Offering a beautiful post-full moon howdy to you, saddlepals. And happy autumn while we’re at it. Took its darn time getting here. Before you know it, it’ll be sweater weather, although, come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone in the saddle on a trail ride wearing a sweater. Hope I don’t, either.
That Personal Life Viewpoint aside, we’ve some interesting vistas to peruse. There’s the beer-swilling board director and his mental hospital pal up to some fine government shenanigans. I even have an SCV trivia question for you: “What was the very first movie shown on local cable?” And no. It wasn’t Tom Frew in “The Great Train Robbery.”
Saddle up. We’ll put down a few miles and get some hot coffee on the other side of the time continuum…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
FOR WHOM THE ROAD TOLLS — Back on Sept. 19, 1863, Gen. Edward Fitzgerald Beale made a $2,000 loan to A.A. Hudson and Oliver Robbins to erect a toll house and gate in the Newhall Pass. That’d be real close to Sierra Highway, on the San Fernando Valley side. For years, nearly every living thing from humans to sheep had to pay a toll to pass and Beale collected a percentage.
SEPT. 22, 1919
GLADYS LANEY TOLD ME THIS ONE, WAY BACK WHEN — Charles Conrad’s dance hall burned to the ground on this date. The fire started about 3 in the morning and there are those old-timers around town today who blame a certain despondent non-dancing boyfriend who had a girlfriend who loved to dance. Tale is, the beau may have been responsible for as many as five pool and dance hall arsons in the late teens and 1920s. Don’t pass this on to anyone because it’s just a century-year-old rumor from my pal and fellow Time Ranger posse member in memoriam, Gladys…
ONE VALLEY. ONE PHONE. — We were such a small town back in 1919, the phone company was located in the tailor’s office of Mr. R. Henry.
SEPT. 22, 1929
THE WAY IT SHOULD BE ALL SUMMER — It was foggy and cold on this date, with a third-of-an-inch of rain.
WHOOPS. THERE GOES THE ENGINE. — A Continental Air Express plane crash-landed at the Newhall Emergency Airport as it was called in 1929. Eight people were seriously injured. Imagine the terror. As they were flying over the local mountains, the middle engine gave out, followed shortly thereafter by the right wing engine.
ONE SUNDAY SIGNAL. TWO DEER STORIES. — Our first tale involves a hunter wounding a deer up in Castaic. When he ran up to the fallen creature, according to the hunter, the deer “ … rolled up its large brown eyes pitifully, as if asking for mercy.” The hunter put the deer out of its misery, then vowed never to hunt again. In the other anecdote, a Los Angeles policeman came up to Saugus and illegally shot a spike buck. He paid a $500 fine. To put that into perspective, $500 would buy you a brand-new house in Saugus in 1929.
SEPT. 22, 1939
BLAME THE WEATHER — We had nearly 4 inches of rain in two days — a very wet September weekend indeed. Adding insult to the ag crop, the mercury soared over the 100 mark, both burning and drowning many onions and tomatoes.
ALMOST A TALKIE — Silent screen superstar Wm. S. Hart motored into Hollywood on this date, to a special showing of his “Tumbleweeds” epic Western, set to sound at the Marcal Theater.
BAD ACCIDENT WEEKEND — Just in numbers, it was a pretty rough weekend for people in cars. In nine separate SCV accidents from Friday midnight to Sunday midnight, 24 people were injured and one killed.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUZZ — Buzz Barton, famed youth film star, celebrated his 14th birthday. Buzz was known around town as Bill Lamoreaux. Besides just graduating from the 8th grade at Newhall Elementary, Buzz/Bill also finished his 13th film. The teen was the most famous child movie star on the planet and he lived here in the SCV.
ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD LEGEND AS A NEIGHBOR — Movie mucky muck William Desmond bought himself a 7-acre ranch next to downtown Newhall on this date.
SEPT. 22, 1949
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU SULPHUR-AGETTES — This week marks the 147th anniversary of Sulphur Springs School. Of course, it was the 77th anniversary in 1949 and to celebrate, Col. Frank Mitchell, son of the famed pioneer Tom Mitchell who founded the second oldest school district in Los Angeles County, rang the original school bell. It still worked, too. Frank was in his 80s in 1949 and was one of the school’s original students. While he was in that first-ever class, some family members were relative newcomers to the school. Jimmy and John Mitchell were 9 and 11, respectively, and the 5th generation of Mitchells to attend the campus.
SEPT. 22, 1959
DEALER IN DEATH DIES — Ed Hilburn died on this date of a heart attack and death was his business. Ed built the big red brick Newhall Mortuary on 8th Street at Walnut and, for years, he was given the unasked-for nickname of “Digger.” Short, of course, for grave digger.
SHRINKING PAINS — This week 60 years back, The Signal shrunk its newspaper columns from 12 picas to 11. I guess the darn things slowly grow if you don’t trim them.
CROWDED CAMPUS — Hart High had its first week of school for the 1959 year. Total enrollment was 1,146 and boys outnumbered girls 634 to 512. That was when Hart was not only the valley’s only high school, but junior high as well. We number the kids in the tens of thousands now.
SEPT. 22, 1969
USED TO BE — Randall Ranch on Pine Street isn’t the world’s largest supplier of livestock to the movie business, but it sure was in 1959. Corky’s 50-acre place had 350 horses, six longhorn cattle, bison, dogs, 400 saddles, wagons and two camels that were featured in the film, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” The Randalls’ livestock have appeared in thousands of flicks, TV shows and commercials, from “Ben Hur” to “Herb Albert.”
DUMBING DOWN OF SCLARITA — The written word wasn’t very important to the citizens of Santa Clarita. It wasn’t like everyone was signing their name with an “X.” But on the other hand, no one was buying books. With the overall valley population at around 60,000, there wasn’t a single bookstore in the SCV. The largest suppliers of books were the grocery stores and the few big outlets only had two racks each for paperbacks. Always leading the community, The Mighty Signal followed up with an editorial urging someone build a bookstore in town.
BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN YOU COULD GET SHOT FOR SMOKING WEED — Undercover narcotics officers reported that the local drought in marijuana was over. A new supply came in, dropping prices from $17 an ounce to $10.
SEPT. 22, 1979
WHAT A CONCEPT. ELECTING CRAZY PEOPLE TO PUBLIC OFFICE. — The little agency with the big name was at it again. The directors of the West Los Angeles County Resource Conversation District got into a heated fight at a meeting. Director Jack Hutchinson showed up at the meeting with an open can of Colt .45 malt liquor sticking out of his back pocket. His first act was to move that district President Glenn Bailey be removed. Bailey, 24, objected, stating: “I don’t like being tried, convicted and hanged by a kangaroo court by one director under the influence of alcohol and another on leave from a mental institution.” Director Marcus Frishman was currently self-committed to the acute psychiatric wing of the Woodview-Calabasas Hospital. Not sure things change much…
“HEH-WO, MR. WOPE-PUHHH…” — On this weekend in 1979, local cable companies offered the first-ever premier of movies on TV. If you’d like to astound your pals at the next luau, point out that the first ever cable-offered movie in the SCV was Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon.” May we have a spirited kung fu, “Ah-haaaaa,” please?
Well. Thanks for the company. As you can see by yonder spinning vortex, we’re back in the good ol’ SCV. See you in seven with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then — Vayan con Dios, amigos de la silla de montar! (Ride with God, saddlepals…)
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.