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26 September, 2007 / Erik

Leaving the Villiage

Stone BoatFor years I would pass this boat along Huntington Drive and Rosemead, curious as the old timey sign proclaimed CLEARMAN’S VILLAGE. This place was much older than me, so when I first saw it, I called it “the other Farrell’s.” I would not eat at the other Farrel’s until 1995 on the way back from a school field trip. Our teacher arranged to eat at the Boat, properly named Clearman’s Galley. A decent enough hamburger. I went again a handful of times over the years, assuming it would all be there forever.

Well, we all know how fool-hearty it is to believe the future allows for permanence. The Village was demolished over the summer to make room for a Kohl’s and for progress.

The North Woods Inn in San Gabriel opened in 1966. The Galley a couple of years later. I’m not going to tell you a lot about Clearman himself, as precious little about him is available in immediate access beyond the corporate speak at Clearman’s website. What’s important to know is the Village, besides the restaurants (which actually included a third, the Steak ‘n’ Stein) was a strange strip mall made to look like a frontier trading post. It featured a gun shop, a miniatures store, and a large independent market. All of these stores closed as the Kohl’s plan was long in development and from that mindset, it was the right thing to do. The eight acre site was a essentially a giant parking lot for two restaurants (I’m not entirely sure when the Steak ‘n’ Stein closed) with the shops in the Village either losing their leases or being pushed out but a far-seeing property owner. Bulldozing the complex and building something that will make money is the only sensible option.

At least, from a money-man point of view.

I love and hate Los Angeles County. Part of my rage is just how quickly we toss aside our peculiar past. The legacy of roadside attractions and the commuter culture that now is the exclusive province of yellowing photos and old men who were there to remember drive-ins across from the Farmer’s Market. the SignThough it was aging, the Village was a hold-out of another time. A special memorial to that different era, where your property could be bold and garish while still being functional. All of it will be gone as we slowly close back into tighter communities. We now know the experiment of the Sprawl is a failure. Now, it’s all underneath a big-box tombstone, a sign of the great excess before the final dismantling of that bold culture more than a half-century gone.

However, there is something to look forward to. The North Woods Inn was not destroyed, so we can still enjoy the best bleu cheese dressing and all you can eat salads.

Also, the Boat will return in a new facility adjacent to the North Woods Inn on Rosemead Blvd, maybe a football field away from where it sat, dry-docked, for nearly fifty years.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Shannon / Sep 27 2007 3:22 pm

    You may assume, that as a resident of Las Vegas, I know exactly what you mean. Only I find it harder to admit “love” for the city and county’s “plans.”

  2. Erik / Sep 27 2007 6:43 pm

    Vegas has a rich mythology born of less than a 100 years as a destination city. Of course, it’s a history most people don’t care about. It’s a very strange cultural cannibalism that would make a great tale at some point.

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