I think I’ve been doing these trail rides into SCV history for almost 40 years now. What do you know. It’s Christmas, 2018. May you be surrounded by loved ones. May you become, most joyously, the person you were meant to be.
My own view?
It would be folly to offer a sincere, “God bless.” I think the tense is off. I strongly suspect rather, that God blesses — 24/7, every second of the day. We have to realize that. Thanks to all of you for reading, whether for the first time or over the decades.
Merry darn Christmas.
Let’s climb onto our creaking saddles this crisp morn and make a splendiferous noise at all the miracles.
Shall we mosey our horses toward the time vortex? Whomever — with a big “W” did a nice job decorating it with tinsel, real snow, folly, holly, lights and angels…
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, WAY, WAY BACK WHEN
— All history is local. St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, is credited with invented the Christmas carol. The Catholic saint reportedly conducted the first-ever sermon in song and singing from the Bible. The tradition was kept in England up until the time of Richard the Lion-hearted and, for a while, was diverted into more somber chants. In the 17th century, during the reign of the Puritans, caroling went underground, as the Puritans felt any celebration should not be joyous. It wasn’t until the 19th century when the carol came back. At first, it was sung in homes, although that was through the illegal printing and distribution of the songs. In 1840, the world’s most famous carol, “Silent Night,” was created and, from then on, caroling enjoyed its popularity. Local angle? San Francisquito Canyon was named after the famed 13th-century saint — and, Christmas bonus — the Santa Clarita Valley was named after his contemporary and student, St. Claire.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV
Early 20th Century
— The LeBrun family ranched much of San Francisquito Canyon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Several years back, George LeBrun recalled the simple life of being a boy and riding a burro to school. He noted that in those early days, they were so poor, they didn’t have a Christmas tree. Rather, the children hung their socks above their beds.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1919
— The SCV’s single men play the married men in baseball, Christmas Day. The young fellows beat the oldsters, 9-5. Tom Frew’s granddad served up all 9 runs to the bachelors.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1920
— Will Noble ran a “Christmas Special Mattress Sale” campaign in the local paper. What gives you the willies is that the San Fernando merchant also ran the mortuary business next valley over and folks were asking just where Will was getting those mattresses…
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1921
— Frank LaSalle was famous for his ranch — for its use as a movie site and as a bootlegging operation. (We’re not saying Frank was involved in bootlegging; just that his ranch was used as a moonshine factory over the years.) The victim of a big cattle rustling operation, he lost 18 head of cattle — not a very merry Christmas for Frank, who also put up $50 to anyone seeing a stranger “…trespassing on my property with a horse and saddle.” Hmm. Wonder if Frank reneged on the reward if someone just spotted a cattle rustler riding bareback?
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1922
— Christmas Cheer means different things to different people. Our locally based federal agents, called The Dry Squad, found 35 gallons of moonshine on the abandoned Shannon Ranch. Ed Escabosa was arrested for bootlegging, too. His plea? He was too drunk to remember what happened. Leading the raid was our local federal moonshine agent, James Bond.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1923
— Before laptops and battery-powered gadgets, Santa appeared at the annual Christmas tree lighting, which wasn’t at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, but over at the Hap-a-Land Hall on Market Street. Children were given bags containing apples and nuts. Reports of the day said they were happy to have them.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1924
— Newhall Elementary’s view of Christmas vacation was to let the kids out at noon, Dec. 24.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1925
— The young valley historian, A.B. Perkins, bought Newhall Elementary. Well. The physical buildings. Workers literally cut the biggest main building in half. One went to the corner of present-day Lyons and Newhall Avenue where it stood until the early 1960s. The other became a house that still sits behind Jimmy Dean’s fast food restaurant on Lyons. Sadly, in 2014, a developer bulldozed the old school building.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1926
— Signal newspaper editor A.B. “Dad” Thatcher wrote an editorial that you don’t see too often in modern newspapers. From Dad’s heart: “Let no one forget the occasion of this holiday, for it marks the beginning of the brightest part of time. Men had existed for centuries hardly better than animals. They had valued earthly comfort most of all, and their idea of bliss was that comfort they could create for themselves. He whose birth is observed today, brought a new vision. Righteousness for the sole standpoint of the golden rule and the commandments, and no from the hope of earthly reward was indeed a new viewpoint for the world. And it has brought to his world everything that is worthwhile. Law, order, morality, all that makes life safe or livable, comes from this one source.”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1927
— Downtown Newhall almost burned to the ground. The old Staughty Pool Hall caught fire and cyclonic winds fanned the flames. Nearly every able-bodied soul in town joined to battle the blaze before it spread. Even recently retired silent screen superstar William S. Hart — manned a bucket brigade to douse the flames. An iron roof on the pool hall helped keep the fire from consuming the entire village. With no pressurized water system, the few hydrants could only be used to fill buckets. Humorously, the burnt refrigerator at the Motor Stage Cafe was opened and a large block of ice rolled out.
