Kevin Buck: So long, farewell, Santa Clarita

Clouds billow in the distance looking north-west at about noon from Dockweiller Drive in Santa Clarita. The Old Town Newhall Library can be seen, lower right, and the homes of Stevenson Ranch are visible on the hills in Feb. 2017. Dan Watson/The Signal

The great poet, philosopher and Beatle George Harrison once wrote, “All things must pass.” With that sentiment weighing heavily on me, I am now writing my final column for my much-beloved local paper, The Signal.

My wife and I moved to a house in Canyon Country 36 years ago, and we moved from the same house, now a home, on April 7. In the ensuing years we raised three terrific children, who are now successful, contributing adults.

Santa Clarita played an integral role in their development. They received an excellent public school education from Rio Vista Elementary, La Mesa Jr. High and Valencia High schools. Along the way they participated in baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, golf, tennis, dance and gymnastics – with Mom and Dad lugging them around the valley and cheering them on from all the various sidelines.

I am very proud of my children and thankful for opportunities Santa Clarita provided that helped to shape their lives.

Over the almost four decades, we have acquired memories that will last forever. I will always cherish the warm summer nights spent watching B movies under the stars at the Mustang Drive In Theater.

Saturday evenings the Saugus Speedway would roar to life with stock car racing and demolition derbies, roars that could be heard across the valley.

On Sunday the Saugus Swap Meet was the destination for thousands of Los Angeles denizens. Cars would be parked for a mile in each direction on Soledad Canyon Road (and, yes, in those days you could actually park on Soledad Canyon).

For years Canyon Country put on the Frontier Days carnival and parade. It was pure small-town fun. My wife marched in that parade alongside our daughters riding their costumed pony.

Years later I would ride in the Fourth of July Parade alongside my son wearing his Marine Corps dress blues. It all adds up.

We would saddle our horses in our own backyard and then ride for miles, either in the Santa Clara River bottom and the hills to the north, or across Soledad Canyon Road into the hills south all the way to Sierra Highway. It was a pretty special place to live in those early days.

Valencia Country Club was our public golf course, and we took for granted playing on a world-class, Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course. We had season passes to Magic Mountain, and later two of my children worked summer jobs at Hurricane Harbor as lifeguards.

It has been a bit difficult watching Santa Clarita transform itself into an upscale suburban bedroom community; I always believed they should have shut the gates after we moved in. But in reality no one can turn back the tide of development and progress.

It has been a great run, but now it is time to move to a new phase of our lives.

You are probably wondering what we will be doing after we leave this fair city – or not, but I’m going tell you anyway. My wife and I are going to hitch up our truck and trailer and take off to see America. We will visit friends and family, cross off some bucket-list destinations and travel the back roads and blue highways.

No set itineraries, no limits on where we go or how long we stay. We have no idea how long this will take.

The plan is to eventually buy another house in a city that resembles the Santa Clarita Valley we moved to 36 years ago, but that is somewhere in the future … or not. We may love the life of vagabonds, and that is all part of the upcoming adventure.

Raising a family and living in this city has been a wonderful experience, made even better because The Signal has graciously published my rambling thoughts for more than 20 years – and for that I will be forever grateful.

The editors never once declined to publish anything I submitted. Although they did at times struggle with some of my column titles, that was just amusing because in truth I hated making up the titles as well. Thank you to everyone at The Signal who put up with me all these years – it was a great run.

So now all that is left to say is, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. And thanks for the memories because no matter what, we will always have those.

Kevin Buck is a former Santa Clarita resident. He has written as part of the “Democratic Voices” column rotation for 36 years.

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