Sorry to wake you. That’s me down here, yodeling. Just trying to get your attention. Time to stumble down from your gated communities, condos, townhouses and the rare regular house and climb aboard a fetching pony.
We’re off on another journey into the backroads of Santa Clarita histo- ry, amigos and amigo-ettes.
There’s an entire passel of lore to explore — from bad jogging demon- strations to buses for sex addicts.
Shall we mosey into yesteryear?
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
It was originally called the Tollfree Café and it opened 120 years ago this week. This gets confusing, so pay attention. The Saugus Train Station (which sits in Newhall today at Heritage Junction inside Hart Park) used to sit right across the street from where the Saugus Café is today. It was called the Newhall Train Depot in those early years. The town of Newhall originally sat in Saugus, and they moved the whole community 2 miles south to its present location in the late 1870s. The Tollfree Café, which was inside the train depot, changed its name to the Saugus Café. Around 1906, it moved across the street to essentially its location today. Joke goes that there’s someone from the 1890s sitting at the counter there today, still waiting for Gail to come up with that refill. Except for a few short stints, including during World War II, the coffee shop had been open 24 hours a day for a century. A few years back, it stopped being a 24-hour eatery. Bummer for me …
APRIL 14, 1919
• Bang for the buck … er nickelCarl Sischo got the most for his advertising dollar. Well. Advertising nickel. Carl would place three ads in The Mighty Signal each week in the classified section. It was just a nickel a line and Carl always made sure his ad was never longer than one line. Ex- ample: “See Carl for Insurance.” With just 500 people in Newhall, everyone knew who Carl was.
• George come home George Frew wrote a letter home from France, describing World War I. He told of bloody assaults where the French lost several thousand men on an attack on some Germans. George also wrote: “You might as well send my trunk and I’ll get married and settle down. I’ve been here so long now that I’m beginning to forget that I was ever civilized.” That sure settles the bet which is more aesthetically pleasing — France or Newhall.
• Horse hell in the Army George’s brother, Tom, our local blacksmith, wasn’t having much fun, either. Tom (our dear saddlepal Tom Frew’s dad) enlisted to get out of Newhall where he spent 12 hours a day shoeing horses. He joined the Army and what did they have him doing to serve his country? That’s right. Shoe horses. Oddly enough, the day George’s letter came home, Tom was honorably discharged.
APRIL 14, 1929
• A vital moment in herstory A day I always mark on my calendar — on this date, the Saugus Community Jr. Women’s Club was organized. What, exactly, is a Jr. Woman and is that organized by age, height, weight or IQ?
• The dam bombers The Los Ange- les Fire Department used World War I munitions to blow up the remnants of the St. Francis Dam. Huge explosions rocked the valley after the firemen closed two huge tunnels 20-feet wide leading into the former structure.
APRIL 14, 1939
• Market pool supply On this date,
we held the grand opening of the
new Safeway market on today’s Main Street. It later became a few other gro- cery stores and today, it’s Leslie’s Pools.
• Think of it as a Caltrans cattle drive Every spring, for 70 years, one of the big social events in the SCV was the roundup at the Mitchell-Nadeau ranches in Placerita Canyon. Only about 200 cattle were branded but nearly 300 showed up for the barbecue.
APRIL 14, 1939
• Post traumatic jogging syndrome Ara Zakarian survived three years of fighting in World War II but somehow hadn’t mastered running. Zakarian was enjoying a run through the hills by Weldon Canyon when he came to the edge of a cliff and forgot to put on the brakes. He fell, breaking both wrists, both arms and busting up his head. He managed to tumble to Highway 99 where he was picked up, lying on the side of the road.
APRIL 14, 1959
• Think Disney would sell today at the same price? Walt Disney plumped down $300,000 and bought the 315-acre Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon. A chap by the name of Lloyd Earl, president of the United Concrete Pipe Corp. in Baldwin Park, had owned the acreage prior.
• Kill to have a Duesenberg The Newhall-Saugus Classic Car Club was showing off their vintage Duesenbergs, Packards and Cadillacs.
APRIL 14, 1969
• Loveless in SClarita Los Angeles disc jockey Dick Whittington surprised local residents by volunteering our valley for a love-in. Whittington offered to bus in hundreds of bachelors and single women to meet and mate. Whittington got the idea after reading a Signal story lamenting that there were no places for singles to meet in the SCV. Dick’s buses, by the by, never rolled.
• We all live in one On this date, The Beatles’ animated film, “The Yellow Submarine,” debuted at the old Mustang Drive-in Theater on Soledad Canyon Road in Honby. I’m going to stop describing to you newer people where Honby is. Learn where it is, memorize it, live it …
APRIL 14, 1979
• Drugs? Condos? No parenting? It used to be that school vandalism was a rare thing. But local school districts started reporting more and more acts of destruction and theft. So far, in the two semesters of the 1978-79 school year, punks had slashed 54 bus tires, stole tens of thousands of tools and equipment, broken dozens of windows and doors and set Canyon High on fire. They also set Cedarcreek Elementary School on fire, causing $50,000 in damage. And this was before graffiti. We also never had armed sheriff ’s deputies on our middle and high school campuses …
• They used it in the movie ‘Rocky’ Newhall man and Panaflex engineer Jack Barber received an Academy Award 40 years ago for co-designing the first lightweight, hand-held film camera complete with stabilizers and gyros.
• And now it’s extinct A newfangled invention was catching on locally. Only problem — there was hardly any place to buy one. You folks today call it a VCR.
• I laughed. I cried. Tim “Otter”
Matheson of “Caddyshack” fame,
Jack Warden and Susan Blakely in an actual tube top were on hand for the world premier at the Plaza Theatre for a movie entitled: “Dreamer.” Matheson played the role of local Saugus professional bowler, Tim Roderick, who, coincidentally, just bowled a perfect 300 game at Newhall Bowl (Valencia Lanes today) a few weeks before the premier.
• Local girl makes good On this date, a somber Hart High co-ed posed for a photo in The Mighty Signal. Margaret Meyers took third place in the Bank of America’s high school Achievement Awards and with it, $75 toward her college education. Some of you might know Margaret by her stage name of Dee Dee Meyers — former press secretary to President William Jefferson Clinton.
Thanks for the company, dear saddlepals. I vote we get together and head out for another trailride through SCV history. What do you think? Next Sunday? Until then, Obedece su HOAs y vayan con Dios … (Obey your HOAs and ride with God…)
John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. Read his historical tome, “Images of America: The Santa Clarita Valley” on Amazon.com. Check out his History of The Mighty Signal series on Saturdays on A1.