houses
and things there and people tell me that when you go to Europe you become
very humble about history. Because you go to places where they consider
something built in the 1400's as being the modern wing.
MONNINGER: Oh yes, it kind of knocks you off because particularly myself,
even your New England category is old to us. But nothing like over in
Europe, so it's interesting to see some of the cathedrals and some of
the old castles and some of the other things around that were built many,
many, many years ago. I don't know, I don't know whether I can think of
some things that I've been doing as an individual.
Hanson: Let me flip the tape here, because we're almost at the end. [End
of Tape 2, Side A]
Hanson: Okay, we're all set.
MONNINGER: I have some old postcards that I thought may be of interest
just to have you look at them. This is one of the old Arrowhead Springs
Hotel that was burned down in 1938, before the present hotel was built
up there at the end of '39. It was destroyed in the 1938 fire. It was
a nice hotel that had been built there for a good number of years now.
I don't know how many or when it was built. You probably have a record
somewhere. But it was nice; I played tennis down there in the front of
that hotel when they had the tennis courts there.
Hanson: Tell me about that fire in '38, I haven't heard of that.
MONNINGER: I thought it was '38. Well, it was not down here in the city
itself. But these are the mountains and it hit the mountain areas and
it covered the lower canyons of the mountains and it encompassed and burned
down the Arrowhead Springs Hotel property completely. But that was in
'38. Then the so-called "Hollywood money" people bought the property and
built the present hotel as it stands right now. It was built the following
year. But this was about the fourth hotel that was built up there. There
was a history just of hotels if you want to talk about history of the
Arrowhead Springs Hotel from the old fella, Noble Smith that first established
the sanitarium up there, and the little shacks that he used to have and
then down to where he built a hotel and then somebody enlarged that to
another hotel and then that burned down and they built another one and
then that burned down and they built another one. So this was the one
that was built later. But that was a real nice place.
Hanson: Yes, it's beautiful. It's a beautiful setting.
MONNINGER: This was something that people remember-the National Orange
Show. That was the main exhibit building. That was when we had an Orange
Show and not a carnival. They have a few oranges down there, but they're
pretty few by comparison of what they used to have. But it was beautiful
because you'd come into this main large building; it was a long building,
this was the only entrance into the whole place, and you'd go in there
and they had side racks of oranges and lemons or grapefruit or whatever
on the east side of side racks and then they'd have exhibits of the particular
cities and counties. Then they'd have individual exhibits around and they
were basically formed with oranges with little spots being built up. And
you had the smell of the citrus right off the bat, the minute you got
into the place. So it was a real "orange show."
Hanson: So it was more of an agricultural fair.MONNINGER: Well, oh yes,
yes. And of course they still have some little semblance of oranges down
there, but not near as much as they used to. Of course they still have
the agricultural forage, animals way back in the back. But that was a
real orange show building that was real impressive when you went to the
orange show. The carnival was still on the side. This was our old public
library. I don't know whether you've seen that or not, but that was financed
by [Andrew] Carnegie [Foundation]. He did quite a large number of them
around the country. So that was our Carnegie Public Library. That was
on 4th and "D" on the southwest corner.
Hanson: That is a beautiful building.
MONNINGER: And then on the north corner of 4th and "D" was actually the
post office. It was on the ground level, it was a two story building and
the union hall used to be on the second story and that's where my dad
and mother used to go down for a weekend dancing while us kids had to
kind of fend for ourselves. But the union hall was on the second floor
and the post office was on the ground floor of the building on the north
side of 4th and "D". But it was a nice library. The children's department
was downstairs on the lower level, here you entered up on another stairway
down over here to the lower level for the children's departments all down
below, and probably they had some storage.
Hanson: That's just beautiful. It's too bad they tore that down.
