Sigh. Have to confess. I do, so, like the rain. If I were Emperor of the Santa Clair-reet, my first official act would be to make sure it rains thrice weekly. Nothing Old Testament. Just a pleasant shower to wash away dust, sins and problems.
We’ve a most interesting trek ahead, going back into the SCV of yesteryear. And, for you desert dogs, bonus? No rain…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
“Make it quick …” utlaw Tiburcio Vasquez saw his last sunlight on March 19, 1875. He was hanged in San Jose, right after lunch, at 1:35 p.m., for murder. The legendary womanizing bandit, after whom Vasquez Rocks was named, uttered his last word before visiting the hereafter. It was, “Pronto.” He was pronounced dead at 1:47 p.m. and cut down 25 minutes after that. Interesting, Tibby was buried up north in a Catholic cemetery in Santa Clara. Interestingly again, we used to be confused with the Northern California town, Santa Clara, what with us being called the Little Santa Clara River Valley back then.
MARCH 15, 1920
Evidently, quarreling is nothing new Local cowboy Tom Mix released his latest flick, “The Feud” at the Cody Theatre in San Fernando. This was before Mix really established himself as a Western star and he played a hillbilly. Today, it costs $7-$9 to go to the flicks. Back in 1920, it was 18 cents for an adult admission, with a few pennies for the war tax. Wonder what Tom would think if you told him you could take a family of four out to a movie and it could cost you a hundred bucks — or, back then, 20% of the cost of a new home.
MARCH 15, 1930
A prime case of nobody thinking, including the horse rank LaSalle was not exactly the hero of the town on this date. LaSalle said he had been bothered by trespassers of late and fired off a revolver to chase some riders off his land. Problem was, they were teen-aged girls and one of them, Edith Harris, was thrown when her horse spooked from the gunshot. Edith suffered several broken ribs and a cracked skull. Lassalle owned a huge vineyard near where Calgrove and the I-5 meet today. He used it as a movie ranch for years.
And what don’t we understand about the phrase, “Check to see if it’s loaded?” he movie, “Abraham Lincoln” was shot in Hasley Canyon. Someone should have inspected the guns because one of them carried a live round, wounding one of the extras in the groin. There’s a “Wish It Coulda Been Harvey Weinstein” joke in there, but we’ll be man enough to avoid it. Oh. Little trivia. The movie was directed by a local ranch owner — D.W. Griffith.
MARCH 15, 1940
So who’s Clifton? he L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to change the name of the Clifton Union School District back to its original title — Saugus. Saugus was called Clifton for about two years. In 1908, the Saugus Elementary School District was formed from bits of the Newhall and Castaic school districts. The original school (1910) sat close to the intersection of modern Bouquet, Valencia & Soledad. While the campus was spared from 12.5 billion gallons of water in the rupture of the St. Francis Dam on March 12, 1928, about half the student body died in the disaster, along with some of the staff. A 1935 bond measure that would cost locals an impossible $1,500 per person failed at the ballot box — 7 to 6. If any of you saddlepals know why the name “Clifton” was chosen, do let me know…
Good work, deputies! ere is, perhaps, one of the most succinct police reports ever filed: “Dog examined by Deputies Keeler and McIntyre. Has worms. No further report.”
Wait. Can you repeat that? est telephone number in Newhall in 1940? Has to go to Newhall Lumber and it’s pretty easy to remember: 1. That’s it. Dial One.
MARCH 15, 1950
Nope. Not the ones from New Orleans n this date, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints held their first local service. It was in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Don’t have first names for them, but Elders Blake and Bowles worked with the San Fernando Stake to set up an LDS congregation in the SCV and eventually build the first church. There were 61 local Mormons at that first meeting.
Our most famous court case he decade-long trial for the estate of William S. Hart continued. His former secretary, Frances Nelson, said the aging actor was despondent in his later years that his son and ex-wife never came to visit, and, when they did, it was for money or favors. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was the star witness at the little Newhall Courthouse on this date, testifying that Hart was of sound mind when she visited him in his later years. They had talked about a barn dance they had held here in Newhall in 1916 with Douglas Fairbanks Sr.
MARCH 15, 1960
The brief pelican (get it?) he Newhall sheriff’s substation had a rather unusual prisoner behind bars. A large pelican had been walking up and down the tracks all morning, stopping trains, and local gendarmes were called to arrest the bird. They kept it in a holding cell until the L.A. Zoo arrived to claim it. I’m guessing Deputy DeBernardi tried to use that as an excuse to take the day off and go fishing so the bird would have something to eat …
MARCH 15, 1970
I was in Fran Wrage’s living room when it happened red Aldrich was named head football coach at Canyon High. Fred earned local fame losing a bet on a televised UCLA basketball game in the 1970s. Aldrich didn’t know the game was TAPE DELAYED and lost $20 to Jerry Thon, who correctly predicted an upset Bruin loss.
Technology gives, and technology taketh away e weren’t such a talky bunch as we are today with faxes, e-mails, cell phones and regular phone calls. Pacific Bell upped their rates on this date for regular service from $5.85 to $6.60. I’d bet most people in the SCV sneak up on the $100 per month rate for all the various phone services. If anyone has any hard data, we’d sure like to peruse it…
Even as a pretend mayor, he did better than many real mayors tan Dyer was sworn in as the SCV’s first unofficial mayor on this date. The title was strictly honorary and given to the person who raised the most money for the Boys & Girls Club.
Wish I had a framed and autographed copy Signal photographer snapped a classic picture of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan giving some student protesters the, ahem, “bird,” during a Board of Regents meeting in Berkeley. Because of the photo, attorney Robert Treuhaft subpoenaed Gov. Reagan in a separate case for his client, David Cronin. Cronin was arrested for giving the, ahem, “bird,” to police officers in Berkeley and lawyer Treuhaft wanted to use the governor to establish community decency standards.
Pete used his famous “Hey! What’s that behind you?” Pitch ome skinny kid named Pete Calzia struck out 17 batters in Hart’s 2-2 called-on-darkness tie with Newbury Park. Had they let them play on, Pete would have struck out 300 — maybe 400 — batters …
MARCH 15, 1980
Death and motorcycles ragic week at Indian Dunes, the old motorcycle race park off Highway 126. Local child actor Ronnie Densford was filming an episode of the hit TV show, “CHiPs” there. Same day, in an unrelated incident, a dirt bike racer died after crashing his bike at high speeds. Densford switched careers, becoming a gaffer.
Thanks for the company, dear saddlepals. You’re all good medicine. 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 turn this into action and do so right jolly now …