Joe Blackstock

Joe Blackstock

Recent articles

  • Military recruitment

    How Inland Empire men prepared for the draft in 1917

    New York City saw bloody riots 153 years ago this summer over the drafting of young men to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. The draft was also on the minds of most young men 50 years ago, leading to political and public protests as military action in the Vietnam War began to heat up. But a far less confrontational atmosphere about the draft seemed to prevail in the Inland Empire 100 years ago this summer as the U.S. geared up to send troops to Europe for World War...

  • Community

    ‘Our Gang,’ Fred Astaire, Shirley Temple had ties to San Bernardino youth

    By the time he was 12, Ralph Hodges had some pretty impressive motion picture credits.A headline in his hometown newspaper, the San Bernardino Sun, spread the news that “Juvenile Actor Gets Important Parts in New Pictures.”The 1942 article pointed out the young Hodges, born in San Bernardino, was doing pretty well that year, first portraying a 12-year-old George M. Cohen in a scene in the classic movie, “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”The Sun on Jan.

  • Community

    How a Chino native helped Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh

    Given the fact that Chino native Ernest E. Tissot Sr. played a hands-on role in two of the most famous aircraft flights in history, it’s amazing he’s not better known in the place he grew up.You would be hard-pressed to find someone in aviation history who could boast having as much impact as Tissot on the legendary aerial dramas of Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927 and the first crossing by air from Hawaii to the West Coast by...

  • Community

    Mining in the desert: Woman miner was armed, ready to protect her property

    You had to be a doggedly tough man to withstand the rigors of hardrock mining in our deserts. If you were a woman willing to work in those same mines, well, you had to be a whole lot tougher.History has mostly painted an all-male picture when it came to those seeking a fortune in the desert, but that’s a bit one-sided. A few weeks ago we wrote about Grace Finley, who alone operated a copper mine north of Barstow until she got booted off her claim by the Navy at...

  • News

    The untold story: African-American homesteaders once farmed the Mojave Desert

    “An Appeal to Colored Men” was the bold message of opportunity in an advertisement in a Los Angeles newspaper on May 1, 1910.It spoke of a mining and agricultural colony planned by, and for, African-Americans in far eastern San Bernardino County by the Eldorado Gold Star Mining Co. The chance to have their own land and leave behind some of the pains of prejudice convinced the family of young Richard W. Hodnett, along with a few dozen others, to give up the...

  • International relations

    How a local family had front row seat to changes in China

    Grace Boggs Service should have been used to the chaos when shots rang out at her house in Chongqing, China, one night in 1923. Service, who grew up in Highland and graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1898, spent nearly four decades in the eye of the hurricane that was early-20th century China. This was a time when China was alive with revolution and social change, but she got a little too close that night when her husband Robert Service answered the door. He...

  • Aircraft manufacturing

    How Pomona and San Bernardino almost became Kitty Hawk

    Inventor Alva Reynolds wanted to really dazzle the Inland Empire in 1906, but his plans just didn’t get off the ground.Reynolds’ claim to fame was his creation known as the “Man Angel,” an oval-shaped gas balloon that carried a pilot in a wire cage shaped like a canoe. The pilot moved the craft forward with “oars” shaped like giant fans.As goofy as this might have sounded, the Man Angel was a real attraction less than three years after...

  • Libraries

    Two-decade-old San Bernardino library mystery solved

    Sometimes when you’re researching items from the past, there are historical mysteries you just can’t figure out.And sometimes, the answer is right at your fingertips. Such was the case for identifying a “thing” that’s been sitting on a shelf in the Arda Haenszel California Room of the Feldheym Library in San Bernardino for longer than...

  • Movies & TV

    Inland Empire’s first talking movies predated ‘The Jazz Singer’ — here’s how

    One night in September 1913, the first “talking” motion picture came to the Inland Empire. Whoa, stop right there. Everyone knows the first feature film with music and speaking parts was “The Jazz Singer,” starring Al Jolson, and that didn’t premiere until October 1927. But in a headline in the San Bernardino Sun of Sept. 2, 1913, was the announcement of “Talking Pictures Are Opera House Feature,” discussing the opening...

  • Circuses

    A history of circuses in the Inland Empire

    It was always a big deal in years past when the circus came to town, especially if you were a kid.A headline announcing the arrival of the Ringling Brothers Circus in San Bernardino one day in 1903 told the whole story.“Hearts Are Palpitating,” said the San Bernardino Sun headline Oct. 3. “Every ‘Kid’ in Town Has Been Saving Up for Weeks to Get Inside and Few of Them Slept Last Night.”Things are different now — kids can...