Memories of a Lost Boulevard; JonSons Markets

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JonSons Market
4820 Whittier Boulevard between Fetterly & Fraser Avenues, East Los Angeles
Brooklyn & Matthews Avenue, East Los Angeles
Whittier Blvd. & Lorena, East Los Angeles
Whittier Blvd. & 20th Street, Montebello

Every payday my dad would give my mom her expense allowance for the week.
I recall that it was about $25 for all the groceries and necessities our household might need. My mom would grumble about what a cheapskate my dad was and she’d have to always supplement that allowance with her meager earnings from her seamstress job at Jod’is Sportswear sweatshop factory on Whittier Bl. & Vancouver Ave….

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A very grainy image of JonSons Market on 4820 Whittier Blvd. taken from a 1968 newspaper ad.

jonsons1 Some original 60’s era local Tribune paper ads & coupons for JonSons Market. I remember these well! My mom would check these for the weekly specials……

jonsons3 The $120 a week my Dad made went a long way…….

.jonsons4 … And don’t forget the Blue Chip Stamps! …More on that a little further down!!!!!

dsc01241 This is the current exterior view of JonSons Market. dsc01240 Now a Top Value market.

On the weekends my Mom would usually drag one of my brothers and me to go grocery shopping at “La Yonson.” We lived two short blocks away so we’d all walk down Whittier Blvd. where I’d check out the movie posters at the Center Theater and my mom would window shop at Lerner’s, Woolworth and La Popular. Sometimes my mom would stop and make a lay-a-way payment along the way and I’d stop and toy shop when she’d let me run into Grant’s or Kress department stores.
I actually enjoyed myself on those grocery shopping trips. My duty was to push the shopping cart around while my mom shopped. She’d be casually choosing the chile serranos, & verdolagas while I tortured my little brother as he sat in the shopping cart seat. I’d spray him with the little water hose you’d find next to the fresh produce displays and make him cry until he snitched me out and I was ordered to get the hell away from there.
If I had any coins, I’d go push them into the vending machines in the back of the store and score some cool plastic Batman rings. Then I’d wander the aisles examining the little red boxes of Cudahy Rex Manteca Lard, The googly-eyed pig heads in the frozen case and poke my fingers into the Van De Kamp’s pies. JonSon’s also had a tiny toy rack that I’d peruse until I found an item that I could try to sneak into my mom’s cart along with the Count Chocula or Pink Panther cereal that was constantly denied me.
The place was bright and colorful with an interior balcony along the back wall. There was a staircase to the second level which housed a barber shop and some offices. The store manager would often lean over the railing to check on any suspicious types. That little staircase near the back entrance always drew me to climb it and explore the catwalk that overlooked the store. It was a great view of all the shoppers and lots of fun until I got ordered down one day for throwing shit down at my brothers.

Some images of the interior of the store today. A few things remain unchanged, but it’s been entirely transformed for the most part. You can spot the upper floor walkway towards the rear ceiling line in the third image below to the right.

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jonsons1 The intriguing staircase near the rear entrance leading to the upper level catwalk and offices. I’d run up there all the time. Currently off limits.

dsc01239 The snack bar area near the Whittier Blvd. entrance.

dsc01235 The rear entrance/exit facing the parking lot. This is where the bulletin board used to be. This used to be a place where the locals would tack up index cards advertising everything from rooms for rent to sobadóres and solicitations for babysitters and housekeepers.

dsc00480 The rear of the store.

dsc01243 JonSon’s Market had an expansive parking lot in the back that spanned Fetterly to Ferris Avenues. This little shack Locksmith Key Shop has remained intact as far as I can tell. It still stands!

The JonSons Markets chain was first opened in 1947 by the Inadomi family who were in the food retailing business since 1923. In 1968 Manager Yosh Inadomi (who I remember seeing in the store all the time) invited customers to “Look for the galaxy of values in groceries, meats, produce and delicatessen arranged for you by the young men of ideas, who are the managers and department heads of the JonSons Markets chain. Youth must be served.”
Near the Whittier Blvd. entrance there was a popular food stand inside the market. I recall also a bakery and a taco kitchen being there over the years. In the late 80’s I remember that they also brought in a vendor with the latest thing, VHS videos for sale and rent, mostly Spanish language titles and bad dubs of Mexican films.

Halloween
JonSon’s Market employees would put on the most elaborate, scary and fantastic costumes on Halloween day. Every year, we’d go down just to see what everyone from the bag boys to the managers was wearing. We were told that there was a big cash prize incentive award for the best costumes. They were always the talk of the town on Halloween. My little brothers would express their terror with wet cheeks and calzónes. What fun it was to have a wicked witch ring you up while a mummy bagged your groceries as Satanas would wave and growl “Please come again!” I loved it!