— Today, we mosey to the grocery store for our holiday dinners (and, well, most of them, for that matter). Eight years back, many locals just went out to their back yards to hunt wild turkeys for their main meal.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1928
— Truly drunk Jim Kern, a cook at the Saugus Cafe, angrily disagreed with a friend Christmas night and jumped out of a parked car. Problem. The car wasn’t parked. It was doing 50 mph along Mint Canyon. The cook broke a leg and nearly scalped himself from the fall. Message: Don’t get drunk, stupid.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1929
— Clerks at the Newhall and Saugus post offices complained about the big Christmas mail rush. They handled nearly 1,000 cards, letters and packages.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1930
— Just a safety tip so none of you pull a Marge Simpson during our trail ride. Charlie Kingsbury got himself an unscheduled haircut while going on a Christmas horse ride through Placerita Canyon. Charlie went under a low-slung oak and caught his hair on a branch. He and the horse kept going and his scalp stayed in the tree. Yee-ouch…
— One of Santa’s helpers got a severe tongue-lashing. Seems one of the locals donned the red and white outfit, fake beard and hair and handed out Christmas presents to several of the children at a Newhall program. Then, afterwards, he stayed for the party and climbed out of his suit and costume in front of the kids — to their shock and horror.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1931
— It wasn’t a merry Christmas for the McKown family. Their 14-year-old son, Bill, picked up a loaded and cocked shotgun to go hunting. It went off, tearing his hand completely off and sending a charge into his vitals. Poor kid died.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1932
— This was the very day when Mack Sennett, famed silent movie mogul, moved to Newhall. He lived in one of those stone houses on 8th Street’s movie colony.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1933
— What appeared to be a mud-encrusted tramp appeared in the front yard of Bertrand Russell (the Newhall homesteader, not the famous philosopher/educator). The wanderer appeared to be the hungriest creature Bert had ever spied and in a high-pitched voice, asked if the Newhall man could spare a bit of food. Bert ordered him to the back door but when he got there with a plate, there was nobody around. Bert went back to the front and saw the hobo lounging on the front porch. Bert started a cussin’, then noticed a grin from under the mud. It was his good friend, Bob Pallette, in town for a Christmas visit. Bob’s wife pulled up a moment later in their car. Nice joke, Bobby…
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1934
— This put a damper on opening presents. E.B. Shaffner had family over to his Dry Canyon ranch for Christmas dinner. His brother from Los Angeles, A.B., keeled over dead at the table from a heart attack.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1935
— Two hapless crooks mistook a pair of sheriff’s deputies for gas station attendants. Gerald Deal and George Anderson asked the cops to fill up their Ford auto and said they were in a hurry. The cops noticed the back seat was filled up with a lot of loot that suspiciously resembled stuff liberated from several cabins up Bouquet Canyon.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1936
— The worst air disaster in local history occurred two days after Christmas when an airliner crashed in Rice Canyon, killing all 12 aboard. Hundreds of helpers, looky-looers and reporters sped up to the rugged mouth of Rice, only have to continue, on foot, in an unrelenting and freezing downpour.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1937
— The Schlotman family celebrated Christmas with five generations of their kin at the Pico Canyon home of Loretta Reynolds. Grandma Schlotman, 98, was one of the country’s last surviving Civil War widows.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1938
— Minnie M. Martin and Emma Johns, they were the best of friends. The two ladies worked the Newhall precinct for years and with the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, even being kidded about both of them being there. Emma had been friends with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in her youth in Maine. Minnie, 91 and her best friend Emma, 92, died peacefully within 3 days of one another.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1939
— Eighth Street is probably the steepest boulevard in the valley and 72 years ago, they had an old-fashioned runaway vehicle episode — featuring a brace of spirited horses. Four locals were riding a buggy when the pair of lead horses ran away with their passengers — straight down Eighth. The driver, Jeff Owens, climbed over the dashboard of the wagon and onto the back of one of the horses. The horse bucked him off. Now you yuppies picture that. You’re careening out of control down a hill sharper than right angle at 50 mph. You leap onto the back of one of the sprinting horses AND he starts bucking. That’s a unasked-for rodeo bargain. The rig made a hard right on Newhall Avenue, throwing Owens and two women towards Palmdale. The other male rider baled. All four were hurt pretty good but bonus, they were only a block-and-a-half away from the hospital on 6th Street.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1940
