Hello dear friends and Santa Clarita saddlepals. From atop a fine steed, I’m glancing out over the thousands of you readers, searching for a hand. Can someone answer a simple question? How in Heaven’s Name did we reach so quickly October? I remember morning tea. Glancing out the window. And suddenly? It’s October.
Best we just all put that left foot in the stirrup, do a little bunny hop and swing up into our saddles. Let’s mosey off to a place where time simply doesn’t matter and another ride into the lost trails of SCV History.
Which is such an august subject, it always should be capitalized.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
WAGON, HO!! — And we don’t mean it in current salty street jargon. Oct. 8, 1848, the historic Butterfield Stage made its first run through the Santa Clarita Valley, coming from Fremont Pass at the south end of Newhall and through San Francisquito Canyon. I’ve read historic accounts that the stage was greeted in Newhall by a 100-gun salute from all the local galoots and yahoos. I’m not real confident about that statistic, seeing that you’d have to have at least 50 guys shooting two guns each and you’d be hard-pressed to put together 100 men in the same spot in the SCV in 1848.
OCTOBER 4, 1920
AND NO ONE KNELT FOR THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER — On this date, Newhall Elementary beat Saugus Elementary 30-11 in baseball. Alas, we have no more Saugus Elementary. You know, next time they build a new school out in Saugus, they might want to bring that name back.
I’D PLACE MY BET ON PUNK KIDS AS THE PERPS — Mr. Rhen Owen of Saugus may have saved a whole bunch of lives. Rhen was driving home along Soledad (back when the road was smack dab next to the tracks) when he noticed someone had placed several huge railroad ties across the tracks in what appeared to be an attempt to derail the train. Rhen got out quickly, dragged the ties off just in time for the old Owl passenger train to roar by safely. Local sheriffs had no suspects.
HOMER SIMPSON’S CAR, THE ‘DORT’? — Scott Motors, over the hill in San Fernando, was advertising up here for a used car sale. Ever heard of a Veile, Maxwell or Dort? They’re old and long-forgotten car companies.
SPEAKING OF CARS — A century ago, The Mighty Signal penned yet another in a long series of editorials, strongly suggesting that there oughta be a law. Seems this newspaper saw far too many autos driving around at night without headlights or taillights. As you can see by the power of a Signal editorial, folks don’t do that much these days.
HAVE SOMEONE OLDER THAN 60 EXPLAIN TO YOU WHAT A RUNNING BOARD IS — Dan Hernandez kept wondering why people were waving at him while he was driving through town. At first, he dismissed it to an overly friendly community. When he stopped downtown, he smelled a not unpleasant odor. Seems he had flipped his cigar out the window, it caught on his running board and caught the long wooden step on fire.
AT LEAST THEY WEREN’T TRYING TO PULL THE WOOL OVER OUR EYES — Local sheepherders were complaining that recent state laws protecting bears had caused the bears to multiply and dine out on their flocks. The wool boys wanted permission to insert some bullets in the bruins to dissuade them.
OCTOBER 4, 1930
BONUS? THEY DID BUSINESS WITH NON-ITALIANS — Most locals did their banking at an institution called the Bank of Italy. On this date, it merged with another of its ilk and became Bank of America.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR A GOOD IDEA — A Signal editorial urged that someone come up with an idea to build a better telephone or electric pole. The Signal believed someone should “… invent them with leaves and blossoms, and all, so they would not look so dead and ugly.”
BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS: WEED MAKES YOU CRAZY — Sex does have its price. Over the hill in San Fernando, a man who had been having an affair with the wife of his landlord ended up shooting a local sheriff’s deputy. Another officer shot and killed the murderer. The Signal reported: “It is stated that Lopez was a user of marihuana, a Mexican dope weed that is said to produce insanity.”
OCTOBER 4, 1940
WAR AND ANTI-WAR — World War II crawled closer to the sleepy little Soledad Township (another name for the SCV back then). Fielding Wood, who operated a garage in Saugus, was the local draft board registrar, and all local men 21-35 were ordered to sign up. A few locals quietly questioned the process, saying it was conscription and unconstitutional.
OH, THOSE 1940 PRICES!! — Prices are relative to a time period. But still. A pound of coffee? Twelve cents. Bacon? Eleven cents a pound. Table grapes? Three cents a pound. Apples? Six pounds for a quarter. And, my personal favorite: ice cream — two bits for a half-gallon. Wonder if that stuff melts when it passes through the SCV Time/Space Continuum?
ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE RANCH NAMES — Mull Pently, a cowpoke with an interesting handle, had an even more fetching name for his acreage up Sand Canyon — The Littlebitty Ranch. Today, Sand Canyon is a millionaire’s haven for the rich and famous, but back in 1940, it was rugged but pretty country. Pently had some unusual decorating ideas. He wallpapered his living room in what he called the Thrift Motif. Pently tacked all his receipts — from his truck payments to the mortgage — on the walls. Makes for good insulation in the winter.
ANOTHER LOCAL WESTERNER, ANOTHER GREAT NAME — Partic Sernando took a second job as a local waiter and got kidded by the cowboys that his shirt was the whitest thing anyone had seen up Sand Canyon since the snowfall of 1898. Betcha you time travelers didn’t know it snowed here in 1898.
