How in Heaven’s Name did it get to be September? Wasn’t it just January 20 minutes ago? Fall feels just around the corner. Well. Looks like we’ll have to roll up our sleeves this fine first Sunday of September and tweak time a smidge. What say you, saddlepals? Ready for the task?
We’ve got rustlers and spontaneous combustion, one major league barroom brawl and our very own chapter of the Sexual Freedom League and no. It’s not nude slo-pitch softball.
Shall we mosey back into the frictionless peace of yesteryear?
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA, etc. — Whoops. Excuse me. Just a lot of train business around this time. On Sept. 5, 1886, banker and T-rex capitalist Charles Crocker drove the golden spike at Lang Station, linking San Francisco with Los Angeles and all points between. Very next day, the Newhall Train Station was dedicated at Bouquet Junction. THEN, On Sept. 1, 1887, both the Saugus and Castaic train stations were dedicated (as was the town of Saugus).
SEPT. 1, 1919
COULD ED HAVE IMAGINED SO MANY BILLIONAIRES? — How’s this for a Mighty Signal editorial, penned by publisher Ed Brown. It could have been written in 1999. “Profiteering may yet be the undoing of this country. The greatest crime in the history of America is that of profiteering, (which is) wholesale and deliberate robbery of a helpless public. Prices have been artificially forced to such a high altitude that it is becoming more and more difficult for a poor person to sustain life.”
WELL LET’S NOT GO TOO FAR — And in another editorial, Ed Brown wrote about the need for women’s rights. His closing paragraph: “Out of the war there must follow a new and far-reaching redistribution of the opportunities to work and gain a livelihood for women.”
THE SCV’s FIRST TAXI — H.C. Beckley doubled his taxi company in one fell swoop. He bought another “Studebaker car,” a brand new model. His taxis motored residents from the SCV into the San Fernando Valley and L.A. His other driver was Dan Hernandez.
SEPT. 1, 1929
LIFE, AND PRICES, WERE DIFFERENT IN THE SCV — A good milking cow could cost more than an average new house. On this date, Bouquet Canyon farmer A.S. Adams found his prize milker crippled in a pasture, her leg shattered by the bullet of a hunter. Adams had to shoot his $400 cow to put it out of its misery. Adams also noted that the valley was far too heavily populated.
SPONTANEOUS COMBUSION? OR, REALLY SMELLY FEET? — You be the judge. On this date, the old Saugus Community Club caught on fire. Local Leon Byers, piloting the valley’s lone fire truck, put the blaze out. Byers found a box of old shoes under the porch where the fire originated. Some said the really hot temperatures ignited the polish on the shoes.
SEPT. 1, 1939
SORRY! ANOTHER WRONG-HEADED EDITORIAL! — Signal Editor Fred Trueblood penned an editorial urging neutrality in the war in Europe. “It is the opinion of The Signal that the Nazis will be beaten, and that the job will in no way be as difficult as the job of beating the kaiser. It is the opinion of The Signal that England and France can do the business with their own resources.”
CRIMINALS BE THE DUMBEST CREATURES — A quintet of car thieves stole a brand new DeSoto and put on a different license plate to throw the authorities. CHP officer Floyd Winchell was a little suspicious seeing that the brand-new car had a rusting old plate on it. He pulled the perps over and arrested the lot.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM — John Gorham painted The Signal offices on this date. Thrice. Seems he kept placing “WET PAINT” signs everywhere and locals didn’t believe him. Gorham complained that the third time he painted the place, he’d do it at night when people couldn’t see the signs.
SEPT. 8, 1946
I WAS ALMOST A BUCKAROO. ACTUALLY, I AM. — On this date, the first ever high school in the valley, William S. Hart, was dedicated. The campus was originally on the Newhall Elementary school grounds. Bill Hart, the silent superstar after whom the school and district was named, actually wanted the campus called Fremont High, after one of his historical heroes, John C. Fremont. The Indian mascot was voted in after a contest. Second-place choice, by two votes, was the Hart High Buckaroos.