MONNINGER: Yes, it was a pretty building really. It wasn't large enough
of course, because it only went down just a few [inaudible] and then went
back, but it was a nice building. This was our old municipal auditorium
that was built, well I don't know, probably in the early 20's. I don't
know exactly when, but it was torn down less than ten years ago. But we
used to have city dances there and other activities for the municipal
auditorium, which occupied Pioneer Park, which is where the city library
is now. But, it was quite an impressive old large auditorium. In fact,
they used to have dances up there during the late 30's and early 40's.
Why they used to have the old big band orchestras. There would be a promoter
from Los Angeles that would have a promotion of the one site in Los Angeles
and San Bernardino was the second stop and then from there they'd go to
Phoenix and back around the country on tour. San Bernardino was a stopping
point for all the big bands. We had every one of them here in the municipal
auditorium. I was a cashier; another fella and myself were the cashiers
for those big bands that came into town. I think the largest attendance
we had was Harry James, and we had about 4,000 people. But we'd average
probably at lease a couple of thousand mostly for every dance we had.
People would come in as singles, not a couple situation; you'd come in
as single and dance.
Hanson: Just to have fun.
MONNINGER: So that was it. I had quite an experience being a cashier for
the promoters. Once upon a time the people talk about, "Oh gee, you gonna
have a second hotel, can't do this and can't do that." Of course we used
to have the Antlers Hotel, which is a good commercial hotel primarily.
It was a pretty good size place. I don't know how many rooms were there,
but we also had the Stuart Hotel. The Stuart Hotel was right up a half
a block north of that on Third & "E" and it was a three or four story
hotel building. Then we had the California Hotel and so all of these were
in here when we had a city population probably of 40,000 people maybe.
Not that many probably when the California Hotel was built. So we still
then basically have the two hotels, the Hilton down below and the Radisson
Hanson: So who used all these hotels?
MONNINGER: Well these were primarily commercial hotels for salespeople.
There could be people coming in. And of course, I think I mentioned, we
were the buying and retail commercial/wholesale center for the mountains
and the desert and all of the surrounding valley. So from Redlands on
in, people would maybe come in and stay. But the California Hotel had
the hotel part and over on this side, three stories, was the apartments.
They had apartments there, so people lived in the apartments on the one
side and the hotel was basically on the north end of the California Hotel.
Hanson: I didn't know that. I thought it was just a hotel.
MONNINGER: No, they had some permanent residents on the one side. We had
good size hotels considering the size of the city. This is my old church
that I used to attend. It used to be at Sixth and "E" Street and it was
then sold and knocked down and now it's a County Educational Building
up there on Sixth and "E" now.
Hanson: Yes, I know where that is.
MONNINGER: But that's where I grew up. One other thing that I kept out,
because I don't know I guess I'll get somebody to look at, I have picture
postcards of the past. This was the old county courthouse. That was on
Court Street around from "E" and occupied Court and "E" Street basically
and then on in behind it. But they thought, "Well gee, the old place is
kind of old" (like your places in New England) you know 40-50 years old,
we must have to knock it down. And they had a heck of a time knocking
that place down because that little stone building was…
Hanson: They were built to last.
MONNINGER: Yes, they were built to last. And even though the building
itself was inadequate in terms of the facilities, but nonetheless, it
was a structure that they had a hard time reckoning with when it came
time to knock it down.
Hanson: That always amazes me about California how everything gets knocked
MONNINGER: It's a shame.
Hanson: It is.
MONNINGER: We've had some nice buildings, well we mentioned about the
California Hotel even, and supposedly it didn't meet earthquake requirements.
And the Platt Building; we had the Platt Building, which was about a four
story building on 5th and "E" caddy corner from the hotel. The Platt Building
was a professional building. All the doctors and dentists offices were
in there (a lot of them). But it didn't meet the requirements either,
so we knocked it down. So it is a shame. We don't have the preservation
of buildings that we could have maybe preserved somehow or other, but
we don't have. In fact, a lot of our old Victorian houses that we had
that have since been gone. Very few you can even find maybe around town
now, but we used to have some nice ones. Nice old Victorian homes down
in the center part between Ninth Street and downtown in that area.