THEY JUST DON’T NAME BABIES LIKE THEY USED TO — You know, it must be something in our water wells that caused mothers to hand out interesting names to their Sand Canyon offspring. Check out some of these actual names for the residents: Hetty Pentross, Premer Brigs, Spud Towner, Wendley Bruggs, Loop Mulney and Pell Monterey. If I could get Signal Editor Tim Whyte back up on a horse, I’d lobby for him to change his first name to “Ogie.”
OCTOBER 4, 1950
TINKER. NO TAILOR. NO SPY. — A gang of drunken motorcyclists at the old Sir Kegian Motorcycle Park in Acton terrorized dozens of families and attacked local sheriff’s deputies. The Newhall cops had arrested one of the perps, a no-goodnik named “Tinker.” Handcuffed, he escaped once into a crowd of his friends and the local lawmen had a pretty good scuffle freeing him. Then, the deputies had an unasked-for escort of several hundred bikers as they motored back to Newhall substation No. 6. The sheriff’s deputies decided just to keep on driving and drove into San Fernando for extra CHP and other law enforcement protection.
YOU KNOW? KINDA LIKE IT IS OUTSIDE TODAY? — October was not kind and far from fall-like. We had nearly three weeks of the mercury hitting around 100.
DEATH BY ULCER — The wildcat business is a dangerous one. But this is odd nonetheless. Luther Buckelew was overseeing the unloading of a truck at a Pico oil well when the crane broke loose. He jumped off the flatbed to avoid being struck. In doing so, he twisted his stomach, aggravating a severe gastric ulcer, and died.
SEPTEMBER 30, 1955
JAMES DEAN, STILL DEAD. AND IT WASN’T FROM HIS LAST MEAL IN THE SCV — For those with their undies still in a damp, knotted and malignantly smelling twist, we’d like to reiterate from last week’s column that according to eyewitness accounts and local newspaper articles, the poster boy of 1950s rock-a-billy teen angst, actor James Dean, ate his final meal right here in the Santa Clarita Valley. It was apple pie and milk. At Tip’s. The famous SoCal eatery was at the intersection of today’s Magic Mountain Parkway and The Old Road. The tormented bad boy actor was en route to an auto race in his souped-up Porsche when he hit a truck outside Cholame, at the junction of today’s state routes 46 and 41, which, if you add up, totals 87. Dean died. With Tip’s milk and apple pie still in his tummy. AND, two other people who later owned that Porsche or parts from that devil car would later die in accidents with yet another injured. Was the Porsche haunted? Can’t say. Ain’t science. Dean was 24 when he died (still possibly digesting local milk and apple pie?). Dean would be nominated post mortem for the Best Actor Academy Award in 1956 and 1957 — for “Giant” and “East of Eden.”
OCTOBER 4, 1960
HUNTING & SMARTS, NOT NECESSARILY TRAVELING COMPANIONS — Bob Williams was out looking for deer with a pal, bouncing over rough SCV terrain in an open Jeep. They hit a ditch. The .357 Magnum cocked itself on the way up and went off on the way down. Williams had a slug go through his thigh and exit out the heel of his foot. Yee. Ouch. That’s going to take more than a band-aid to address.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY — It’s the 60th anniversary of LARC. Construction began this weekend on the Los Angeles Retarded Children’s Foundation Ranch up Bouquet Canyon. Its current official name is Los Angeles Residential Community, still commonly known at LARC Ranch.
OCTOBER 4, 1970
WHERE’S RALPH CRAMDEN WHEN YOU NEED HIM? — A study was done to see if mass transit should be brought to the SCV. Seems no one would use a bus if we had one back then. Kinda wonder if people use them that much today.
THE UNDYING CYCLE OF FIRE — In present day, we’ve been suffering through epic and historic fires, turning local air the color and consistency of German mustard. We were brutally hit over the summer with three huge fires that blackened nearly 70,000 acres. The Forest Service came in afterward a half-century back with a half-million pounds of rye grass and other seeds to reseed the hills. It cost about $2 an acre to reseed.
THE COUGARS DIDN’T TAKE A PRE-GAME KNEE, EITHER — COC football got off to a great 3-0 start, averaging about 50 points per game and ranked 7th in California.
OCTOBER 4, 1980
SO WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE? — While we’ve gotten bigger, we’re not necessarily better. We had four time and temperature towers on local banks 40 years back. Today, there’s two (one at Whites Canyon and Soledad, the other by Starbucks on Newhall Avenue at Carl Court). On this date, Santa Clarita National Bank listed that it was a pleasant-enough 91 degrees while just a mile and change away at Valley Federal’s outdoor thermometer, it was 108.
Well how about them apples? That spinning vortex up ahead is our station stop and — Heavens dear me. I’ve GOT to watch this overly affected lovable Western cowboy character voice. I’m sounding like a cross between the guy on the Motel 6 commercials and Capt. Kirk. Let’s rendezvous back here at Your Mighty Signal next weekend for another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then? ¡Sé bueno el uno con el otro y vayan con Dios, amigos! (Be good to one another and ride with God!)
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/John_Boston. Leave a review, if you’re amind.