Because of this, the holiest of holidays in the calendar year, we’re going to take a small departure from the weekly organization of our time-traveling posse.
Dads get to ride up front. Women and children? In the back. No chatter until we get back today. Or, next month, whichever comes first. Not to worry. A gentle breeze will keep the trail dust blowing to where it belongs — in Palmdale.
Also, via my magic powers as Time Ranger, fathers won’t have to ride on horseback this morn. I’ve arranged for every SCV dad to be placed on a comfy recliner on poles, hoisted by tireless Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. The bathing beauties will also provide any snacks or beverages the SCV dads request while stopping from time to time to gently pat our foreheads while offering comforting “there-theres.”
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
BLACK GOLD, TEXAS T — On June 24, 1865, Gen. Andres Pico and Henry Wiley formed the San Fernando Petroleum Mining District, receiving patents to drill oil in the Pico Canyon area.
HAD HE A BETTER DIET, HE’D BE 179 TODAY — On June 21, 1841, Antonio del Valle died. Tony was the original owner of Rancho San Francisco, whose borders included just about all of the Santa Clarita Valley. He died without leaving a will, but his son, Ignacio, produced a letter saying that if Ignacio settled down, got married and became a dad, he’d get a big ol’ huge Western chunk of the property. Iggy did just that.
JUNE 21, 1920
ONE OF THE SCV’S GREATEST CITIZENS — Henry Clay Needham, national mover and shaker and the Prohibitionist Party’s highest-ranking member, left via his “machine” (that’d be his car in 1920 lingo) for his national convention. He was to be the Prohibitionists’ candidate for president. For those of us with public educations, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Henry lost. Here’s some cool trivia. At that convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, Marie C. Brehm would become the first-ever national political chairman for a presidential convention. Clay had the heart of an angel. He left out tubs of water for coyotes and deer on his ranch. Whenever he’d see a drunk on the streets of Newhall, he’d have him arrested, then visit him in jail to chat about the effects of alcohol and pay his bail.
SOUNDS REASONABLE TO ME — How the front page of The Mighty Signal has changed over the years. We ran ethnic jokes and long sermons on page 1. “Study the teachings of Jesus Christ and apply the law that He used.” Funny how hard self-evaluation can be. You’d think if you were quoting the Bible you wouldn’t run ethnic jokes.
A PRINTER’S NIGHTMARE — Signal Editor Thornton Doelle wrote about an idea to print all books so that you read the right-hand page only. The plan would keep folks’ necks and hands comfortable. When you got through with all the right-hand pages, you simply flipped the book back and upside down and read the other half.
JUNE 21, 1930
THE GOOD SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS — It was 90 years ago but still was one of the most significant dates in SCV history. Wolcott H. Evans, the Presbyterian minister here for 16 years, retired. Since 1914, the Rev. Evans gave tirelessly to the community, from helping the survivors of the St. Francis Dam Disaster in 1928 to a hundred daily acts of service. Working in simple poverty his entire life, his parishioners raised $1,300 to buy the man his retirement home.
NOT SO EASY COME, NOT SO EASY GO — William Mayhue finished his hay baling, filling several barns. Mayhue at one time leased nearly every flat piece of land in the valley. He made and lost several fortunes over the years. Once a millionaire, he died a pauper.
JUNE 21, 1940
CARBON MONOXIDE WAS THE TOOL, A BROKEN HEART WAS THE CAUSE — H.E. Edwards committed suicide, running a hose from his exhaust pipe to the inside of his car parked off the Ridge Route. He was despondent that his girl had left him.
HART HIGH IN HONBY?!!?! — Yup. It’s true. The location for the first SCV high school was originally in Canyon Country, near present-day Golden Valley High. A second location was proposed in Honby, near the present-day Metrolink station on Soledad Canyon Road. Why? Folks thought the valley population would grow not from the Newhall side, but the eastern part. Locals were busy trying to get a high school started in Newhall. Movers and shakers kept meeting with the powerful Los Angeles Unified School District, which demanded to see that we could afford to keep up our own local district. One change in state law in 1940 put a damper in education’s ability to raise funds. It was no longer legal to charge students a daily fee to ride the school bus. That figured to cost the soon-to-be William S. Hart District a whopping $60,000 a year.