Adjacent to JonSon’s Market was the RECORD INN music store. Opened in the early 60’s by Mike Carcano, this store was in the forefront of promoting local and Chicano music and was the local outlet for records by local groups from The Romancers and Cannibal & the Headhunters to Tierra and Los Lobos. There were times I’d walk by and hear live bands rehearsing upstairs. If you ever wanted to check out what shows and dances were coming up with your favorite local bands, you just had to check out the colorful assortment of posters that filled their windows. It no longer exists. The former space now sells swap-meet style tschatskes.

dsc00483 You need to look really closely to make out the old “Record In” painted signage.

card_record_inn An image of a Record Inn record collector’s card you’d get with every record purchase!

media_jonsons_article_64_175pxls Ad for a live music show that was presented back in the 60’s in the rear parking lot area behind JonSons Market & Woolworth’s.

media_jonsons_bands_64_500pxls Looks like it was a heck of a fun show!

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Accessible from that JonSon’s back alley is also CAVAZO’S UNISEX (as it used to be called) HAIRSTYLIST & BARBER SHOP. The original Mr. Cavazo no longer runs the shop but his name has remained on the sign. My dad has a great story about visiting Cavazo’s Barber Shop. It seems that one morning he and some other customers were sitting in the shop waiting for their turn at the next available barber. Enter, one of the barbers reporting for late for his shift with alarmingly unsteady steps and begins pulling on his smock and preparing his cutting tools. The obviously inebriated barber then turns to the waiting customers and with a dizzying, swaying posture begins to call out “NEXT!” My dad tells how every customer hid behind magazines or pretended not to to hear as the drunk barber continued to call out; ”NEXT!”————“NEXT!”—————-“NEXT!

dsc01242 ….Oh, and you’ll find the Mexican Walk of Fame right out side the door at JonSons.

Here are a couple of old 1969 images of JonSons from the period of the Chicano Protests…….

morning-after You can see the store and sign way in the background.

whittier-aftermath This shot is from the front of JonSons side of the street towards the corner of Fraser Ave. Some post-riot destruction. I remember the Market being boarded up before that weekend, as many stores also did,  in anticipation of the possible violence and looting.

Here are some current images of the other three old JonSons Markets locations in East Los Angeles;

matt This is the current location site of the old Brooklyn Ave. & Matthews store. It looks to be a big lot with temp offices used for some off-site field work and vehicle storage, possibly for the Linea De Oro construction.

dsc01231 This is the old Whittier Blvd, near Lorena location. It’s now a Vallarta Market. Here’s a couple more images of this one…

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This is the former location of the JonSons Market in Montebello, as it looks today. It’s been replaced by Senior housing,…..Que lástima!

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…Getting back to the BLUE CHIP STAMPS, I happen to own a couple of original booklets of BLUE CHIP and S&H GREEN STAMPS,…

u u1

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I remember going with my family to the Stamp Claim Center so that my mom could pick up her prize merchandise. I also remember that it was a process that took forever and I’d be bored out of my mind in there. Luckily they did have a few toys and kid friendly items I could pass the time with. I decided to go look up the old Blue Chip Stamp Claim Center in Montebello. This is it today. It appears to be some kind of medical office.

dsc01270 I’m glad that at least the building is still standing.

JonSons Market will always be a part of my heart and memories. It’s funny how it’s the little things that become such a big part of our lives. Hasta Luego!

This entry was posted in culture, East Los, Eastside, Food, history, Personal, Photos, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: alguerrero@earthlink.net Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697 www.alguerrero.com Myspace.com/thepuppetsfromhell

49 thoughts on “Memories of a Lost Boulevard; JonSons Markets

  1. La Yonson’s on Whittier and Lorena is where my grandmother would shop because of the coupons and blue chip stamps she collected. For everyday items she would go to the Star Mkt (or they would deliver)on 4th and Fresno where Suzy (La Japonesa) would give my Abuelita credit (and Suzy and her husband both spoke fluent Spanish), but when grandma got her Social Security check then either my Father or myself would take turns taking her to Jonsons. She would spend a couple of hours there shopping and inspecting carefully every item she bought, it would drive me fucking crazy.
    Then when I took her home (her little canton, the rear house on 6 th St and Grande Vista) she wouldn’t let me leave until she served me those great home made meals of flour tortilla’s, pinto beans and chile colorado.
    I sure miss her.

  2. Al what year was that when you are reminising being a kid at the store? I rememebr this old grocery chain in San Pedro (family owned) was named Mc Cowans, it reminds me of how you explain your trips to the store.I remember they had that long walkway as well to look over and see if there was anybody stealing, but I am sure people stole stufff more then they would ever now, it was super easy back then. There was actually 3 Mc Cowans stores in town and one turned into Top Valu and the other the 99 cent store the last one was shut down like 3 years ago. My favorite part was getting cheap toys whenever I go with my dad. He would always buy us hostess apple pies the individual ones and cornuts! man memories!One time I accidently got a bag of chewing tabbacoo because i though it was that shredded baseball gum it looked the same almost! My dad did not realize till we got home lol we went back right away to return it.