Hanson: I've talked to some people who said that their families originally
lived Victorians down around Arrowhead, on Arrowhead, about the 1400 block
of Arrowhead, down that way.
MONNINGER: Well I lived on Base Line and Arrowhead and there was an article
here in the paper here last week. Something about Base Line, which of
course is the base line of Southern California. But I lived on Base Line;
the folks bought the home there in 1920, so I lived there until I got
married in '41. So I lived on Base Line and used to distribute handbills
around the neighborhood for the market, and the meat market. So I could
almost identify the house as to where it was located. You know, you start
distributing handbills around week after week.
Hanson: You get to know the place pretty well.
MONNINGER: You get acquainted with the city and where the houses are.
Hanson: Let's talk about your community activities there; you have a whole
list of them.
MONNINGER: Past, present, past?
Hanson: Past first. Go past and work up to the present.
MONNINGER: Well I was a member of Exchange Club for a total of 19 years.
I joined actually at the age of 21 and so I've been a member of a service
club for now 63 years. That means a lot of lunches, a lot of this and
a lot of that. But I was president of the Exchange Club in 1943.
And subsequently to that I was secretary/treasurer of the Exchange Club
until I had to resign there when I was transferred over to Loma Linda.
But I was a member of the Boy Scout Executive Council Board for over 30
years starting way back when my boss was treasurer of the council at one
time and he said well he wanted to retire and get out of it and so he
"suggested" that I take his place, so I did. But anyway I carried on with
the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts for about a 30 year period. I managed
to receive the Silver Beaver, which I was the recipient there in 1966.
If you know, the Silver Beaver Award is the highest that goes a person
outside of the scouting people themselves. I don't know whether to call
it civilian award or whatever, but anyway it was the highest award given
to the outside people. So the Silver Beaver, I received that in 1966.
I was included along with about 20 people in the League of Women Voters
Citizens of Achievement Award. I was one of those that received that recognition
in 1990. I had been a member of the Board of the Arrowhead United Way
for well for six years in a row at one time, as treasurer one time for
a period of just the one year. I served as a loan executive for the United
Way for two years. I think I mentioned earlier that I was handling the
P.R. work, handling the advertising and the public relations with our
banking system. Anyway somehow or other I got named as the County Chairman
for the U.S. Savings Bonds Committee in 1950.
Hanson: It doesn't seem that long ago does it?
MONNINGER: After being retired for 22 years it, it doesn't seem like I've
been retired for 22 years either. But, more or less up to date, I was
a member of the Advisory Committee for the San Bernardino Equal Employment
Opportunity Committee from the start of and the creation of that committee
way back, then I was probably a member and continued as a member for about
20 years. We used to sit in on some of the reviews of the police department
and some of the others to kind of see if they adhere to the things that
were necessary. I was a member of the Advisory Committee for the San Bernardino
County Regional Youth and Educational Facility from the start and the
creation of that group from the start up until 1994. That's one segment
of the probation department where they have [inaudible] and I think they
still have the original youth occupation education facility. They try
to say, "Well you know, you have possibilities." They pull out about 40
youth, and these are the boys, and then they also have a similar program
for the girls. But they set them aside, they have different housing, different
meals, and different programs and try to see if they can correct them
within a period of time that they have under their jurisdiction. It was
a worthwhile program, and I think in talking to the kids at the time we
had the meetings, they felt like they were receiving at least some help
and not getting back into a life of crime. But it's a program I think
that still continues. I was a member of the San Bernardino County Grand
Jury in 1994-95. I was a member of the Red Cross Board for several years
way back when. I think that's about all I can think of.
Hanson: Tell me about the Exchange Club. What do they do?
MONNINGER: It's a service club. It's a national service club.
Hanson: What kind of things do they do for service? What kind of activities.