SEPT. 1, 1949
GLAD WE BROUGHT OUR TIM WHYTE 42-GALLON ICED TEAS WITH THE SIPPY STRAWS — We’re having rather pleasant weather now but a half-century back, it was 104. In the shade. And straws were legal…
TALK ABOUT GETTING CLEANED OUT — Howard Montgomery returned to his vacation ranch near Sandberg on the old Ridge Route to find he had been robbed. Big time. Missing were his electrician’s tools, canned groceries, all his towels and linens, refrigerator, stove, four tires, cow feed, 500 pounds of chicken feed, 200 live chickens, a cow and his 1935 Ford pickup. Montgomery said he suspected the caretaker, who had just moved back to Oklahoma.
WILL JONES: YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN SAN PEDRO — This starts with W.J. motoring up to Val Verde where he held up the old Reeves Bar and Café. It was owned by Possie Reeves back then. Jones pulled out a pistol and emptied Possie’s pockets and register. On the way out, the San Pedroite exchanged unkind words with one of the patrons and proceeded to pistol whip him. Problem. After two swipes, the gun flew out of Jones’ hand. There was an uncomfortable albeit sheepish second of silence, followed by everyone in the bar beating the holy tar out of the bandit. Besides being beaten, arrested and jailed, Jones realized someone swiped his pistol. Good, I say.
SEPT. 1, 1959
AMAZING SCV COCKTAIL PARTY TRIVIA — On Aug. 29, 1959, Judge C.M. MacDougall received the first private-citizen direct-dial telephone call in SCV history. The call was from Selectman David Nagle from the city of Saugus. Saugus, Massachusetts, that is. It was a test run for the new phone system that would bring the SCV out of the boonies in 1960. That’s when the valley switched over to direct dialing, as opposed to having to call the local switchboard operator to place a call.
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL — Carbon monoxide was blamed for sending Ridge Route driver Dave Hill to a fiery demise. CHP believed exhaust fumes leaked into Hill’s car as he was coming down the Grapevine and Hill passed out. Hill went over the hill, plunging 650 feet to his death.
SEPT. 1, 1969
AND WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE REPUBLICAN — While a national poll of 63 percent thought President Richard M. Nixon was doing a good job, a Signal telephone poll deduced he wasn’t as popular here in the Santa Clarita. The informal Signal poll found that only 38 percent approved of his performance, although the neophyte statisticians noted that “One lady screamed obscenities at us over the phone then hung up.”
I’D KILL TO GET MY HANDS ON THE T-SHIRT — On this date, the Santa Clarita Valley Sexual Freedom League formed. The SFL started in — where else — San Francisco in 1961 and by 1969 had 2,300 loosely organized clubs nationwide. Some of the clubs even had bowling leagues. But in Newhall? They had just one anonymous member. Hmmmm. Wonder if former Signal Publisher Tony Newhall and San Francisconite has an alibi for his whereabouts back on Sept. 1, 1979?
SEPT. 1, 1979
AND THE TOURISTS WEREN’T EVEN CHARGED A NICKEL EXTRA — Visitors were treated to a wild West bonus on the usually staid tour of the William S. Hart mansion. Tour guide Dan Carey decided to give his group a bonus and take them into the flag tower, which was off limits to tours. This angered Bob Cordoza, a Hart Park security guard. Cordoza ordered Carey and the tour out of the tower. A heated argument ensued after which Carey threw his keys away and quit on the spot. As Carey was walking out the door, Cordoza jumped him. The pair, in the spirit of that touted American tradition of the frontier fistfight, started to duke it out. Cordoza knocked Carey to the ground and sent a roundhouse right, landing it on Carey’s jaw and breaking it. Several tourists then jumped in, pulling the guard off the tour guide. Betcha they didn’t tell you THAT one on the last Silents Under the Stars movie night at the park…
My heavens that was an interesting trek, wasn’t it? Sure appreciate your company, saddlepals. I think I’m going to trailer up and find a beach on which to ride. Maybe eat some sushi. And a lovely cool beer. Alas, the horse gets hay. See you in seven with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then —vayan con Dios Feliz año nuevo en cuatro meses, amigos! (Ride with God, my friends, and Happy New Year in four months!)
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.