Mayhem, Movie Stars & Hubbie Heinie Burning

The Timer Ranger
Time Ranger
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By John Boston                                                                                                                                                      Time Ranger

What an absolute splendiferous day for a trailride. And I can think of no better place than the scenic canyons of a Santa Clarita from yesteryear. C’mon. I’ve saddled up tens of thousands of steeds, with one just right for you.

Ahead we have … Well heavens. Get on the darn horse, give it a kick and come see for yourselves …

Cleovaro Chavez was a powerful outlaw and right-hand man to Tiburcio Vasquez. When his boss was captured and later hanged in 1875, Chavez vowed to kill every white man in California. Perhaps a procrastinator, Cleo moved to Arizona instead. A wanted man himself, he was breaking horses in a corral when two bounty hunters walked up to him at gunpoint, held up a wanted poster with his likeness then blew him nearly into two units at short range with shot guns. Cleo was wanted, dead or alive, one piece or two.

With all that’s going on currently in America, California and Santa Clarita, this will at least be fodder for one-liners. On Dec. 30, 1853, the border dividing Mexico and the U.S. was established. Well. In theory. It was called the Gadsden Purchase, after our Minister to Mexico, James Gadsden. That’s also when Mexican holdings later known as Arizona and New Mexico were sold to the U.S. for $10 million.


NOV. 25, 1928
C.S. Urquhart is an important but forgotten name in our lore. Whenever you check a relief map or the height of a local map, thank C.S. He finished mapping the entire SCV on this date for the U.S. Geodetic Survey.

Poor Farmer Maddox. Couldn’t have been worse timing. Someone snuck onto his ranch and rustled 75 of his best turkeys, two days before Thanksgiving.

A new-fangled invention was installed in the Newhall Sheriff’s station. It was called a “Telle-Type Machine” (sic).


NOV. 25, 1938
Some of that Roosevelt New Deal money found its way to the SCV. Work started on the $100,000 project that eventually built Val Verde Park, swimming pool, bath house and community center.

I hope there comes a day when people have no concept of a drunk driver. On Thanksgiving Day, the Parks family were hit by a speeding drunk. They fell into unconsciousness before doctors could tell them that their 17-month-old daughter had been killed in the wreck.

R.H. Christman issued 2.5 million shares for a new mining company to pull copper ore out of Texas Canyon.


NOV. 25, 1948
Night owl I am, I miss that the Saugus Café isn’t open 24 hours any more. On this date, Bill Rolls and Red Andrews bought the Saugus Cafe plus some surrounding lots. around the coffee shop. The new hotel they planned to construct never got built.

Two Newhall ladies were ironing when the drunk ex-hubbie of one burst into the home, pushing his ex-wife into a wall. The wife’s friend, who was ironing, took said iron and pressed it long and hard on the hubby’s rear end, causing him to let a fearful yowl. That’s gotta leave an interesting mark …

Oil derricks are slippery and Lewis Winford found out the hard way. He fell from a Placerita Canyon rig and might have lived had he not impaled himself on the cold, metal lever below.

In two separate accidents, on the very same day, two small children fell out of moving cars. Both children opened the passenger side doors while going around a corner. The boy, 5, had a concussion. The girl, 4, just had scrapes.


NOV. 25, 1958
My old pal Clem Cox used to quip: “For the last 60 years, I’ve lived in seven different towns and never once moved.” Back in 1958, Canyon Country was called Mint Canyon. It got its first post office on Dec. 1. Locals were happy not having to drive all the way into Newhall for their rewarding postal experience.

It wasn’t a very good weekend for rabbit hunters four decades back. Alfredo Flores drove back home after a day of plugging bunnies. He pulled his .22 rifle out of the back seat BARREL FIRST. The gun went off, sending a fatal slug through Flores’ neck. Same day, rabbit hunter Albert Filger was sprayed in the back of the head by birdshot when his partner tripped over a log and his shotgun discharged.

It wasn’t a good day for young soldiers, either. Students from the Northridge Military Academy were in Saugus for weekend maneuvers. While their real rifles had just paper charges, the blanks were enough to injure the two Zimmerman brothers, who were shooting at one another. Another Northridge boy sprained an ankle badly in the rough terrain.


NOV. 25, 1968
Running back Duane Smith put the brand new Canyon High on the map its first year. Smith led the entire Northern CIF by running for 1,212 yards in one season.

Of all places to hit, some thief broke into four cars parked at Los Angeles Baptist College (The Master’s College today). He made off with $3.80 in cash, two Bibles, two Christmas presents and a bag of potato chips. Don’t blame my favorite Christian, Eric Harnish. He wasn’t born yet.

Having gone to Hart in the 1960s, I can assure you. The vending machine hamburgers were at best, alleged. The Mighty Signal got the poor campus in its editorial sights, calling the food, “…swill, one step away from dog food.”


NOV. 25, 1978
How. About. Those. Centurions!? Saugus High made history. First, the Cent girls’ cross country team became the FIRST athletic squad from ANY local school to win a CIF championship. Sophomore phenom Shelly Hazlett crossed the line first. Same weekend, Saugus also beat Beverly Hills, 48-35 in their CIF football opener.

A century earlier, they would have lynched the perps. Two local young t­hugs held up an 81-year-old man at the old Newhall bus station. They beat him with boards and robbed him of $7. He suffered a massive heart attack.

Life’s funny. For the first half of the 20th century, the citizens of Newhall tried to get their high school-aged kids to stop being bussed into San Fernando and Palmdale.

On this date, Harvard sociologist Tom Pettigrew drew up a 1,000-page report, suggesting that the Hart district bus some of their kids into the San Fernando Valley to promote racial balance in both communities. The plan, which would have caused students to be on a bus between two and four hours a day, was never adopted.

I surely hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones, dear saddlepals. Always a treat to explore our Santa Clarita roots together. I’ll see you back here at The Mighty Signal in a week with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then Estar bien y seguro durante las vacaciones y vayan con Dios!


John Boston, aka, Mr. Santa Clarita Valley, has been writing about and teaching the history of the SCV for more than 40 years. Read his historical tome, “Images of America: The Santa Clarita Valley.” It’s available on 

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