UFOs, The SCV’s 1st Coach & Fake Robbers

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger

Good heavens, time is speeding by. Halloween’s over, Thanksgiving’s around the bend and Christmas is not too far beyond that. And we’re still basking in Indian summer weather.


If only for a moment, let’s flee the stress and distractions of this sanitary but hardscrabble life. I’ve a horse made special for each one of you SCV time travelers and directions for distant points of the mystic.

I vote we go mosey… 


Repeat. Cyrus was the gunfighter. Sanford was the businessman. ack on Nov. 20, 1831, weeks before my Scotsman pal Tom Frew entered the world clutching nickels, twin brothers Cyrus and Sanford Lyon were born in Machias, Maine. The boys would later pioneer to Newhall. Sanford was the one with the business head and Cyrus was the pistol fighter. Cyrus would later be hired by the mayor of Los Angeles, Ignacio del Valle, owner of the local Rancho San Francisco, to clean up L.A. Cyrus Lyon was one of the original captains of the California Rangers and through beatings, hangings, shootings and threats, he and his lawmen cleaned up El Pueblo in about 18 months.

Like, all of it n Nov. 22, 1831, Rancho Castaic (Castac) was granted to José Covarablas.

NOV. 17, 1919

The SCV’s first coach ong before AYSO or William S. Hart Baseball, the Newhall Athletic Club formed. It was on this date and was for boys only to “stage indoor as well as outdoor games and athletic stunts.” A Mr. McDonald could very well be the area’s first official athletic coach.

NOV. 17, 1929

No crime in being nuts ester Mead, insane fellow, stumbled into the sheriff’s station to confess his part in the derailing and robbing of the Southern Pacific passenger train a week earlier. Local officers quickly ascertained that Lester was crazy. Besides that, Lester wasn’t “Buffalo” Tom Vernon, the perp who actually committed one of the biggest railroad derailment heists in American history. Seems Buff left a letter with his name on it at the scene of the wreck. A rather healthy $10,000 reward was issued for the capture of the bison boy.

Must have been something in the 1929 autumn air nother transient walked into the sheriff’s office, reporting that he had been robbed. The hobo said he had been lured up to Newhall to buy chickens and turkeys but had been beset upon because crooks thought he was a famous bootlegger. Happens to me all the darn time…

NOV. 17, 1939

Or, it was Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise t first, the locals thought it was a plane crash, albeit one with an eerie green streaking glow, striking the valley. Further investigation found it to be a large meteor hitting the planet north of Castaic. Truckers reported the strike to be about 8 miles east of Gorman.

Figure Bell Gardens owes us 
James West, no relation to the Wild, Wild West fellow, was arrested in Bell Gardens for the theft of several local turkeys (the bird kind, not the clueless human type) and a goose (we’ll walk around that one). West served 180 days in jail. Alas, none of West’s loot was recovered. The local birds had all been eaten by residents of Bell Gardens for Thanksgiving.

Cuz she’s easy to catch? t Newhall Elementary, one of the names of the teachers was Miss Frisbee. Just thought you might want to know.

Love to have one today ost of a brand new 1940 valve-in-head 85 horsepower Chevy at the local DuVall dealership was $659. That wasn’t down or per month. Just the whole car. Interestingly, you could buy a house in town for about the same price.

Guessing Fred didn’t like California’s custom house n an editorial, Signal Editor Fred Trueblood was cheering over the closure of the Department of Motor Vehicles state custom houses. “You can start in at the Atlantic coast and motor clear across America, passing through the richest agricultural and industrial areas, and you won’t have your baggage examined until you hit the barren, empty stretches of the Southwest. If you have ever had a border patrol flunky grab your registration card holder, tear it apart, yank out the card, smack it with a rubber stamp and then throw the fragments back at you, you know what we mean.”

NOV. 17, 1949

Shoulda used the Castaic shooting star from 1939 to put on top he world’s biggest Christmas tree passed through Newhall on this date. It was 105 feet high and headed for Pershing Square in downtown L.A.

Still don’t abide by the red, white & black art High got a brand new set of uniforms for the 1949-50 season. They were maroon and gray — Hart’s first school colors until 1968 when some acrimonious monkey bucket pinhead administrators changed them to red and black.

Airplanes & potatoes don’t mix he old Newhall International Airport had closed months earlier, but word hadn’t quite gotten around to everyone yet. Ernest Axup made a nighttime landing, only to roughly discover that the airstrip was now plowed up. Ernest busted up his plane pretty good but walked away unscratched.

NOV. 17, 1959

A cold campus tragedy hile our local Indians were wrapping up their second Frontier League title, beating Camarillo 47-0, Hart High janitor Fritz Spaethe died a few hundred yards away from the game. Fritz’s trailer home on Kansas Street had caught on fire. The elderly janitor and his dog died of smoke inhalation.

NOV. 17, 1969 

Check the tires? t first, they thought it was an earthquake. Bill Aurand and his wife, Alice, were entertaining friends in a backyard card party when the ground began to rumble and their fence “fell” down. The six neighbors dove under the table. But it wasn’t an earthquake. It was a tire. Five high school kids in Saugus got a huge, 1-ton tire upright and rolled it several hundred yards downhill. It gained speed, crashed through the Aurands’ fence, narrowly missed the card table and went right into the house. The tire rollers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Is it worse today? here was a huge split in America and the SCV over our involvement in the Vietnam War. On the same day, at the same time, there were two local demonstrations. The one at Hart Park was to support National Unity Day and our involvement in the war. At Newhall Park, People For Peace gathered to protest it.

Hi, Sis! e got a visit from dignitaries from Chun-An, our sister city in Korea, on this date.

Castaic’s second tractor death 
Working on the Castaic Dam, George Roberts died when the steering mechanism on his tractor failed and he plunged over an embankment. It was a carbon copy of an earlier death a month earlier in the building of the local reservoir.

NOV. 17, 1979

How about them Cowboys? n this date, Canyon won its first ever league football title, beating Saugus High 28-14. The Cowboys shared the crown with Hart.

Well that was perfectly peaceful. Plus, we got educated a smidgen without anything major getting broken. Thanks for the company, saddlepals. See you next Sunday with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then — ¡Vayan con Dios, amigos!

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.

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