MONNINGER: Well I guess most like any other committee, we used to sponsor
swim meets, model airplane meets. One of our winners of our swim meet
is now our Congressman, Jerry Lewis. So our plunge, out there on Highland
Avenue is now the Jerry Lewis Aquatic Center. He was one of our top swimmers
and he was the winner of the men's group for a while. So we sponsored
model airplane groups. We used to sponsor what was known then as "I am
an American Day." So we had a few projects that we did, much like any
other service club that has a few projects that they do for the benefit
of the city and the youth. We had a nice group of fellas in the Exchange
Club. It was basically a national club; I think they included Canada later
on, but it's not an international club like Rotary or Kiwanis. Kiwanis
only went international 15 years ago or something like that, maybe longer.
But they had not always been international. But the Exchange Club used
to have quite a number of branches of organizations around, but there
is not one in San Bernardino any longer. We used to have two clubs here
at one time.
When I was president over there I started a program honoring an individual
each year. So we honored almost all of the leaders of San Bernardino through
the years. We had a plaque that we gave them, a framed plaque and then
we also had a three ring binder that we kept a second copy, the Book of
Golden Deeds. There was also a nice little book that we gave to the awardees
at that time. So I started that program when I was president and it continued
on until the club [inaudible] the last few years before it went out of
existence here locally. They were losing members at that time. In fact,
when they did disband they distributed money around that they had on hand.
They had sponsored the Miss San Bernardino Contest in connection with
the Orange Show for a good number of years and made money off of that.
So, when they did disband they gave money back to various organizations
to utilize. Some of that went to the Scholarship Association, which I
also was going to be a member of. But then when I went over to Loma Linda
they didn't have anything there. I kind of helped get started a Kiwanis
Club in Loma Linda and then I became a member of that for the few months
that I was there in Loma Linda, temporary chairperson as well. But anyway
that kind of got me involved with the Kiwanis, then when I went over to
Rialto why there again the Kiwanis Club was active over in Rialto, so
they asked me to join them. So that's why I joined Kiwanis.
Hanson: One thing you haven't told me about, and I know you're a member
of this because I saw you there last month, what about the San Bernardino
High School Old Timer's Club? Tell me how that got started and who was
involved in that.
MONNINGER: It got started little by little. They're all San Bernardino
High School graduates and that was, of course, the only high school in
town at that time. A fella by the name of Bill Hillyer, who was an attorney
and he since has passed away, had several friends. They used to go over
to the old Queens [restaurant], which still exists over there on Mountain
View at about Sixth Street or something like that. They used to go over
there for lunch. Surr and Hillyer, Bill Hillyer's firm was down on the
corner of 5th Street. Several of them, just old friends, old high school
friends, used to kind of get together for lunch periodically. Not everyday
or anything like that, but periodically. Low and behold why pretty soon
another friend would join and say, "Well, yes, come on over and join us
for lunch." So pretty soon instead of three or four well there's five
or six and pretty soon there's eight or ten. Not always every time, but
nonetheless, why that was the start of what became known as the Old Timer's
Club of San Bernardino High School. I was also involved then and later
on when they got into a regular meeting, we didn't meet at Queens. We
met at the Elks Club. I became active and involved there. We have no organization
in the sense of officers and/or dues or anything of that nature. So it
became necessary for somebody to volunteer to take charge of a meeting
from time to time. Bill Hillyer did that for quite a number of times,
but he had begged off and so he asked me and about two or three other
fellas to kind of take turns of being chairperson, of giving a program
and seeing after it. So that's what it involved. So actually, two or three
have kind of went by the wayside. I'm still involved, but for no reason
except that they need somebody to head up the meeting and getting programs.
So I've done that periodically. I encourage [everyone] each time I go
to say, "Well who are we going to have as a person to be in charge of
it next meeting." But our Old Timer's is just to remember old acquaintances
and friends of San Bernardino High School. To remember some of the teachers,
and remember some of our incidents that we've had, and going to school,
and remember the town itself.