— The Santa Claus Express (because it carried lots of Christmas goodies) hit a stalled car on the tracks in Newhall. The car was wrecked. Driver and passenger fled at the last second and were unhurt.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1941
— This story was passed down by Fielding Wood. Days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, a Newhall boy went to the Selective Service office to report for the draft. He said he had to be excused from military duty because of a severe vision problem. He was granted a 4-F for his eyes. The sergeant then noticed the boy walk across the street and into American Theater. He sat next to the teen, who noticed the gruff three-striper glowering at him in the dark. Said the 4-F, looking in the sergeant’s general direction: “Excuse me. Can you tell me if this is the bus back to Newhall?”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1942
— The Yule tide was a somber one in the early days of World War II. With gas, oil and rubber rationing the centrally-located travel oasis of the Santa Clarita Valley was hit hard. Holiday traffic on the main artery, Highway 99, was just a trickle. Many garages and gas stations from Newhall to Castaic were closed by the end of 1942. The Motor Stage Cafe and bus stop closed, as did the historic Woods Garage in Saugus (it would re-open later). Even the Saugus Cafe would be hit, closing for nearly 18 months.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1943
— One of the best columns ever written in The Signal appeared on Christmas Eve, 1943. Owner, editor and publisher Fred Trueblood penned a touching comparison of Joseph and Mary trying to find lodging 2,000 years earlier and a young soldier trying to stay warm and safe in a fox hole during World War II. A most touching tome.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1944
— Residents — at least the early risers — were treated not to snow but a pea soup fog on Christmas morn, 1934. The terrible visibility was blamed for the crash of a B-24 Liberator bomber in the rugged hills above Acton. Local mounted sheriff’s deputies and volunteers trekked into the freezing mountains to find the bodies of all 10 crewmen.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1945
— It was a Christmas three children would never forget. The tots, ages 3-6, miraculously escaped without injuries a wreck on the Ridge Route. Alas, their mother and uncle were not so lucky. Both perished and the children became wards of the state.
—Sgt. Joe Johnson never made it home for Christmas, either. He was stabbed to death by a fellow Marine sergeant on a troop train chugging through Saugus. Imagine that. You survive World War II and several battles in Europe only to die in a crap game at the hands of one of your own — on Christmas day.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1946
— It was a white Christmas, but it was a soggy one. All the creeks were torrents. Christmas week was also a milestone. We switched from hand magneto crank telephones of the previous 22 years to a simple lifting of the phone to reach one of six operators at the phone company on Walnut (Tom Mix’s old place). Some had to suffer new telephone numbers and a brand new ringing sound. Still. Some of the outlying residents kept the magneto system because it wasn’t as scratchy.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1947
— Sixty-seven years back, 500 prisoners from Wayside Honor Rancho got together to put on a Christmas pageant, reenacting the Nativity scene. The prisoners were dressed as shepherds and such. No word on who played Mary.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1948
— It wasn’t a very merry Christmas for about 50 hobos hitching a ride through Saugus. A gang of machine-gun carrying lawmen stopped the train and forced the freeloaders off into the freezing night air.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1949
— The Schlotman family celebrated Christmas with five generations of their kin at the Pico Canyon home of Loretta Reynolds. Grandma Schlotman, 98, was one of the country’s last surviving Civil War widows.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1950
— Deputies Richards and Strammers answered a hellish call the day after Christmas. A woman on Fourl Avenue lay weltering in a pool of her own blood. Nearby, a man lay prostrate with another man savagely kicking him in the head. Dorothy Helen Hester, 37, would die an hour later at Newhall Hospital. It was a tangled family affair involving Dorothy’s two ex-husbands. Dorothy had children by both men. They had come to visit the kids over the holidays. The second ex came to shoot the first ex and accidentally ended up murdering the woman he still loved. Not a great holiday.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1951
— The Christmas Quake of ’51 hit the Gorman area and was felt here in Newhall. It was initially estimated between a 5.5 and 6 on the Richter Scale. Burglar alarms went off, dishes rattled and Christmas trees shimmied, but there was hardly any damage. For one thing, there was hardly anything out here…
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1954
— You old-timers will remember Margaret Hampton at the long-defunct Snak Shak on San Fernando Road. She was the irascible owner who didn’t like women or kids — well. She didn’t like them sitting in her eatery because A) they didn’t eat enough; and 2) they dawdled. Margaret kept a very thick sock hanging over the griddle where she put tips and donations. For what, she wouldn’t say. Right before Christmas, it leaked out that the $75 she had raised would go for buying shoes for local needy kids.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1953
