Hello dear friends and saddlepals. Hope life’s been kind to you and, if it hasn’t, I’ve a cure. What say you and some of these low-down mangy Santa Clarita friends and neighbors hop aboard our horses, ride through Downtown Newhall and head, en masse, to where the secret time portal awaits?
We’ve a most fascinating trail ride ahead through the back canyons of the Santa Clarita of yesterday. Heck. Even Bob Hope and that grumpy Hamburger Lady Margaret Hamilton of the Snak Shak will be riding with us (although watch the little ones; Marge whacks small fingers with a wooden ladle).
I got a good feeling. This is going to be a fun and interesting ride.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
TAD CONFUSING. STILL. TOO BAD FOR YOU. IT’S ON THE FINAL. — Back on Oct. 28, 1876, the Newhall Train Depot held its ribbon cutting. BUT, the Newhall Train Depot was ORIGINALLY on the site of the Saugus Train Depot (across the street from the present-day Saugus Café). Because of a drought, and, according to historian A.B. Perkins, because of the wind, locals moved the first Newhall station in 1878 to where Newhall is today (where the Jan Heidt depot currently rests). Then, a few years after that, in 1888, they built the brand new Saugus Depot smack dab on top of the original Newhall foundations. Which is Saugus, today. History head-scratching, ain’t it?
OCTOBER 25, 1920
OUR LOVABLE FUDDY DUDDY — Henry Clay Needham, local Prohibitionist and the SCV’s only serious presidential candidate, did his Newhall version of “The Music Man” on this date. Needham launched a campaign to stop the construction of a new pool hall in town. “I have managed to live through almost my three score and ten years and to extort at least some degree of both pleasure and success out of life and have never yet shoved either a cue on the table or rolled a ball in an alley.” Guess Hank never played 9-ball. Or, drank a St. Pauli Girl. Needham urged everyone to vote no on allowing a pool hall in town. The pool hall, and many others, would eventually be built.
OCTOBER 25, 1930
OUR UPSIDE-DOWN VERSION OF ROUTE 66 — On this date, without too much fanfare, we launched Highway 99. The modern interstate opened on this date over the old Weldon Canyon route, bypassing part of the Ridge Route.
SHOULDA HANGED THEM — Two drunken yahoos from out of town smashed into Carlton Thompson while he was riding his trick horse, Diamond. The mare was instantly killed and Thompson had a couple of broken legs. The L.A. drunk drivers were imprisoned, but, sadly, not shot.
IMAGINE PAYING ALMOST A MILLION FOR A SOCCER MOM VAN — Houses and cars ran pretty close in the price field. A new Ford Sedan ran for $660 new — about the same price for a two-bedroom home in town.
OCTOBER 25, 1940
WHY THANK YOU, MR. TWO-GUN — Eighty years back, our very own silent screen superstar, William S. Hart, aka Two-Gun Bill, handed over a couple of primo lots and $15,725 to the American Legion for the building of the American Theater. It’s still there on 11th and Spruce, behind the Newhall Library.
REMEMBER THE JINGLE, ‘SHAVE & A HAIRCUT, TWO BITS?’ — Actually, at Jerry’s Barbershop in downtown Newhall, the shave was a quarter and the haircut was 40 cents. That was a fairly decent chunk of change back then (you could buy 40 pounds of potatoes or 2 pounds of ground beef for the same money) and some folks would rather have an alleged loved one trim their locks.
OCTOBER 25, 1950
THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE NICE AND SMART AND DILIGENT AND HELPFUL? — In Los Angeles County and, in the SCV, about 95% of all the precinct poll volunteers were women.
RENTERS? HOW’D YOU LIKE THIS DEAL TODAY? — A one-bedroom home, including utilities, went for $75 a month back in 1950 Newhall.
THERE’S A DR. ROGER PHILLIPS JOKE HERE SOMEWHERE — The 1950 election had Proposition 7 on the ballot. It would allow blind people to become chiropractors. The measure passed.
OCTOBER 25, 1960
A LITTLE MORE ELBOW ROOM FOR THE TINY FOLK — On this date, Sulphur Springs Elementary stretched out a little. They added four new buildings at a cost of $250,000.
GOOD OL’ COWBOY HONESTY — Frenchy Duval died 40 years back. He was a world-famous cowboy and head wrangler for MGM and Fox movie studios. Frenchy moved here in the 1920s and was known for his honesty. If he sold you a horse and you didn’t like it, he’d give you your money back.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE MOUSE — Ol’ Ole Oleson had a strange run-in on his way home from the Hart football game. Blocking his path, in the middle of Placerita Canyon Road, was a full grown bull bison, snorting and tearing up the ground. The beast escaped from the Disney ranch.