  3. Wow good job and thanks for the memories !

    your hard work is greatly appreciated.

    Like they say- live in the present but never never forget the past and our history.

    I grew up near the Montebello JonSons and then i left the area and now im back again- yes we have a senior living community.

    Sometimes i think that Montebello is trying to become like Florida and Palm Springs for seniors lol
    Seriously the tallest building in the city is Beverly Towers on Beverly Blvd….funny or ironic?

  4. DJ- This was from the late 60’s to around the mid 70’s that I grew up around Kern Ave & Whittier Bl. I think they finally closed down the last JonSons Markets around early 90’s(?) I could be wrong. I’d love the Hostess Pies too and these things that looked like red twinkies with stripes called “Tiger Tales”.
    Hostess also made “Snowballs”, these gooey covered cupcakes things. There was a competing brand of similiar treats called “Mickey’s”. They also used to sell these big glass gallon soda jugs called “Mother’s Pride”. Back then we’d collect the empty bottles and get the deposit money back from the store. Who remembers RC Royal Crown Cola? I remember that the Liquor stores would also sell a lot of cigars. “White Owl” and “Dutch Masters”. The old beers were “Hamm’s” (the beer refreshing) “Burgermeister” (Burgie), and “Lucky Lager” to name a few.

  5. Al, great post, as always!
    DJ, your story about the tobacco/Big League Chew gum is so cute! Wow, your dad actually went back to the store? How sweet!
    I was kinda addicted to Cornuts for awhile. I had horrible junk food habits in junior high despite my mom trying to get my brother and I to eat healthy. We’d just buy stuff when she wasn’t around: strawberry soda, chili cheese Fritos, those huge dill pickles they sold from jars on the counter, ice cream sandwiches, Bubble Yum and Choco-diles. Oh, man…I’d still eat the pickles though! 🙂

  6. Bad ass post Al, siempre! Great pics and memory.

    When I was little we would drive from So. Central to Johnson’s on Whittier n Lorena for the real Mexicano supplies we couldn’t get at Safeway in my area.

    When I was just out of high school I dated a girl that worked in the check cashing booth inside Johnson’s in Montebello. We broke with her in the booth and me standing outside of it, no screaming just hard stares and mumbled words. Gosh we thought we knew love.

  7. I used to work two shops down from the Brooklyn one, my family shopped at the Lorena one, and I worked for a summer a block away from the East Los one. I’d hit up that store all the time, if you know what I mean. Eventually, I got caught (kiddies, never leave the toothpaste box inside an jolla, just take it too!) and had the pleasure of being berated by the security guard while I posed for a polaroid with my loot, which also included panty hose. But that’s all the incriminating details I’m saying! Ah yes, memories.

  8. Yes snowballs I do remember those ha ha I think Hostess was like the big time desert maker at stores for a while, that and Entenmann’s we would always got to the Hostess Thrift Shop too. Also I was one to be curious about weird pathways or doors in the store much like you where with the staircase (I am still like that) lol. I would always try to peek in the back of the store; the produce area had those plastic curtain strips hanging down in the doorway so I would always look in there.
    @Chimatli, yeah he went back to the store to return it because he was kind of like “what”? That it was tobacco and not gum, but that goes to show you how the tobacco companies had more freedom back then to promote like, candy cigarettes which I REALLY THOUGHT WHERE COOL and the cigarette machine at the local hamburger stand, which I always played with pulling all the knobs, and well the Big League chewing gum which did imitate tobacco lol.

  9. My family went to the Brooklyn JonSons. I remember the doors one to enter and one to exit with a black rubber floor and a rail in the middle. When we would go my mom and sisters would go inside to shop and my dad and I would hang out in the parking lot. Sometimes he would have his car worked on the backside of the lot by a parking lot mechanic. He also took his car to other stores that had parking lot mechanics on Whittier Blvd. Other sodas I remember were BubbleUp, Dad’s Root Beer, and Kist. Besides the sweets what about the trading cards that had a “slab” stick of gum in it? Usually the stick of gum was harder than the cards that came with it. All of my friends would give me their gum and I would soften them up by leaving them in my pocket for awhile. I remember buying a small Pepsi and chips for I think 15 cents?

  10. Al, this is another fantastic history of Whittier Blvd post! I was especially interested in the info on the Record Inn. If only I could time travel! That’s THE record store I’ve been looking for, too bad it’s part of the past…I would have lost my mind trying to hear everything they must have stocked!