I remember one time we had kind of a program where we tried to name all
the businesses on "E" Street and down on Rialto Avenue clear on up to
Highland Avenue. How many could remember all the businesses that were
there on each side of the street. You'd be surprised we remembered quite
a few of them that were there. But you know, just those things. And so
we haven't probably talked about as much in the last couple of years on
what used to be and told stories as far as the teachers and/or the courses
or the teams or whatever as much as we have tried to have a specific program
speaker. So we've gone into this program speaker idea here this last couple
of years and it's taken away maybe from some of the other items that we
used to do as far as just strictly high school. But we still meet and
as you were there last month why and they'll be there tomorrow. Is that
Hanson: Yes I will.
MONNINGER: You'll be there tomorrow. I've got notice, you'll be there
tomorrow. But we let down the barrier a few years ago where we allow women
to come.Hanson: It's a progressive group [laughing].
MONNINGER: It was just men altogether. But, I don't know, we had a program,
I think it was maybe we went over to San Bernardino High School and made
a visit and that was our meeting going over there. They had lunch in the
cafeteria, and we invited all San Bernardino High School graduates. So,
the women were invited, and so since then we've been having women. And
now women, of course, outnumber the men probably now.
Hanson: They did last month.
MONNINGER: Yes, they do. I mean there's probably two or three more than
what there are men I would guess. But we have a pretty fair crowd. We
have generally 35 to 40 people. We have had up to, well we have had as
high as 60, but then that was only once or twice. But generally we have
been averaging 40. Now our problem is to whether we can ever meet the
minimum guarantee of 40, so we have a tussle as to what we are going to
do-keeping it going as an organization per se or not. But anyway, that's
the Old Timers of San Bernardino High School, so I've been involved you
Hanson: I was told you were class president?
MONNINGER: Oh in high school?
MONNINGER: I was president of my senior class in high school and I don't
know why I get picked on, but I've been involved in the reunions of our
class ever since. And I still am.
Hanson: Well of course. Didn’t you know that class presidents have
to do that for life?
MONNINGER: Yes. We still have our class reunions so I’m still involved
in the reunions. See the other class president, see there were two classes,
the spring and the winter, and I was class president of one, but then
the other, he’s gone, passed away. The student body president of
the fall class passed away, and student body president of the spring class
has passed away. The Cardinal Service Men’s Organization president,
he’s passed away. So anyway, I’m a survivor I guess. But I’ve
been fortunate so far. But anyway, we still have our reunions. We didn’t
have very many this last September, the end of September a month and a
half ago. But they still want to meet, so next year we may have only 25,
I don’t know. We had 46 this last year, I mean a month and a half
ago. So yes, I’m still involved in that. Those are two sidelines.
But, oh let’s see. I’ve been involved, well I still am as
past president or probably will be this coming year, but I’m still
a board member of our Methodist Church Foundation, which we have had a
foundation that I was one of the original trustees for when it was formed
a long time ago. I got into the Friends of the Arrowhead, if you know
anything about the Arrowhead Landmark.
Hanson: I know it’s there, so tell me about it. I know there are
a lot of stories about it, but I don’t know too much about it, so
go ahead and tell me.
MONNINGER: The arrowhead is itself, you can see it from here, but it burned
over this last year. [end of tape 2, side B]
Hanson: [Beginning of tape 3, side A] You were talking about the arrowhead.
MONNINGER: As a resident of San Bernardino for a long time, why I’ve
been aware and concerned you might say of the Arrowhead itself, the landmark
we have on the side of the Arrowhead Mountain up here north of San Bernardino.
I’ve given talks on that. In fact I gave a talk here to the Kiwanis
Club just last week, a week ago Wednesday, and I have given talks around
town various times. I became acquainted with that need when I was a member
of the Chamber of Commerce Committee back in the ‘80’s. We
were talking about the arrowhead at that time, about what might be done
to maintain it what might be done to highlight it and make it more known
to the populace of San Bernardino, let alone the visitors. So, since that
period I have been involved, not been involved, but I’ve been interested.
