When Tarzan Played the SCV in Baseball

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger

I shouldn’t mention the word, “apes” above a whisper. Might spook the horses. BUT, on this beautiful Sunday morn trail ride into the Santa Clarita Valley lore of yesteryear, we are not only going to bump into some (lowering the voice) “apes,” but the bona fide Lord of them.

Plus, there’s an entire passel of the usual crooks, politicians, gee whiz SCV cocktail party trivia, man’s inhumanity to man and a stroll down memory lane for our childhood pal, Andy Allensworth…


Small thing for some of you first-time newcomer riders? As you sit tall in the saddle, you should NOT be gazing upon a tail about a yard into the horizon, rather, a couple of ears, occasionally twitching and certainly not pinned flat back.

C’mon. Let’s go see them apes…


Had it with Newhall. We’re moving to Newhall. n Jan. 15, 1878, Three years later, same day as above, the entire town of Newhall moved lock, stock and barrel from where Bouquet Junction is today to about where 6th Street and Main is today. This gets confusing, so hold onto hats and saddlehorns. The town of Newhall was ORIGINALLY built in 1878 — where the Saugus Café sits today. After Newhall moved, people created a new town called Saugus, which changed its name to Surrey, which changed its name back to Saugus. (SIDEBAR: Historian A.B. Perkins once referred to the original location of Newhall as the intersection of Seco and Bouquet Canyon roads.)

We assure you. It was in Newhall. 
And on Jan. 17, 1915, the first Catholic parish was dedicated near Walnut and Lyons today. Of course, we’ve had a Catholic church of sorts operating here since the early 1800s.

JAN. 12, 1920

Before there was Sparkletts  Dr. Stevenson (no relation to Stevenson Ranch) dug a mini lake on his property. The doc tunneled into the side of a hill and built a reservoir to catch rain water falling off both the hill and the roof of his home. Wonder how much he had to strain that water to make it pure? 

JAN. 12, 1930

Wonder if his middle name was “40?”  motorist on this date was thrown from his car after he swerved to miss a slow-moving hay wagon. We don’t know if he landed on his rear end, but his name was W.D. Butt. While we’re still in the mood for wondering, wonder if his middle name was “Harry?” “Seymour?” “Mr. Big?”

JAN. 12, 1940

The mayor’s lost astral clock 
Some foraging forestry men rediscovered the lost Perpetual Motion Machine of Los Angeles Mayor Henry T. Hazard. Hazard had built this strange clock in 1920 in Oak Canyon, 4 miles west of Castaic. It was a steel wheel 60 feet in diameter, set in concrete and rotating on 250 ball bearings, powered only by the rotation of the earth. In theory, it was supposed to keep perfect time. The only problem was, the simplest breeze would send it spinning and you also had the problem of owls landing on it or squirrels giving it a twirl. The project was abandoned.

JAN. 12, 1950

When being a flasher was A-OK 
Sgt. Maj. Landalen Bluste, retired, celebrated his 90th birthday at his Sand Canyon ranch. Bluste was one of the army’s first heliographers (the guys who used mirrors to flash messages) in America. He had fought in World War I, the Spanish-American War and the Indian Wars. He was stationed in Company K of the 4th Regiment in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he fought Geronimo (although not all by himself).

JAN. 12, 1960

Let’s see if we can spell “AHHHH-AHHHHHH-REEE-AHHHHHHHHuhhhhaaaaHHHHHHHH!!!!” 
Jim Pierce was the guest visitor at a Castaic Boy Scout meeting. Pierce played “Tarzan” in the very last silent movie versions. The 1927 flick was entitled “Tarzan and the Golden Lion.” Interestingly, Mr. Pierce was a moderately successful Hollywood actor when he attended a party at Edgar Rice Burroughs’ home in Tarzana. Burroughs, of course, was the creator of the famed ape man. Burroughs was so taken by the giant, sun-tanned actor he begged him to play the Lord of the Jungle in “Golden Lion.” Pierce married Burroughs’ daughter, Joan, a year later. Joan and James were the RKO radio voices of Tarzan and Jane from 1932 to 1934. Husband and wife are buried in Shelbyville, Indiana. Their adjoining tombstones simply read: “Tarzan” and “Jane.” Oh. More film trivia that’s gonna end up in someone’s local SCV film book? In between acting, Pierce coached football at Glendale High School. One of his players was a handsome, curly-haired chap named Marion Morrison. You probably know Marion by his film name: John Wayne. Pierce used to play for Burroughs’ semipro baseball team, The Apemen. They’d frequently motor up to the SCV to take on the Newhall and Saugus semipro squads.

JAN. 12, 1970 

Horses e had a rather strange sporting event on this date, three decades back. The Castaic Saddle Club and Viewfinders Motorcycle Club met to see which was faster — horse or motorbike. The horses won in every arena event. In fact, only one biker even finished in the money and that was fifth place. 

Which witch? anyon Country’s sixth-generation witch, Louise Heubner, had earlier been named Los Angeles County’s Official Witch at a Hollywood Bowl Halloween show. Months later, Supervisor Eugene Debs tried to take the honor back. Heubner smilingly suggested that if he did, she would, “remove the sexual vitality from all of Los Angeles County.” Our own supervisor, Warren Dorn, called Debs “… an awful Indian giver” and “a grouch.” If Louise were around today, perhaps she could cast a spell and move the homeless elsewhere…

And it’s been all downhill ever since n this date, the William S. Hart Union High School District voted to allow girls in the local junior highs to wear pants to school. It was a first.

JAN. 12, 1980

Speaking of no pants  16-year-old youth from Canyon Country survived after being blasted by 66,000 volts of electricity from a SoCal Edison power line he had been climbing. He had second- and third-degree burns over his legs and his pants and underwear had been blasted completely off his body by the jolt. 

The grisliest murder in SCV history he jury was finally picked for Ronald Doyle Wilburn. The transient had earned the nickname of the Vampire Van Killer for picking up a young female hitchhiker, murdering her then partially eating her remains.

JAN. 8, 2003

Happy Birthday Sweetie Pie!! his item won’t make too many history books but it sure makes mine. Seventeen years ago on this date, little Miss Indiana Rubino Boston came into this parenthesis via Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. As I looked at her a few seconds old, I remember thinking: “This is my best friend I’ve known for 10,000 lifetimes whom I am just meeting right now.” Thanks EVER so much for the best gift ever, guys (especially the patented HMNH No Returns Policy). And, as I wish for my daughter, my inspiration, my friend — and, for all of you saddlepals — may we all write our own best history …

I’m told it’s humanly impossible to mimic the later Tarzan yell from the Johnny Weissmuller films. Too bad. I’d just kill to be able to belt that one out instead of a yodel. We’re back home, saddlepals. Thanks for the company, amigos. See you next week with another exciting Time Ranger history adventure. Until then —¡vayan con Dios, amigos! 

John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. You can buy his books and novels on Amazon.com. Best you do …

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