Since I started this Time Ranger trail ride some 30 years ago, we’ve had several readers who have gone from the here-&-now into the forever pages of local history.
My second mother, JoAnn Peters, never led troops in battle, had a street named after her or discovered petroleum (except for behind the ears of more children than she’d enjoy counting). But, she hails from a much higher stock than many who make the history books. She touched the lives of hundreds of people in a loving way. There are a lot of good souls like that here in the SCV, veritable angels on earth who never make headlines.
Some of you seasoned saddlepals keep an eye on her. This is her first trail ride into the mystic.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
MAKES SENSE — About 100,000 years ago during the Late Miocene epoch, you couldn’t drive to Los Angeles. There were no cars and the L.A. Basin was under water. Live with it.
STAY OFF THOSE BOATS — W.T.B. Sanford died on April 26, 1863. He had just helped dig the first road through Newhall Pass. He died on Phineas Banning’s boat in San Pedro Harbor. Darn thing just blew up.
TIBBY DIDN’T LEAVE A DAYPLANNER — There’s no exact date on record, but some historians put it at spring of 1871. That’s when legendary womanizing outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez started using what was called The Rocks in Agua Dulce as his hideout. The place would later be called Vasquez Rocks, after the bandito.
APRIL 28, 1919
THEN, HIS HEART STOPPED BEETING — Joe Martinez accidentally shot himself in a Saugus beet field. Martinez had a .38-caliber revolver in his rear pocket, sat down and the gun discharged into his leg. By the time help arrived, he had bled to death.
APRIL 28, 1929
TIMES CHANGE AND SO DO THE SYMBOLS. — An old ad from The Signal on this date advertised a dance at the old Masonic Hall. Ed and Chet provided the music. The ad was bordered by what we today view as swastikas but what folks in the pre-Nazi days saw as a Navajo sign.
WE’VE BEEN DOING JUST THAT IN THE SCV — A Signal editorial called for reforestation of America before it became a desert. Looking at old photos of the area from around 100 years ago, we have hundreds of thousands more trees today than in 1929.
YOU CAN BANK ON IT — Here’s some cool SCV trivia for you. Our only savings institution (other than mattresses) was the Bank of Italy. They had 150 safety deposit boxes and a little over 100 were filled.
SCV: KING OF THE RODEOS — A weekend crowd of more than 20,000 filled the Baker Stadium (Saugus Speedway today) for the SCV’s third annual rodeo there. Nearly $10,000 in prizes were awarded.
COYOTE WISDOM — From Signal editor A.B. Thatcher: “Ever hear a coyote yelp? Or two of them? They can make you think there are dozens of them from the variety and rapidity of sounds. That reminds me that when a few brainless kids get hold of some booze, or go wrong, one or two people can make enough noise about it to make us believe that every boy and girl in the country is running wildly around.”
AND FILL UP YOUR GAS TANK FOR 50 CENTS! — Wouldn’t it be grand if we could take cars back through time instead of horses? Doty’s Garage was running a special for Model T repairs. Check out these prices — valve job: $3. Front axle overhaul: $4.50. Tightening all bearings: $6. Rebuilding the carburetor: $1.50. Labor charges for rebuilding virtually every mechanical aspect of the Model T was just around $25.
APRIL 28, 1939
THE SCV’s AMERICAN NEGRO LEAGUE — You always hear about Newhall’s local baseball team but rarely was ever there given much press about Val Verde’s African American squad, the Wild Cats. They beat a tough Padre team from San Fernando on this date, 9-7 off 22 hits.
THE FARM LIFE ROMANTIC — Tough week for the Cuenod couple. Mrs. Mary Cuenod was startled by a rattlesnake and, in trying to get away, ripped her dress completely off. There was no Signal photographer present. Later in the week, her husband was forced to shoot a stray mule to death when the critter tried to bite a new colt in half.
APRIL 28, 1949
O’ RARE BEN JOHNSON — Tens of thousands filled the stands at Bonelli Stadium, aka, the Baker Stadium (formerly, Hoot Gibson Stadium) to watch the 23rd annual Newhall-Saugus Rodeo. Stuntman and character actor Ben Johnson took a first in calf-roping and a second in bulldogging. Years later, Ben would win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the film, “The Last Picture Show.”
