Hate to say it, but this is the time of year I don’t particularly care for. June’s a few hours away and we seemed to have misplaced our June Gloom. You know. Cold. Thick fog. Forced to turn the pilot light back on our furnaces and throw some logs on the fire.
June Gloom, as far as I’m concerned, could last from tomorrow all the way to mid-October, to be followed by rain and snow and tsunamis.
It’s been more than a while since we’ve had a tidal wave, coming
from the west, along the Santa Clara River.
All. Right. Then. I’ll stop pontificating about longshot meteorological events.
We’ve a most interesting trek ahead into the backroads of Santa Clarita legend, lore and history. What say we get to moseying to simpler times?
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
MUST’VE BEEN CONFUSING AT THE DINNER TABLE — On June 1, 1883, The Newhall Land and Farming Co. was incorporated by Margaret Jane Newhall and her sons. A little family tree pruning is in order before we go any further. You see, one of the country’s richest men and owner of most of the SCV was Henry Mayo Newhall. Hank was first married to Margaret’s sister, Sarah. Sarah produced two sons, then died. (You still with us on all this?) Henry then married Margaret, who bore him three sons. (That makes five.) Lot of folks don’t realize that Henry Mayo Newhall had NOTHING to do with NL&F Co. It was formed by his widow and sons a year after his death.
GEORGE, THE MULTI-TASKER — Besides being son of the deceased wealthy landowner, Henry Mayo, back in 1900, George Newhall owned the local general store. He sold sugar sold for about a nickel a pound. A good men’s suit went for $7.50. New shoes cost $1.50 (the good ones!). Underwear was a quarter. Prices hiked up to between 400 and 1,000% within 20 years.
MAY 31, 1920
NOT ENOUGH GAS TO GO AROUND — Newhallites were rationing petrol. It was a simple case of not producing enough gasoline and rural areas, like the SCV, suffered the most. While most local folks still got around the valley on horseback, it did hurt the local economy. We were a major tourism spot for Southern California.
NOPE. TOM WASN’T THE BLIND ‘DAREDEVIL’ — Local actor Tom Mix’s latest pix, “Daredevil,” was released this week. It showed at the old Cody Theater in San Fernando.
MAY 31, 1930
MAKE GALLONS AND GALLONS OF LEMONADE? — A local farmer grew a lemon weighing 3 pounds, 8 ounces. It was 17 inches in diameter. Some of his farmer friends kidded him that he had it confused with a melon.
MAY 31, 1940
A DUDE RANCH FOR LIKE, DUDES — Famed movie star Harry Carey leased his San Francisquito Canyon property out to dude rancher J.C. “Buck” Brown. Brown turned the place briefly into a guest and working ranch.
ANYONE CARE TO DO THE MATH ON HOW MUCH PER GALLON? I DIDN’T THINK SO — Gasoline at Don and Al’s Richfield station was $1.07. That was for six gallons.
MAY 31, 1950
LOCAL BOYS DON’T MAKE GOOD — Hart High was pretty much brand new and six not-so-mighty Indians were arrested after pulling off a string of strong-arm heists throughout the Southland. Three Hart students were caught in the act of holding up a liquor store in Santa Monica at gunpoint. One of the lads, Gene Davenport, was shot in the arm while escaping. The boys had a pattern of holding up markets and stores to pay for their trips to Tijuana. They were members of the 8 Aces Gang here in Newhall. Lenden Riley had been arrested the week before for attempted rape. In tears, Hart Superintendent Lester Dalbey went room to room at the Hart campus to share the news with students. The local Kiwanis Club offered to help by starting a rifle and pistol shooting class for teens.
MAY 31, 1960
AND THE DANCE FLOOR WAS SIMPLY EMPTY — Members of the Hart class of 1950 held their 10-year reunion. It was in the cafeteria and took just two tables.
STUPIDITY KNOWS NOT TIME — Teacher Al Grass took a group of Hart students to downtown Los Angeles for an unusual field trip. His students had typed out a copy of the Bill of Rights and were stopping people, asking if they’d sign their “petition” to make these rights into law. Of the 109 approached, only seven recognized the paper as the actual Bill of Rights. Twenty-five signed the petition, thinking they were good ideas. Ten didn’t want to have anything to do with politics and three denounced the writings as communistic.
MAY 31, 1970
MEASURE TWICE. PAVE ONCE. — On this date, Bill Small Grading & Co. finished a five-week road improvement and regrading of downtown San Fernando Road (that’s Main Street today). Seems the original company built the road too low and people kept smashing their car doors into the curb.
HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST TRANSGENDER BIBLICAL FILM? — The Charlton Heston classic, “Ben-Hur,” was playing at the Mustang drive-in on Soledad.
OH. AND BY THE WAY. WE’RE A PISCES. — Leave it to The Mighty Signal, always first with in-depth reporting. The lead story 50 years back — which took up the entire half of the top of the front page and then some — was an astrological look as to which candidate for the local judgeship was most qualified. The Signal hired an astrologer to run each candidate’s sign. Of attorney El Holt, the card-reader noted: “He is the Tom Jones of the candidates, very popular with the ladies.”
JUNE 3, 1971
ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE STORIES! — Castaic Lake opened. It was a huge party, with live rock bands and other entertainment, including a bikini contest. One local Saugus girl won the swimsuit competition. Seems the curvaceous lass had been grounded. But, using a ladder connected to her upstairs bedroom window, she snuck out with friends to go to the lake opening. She won the itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie skimpy bikini challenge, then snuck back home undetected to her room, her parents none the wiser. Next morning though, her father opened up his fresh copy of The Mighty Signal and what did he see? A giant picture of his tanned and chesty daughter on the front page, in about a quarter-ounce of bikini. While she fibbed that she was 18 for the competition, turns out the model was only 13. Rumor is, she’s still grounded 50 years later.
MAY 31, 1980
AGUA DULCE vs. THE DWP — Agua Dulce’s long war with the Department of Water and Power continued. The DWP had successfully beaten residents in court, who didn’t want them stringing up huge high tension wires through their community. The latest battle was to get DWP to fill in the hundreds of holes they dug — some of them 25 feet deep. Residents worried that everyone from kids to horses would fall in the unmarked traps. The war continued as local vandals, using tractors, knocked over huge power poles.
OR, JIMMY COULD HAVE DUG A REALLY LONG SECRET TUNNEL — Local Arlis Benton sent a letter to President Jimmy Carter with an idea how to free the Iranian hostages. Benton suggested using “knock-out gas” and sending in troops in helicopters with gas masks. With the letter en route to Washington, The White House pretty much followed Benton’s plan by the number. Unfortunately, the rescue copters crashed in the desert.
REMEMBER WHEN WE HAD HORSES? — A Placerita Canyon Signal columnist, cripes, his name escapes me — made fun of all the Million Thises & That’s marching on Washington, D.C. The scribe was busy creating The Million Horse March for the upcoming 1980 Fourth of July parade. He fell short by a few mounts, but it was still a pretty epic and horse-rich parade.
Drat. Hate to say it, but we’re back in the here-&-now. Almost feel like I’ve been stricken with a bout of Peter Pan Syndrome and want to play with you guys in yesteryear until long after supper. Sigh. Not to worry. I’ll figure a way for us to get back together with another exciting Time Ranger history adventure for another proper visit starting here at The Mighty Signal. Until then — ¡Vayan con Dios, amigos!
John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. Got some down time? You can buy Boston’s “Melancholy Samurai,” “Naked Came the Sasquatch” and other books on
Amazon.com or https://bit.ly/JBonAmazon.