JUNE 23, 1946
THE DEATH OF TWO-GUN BILL — William Surrey Hart, one of the most significant citizens ever to live in the SCV, died on this date. During the teens and early 1920s, Hart was one of the top four box office stars in the world (along with Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks). After retiring from show business, he lived in a castle overlooking Newhall and was a major player in local development and civics, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities and projects. The local high school district was named after him for the countless checks he cut for buildings and projects for the school.
When Hart died, it was announced over the P.A. at the big Los Angeles rodeo. A cowboy took off his hat and sang, “Oh Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The town of Newhall virtually shut down for the entire day. Hart left most of his fortune to Los Angeles County, leaving his former teen bride, Winifred Westover, and their son, Bill Hart Jr., without a nickel (Hart had provided for them earlier with a large trust fund). Hart’s son showed up at his dad’s cremation with a court order, demanding his father’s brain for autopsy and challenged the will in a case that would drag on for nearly a decade.
JUNE 21, 1950
THE LAST SEARCH FOR BODIES — A group of local possemen rode out on horseback to hopefully write the last chapter on one of the grisliest chapters in SCV history. Back in 1946, a Western airlines passenger plane crashed on White Mountain during a blizzard Nov. 18, 1949, killing 11. The wreckage was still visible from the air in June and FAA authorities asked for local volunteers to cover up the old parts because flyers kept spotting the ancient carnage and reporting a downed plane. The only way to reach the site was via mule or horse.
CLIMATE CHANGE? YOU BETCHA. I VOTE FOR IT TO BE 72 UNTIL OCTOBER — It was an odd weather week 70 years back. We started out at a high of 72 and ended five days later at 105. Too much. Too soon.
JUNE 21, 1960
COW ACCIDENT. A PHRASE SELDOM HEARD TODAY — Loren Clymore, local Ford dealer, got into a terrible cow accident 60 years back. He was pulling his trailer down San Fernando Road at 15th when someone slammed on the brakes in front of him. Loren’s trailer jackknifed, flipped, and one of the steers inside broke its back. Bob Hadley, who owned the H&H Auto Parts store, happened by on horseback (another phrase rarely heard in our yuppie-rich climes today) and roped the dead steer, dragging it off to the side of the road. Local sheriff’s deputy Ronnie Hatcher dispatched the other two dying cows with his revolver.
THAT’S, LIKE, LAURIE STRAUSS’ ANNUAL RETIREMENT TODAY — The William S. Hart Union High School District budget for 1961 was announced — a whopping $1.4 million.
JUNE 21, 1970
LONG HAIRS. THE NO. 1 PROBLEM FACING THE SCV TODAY — Now here’s a Mighty Signal headline for you, war-declared size and on the front page: “Far-Out Church Opens: Long-Hairs Moving In; Many Residents Are Worried, Scared.” The story was about cult leader Tony Alamo starting an alleged Christian foundation up Mint Canyon. He’d take in homeless kids and drive them down in the hundreds to Hollywood in psychedelic buses. The kids would spend their nights begging, turning the money over to Tony and his mink-coat-wearing wife, Susan.
AND, STEVE WAS A HIPPIE — Democratic Assembly candidate Robert Fleming was arrested 50 years ago during the Isla Vista riots in Santa Barbara. He and his son, Steve, one of my best pals, were arrested for protesting the dawn-until-dusk curfew in the UCSB college town. Bob died in a car accident in NorCal about 30 years ago. Steve’s a successful artist in New Mexico today.
JUNE 21, 1980
DRUNKS THAT GO BUMP INTO THE NIGHT — The historic Saugus Train Depot was moved in the dead of night, from across the street from the Saugus Cafe to its present-day location at Hart Park. Southern Pacific had threatened to demolish the wooden structure, 93 years old then. The fairly new SCV Historical Society jumped in for the rescue, literally cutting the depot in half and moving it on flatbeds down San Fernando Road. A 44-year-old Saugus truck driver will never forget that date. Larry Kettelkamp was driving to work at 2:30 in the morning on his motorcycle when a woman struck him in her station wagon. The barfly-ette was stinking drunk and put up a fistfight with arresting officers when they tried to pull her out of her car. Luckily, Kettelkamp suffered just scrapes and bruises, with nothing broken.
Welp. We’re just about back home, to the SCV of the Here & Now. You fellow dads have yourselves a delightful Father’s Day. Tip of the Stetson for your love, sacrifice and lifetimes of quiet desperation. Your names are writ in heaven. See you next weekend here at The Mighty Signal with a brand new Time Ranger adventure? 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.