Jiminy Christmas wasn’t it Christmas 20 minutes ago? Ditto for February 2019? Putting “BUY BRAKES” on my shopping list so we can apply them to time.
We’ve a most compelling trail ride through SCV history ahead, dear friends, neighbors, saddlepals and the rare nemeses. There’s The Mighty Signal’s 101st anniversary, saints, scalawags, rustlers and when the SCV hosted a convention of soft-handed bankers.
(We’ll sneak by the camping bankers and see if we can liberate some champagne and lobsters …)
C’mon. Saddle up. Or, if you’re a contrary warrior, saddle down. We take all types on these trail rides…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
Taking good care of it a century later illiam S. Hart, one of the biggest movie stars in the world, purchased the Horseshoe Ranch in Newhall from Mr. Babcock Smith on Feb. 5, 1921. Hart had been leasing the property from Smith, starting in 1918. Ol’ Babby built the place in 1910. Used to rent out the hill where Hart built his mansion to the Forest Service and they had a huge wooden fire lookout tower there.
Still mighty, a century-plus later
On Feb. 7, 1919 — 101 years ago — Ed Brown and his wife, Blanche, published the very first issue of The Signal. Can’t believe I just spent a year, writing a weekly feature about it…
FEB. 2, 1920
Always injured Henry ewhall’s Prohibitionist presidential candidate, Henry Clay Needham, returned from a Los Angeles hospital where a clotted leg vein was removed. It gave the Prohibitionist time to reflect. He wrote a letter about returning to Newhall, his “mountain camp.” Needham wrote of “Blessed Childhood” and enjoying life to the full. Needham’s words: “…for all too soon the years go by and its pleasures become only memories as you meet the sterner duties of life. But it were a blessed thing that it were given to man and woman and to have been young, that the memory of its days may sweeten the shaded and barren years which come with age.”
Adios, Eddie. We hardly knew thee regonian Edward H. Brown founded this newspaper in a little room in the old Swall Hotel in downtown Newhall. Interestingly, old Ed never lived to see his paper’s first birthday, dying right before its anniversary on Feb. 3, 1920. Except for a few tidbits, like being a World War I vet, not much is known about Ed, or his bride, Blanche, who took over operation of The Mighty Signal until 1925.
FEB. 2, 1930
War of editorials he editor of the San Fernando News wrote a letter to The Signal threatening Signal Editor A.B. Thatcher. Seems old “Dad” Thatcher had a bean in his craw about flying and wouldn’t go NEAR an airplane let alone climb into one. Wrote News Editor J.A.C.: “(We’ll get Thatcher) up for an airplane ride and before he gets back he’ll be converted to flying or he’ll have to walk back,” wrote J.A.C. of the News.
Our own saint movement started to raise money to buy the “Good Shepherd of the Hills,” the Rev. W.H Evans, a house. Rev. Evans retired in July 1930 to Vista, California. He touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands during his pastoring of the Presbyterian Church in Newhall starting in 1914. It was Evans who had virtually no sleep for months after the St. Francis Dam disaster, offering everything from solace, muscle and funeral services for the hundreds who died and the more who survived the St. Francis Dam disaster.
Deer me! emi Nadeau got another delivery of deer to add to his game preserve (near the Soledad/Sierra Highway intersection today). The Canyon Country millionaire received a truckload of elk and, except for two that were trampled to death, the load arrived safely. It was Nadeau’s dream to build a deer farm with every breed of deer on the planet living in CC. He almost got there. An epidemic would later wipe out most of the United Nations-esque herd.
FEB. 2, 1940
Our almost forgotten bird man
Newhall folks started passing the hat for a fitting monument to Dick Lindsay, who passed on to other realities 80 years back. Lindsay spent years feeding and watering the town’s feathered creatures. Locals built a stone bird bath in “The Birdman’s” honor, complete with a plaque. That dear bird bath has been missing for decades. Shame they never replaced it.
Inch a day makes the drought go away oo bad we can’t fill up our canteens from some of that 1940 rain. We had nearly 4 inches in the first four days of February.
But we about got a war to fight!
More than 250 locals signed a petition, asking the Army to move their flying school out of Newhall. The constant flights were bothering both livestock and movie companies. John Wayne, Trevor Howard and a crew from Republic Pictures had to walk off a movie set because of all the airplane racket. You see, there weren’t too many airplanes during the Cowboy Days …
FEB. 2, 1950
Too bad COC wasn’t built yet. They could’ve taken an accounting course our women were arrested at the old Rancho 49, a motel north of Castaic, and charged with prostitution. They must have not been very good at their trade. Not one had even spare change to make bail or pay a fine.
A.B. Normal? he brain of Wm. S. Hart was center stage at the estate trial of the famed silent film superstar. Hart’s son, Bill Jr., had earlier showed up at his father’s cremation with a court order for the actor’s brain. An autopsy was performed and there was no evidence of any mental disorder in the dad — a crushing headache for his son’s case.
FEB. 2, 1960
And his son, John, got a hernia there moving milk crates d Duarte’s little Canyon Country market was burgled of cigarettes on this date. To set the record straight, and, with apologies to Scott Newhall, ol’ Ed NEVER owned a thoroughbred ranch, hamburger factory or dog-racing farm as Scotty had accused. In a famous front-page Signal editorial, the former publisher of this paper suggested that school board member Ed was feeding his horses to his dogs, selling the dogs to his hamburger factory, and selling the hamburgers to Hart High. Oh. About the mini-headline? John Duarte DID get a hernia. We weren’t allowed to visit him in the hospital because we tended to make him laugh and that stretched the stitches …
FEB. 2, 1970
Sound eerily familiar? he Hart District reported the area’s three junior highs were terribly overcrowded. Of course, we’ve added on since then.
FEB. 2, 1980
Darn kids report indicated that open lunch on the valley’s three high schools solved more problems than it created. The Sheriff’s Department disagreed, citing a big upswing on daytime burglaries. The district had 5,625 high school students.
Our little chickadee he U.S. Postal Service issued a new 15-cent stamp, honoring William Claude Dukinfield. You time travelers might know him better by his stage name — W.C. Fields. Why mention him? He used to live on 8th Street in the 1930s, leasing the home of the silent film impresario, Charlie Mack. The home was called, Rancho del Rey and was eventually sold to Cynthia Neal-Harris’ dad. Want to guess his name? W.C. Harris. Same house was sold again a few years back. Charlie Mack’s original intention was to build a huge artist colony for actors, writers, painters and dancers. Never came to be…
Appreciate the company, my friends and neighbors. Hope to bump into you around town. That failing, see you all 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 …