The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Jon Hammond
Land of Four Seasons 

Where's Tehachapi's beer allotment? Gone to Monolith

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi


February 29, 2020

Jon Hammond

The Monolith Store, which was located across the street from the cement plant.

I used to sell a lot of beer when I owned the Monolith Store. It was all Acme brand – about as bad a beer as you could buy, but I bought from the Bohemian Distributing Company and that's what they had. I bought Ambassador Reserve wine from them, and they also had the Acme beer distributorship. The previous owner of the Monolith Store, Bert White, he was a pretty smooth politician, so when he went down to talk to the guy at Bohemian he always took down a dozen nice, big T-bone steaks to the big boss. In the war years meat was rationed, and it was also hard to buy beer and wine and Bert would say he could sure use a little bit more. He would always take those steaks and lay them on the boss' desk, and the guy would say "How much more do you want?" So Bert would get more beer for the Monolith Store.

At one time all of the Tehachapi Valley, including Keene, was getting 350 cases a month of Acme beer pro-rated to this area, and in the final months before I bought the store from Bert in 1946, he was getting 300 cases of Acme beer for the little Monolith Store and everybody else had to divide the remaining 50 cases between themselves!

Jon Hammond

Ed Tompkins near the end of his long happy life.

He wasn't even selling it all during the colder months, so he would just let it accumulate in the back room because he knew as soon as the weather got hot he was going to sell it. I worked for him before I bought the store, and by the Fourth of July we had 1100 cases of Acme beer in the storeroom. By the end of July, we were out of beer. You couldn't haul it out of there fast enough. Monolith had 450 men working at the cement plant in those days, and they got thirsty for cold beer.

– Ed Tompkins

Ed Tompkins owned the Monolith Store from 1946 until it closed in 1971. He was a beloved member of the Tehachapi community, and he later co-owned the Western Auto Store on F. Street. He was president of the Monolith School Board. Monolith was one of the small districts that folded into the Tehachapi Unified School District. He became the school board president for the TUSD for a number of years.


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