Then I came across Jack Brown, the president of Stater Brothers, whom
I had know before. I heard him on one occasion mention the fact that having
been a Native Son himself in San Bernardino that he long looked forward
to seeing the arrowhead on the side of the mountain. So we subsequently
got heads together in forming a committee and incorporated the group and
subsequently raised money then as a result of his leadership. We raised
money and I was then named the secretary/treasurer. He’s the chairperson.
So basically my interest was in trying to have people become better acquainted
with the arrowhead and knowing something about it and it’s formation
and it’s preservation. Jack’s interest was you might say primarily
at that time, was more or less maintaining and preserving the arrowhead
itself on the side of the mountain. Furnishing money for the Forest Service
so periodically they can do some work up there that needs to be done on
the restoration work that is on Forest Service property. So that’s
why we raised the money. So anyway, part of my job then was that I had
built the view site, little view site monument up on 44th and Waterman.
Subsequently to that I have been cleaning up trash there every week for
the last 14 years; ever since we had that finished. So I go up and try
to maintain it and got a trash barrel there now that we didn’t have
originally, and we did have a lot of other things. I made a brochure up
that I can give you a copy of if you’d like.
But it’s kind of a little bit of a story about the legends of the
Arrowhead were named on there. Picking up on that brochure the fact that
the same information that was published by the Salt Lake Railroad in 1905,
when they gave it to people to encourage them to come to California and
says, “Look at what you can do – you can come to California,
you can see the arrowhead.” Well you can’t really see it,
but I mean nonetheless, that was the pitch. And they have a brochure,
and I still have one of the original brochures that was published in 1905,
telling about the legends of the Arrowhead and then a little bit of history
about it. So that is what the brochure was primarily on. I used the same
artwork that they used and so that’s the same artwork and the story.
The stories have always been predominant the same. Go down and look at
all the library archives and it has those same stories. But we then are
basically organized at trying to make the arrowhead better known to people
and to visitors and to help preserve the arrowhead and the landmark itself.
The landmark designation incidentally was given to us as a result of our
group having a curator from the county museum putting together a lot of
facts and information that four of us went over to the California Commission
and appeared before them and subsequently got it designated as a landmark.
It’s a California landmark now and they have the signs accordingly
on Waterman Avenue. I tried to get signs from Cal Trans to put up there
beforehand. They said, “No we can’t do that,” but then
after we got the landmark designation why then okay, now put the signs
up, which they did. But it’s just one of those civic deals that
you kind of become involved in and tried to give a few talks around once
in a while and right now we’ve got to try to meet with the Forest
Service as to what we can do to kind of replant some of the outside bushes
that were planted here 40 years ago, or what we might do in reseeding
it. But the vegetation, as it grows back is always different than what
it is on the outside. It has sustained over a period of years, fire after
fire that’s been on the mountain, and always the vegetation comes
back differently than what it is on the outside of the area.
So it's one of those things that nobody knows exactly how and why it was created and there are some probably that believe it must be created by the Indians, because nobody would make that, you know, no natural flooding would make such a natural arrowhead with the head up on top and then back down. But nobody knows. So it's one of the landmarks that's peculiar to San Bernardino. It cannot be seen in Redlands or Highland. It cannot be seen in Rialto. It could be seen maybe in Grand Terrace, looking back on over far enough, but that would be it. So it's still a San Bernardino landmark, which of course the County uses as an arrowhead for the county and the city uses it as part of their seal.