— Let’s throw in a little sports trivia. Hart High beat Burroughs 2-0 — on a forfeit. Seems the score was tied 43-43. Gary Yurosek (who would later become the movie star, Gary Lockwood) was fouled right before the buzzer. Burroughs coach Bill Flora didn’t think so. Instead of playing the overtime, Flora walked off the court, taking his team with him and lost on the default 2-0 score.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1954
— Our yearly present from the phone company was handed out to all the homes with phones. It had all the numbers for the Santa Clarita AND Antelope valleys, along with everyone from here to Frazier Park. There were just 4,400 phones for 1,000 square miles.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1955
— It was a Christmas miracle. Before the days of car seats, a toddler managed to unlock the back door of his father’s car and tumble out as it was going full speed down Soledad. The child suffered only a few scratches.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1956
— I guess all you can do is pray for the varmints. On Christmas night, vandals stole the Nativity Scene from in front of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. The lighted beacon had been an inspiration for years.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1957
— Scott Newhall came up with The Signal motto, “Vigilance Forever.” But that wasn’t always The Signal’s motto. Fred Trueblood’s official newspaper credo was: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1958
— It was 90 degrees.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1959
— Some of the church people were more than a little upset with the American theater. Seems the week of Christmas, the management was playing the double bill of “The Headless Ghost” and “Horrors of the Black Museum.”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1960
— Here’s some “Cheers” Cliff Claven trivia for you. The Saugus post office alone sent out 100,000 first-class letters in the month of December 1960, up 15 percent the year before. The Newhall postmaster said his little office sent out 20,000 Christmas cards and a bit more mail than Saugus.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1961
— There had been a serious bout of cattle rustling in the valley. Rancher and businesswoman, Sylvia Gonzalez, 72, had her Honby spread struck by cattle thieves. Rising at dawn, Christmas Eve morning, her foreman found one steer with a broken back and another dying pitifully from a crushed skull. Their detecting deduced it wasn’t a two-headed desperado but rather, a four-legged one. A massive set of puma tracks were found around the carcass.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1962
— Mrs. Marie Daries passed away. She was the matriarch of a Santa Clarita cattle empire family that grazed stock on approximately 1,000 acres in Castaic. Marie, whose maiden name was Larramendy, came from Basque roots and settled in the northern part of the valley in 1886. By 1962, there were only two large family cattle spreads left — the Roy Smith ranch (Roy was Marie’s son-in-law) and the Cordova family, also in Castaic. Marie was 95 when she went to her reward. Interestingly, the week she died, discussions were being held in Sacramento about turning her ranch into the future Castaic Lake project.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1963
— Over the years, the same scene has been oft repeated and never has the train lost. On this date, Rich Philbert tried to beat the train at the Market Street crossing. He nearly made it. Southern Pacific No. 805 hit the rear end of his pick-up, spinning the vehicle and sending Philbert airborne some 50 feet. He lived through it.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1964
— On this date, legendary publisher Scott Newhall created his first Santa Clarita Christmas poem. For years, they were a cherished tradition. Scotty would take the names of several dozen local citizens and events and string them together in a loose-fitting poem. With apologies up front, I give an example:
“Bruce’s Safeway and Val’s Market
Earl’s Browne’s Jewelry, Fenton’s carpet,
Williams Drugs, and Ice of Reitz
We hope your year is pure delights.”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1965
— It wasn’t so much the Grinch but the heat wave that stole Christmas. An earlier scorching summer in the Pacific Northwest was blamed for a shortage of trees. Prices in the seller’s market went for a staggering $1.50 a food. Yup. An 8-foot tree went for 12 bucks.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1966
— A few days before Christmas, SCV benefactor, property owner and one of the founding pillars of what would be CalArts, Walt Disney died. It was Walt’s dream to build the art campus not at its present-day location, but at his 728-acre ranch in Placerita Canyon.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1967
— Tom Hanson of Heritage Lane in Newhall called the sheriffs to complain not so much of reindeer on his roof, but a herd of cattle on his lawn. A mystery herd of 15 head somehow made Hanson’s front and back yard part of their grazing path. Hanson complained that their hooves tore up his pressed clay tennis court and their clopping and munching kept him awake at night.
