Upland’s Madonna of the Trail, NYC and Portland get reader response

Is anyone reading the newspaper on Labor Day weekend? I hope you are, but regardless, I’m here. How about we catch up on your comments on some recent columns?

Lady Madonna

My report of finding a Madonna of the Trail statue in Vandalia, Illinois, while traveling proved of unexpectedly high interest.

“We have a bucket list to see all 12 Madonnas. We have seen six,” wrote Susan Purdy.

“We googled a list of locations. Seen four. ROAD TRIP,” said an emphatic Ann Kaylor.

I’m impressed by the dedication, given that if you’ve seen one Madonna of the Trail, you have pretty much seen all 12, other than the inscriptions on the base and the specific settings. These identical statues of a pioneer woman in a bonnet were placed around the country from Maryland to California by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1928-29.

Upland has the only California example. The next nearest one is in Springerville, Arizona.

Don Jankiewicz of Upland has seen those two, plus one near the present-day Amtrak station in Lamar, Colorado through his train window. “By the way,” he added, “Harry S. Truman as head of Madonna Trails Inc. was supposed to officiate the Upland unveiling, but he was tied up and couldn’t leave Missouri.”

That’s true. My colleague Joe Blackstock dug up that piece of trivia a few years ago for his own column. Truman’s name is on Upland’s dedication program, perhaps due to wishful thinking on someone’s part, but the future president pulled a George Jones.

Blackstock also wrote about local competition to get the statue. San Bernardino, Cucamonga, Pomona and El Monte were all angling to be the site before Upland won the day.

“Where are the others besides Illinois and Arizona?” asks Jo Anne McKaughan. “Sounds like a road trip could be in order. It wouldn’t be just the monuments, but all the interesting things on the way.”

The site pioneermonuments.net gives a good history and a list of the precise locations. Aside from the four cited above, they are in Bethesda, Maryland; Beallsville, Pennsylvania; Wheeling, West Virginia; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; Lexington, Missouri; Council Grove, Kansas; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Good luck.

Big Apple’s big fans

Many of you love New York City, which I visited in early August.

Some of your comments: “It is my favorite city in the world to visit!” (Ann Lara), “Loved my visit to New York and walked more than I thought possible! So much to see!” (Cathy Williams), “Can’t wait to go again” (Theresa Dufresne), “Glad you enjoyed my hometown! ( And my Mets!)” (Karen Karlsson, now of Pomona).

Kathy Stecher of Upland traveled there with her husband in April and saw one baseball game (Yankees) and two basketball games (Knicks, Nets). “Like you we took the marvelous subway everywhere!” she said by email. “Most fun was to the Yankee game and back! Intrigued to be squished in with young kids, beers in hand, singing ‘New York, New York.’ Fun, fun!”

Former New Yorker Roger Ervast of Redlands said he always likes hearing people’s reaction to his hometown. He said he used to hate NYC’s heat and humidity, but now, “I have come around to the thinking that the dry heat out here is no more tolerable.” And this was before Redlands hit 108.

Portland: (shrug)

Meanwhile, a few of you like Portland, Oregon, which I visited for the sixth time. Tammy Woodman of Upland told me she was reading my column on Portland while drinking hot chocolate out of her Powell’s Books mug. Others have a negative view, either from personal experience or the media.

Comments on that column left on the P-E’s Facebook page: “The Antifa hell hole” (Mark Krakower), “Place is a cesspool” (John Dillon), “It is a miracle any business is open after all the riots cost them millions of dollars” (Jeannette Clarke), “Liberal central. No thanks” (Adrian Saldivar), “If he likes Portland, he will love Detroit” (Paul Mueller).

I appreciate the deeply considered travel advice, but note that these comments appeared under a photo of 20 normal people standing on the sidewalk outside a popular restaurant waiting to eat breakfast.

If this is a “hell hole” or “cesspool,” well, table for one, please.


The Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art at Rancho Cucamonga’s Chaffey College will reopen Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic with “Home Edition,” described as a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures and more by 32 artists. The museum (5885 Haven Ave.) is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, with an artist reception 4-7 p.m. Sept. 27. Entry is free.

David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, which is no bargain. Email dallen@scng.com, phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.

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