    I wanted to know, do you know anything about the bands listed on the gig flier you posted? I assume “The Blue Angels” is the same band as “Los Blue Angels” who I have on an album from around 1970 on Del Gordo records? Great band, they play two killer rock covers (en espanol, natch) “Amor” (a Doors cover, and way better than the original), and “Donde Esta Mendocino,” originally by S.D.Q. and equally great. The rest is mostly a combination of more traditional Mexican ballads and songs, one of my favorite kinds of lp’s. I don’t know if there is a “genre” for this kind of record, but it’s similar to bands like Apocolipsis, Los Chavoz, Los Babys, Los Leos y Johnny Dynamo, etc.

    Did you ever hear the “Eastside Sound” compilations on Dionysus records? My girlfriend bought vol. 2 long before we ever lived within walking distance of Whittier, several years ago when we still lived in Portland. When we pulled it out to hear it again recently, not even realizing it was from East Los Angeles (I thought maybe it was from Houston or San Antonio without reading the liner notes by Mark Guerrero), the first track is “Down Whittier Boulevard” by Godfrey & Friends from around 1966, really good stuff. Does anybody rember that one? I would post a copy if I can get my damn c.d. recorder to work again since I have it only on vinyl. I would love to hear more about the Record Inn and music in East Los Angeles in general, keep up the great posts.

    And I gotta say, even though I never went to JonSon’s, I still remember the old and now-long gone supermarkets where I grew up like the Food Giant, which was the same kind of place, but not as cool. Next time I go to Vallarta, I will feel nostalgic for the past I’ve never seen…

  11. @ Javi…I remember seeing that too people working on cars in parking lots, I think now-a-days you’ll get the boot for somthing like that, and I am talking about seeing this still in the late 1980’s. and @ Sopsaseso, btw my mom and pops always pronounced any store name all messed up but in a funny way and still do ha ha.

  12. Dave M., Many thanks for your comments. I’m working on a follow up to focus more on the music side of ELA & Whittier.
    Stay tuned. Funny you should mention the tune: “Down Whittier Blvd.” I love it too, great instrumental jam! I’ve been trying to put it on these Memories post but something about it being an mp4 makes it difficult. I’ll keep tryin!

    Javi- Thanks to you too! luckily you can still find many of those old sodas at GALCO’S 5702 York Bl., in Highland Park!
    I plan on doing a post of some of the old grocery items that luckily I have in my posession still, rat-pack collector that I am!

  13. Hey Al, now I’m curious. The version of “Down Whittier Blvd” on the compilation that I’ve heard has kind of a pre-rap vocal describing the scene…you have a version without vocals?

  14. DJ- You too huh.. Vamos a Bruqlin, Yonsens, Beeg By, Quemart, Lookies, Chafeway, Foo Yayent, Sodees, MucDunulds, Yak en el Vux, Chears, Chwop meet, and my favorite one is where I use to work at Hughes Aircraft and it would turn in ooogees rrrkraf.

  15. WOW, this is a fantastic post! I can’t believe the post-riot pics…the second photo is taken in front of Morgan’s Dress Store, directly to the east of Jonsons on Whittier and Ferris. My grandma, Emma Gonzales, was the store manager at Morgan’s for over 20 years. In the photo, my grandpa, Tony Gonzales, is standing in the doorway to Morgan’s, head bowed down, facing the street. He had gone with my grandma the morning after the riot to help and make sure she wasn’t in any danger. After the windows were boarded up, my grandma and grandpa came to my parents’ apartment in Wyvernwood to tell us all about the destruction. I shall treasure this photo forever! Thanks for posting! Got any more post-riot pix?

  16. Do you guys remember a old man that would sell steaming tamales from a cart at the back exit of JonSons in the 80s my mom would always buy be one when we were done shopping .

  17. OMG! That is my yonsons. That’s the market my mom and I would walk to, we lived on Eastern And Whittier. My fondest memory was the tiny carnival type ride in the back of the store.. I used to love riding in it, or just sitting in it when we didn’t have ‘coras’.
    I do remember the tamale guy… it was a rare day when we were allowed to get one. They were delish.
    No my mom shops at Top Value, she calls it “tavalu” LOL!
    Thanks for the post!

  18. -Ken-Thanks for the great story related to the post-riot photos. That’s awesome! that these posts & people like you should cross paths and bring about these remarkable bits of information that may seem like ephemera but actually fill in wonderful spaces in the life’s timeline of memories for many of us.

    -Dr. Arm- Yes! That was “La Nena” Tamales. That back parking lot area seemed to have a life of it’s own!

    -Dave M.- The version of “Down Whittier Bl.” that I’m talking about is an instrumental by Thee Midnighters.