— A Signal editorial in the form of a letter to Santa Claus asked good St. Nick to bring this valley several presents, including local government, a department store, a local place to register their cars and, towing away an endless sea of “unimaginative tract houses.” One reader, Eldon Jones, wrote in to complain, saying that his tract house wasn’t unimaginative and challenged the writer to a contest to see who had the better home. Evidently, he didn’t know the writer of the piece was Scott Newhall, who lived in the legendary mansion in neighboring Piru.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1968
— The Signal penned an editorial entitled: “An Ultimatum to the Flu.” In part, our demands: “… this newspaper would like to take a strong stand on the controversial flu issue which threatens to bring this nation to a halt over the Christmas holidays. For the record, we hereby declare that we are absolutely opposed to any kind of virus, foreign or domestic, disabling any citizen of this valley.” Scott Newhall ended by writing: “If the Honk Kong flu rears its ugly head here, we will retaliate with our own Valencia Valley virus, which will be dispatched at once to distant Hong Kong for suitable revenge.”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1969
— The 7th annual Newhall Christmas Parade went off without a hitch. Yup. We used to have a big parade that motored down San Fernando Road for years every middle of December. Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger Himself, was our grand marshall in 1969.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1970
— It’s a very rare event when we have snow stay on the ground on the valley floor of Santa Clarita. It’s only occurred a few times in the 20th century. But for a few days, Santa Clarita looked like the Colorado Rockies. Hundreds were stranded as the Ridge Route was closed — AT ROXFORD — for through traffic. Our native oak and the newer eucalyptus, which aren’t used to snowfall, lost limbs and knocked over power and phone lines. Squadrons of helicopters and four-wheel drive vehicles delivered food and blankets to some folks up in the higher canyons and evacuated a few of the sick and elderly. Some of the odd events were emergency room visits for kids who were unaccustomed to packing snowballs. They made them rock hard and caused several injuries. Another oddity was a run on film. Everyone in town was taking pictures. There was a six-foot snowbank at one Saugus house. Pretty much, the valley was cut off from the rest of the world for about two days. Interestingly, it wasn’t the biggest snowfall. We had a week of snow in 1949, and a big snow storm that last for two days in 1962. There was also a pretty good snowfall in the 1930s where local resident Ted Lamkin noted the snow stayed on the ground for two weeks.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1971
— Odd the timing. Six years later, and right before Christmas, Roy Disney, brother of Walt and one of the founding fathers of Valencia’s CalArts, died.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1972
— From the Is Nothing Sacred Department, on this date, Santa Claus was mugged in downtown Newhall. Dan Curasi, 16, had been spreading cheer on behalf of the Downtown Newhall Merchants’ Association when he was attacked by four high school boys. Curasi, in his Santa identity, had been in an altercation earlier with two of the youths, and beat those two boys up after they had showered him with profanity in front of a group of wide-eyed children. The pair then showed up after dark with help, ended up stealing St. Nick’s wig and beat a hasty retreat on motorcycles.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1973
— Gasoline prices were steep — more than 50 cents a gallon. (Excuse me while I blow milk and cookies through my nose.) Grinch-like, one local station had this sign posted: “GASOLINE BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. HA, HA…”
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1974
— It was such a terrible find, so close to Christmas. A hiker in Texas Canyon found the skull of a CalArts student, missing since April. Connie Marsh had gone to Pico Canyon to paint. Her car, purse and belongings were found. A coroner’s report later ruled that Connie died from a blow to the head from a blunt instrument.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1975
— That rascally gadfly, Signal editor Scott Newhall, penned an editorial, condemning the Catholics over a recent edict. Holy Mother Church was the target of Scotty’s barbs over a ruling that animals do not have souls and therefore, cannot enter heaven. Scott’s editorial: “Kind Old Donkeys Never Get To Heaven — They Just Fade Away” caused a lot of moist eyes in the SCV.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1976
— Ah, modern times. Dennis Rotoli of the new SCV Mental Health Services reported an increase of people coming in to be counseled for holiday depression.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1977
— We were also going through a tough drought and cloud-seeding operations had to be postponed — due to rain.