NOT A VERY GOOD SERIES OF DECISIONS — Cyril Swaim was inaugurated into the double columns of Drunk AND Stupid. The intoxicated driver smashed into a parked patrol car in the sheriff’s driveway. When approached by officers, the woozy Swaim asked the cops if they’d like to be shot. The deputies removed Swaim from his vehicle and he spent the next month in the poky.
SIGNAL ADS. WE’RE SMOKIN’! — I was rather surprised to see this one. In the second page of The Mighty Signal, we ran a large ad for Camel cigarettes. The ad sported a photo of football star, Dick Nolan, along with the caption: “Have a REAL cigarette — Have a CAMEL.”
WHAT A GREAT WAY TO GO — Another cowboy pioneer, Izzy Cooke, died 60 years back. His horse attended the funeral, with Izzy’s chaps and hat laid over the saddle.
OCTOBER 25, 1970
AND WE DON’T MEAN THE HOKEY POKEY, EVEN THOUGH THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT — Ah. Our Sheriff’s Department hard at work. On this date, officers J. Sylvies and R. Nere chased two nude young people from a parked car in the Oakridge estates. They caught up with the completely stark raving nude man, a 21-year-old from Van Nuys. The girl, also stark raving naked, led the deputies on a merry chase. They couldn’t catch up to her but did find a trail of a brassiere, blanket and, ahem, “personal items.” The young man was taken to the pokey, no pun intended, where he told officers that he had met the young woman, whom he assured them was 22 years old, at a local restaurant an hour earlier. The man was released because, well, frankly, he didn’t do anything.
CRIPES. WHAT MAKES PEOPLE TICK. — About 20 years ago, we suffered through an outbreak of some sicko poisoning dogs in Sand Canyon. Sadly, history is circular. Someone poisoned five dogs in Placerita Canyon a half-century back.
YES. THERE’S HOPE FOR COLLEGE OF THE CANYONS — Comedian Bob Hope was the guest speaker at the College of the Canyons dedication. The ceremony was held in a tent and Hope quipped: “I haven’t worked anything like this since Ringling Brothers.” He also apologized for coughing. “I’m from Burbank. This fresh air grabbed me.” Hope used to own a lot of land out here.
AMMO FOR ALAMO — Vandals attacked the Tony & Susan Alamo church up Mint Canyon, breaking the big plate-glass window and sending rounds of ammo into the exterior. They also scrawled hate messages on the controversial foundation, which some locals labeled as a cult.
OCTOBER 25, 1980
YES. A GOAT. AND WE DON’T MEAN TOM BRADY ‘GREATEST OF ALL TIME.’ — A formerly quiet Canyon Country cul-de-sac erupted into an old-fashioned Hatfields and McCoys feud — all over a goat. One of the residents kept barnyard animals in his backyard. His goat kept escaping and eating the neighbor’s plants and shrubs. The feud turned ugly, escalating from shouting matches, to fisticuffs to shots being fired. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The goat did not fire the gun.)
I REMEMBER FONDLY GETTING KICKED OUT OF THE PLACE AS A CHILD — Some of you old-timers will shed a tear on this one. On this date, 20 years back, they razed the old Snack Shack on San Fernando Road. The quirky little eatery was run by the cantankerous Margaret Hampton. Ms. Hampton died earlier in the year after running the place since 1946. She was remembered quite differently depending on to whom you spoke. The 10-stool cafe was open from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and served working men. Literally. Margaret would growl and chase out women and children (like me, as a child, not as a woman) because women talked too much and stayed too long and kids wouldn’t spend enough money. Then, of course, there was her famous and constant quote: “I HATE women!” She swore like a sailor and bantered good-naturedly back and forth amongst the male clientele, many of whom even cooked their own food and poured their own coffee. There was a saintly side to her. She’d frequently feed, for free, a cowboy down on his luck. One oil worker, who lost his arm in a local accident, was slowly dying of infection. He had no money. Margaret fed him, for free, every day until he died.
Well. Hope some of you older males are enjoying the delicious cheeseburgers from Margaret’s Snack Shack. Do let me know how they taste and try not to drip the Thousand Island dressing on horse or saddle. Thanks for the good company, dear neighbors. Until next weekend, vayan con Dios, amigos!
A few weeks from now, Boston is launching his own publishing house, John Boston Books. The first volume is “Ghosts, Myths & Monsters of the SCV.” In the meantime, 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.