  19. I’m Ken’s (in this thread) ex-wife. We both grew up in the area. He shared this with me because of the picture of Morgan’s and boy does it bring back memories. I remember the workers at la Yonson (Whittier Blvd/Lorena)wore white shirts with black ties, and their aprons where a mustard yellow color. I could still smell the meat case as you walked in the door near the alley. If I remember correctly the toy section was like the 3rd aisle from the Whittier Blvd entrance. This, the only reason for the trip of course ;). My favorite ride was also the Circus chair thingy that went in a circle like a mini ferris wheel.

    The goofy way our parents pronounced things or referred to them, made me laugh because obviously all our parents did the same thing. So I have to share my mom’s goofy pronunciations Foofooless, pina vare(peanut butter), churrios, and all the ones Javi mentioned. Thanks for the trip everyone!

  20. Aldesmadre gracias gracias what memories you bring back to a place where I once worked to save money to buy my school books at Loyola High School.
    I used to work in the Whittier & Lorena Jonson’s as a box boy. But I also dearly remember the Jonson’s at Whittier & Fetterly because that is where all new employee’s were processed and trained.
    Your pictures and comments parallel my memories.
    Because of the air conditioning and working in both the milk and produce coolers I was always getting colds which were a result of going from the stores cold air to the hot summer days outside while retrieving stranded shopping carts from the parking lot.
    My dad also has fond memories as well since the Jonson’s on Whittier & Lorena during his high school days was once a bowling alley where teenagers from Roosevelt would hang out.
    Thanks for the memories and hope this blog lives on.
    Although I dont live in the East los anymore I still live in the East side only a couple of miles down wind in Whittier.

  21. Al- Excellent post once again!! Johnson’s Market is a classic Market of the past that is always worth ‘membering, I remember the old school tamaleros, (La Imperial)of the 60’s and 70’s that would seem to congregate there in the back by the alley. The Hostess “Snowballs” are still around, remember when they were in Chocolate Flavor? I remember Dad’s Root Beer,Diet Rite, Bubble Up, and Tab sodas!!, who remembers an old beer called “Eastside” Beer? My next door neighbor in the 60’s an old white guy from Alabama, who came down Whittier Blvd when it wasn’t much more than a road used to drink that beer all the time!!

  22. I got to work at JonSons in Montebello as a boxboy (funny they were still using that outdated term) for about six months before it closed. I think it was late ’93 or early ’94… Yet I still think it was the best job I’ve ever had. In part it’s because it was easy to make friends among the employees both at that location as well as at the other stores and we all felt like part of a network, a community, with some good gossip. The customers (and the shoplifters) were, of course, part of that community too.

    Looking back, I think the chain’s closing is a bigger tragedy than I realized at that time. Those were union jobs we had which came with great benfits–I got a ton of dental work done while there (I’m embarrassed to say how much I needed) without paying a penny out of pocket. The new store at Lorena and many other supermarkets that have opened since then are non-union and pay relatively shitty wages.

  23. WOW…good job…I worked for JonSons Mrkts for some time…from about 1980-1987…I had a great time…I was a checker and morning crew person…lots good memories working all night long with some really great people…I miss that job at times. Thanks FS

  24. This is a wonderful trip down memory lane in so many ways. My mother would take us (my sister and I) on the bus from Union Pacific to the Whittier Boulevard JonSons Market as children…I have the same memories of climbing up the stairs to use the restroom and looking down at all the customers. Afterwards, my mother would hail a taxi from the back entrance of the store and we would ride-in-style back to the our barrio. When my father bought a Bonneville automobile, which we called the Batmobile, we would travel to the JonSons at Whittier and Lorena…by then we were teenagers who had to endure waiting for our parents to go grocery shopping. We would pass the time by looking at the grocery shoppers from the safety of our Batmobile and try to guess what each one was thinking and say it out loud to make each other laugh. When my cousin came over from Mexico, my uncle said, “Abracadabra,” to the automatic doors and scared the hell out of my cousin…he wasn’t used to such type of doors since he was from a very, very small town in Arandas, Jalisco. Later on, we became upwardly mobile, “as they say” and moved to Montebello and started grocery shopping at the Montebello JonSons. At around 17, I developed a crush on a young Latino named, of all names “Lee,” and I think that the feeling was mutual…I have been wondering about him ever since. Lee, if you are out there, please respond, or if anyone knows how to locate Lee, please respond…The psychic Sylvia Browne said that we would meet one day…could this be the connection?

  25. If I remember correctly…Lee worked at the Montebello JonSons Market around the 70s… I would love to hear from you…

  26. Thank you for the great memories. After reading this it took me back to the days that I worked at “J-2” (as employees referred to it) the JonSons on Whittier and Fetterly. I worked at this market for about 8 years back in the 80’s. The last year of my career as a “checker” was at “J-3” the JonSons on Whittier and Lorena.

