Invisible Trajectories

Muff in Vineyards

The ephemerality of living and temporariness of the city become permanent.
--1980s Commission for a National Agenda

To document the facts of current mobility is not to furnish proof that it will continue, and I have met many who believe that in its present order of magnitude it is a temporary phenomenon. I think they underestimate the force of momentum in this respect.
--William H. Whyte, The Organization Man

July 14, 2006

On Friday, July 14th, we picked up Muff Accomazzo at 9:00am in Upland. We had asked her to show us some of sites used by the old Cucamonga Winery. She said she would show us some of the ex-vineyard properties she owns: some of which has recently been developed, others being currently leased, and still others in the development planning stages. Muff and her husband, who passed away in 2005, owned the Cucamonga Winery and turned to property development over the last few decades. We left her sprawling-ranch home in an air-conditioned luxury car and headed down Euclid Ave. towards Foothill Blvd.

As we passed Vineyard Avenue, Muff pointed out pockets of functioning vineyards that were curiously positioned in between strip development. We went south on Rochester and tried to find the land once occupied by her company, Cucamonga Winery. Instead of vineyards, we found warehouses, lots of them. 4th street had been altered due to development. Now it curved around the extended area of Ontario Airport.

Muff showed us land her company leases to UPS, as well as the newly developed Acco-Plaza, Phase One, on Milliken near 4th and the Metro-link station. As we drove around, she showed us the property her company had developed and the land taken for a Metrolink parking lot via eminent domain. In the Acco-Plaza we saw a shiny new Everest College and a Wendy's executive office. We also saw the home for the Acco Phase Three, a future development project.

Many of the land parcels she showed us were once used to grow grapes and thus make wine. The wine was then shipped by rail, in large jugs, to customers in the east. The entire production process: growing, crushing, packaging, etc. was done on site. It was hard for me to imagine this, but it was true. The only traces of this past economy were the fragmented parcels still covered with mini-vineyards.
They were losing their battle with the expanding asphalt.

Muff eventually took us to a small parcel of land where her husband's ashes were spread. It was a 20-acre site that still functions as a vineyard. We got out of the car and looked around. She waited for us. A short drive later, we were looking at a fenced-in section filled with UPS shipping containers. We imagined them filled with packages.

Muff drove us back to her house via the freeway. It was very hot. We were attracted to the empty pool in her backyard. She told us that nobody uses it and said we could use it anytime. Her three boys are all grown, two are pilots. They fly in often to visit with her.

We sat in her house for a few minutes and talked about her past. She asked us if we'd like to go out and eat with her. Of course we said yes. We found a Mexican restaurant tucked away in downtown Upland, and it was there that we sat down to talk with her.

Interestingly enough, Muff was once the head of transportation for one of the largest Hollywood studios. She got the job because the men were away at war. During the forties, she lived in Echo Park and took the P.E. Red Car to her job. She met her husband at a dance and moved to Ontario after getting married.

It seems that a small section of the old Cucamonga Winery, which once shipped grapes via freight train, now functions as a parking lot for a commuter train. Another section of land, also covered with Vineyards in the decades past, now finds it self as a crucial part of the global economy with its usage by UPS. Nonetheless, her land has always been used to move things in and out.

We learned from Muff that in order to make their land profitable, they had to shift away from agriculture. Her family had to secure their future and develop the land. During our talk, she expressed some concern about the development going on, but told us that people are only doing what "progress" demands. I'm not sure she really believed that, but we didn't prod her. She was clearly uncomfortable about the future.