— There were many embarrassed officials and parents and even more confused youths. The Newhall Christmas Parade inadvertently had two Santa Clauses riding and waving in the parade. A Signal editorial condemned the faux pas and pointed out that there was only one true St. Nick. However, the newspaper came short of pointing out which one was which.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1978
— Signal gossip columnist MIMI (Ruth Newhall) was outraged when she learned that many local schools were stamping out such Christmas Carol classics as “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night” and “Come All Ye Faithful” due to the early vanguard of a politically correct movement labeled “ethnic sensitivity.” “We’ve turned in some of the world’s most appealing music for a handful of cheap jingles,” wrote Mrs. Newhall. Amen.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1979
— Rene Veluzat got a Christmas present that he wasn’t particularly happy to get. Someone parked an entire house on his property on 6th and Pine Streets and abandoned it. Veluzat called the cops but the locals — with a straight face — said, “It’s difficult to bring trespassing charges against a house.” After being there a week, someone came in the middle of the night and moved them off.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1980
— A good deed turned sour when a Canyon Country woman tried to help a man down on his luck. He approached her, said he was thirsty and she pointed to a water fountain at nearby Sierra Vista Jr. High. The young man wrestled the woman to the ground at knifepoint and stole her purse, which contained $150 for Christmas shopping. On top of that, sheriff’s deputies were probing three separate and gruesome December homicides and a black couple who had just moved into a Newhall neighborhood had a cross burned on their lawn.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1981
— SCV Chamber of Commerce second vice president Bob Scott resigned. He did it most memorably, sending a post card from Hawaii of a nude bathing beauty. Bob noted he was too busy to keep up with his duties. Uh-huh…
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1982
— Thieves made off with the giant Confederate flag flying over the Dixie Diesel service station in Castaic. Measuring 20 by 30 feet, the Stars-And-Bars was valued at $700.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1983
— Michael Jackson — not the “yee-hee” one — was arrested on this date on a bizarre kidnapping conspiracy. Johnson was reported to be behind a plot to kidnap the daughter of his live-in Saugus girlfriend, then sell her into slavery in Mexico. Jackson’s alleged plan was to use the money from that abduction to finance a career of kidnapping girls (two of them reportedly illegitimate children of Mafia bosses) and selling them into slavery. Jackson, 44, was an escapee from Marion prison in Illinois.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1984
— A parade of snow-covered cars motored in from the Antelope Valley, bringing large grins from the locals. We had a major winter storm the week of Christmas. The Ridge Route was closed for a couple of days and here, in Santa Clarita, we had almost 5 inches of rain.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1985
— Hart Park had a Christmas visitor — a 200-pound black puma. A dozen officers from various agencies prowled the Newhall grounds, searching for the elusive big cat. Earlier in the week, the carcass of a deer was found on one of the trails and a woman nearly had an out-of-body experience when she saw the mountain lion vault from out of a tree and up a hill in front of her while she was walking.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1986
— Most residents don’t recall that we used to be essentially a farming community not that long ago. On this date, Julio J. Lombardi, one of the patriarchs of the agrarian family and resident here for a half-century, died. He was 75. Along with his brothers Bob and Frank, they moved here in the 1930s. The Lombardis were stalwarts in the community, serving on school boards, community organizations, the Catholic church, youth sports and countless other things. Along with their Castaic and Saugus operations, Julio also had a 1,500-acre farm in Lancaster.
— Rickki Nicole Patriziio was not only a Christmas Eve baby, the girl was also the 1,000th baby delivered at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1987
— It was a white Christmas of sorts. On dawn Christmas morn, the mercury plummeted to 22 degrees in downtown Newhall and hit much colder in some of the higher canyons. Automatic lawn sprinklers created hundreds of ice sculptures. At the other end of the thermometer, a careless merchant sold a patron 55 gallons of gasoline instead of kerosene. The buyer didn’t know the smell difference and used it in his catalytic space heater, burning his Acton home to the ground in the wee hours of Christmas 1987.
CHRISTMAS in the SCV, 1988
— While most folks were thinking white, the SCV was thinking “green.” The environmental tidal wave was washing over the valley, with the City riding the biggest surfboard. A series of eco-friendly government/private sector initiatives were created and folks were invited to ride bikes more.
— Came the Christmas reminder that it was illegal to smoke with kids in the car or to use a cell phone without an earpiece while driving.
— And, my favorite: Assemblyman Pete Knight introduced a bill that would require the state capitol to call the Christmas Tree in Sacramento a “Christmas Tree” instead of the politically correct “holiday tree.” It was defeated by Democrat-controlled Legislature.
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Well, dear saddlepals. See that light up ahead? That’s our time zone. Wish you all the merriest of Christmases today. May you spend it cozy with loved ones and may you spend it cozy and happy with yourself. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of you reading about our history over the years. Feliz Navidad y vayan con Dios, amigos!