    I wonder if the “Frank S.” who wrote a response was one of my co workers. He speaks about the morning crew and it sure sounds like it is him. He is absolutle right in saying that our co worker where a great group of people. My greatest momories were those I experienced while an employee of the Inadomi Family. Thanks, Jon, Bob, Patti, Mrs. Chen and Taz.

    Debbie Y.

  27. The people that I worked with and for were…Tom Deleo…Bobby Carillo…Arturo ? Gonzo…Hector V. …I do remember a Debbie…Oh and my uncle worked for JonSons as well Henry S. We had lots of fun…radio going all night long…recieving…going down into that basement…two other people I remember are Gus Alonzo and Robert and some crazy but nice guy Jose…he had lots of tatoos and lived near the store…I wish I could think of more names but I can still picture many happy faces.

  28. Hey Henry:

    There were 2 Debbie’s at J-2. I was the one who was straight. I think I went to your wedding (reception at the Radisson in Norwalk???).
    Do you remeber Abdon P., John P., Mitz, Francine, Martha,Robert V. (the playboy), Annette, Mary S., Rose A., Sergio (the deli guy), Ana (the spanish speaking japanese checker), Connie M., Gracie’s Patry which turned into a mexican restauarnt?
    Great time and great people!

  29. Hi Debbie its Frank…Yes you did go to my wedding …you should told me not to do it!! 🙂 and I do remember both Debbies! I remember all of those names…I ran into Jesse the box boy who’s sister worked in the bakery…You got married young as well? Do you ever see anyone from the old store? Its really good to hear from you.

  30. Frank:

    That would be Jesse Gachupin. He was my neighbor back in the day. Yes, I too got married young, it will be 24 years in February.

    From the old store I have run into Hector V, Francince (whose actually my husband’s cousin) and that’s about it. My sister (who was a supervisor at J-3) went to a funeral recently (for Art Acosta-worked frozen section at J-3) and she said she ran into a whole bunch of people from J-2.

    Too bad there is not a better way to communicate with you which would not expose our private info.

    Take care, Deb-

  31. I worked for JonSons Markets from 1963 to 1979. I started as a courtesy clerk or box boy when I was in H.S. I attended Montebello H.S. My neighbor got the job
    for me. I worked a J2, J4 and J1. A conservative and
    closed family corporation with a strong history of serving the community. I worked up to Grocery Dept Head. Yosh Inadomi, was an amazing person. By the way
    he was not the mananger, but the General Manager of the
    Company. His history was very impressive. His family was put in interment camps during WW11. He had finished his college education when the war started. He enlisted and was highly decorated in the 442 Division in Europe. He
    was a dedicated son and father. His father Jon Imadomi
    was the namesake for the Company. All his family were
    given the opportunity to complete their education and
    they did. After Yosh died of a heart attack his oldest son Bob took over the operation. But the company didn’t quite have the same influence without Yosh. I remember
    working in a night crew situation during the late 60’s at J1. When all of sudden he would walk in and sneak up clerks who were slacking and kick them in the butt. Something you couldn’t do today without litigation. While I worked there, my favorites were Joe Chen, Frank Takanaka, Thom
    Deleo, and of course Yosh. I was at J2 during the Chicano riots. I actually heard the tear gas cannister blast that killed Ruben Salazar.

  32. Debbie…go to Facebook…and look me up…I have kept in contact with many old friends and family that way…Frank Salcido (Whittier High School Alumni Page Whittier CA) I hope to hear from you soon.

  33. Debbie,
    I knew Art Acosta very well. We worked together
    a few times. About seven years my wife and I ran into him on a Mexican Rivera Cruise. Art was a
    good person. When I was involved in Youth Sports,
    I had his son on my one of my little league teams.
    I also had the opportunity to have his little girl
    on the same ponytail team as my daughter. Art always showed up to all their events. Last time I
    saw Art junior was at a Montebello vs El Rancho
    CIF final tennis match in 1985. He came up to me
    and said (Hi!). Can you tell me when Art passed away. I was reading some of these ex-employee accounts and they are very interesting. I heard the name Bobby Carrillo. I hired him and also recommed him for promotion. He turned out to be a great kid. Does anyone know what happened to him. When I left JonSons, I was hired on at the
    old Lucky Stores, I brought aleast twelve ex-JonSons employees with me. I was not to popular
    because of this. Any information on employees
    during the era between 1963 and 1986 would be appreciated. I have a wealth of information that
    might interesting to some.