The chamber uses it as an arrowhead making up their chamber of commerce and, of course, we have about at least 60 or more businesses that are named after the arrowhead; arrowhead this and arrowhead that. We have of course the Arrowhead United Way, we have Arrowhead Springs Water Company, we have the Arrowhead Springs Hotel, Lake Arrowhead used to be Little Bear Lake. It was renamed Arrowhead Lake in 1922. So the arrowhead has become a natural name for the city itself in a sense. Of course the county renamed their county hospital to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center now. Our large credit union, which was local, San Bernardino County Credit Union is now the Arrowhead Credit Union.
Hanson: I know, I belong.
MONNINGER: Shame on you. I'm a bank fellow. (laughing) So that's the arrowhead. I'm secretary/treasurer. We don't have any committee or don't have anybody else. Jack is chairman and Bruce Varner is an attorney, a friend of mine that I've known for a long time. He's now over in Riverside, so I send him the checks once in a while when I need to have some money spent, well he signs my checks and sends it back to me. But there is a lot that could be done. At least we need to kind of broaden our committee to get something done so people can become better acquainted. The brochures that I had printed originally are, of course, long out of print so once in a while when I do have some meeting that I've been asked to speak to about the arrowhead, why I have copies of that old brochure made just to hand out if they're interested to have the legends of the arrowhead to read to their grandkids to lull them to sleep. There's quite some stories there in the old legends of the arrowhead. But I kind of lament the fact that we made a promise to the City Parks Department that we would maintain the property. At the time they gave us permission because it is on the north end of a park property up there. We said we would maintain it so that's what I fall heir to, to kind of help maintain it. I've had to do several things all the time in picking up, particularly as I say, practically every week at least when I'm home I'm out there picking up trash and straightening things up around and cleaning up the little league field over and beyond there, the parking lot. They don't do as well as that maintaining and picking up the trash, so we've tried to maintain it.
Originally we had brochures out there with a stand a little money deal on the side with brochures available and they could drop in a coin, maybe 25 cents in the slot and there would be a lock box underneath the thing and I could unlock it down underneath and get the little coin out. I've had that, well anyway they destroyed that locking system about three different times so finally I gave up and so I don't have any brochures up there for distribution any longer. And of course the sign that I have there with a description about the arrowhead, it's been destroyed one way or the other from time to time and it's about the third sign I've had made. It's telling the fact that it's maintained for your benefit and please keep it clean and respect it, but it doesn't always happen. It's amazing, but originally when I wanted to make a view site monument up there, you always think, "Gosh sakes there will be vandals up there doing this and doing that, they're going to have it torn apart." But my viewpoint is the fact that if you don't do something you're just kind of giving in to the ones that destroy the good things that are available. So anyway, we've gone ahead and tried to maintain it as much as possible. But we do furnish and have readiness to furnish the money to the Forest Service because in the years before they used to blue pencil it out when they cut down the budget. They had to eliminate this and that and it got eliminated. So, that's why we have funds, to help maintain the area by the Forest Service. That's that.
Oh, well let's see. I've been a good number of years ago on the board
of the Concert Association, which puts on the yearly concerts, which have
been going on about 60 years. They bring in outside top-notch performers
into San Bernardino. It's probably the only concern group around doing
that since way back when. So the concern association is still in existence
although it's in hard times right now getting the season memberships.
But they do still have some pretty good shows and apparently they had
a nice show here, the Puerto Rico Ballet here last month that apparently
was well received. But, there again, it's kind of costly. So anyway, I
was involved in that and named to the executive board of directors for
the Concert Association quite a number of long years ago. I went off a
number of years and then they asked me back on again, so then I was treasurer
for a couple of years. But I'm still on the board of the Concert Association.
I can give you some brochures on that, because you need to belong to the
Hanson: See, this is the way to get new members.
MONNINGER: Oh we need them. We need them.
Hanson: So let me ask you, with all these activities, do you ever sleep?
MONNINGER: Oh I don't have that many.
Hanson: Oh yes, you have a lot. You sound like me, you have trouble saying no to people.
MONNINGER: Well, I mentioned about the Exchange Club and also the Kiwanis Club. I've been a member of the Kiwanis Club now for 43 years. But the Concert Association I've been past treasurer and board member.