UNHAPPY IN HAPPY VALLEY — Everyone in this Newhall neighborhood signed a petition, urging the Newhall Water District to put in valves to regulate the flow of water during the drought of ’49. Wells were drying up all over the valley and forget watering lawns — some folks were unable to get enough water to flush a toilet or bathe a baby. A 100-degree April heat wave didn’t help, either. Hate them spring scorchers…
APRIL 28, 1959
DON’T TELL THE SIERRA CLUB — Rivers End Resort up Soledad Canyon held its grand opening. The park had a rather unique miniature golf course back then. For visual treats, they lit the Santa Clara River on fire and not one single environmental impact report was filed.
RAINY RODEO — The rain picked a lousy time to end a drought. A small storm fell 40 years ago this weekend, canceling the Saturday half of our big rodeo. About 5,000 folks sat in a drizzle at Bonelli Stadium to watch the broncs and bullriders.
ANDY’S NICE. STEAMBOAT, NOT SO. —The Los Angeles Times did a full-page spread on Hall of Fame cowboy, Liandro Jauregui, or, Andy to his pals. The article noted how Andy went all over America, looking for rodeo critters. They forgot to mention one particular mean horse Andy had. It was a bronc called Steamboat. The beast was never ridden for the 8-count.
SLEEP AND THEN THE BIG SLEEP. — Marcos Lopez fell asleep at the wheel, crossed over the center divider of Highway 99 and ran smack into a speeding Mack truck. The collision was so great, Lopez and his truck engine left the confines of the pickup and slid 100 feet. Lopez didn’t make it.
APRIL 28, 1969
ONE OF TIM WHYTE’S AWARDS — 11-year-old Karen Sarcarisen of Saugus won $200 in the Cap’n Crunch Seadog Sweepstakes.
YOUNG BARRY — Barry Goldwater Jr. was elected to Congress. He was just 30.
LATER, THEY PERT NEAR DISAPPEARED — After 90 years of being a privately owned family company, The Newhall Land and Farming Co. went public. A total of 768,212 shares were offered — a half-million by the company and the rest by private shareholders.
HOW COME CHARLIE RASMUSSEN DIDN’T GET IT? — Because he was 2. Peter Kiewit Son’s Inc. was awarded a $10 million building contract to build a new school in the SCV. The students chipped in with a “dig-in” to start the process. The school? CalArts.
APRIL 28, 1979
POOR THINGS — The overly litigious struck another blow in the SCV. On this date, an attorney representing a youth inmate at a local honor farm successfully sued the county. From this date foreword, inmates had the constitutional right to have individually regulated shower temperatures.
SHOULDA BEEN JIMMY CARTER — The old dilapidated Victory Trailer Park on Pine Street was given the ax. Too many trailers on the 5-acre parcel, too many health code violations. The owner cried foul, saying: “Everyone screams about low-cost housing and then they turn us down.” The owner? George Bush. No. Not THAT George Bush.
HATE THAT WHEN THAT HAPPENS. — Kevin Grimsley of North Hollywood wished he didn’t drive his friend home to Saugus. Grimsley collided with a Hart school bus, causing $10,000 in damage. It was even worse for Kevin. He totaled his new Ferrari.
APRIL 16, 2019
AS ALL OF US USED TO SAY, “I’M TELLING MOTHER…” — Welcoming a new rider to our history posse. Sure hopes she picks now as the time to tell me she doesn’t like horses. One of the dearest people in my life, JoAnn Peters, friend, mom, fellow mischief maker, leaver of half-full cups of coffee all around the house and perhaps the sweetest person to ever live in Newhall or anywhere, went on to her reward on this date. She missed 91 by a veritable smidge. You are always in my heart, sweetie. Always and then some…
The rest of you? Surely appreciate the company. Be nice to JoAnn until she gets accustomed to riding and don’t tell her things like “Horses eat people.” I’ll see you next week with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then — Gracias por ser mi sustancia mama, JoAnn, y vayan con Dios… (Thanks for being my mom-like substance, JoAnn, 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.