  34. Dave…I worked with Bobby for years on the morning crew in the Montebello store before I went to over to the Whittier and Lorena store with Hector Valencia…But Bobby and his wife Irene opened a restaurant in Whittier in the late 80’s or early 90’s I don’t know if it is still there…but Bobby and I had become good friends along with Jerry Torres and Hector…Bobby lived in Whittier off Broadway for years and my still live there…You may have worked or new my uncle Henry who helped get me the job at JonSons…he was different but a good guy. I wonder if you anything about Gonzalo (Gonzo) or Art…I can’t remember his last name but we called him “Tutee” a short little man he was on morning crew under Hector…Tutee was a crack up. Did you know Rick Lombardo (not sure on the spelling on the last name) if so what ever happen to him?

  35. Frank,
    Yes I knew Henry. I worked with him at J1.
    He was actually a very nice guy. He didn’t deserve the rap that he got, you know what I
    mean. He was a hard working person. He had
    hight expectations for his children. How did
    they turn out. He lived on the other side of
    the 60 frwy. Last time I heard from him, he
    was working for Certified Grocers. I remember Gonzalo, however I lost touch along time ago.
    He actually came to my first wedding. Where is
    Bobby working now. Rick Lombardo was working for Vons as District Manager. A few other character
    of interest Gilbert Pena, John Venzuela, Joe and
    Chick Chen, Frank Takenaka, Armando Palacios, Art
    Salazar, and Art Salazar. There are many others,
    I’m sure I’ll eventually remember. Frank what years did you work for JonSons. Is your uncle doing OK. Tell him Hi. Thanks for all the information.

  36. Was Henry the manager at the Montebello store when it closed in the early 90s?

    I guess you guys were before my time but I had an awesome time then. The people I knew aside from Henry (I think this was his name), Al Cano, Lulu, Sylvia (Asian woman who married a Mexican) and Gabriel, among others. Anybody know anything about them?

  37. HELLO TO EVERY ONE OF THE LOYAL CO WORKERS.I STARTED BACK IN 1967 AS A CLEAN UP BOY AT JONSON’S # 2 AND A STUDENT AT MONTEBELLO HIGH. ..
    BACK IN THOSE DAYS THE GROCERY MANAGER WAS A JAPANESE PERSON HIS NAME WAS HIRO I CAN’T REMEMBER HIS LAST NAME DAVE PALOS WHO LATER BECAME A PRESIDENT AT THE 770 UNION .NICE PERSON. I MET BOBBY RODRIGUEZ WHEN HE WAS THE RECEIVER AT J-2 . I MET MOST OF THE WORKERS IN ALL THE JONSON’S STORES.I WILL NEVER FORGET ALL THE PERSONNEL ..I WOULD LIKE TO SAY FROM MY HEART TO EVERYONE FROM OUR COMPANY TO ME YOU WERE THE MOST LOYAL WORKERS I EVER MET AND MANAGERS IN EVERY STORE AND EVERY DEP. INCLUDING THE JONSON’S FARMS IN OXNARD ..I WORKED AT J-2 ON THE MEAT DEP. WITH FRED BRIONES.DANNY JIMENEZ,ALEX SANDOVAL,HELEN FINK,EVA,GEORGE MUKAI,GILBERT PENA, MR. FISHER THE ONLY ANGLO INSIDE THE MEAT DEP..IN 1970 I CAME BACK FROM THE ARMY SERVICE AND JONSON’S MARKETS HIRE ME BACK. IN THE MEAT DEP.THEY SENT ME TO COLLEGE FOR BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AND MEAT APPRENTICE SCHOOL, UNDER DON JUAN INADOMI. I WORKED WITH MRS.CHAN JOSH INADOMI’S SISTER WHO BECAME THE MEAT BUYER A VERY STRONG PERSON WITH A STRONG CHARACTER AND LOYAL TO HER FAMILY. SHE HELPED THE COMMUNITY ALONG WITH GLORIA MOLINA IN EAST LOS ANGELES. SHE CARED A LOT FOR THE LATINO COMMUNITY.AND SHE MAYOR ON BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FROM LA UNIVERSIDAD AUTONOMA DE MEXICO SHE SPEAKS FLUENT SPANISH AND PROUD OF IT I REMEMBER SHIEKO CRYING AFTER BOB AND PATTY DECIDED TO CLOSE JONSON’S MARKETS .SHE GOT SO UPSET SHE HIT THE DESK ANGRY WISHING THAT SHE WAS A MEN .. BECAUSE IN THEIR TRADITION THE FIRST SUN OF THE OLDEST COULD RUN THE COMPANY.I PERSONALTY TRIED TO CALM HER DOWN ..IN MY MEMORY I REMEMBER SHIEKO FOR NOT GIVING UP .BUT BOB DECIDED HE WAS THE CO.PRESIDENT I WORKED FOR TOP VALU AS A MEAT MANAGER AND IS A LONG STORY FOR NOW…I THANK YOU ALL GOD BLESS YOU AND PLEASE IF YOU REMEMBER ME ..FORGIVE ME IF I NEVER COMMUNICATE TO SOME OF YOU..I’M RETIRED NOW AND I LIVE ON THE STATE OF COLORADO.LOOK ME UP ON FACE BOOK ..GOD BLESS..