I've been involved in a scholarship program ever since the Kiwanis Club, I used to be chairperson of that for two or three times off and on down through the years on the scholarship committee of the Kiwanis Club. Subsequently then I got named to the Board of the San Bernardino Community Scholarship Association. I was named president of that. I worked my way up from treasurer for four years, then vice president for a couple of years and then president for a couple of years. Then I went off the board after a while and then I'm back on the board, but then I got president again for a couple of years. So I'm just now the immediate past president after the second year of being past president of the scholarship association. We primarily do the secretarial work and the bookkeeping and accounting work for the ones that are giving scholarships. We have about 100 different organizations and individuals and some businesses that give scholarships and we handle the funds for them where they then pay it in to us and we make notice to the scholarship counselors at the schools that they have this scholarship to do and this and that. And so that paperwork is done by the association and then we make the payout upon the certification of enrollment.
Some people that do give scholarships that do not belong to our association, they just give the money to them probably upon the awards assembly that each school has. They give it to them at that time, not knowing what they are going to do with it, not knowing whether they're going to go to college or not, although it's designed to have them further their education. But in our program we always pay the money out only upon certification of enrollment at a college or vocational school and so it's at least not utilized for a summer vacation. But I've been involved in that since I guess the middle 50's or something. Since that time I've been involved in the scholarship awards one way or the other. So I'm still on the board of the Scholarship Association and was just immediate past president last July.
I don't know if I've been in anything else besides the church foundation. Oh, I'm a member of the Library Foundation. The San Bernardino City Library Foundation was started about six or seven years ago. They started a foundation to try to build up an endowment fund; trying to work towards an endowment fund. But anyway trying to be of help to the library. But I was asked to be a member of the Board of the City Library Foundation, which I have been the last three years now. So I'll probably be on there for another three years. That's it.
Hanson: Are you sure now?
MONNINGER: I think so. That's enough. But generally as a result of my vocation in the banking business, it kind of exposed me to certain activities around the town and then even as a bank officer even before I was a manager, you got named, saying well you need to help the United Way fundraising or the Boy Scout fundraising or this and that so you get involved in one way or the other down through the years. So one thing lead to another. I tried to at least give back a little bit.
Hanson: I think you succeeded.
MONNINGER: That's about enough of my activities that I can think of.
Hanson: Let me ask you one last question. If you think back to growing up here, what's your favorite memory?
MONNINGER: [long pause] Well, as a young person?
Hanson: Anytime. Any time in your life in San Bernardino, what's the thing you remember that stands out the most?
MONNINGER: I really don't know.
Hanson: Oh oh, I put you on the spot.
MONNINGER: I would say, well way back before I became a manager, my boss at the bank was active in the Chamber of Commerce and he asked me to be Chairperson of the Education Committee and I did. We got together with the school system and they had a day set aside for training or this and that. They had special days that they can be excused from school. We had an education day that we put on and brought what we called "Business Education Day" so we had assignments back out to the teachers and to the businesses that agreed to take two or three or four teachers and spend a greater part of the day with them at least to show them and tell them something about the business to help the teachers become better acquainted with the business workings and what there is available vocation-wise. So that was a program that I was in charge of way back in the middle 50's probably. I don't really know what would be standing out in my mind.
Hanson: Sometimes people just have something that just doesn't fit in any category that they just like to throw out. That was your opportunity; you missed it. [Both laughing)
MONNINGER: Well when I was a young kid, a young guy around the neighborhood, in the summertime we would always be getting together with the kids around on Base Line and on Arrowhead and down to 11th Street and there would always be five or six of us around getting together doing something or other on most summer evenings. And the playing around, nothing in particular that I can recall, but nonetheless, just getting together.
Hanson: Just the friendship, camaraderie.
MONNINGER: And it lasted for a long time.
Hanson: Thank you so much. That was great.