  38. I found this webpage looking for info on the ELA Riots to show them to my wife. She’s from a small town in Virginia and is amazed at the ELA stories I’ve told her. Specially when I told her about the Watts, ELA, and LA riots, and getting jumped by The Vikings at Laguna Park, Salazar Park now, and she could not fathom anyone living in places with such adventure and “violence”.
    I lived in ELA from ’64 to ’76 when I moved to Alhambra. Then to South Gate then Montebello on Calle Cinco, not 5th street, then on to Lakewood, and work then took me to Atlanta and I am now in DC.
    My parents also shopped at “La Yonsons” on Whittier and Lorena but for meat for some reason they would shop at El Mercadito.
    Anyway, my fondest memory of “La Yonsons” is as follows:
    One evening my parents took my brother Louie and I to JonSons and we did not want to go in so we waited in the car and while we waited who exits the store but none other than “Black Gorman” the wrestler. If you watched wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium you might remember him as one half of the Gorman y Goliath tag team. Their story was that they were not form Mexico but from New Mexico, even though they did not speak a word of English, and they would say they hated Mexicans. My brother’s and my jaw dropped to see him hanging around ELA since he did not like Mexicans. If only there were cell phones with cameras, and Internet back them we would have posted a picture of his hangigng around “La Yonsons” all over the net… One other time while at JonSons I witnessed a lady paying for her groceries with Food Stamps, being so young and not knowing what they were, I asked my Dad why he didn’t pay with Monopoly money too. And believe it or not outside the lady was putting her groceries in a brand spanking new Cadillac and I told my dad that he too could have a new caddy if he paid with Monopoly money… we only had an old Dodge Cornet station wagon.
    Thank you all for the memories brought back with each post… Especially the one from Dave M that speaks of Los Blue Angels because it reminded me of the days I played with a group called Darkness ELA, and we had the pleasure to gig with them along with other well know Latino groups of the day, but no Dave they are not the same as the ones in the Record In which was in fact my favorite record store to shop in also.
    AlDesmadre, Thanks for the memories and the laughter shared… And thanks to all of you who have posted your memories too… They reminded me of my days at Rowan Ave Elemtentary, Stevenson Jr High, Belvedere Jr. High, Garfield HS, Wilson HS, ELA College, Cal State LA, but most important my time in the great town of ELA…
    Hey… Does anyone here remember the store called La Quebradita..???

    Guztavee

  39. This is very nice. Thank you for taking the time to post all these memories. My mom would collect Blue Chip stamps and I still have waffle-maker that she purchased with it. It still works and I love the flat side for Cuban sandwiches (they are grilled flat). Two nights ago I attended an ecent at the Writers Guild where they spoke about children trafficking in Africa and India — then at the end of all this, they said that they would be going into the ourskirts of Boyle Heights — at first, I thought they were talking about something in another country. But I soon realized that they meant *this* Boyle Heights. I am aware that to Wetside libs tEast Los Angeles is an outpost. Shame that they don’t know the culture that exists in their own backyard and must travel to India or whatever to see how “people of limited means hang on to their family values…” etc., etc., etc., Interesting.

  40. Does anyone know if there was a JonSons in Hollywood, Wilshire or Hancock Park areas? I always think of JonSons when watching…”Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” when Bette Davis is on the phone to purchase liquor and bellows..”Hey Blanche would you speak to this man from JonSons?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSHAkDUHk1k

  41. Mr. Al Guerrero, I was completely thrown back to the 60’s after reading your story about Boyle Heights and E.L.A. I went to grammar school as well as to Salesian High With Bob Gurrola of the Counts. Passed away last year after a long bout with cancer.
    In case you did not know, John Inadomi of Johnson’s Market and family members were interned at Manzanar during the Second World War. my Father Jose was a close friend of his and agreed to manage the store in
    Filmore Ca. (Which was the first store) My Dad and his Sisters managed the store until the Inadomi family were released from internment. Not long before my Dad died, He asked me deliver a photo of the first store in Filmore to His Daughter at the Brooklyn Ave. store. I just remember Her eyes watering up and She told me She remembered the old store.
    Once again, thanks for memories.
    Gil Guman

  42. Hello, and thank you for the memories, omg I thought I was the only one who thought about these places. By the way, am I crazy or does anyone remember an ice cream vendor who would stand outside the Kress on Whittier Blvd. and sell ice cream sandwiches made with waffles and a slice of neopolitan ice cream in the middle?

  43. JonSon’s on Whittier/Lorena was the beast. My first love was a box boy there. Never got over him. That was in 1975.

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