The Time Ranger | Two almost-most presidents of Newhall

The Timer Ranger
Time Ranger
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This should be an issue for we gentle folk who hop one side to the other and back again through the trusty Santa Clarita time continuum. But come Sunday morn, 2 a.m.-ish, November 1 (I mix up the hallowed AP style just to annoy my dear pal, Mighty Signal Editor Tim Whyte) it’s time to honor one of the most abject stupid American customs — Daylight Saving Time.

I know. I know. There is already an entire passel of smarty pants city slickers grinning and clutching their unmentionables, eager to type a letter to the editor that how dumb are we, DST is practiced (and poorly) by another 61 countries, from Albania to New Zealand.

Which begs the question.

What ever happened to the original Zealand?

Anyway. Fall back. Set your clocks back an hour. If you think you can take your spouse in a fight and want to rescue a decade-long feud and/or divorce, set back THEIR clocks 4 hours and 19 minutes.

C’mon. I don’t particularly care what time it is. We’re burning daylight. Time to mosey into the mystic.


IF I HAD A NICKEL FOR EVERY TIME — Back on Nov. 2, 1891, Rudolph Nickel founded the Acton Water Works, the first water company in the valley. Nickel was also the founder of The Acton Rooster (July 15, 1891), the SECOND — and no I wasn’t stuttering — newspaper in the SCV.

THAT HISTORICALLY BOTHERSOME “OTHER” FIRST NEWSPAPER — Just to hopefully set some sort of record straight, The Acton Rooster wasn’t the area’s first newspaper. Various reports by Signal editors over the decades recall the valley’s first newspaper appeared in a newly born Newhall in the 1880s. The editor was Billy Carlson, bookkeeper for Newhall’s Pacific Coast Oil Co. — which later became Standard Oil. Carlson’s weekly took up both sides of a big piece of paper, written in longhand. Apparently, Carlson wrote out 10 copies a week. He was probably a better newspaperman than a farmer. He tried raising goats and wondered why they were not being fruitful and multiplying. Turns out Billy hadn’t bought any boy goats. He later became a real estate millionaire, but lost his entire fortune in that same endeavor.

SING IT WITH US: ‘ARE YOU GOING, TO … SAN, FRAN, CIS-CO’ — On Nov. 4, William Manly and John Rogers set out on foot from Death Valley to search for rescuers for the Bennett-Arcane Party. Manly and Rogers headed toward what they thought was San Francisco. Instead, they walked all the way some 200 miles-plus to the SCV, where Ignacio del Valle sent a rescue team back with the men. Interestingly, del Valle’s ranch was named: Rancho San Francisco.

WONDER HOW MANY BILLIONS OR TRILLIONS OF GALLONS HAVE POURED THROUGH OVER THE YEARS — With the simple words, “Here it is. Take it,” William Mulholland opened a spigot, sending water from northern California into Southern California for the first time. That ceremony was held right over the hill at the base of the Newhall Pass. It’s that big waterfall thing many of you drive by daily and that date would be Nov. 5, 1913.

NOVEMBER 1, 1920

TOSSING A TENNIS BALL TOWARD A CLOUD IN HEAVEN — The week’s beginning marks the birthday of a dear pal for so, so long. J.W. Doty, the Ford seller, went to San Fernando and came back with an heir — Baby Gene. Do we hear a “Yay!” from Dennis, Genene & John. Gene Doty would stay on in town and later found the Newhall Tennis Club, run a local gas station at the age of 18 and become one of the best darn souls to ever live in Newhall. Gene passed away New Year’s Day, 2014. All those years, he never beat me in tennis.*

CENSUS TAKING, IN 6 MINUTES OR LESS — It was pretty easy to keep up on the local census and we didn’t even have to wait 10 years. The population of Newhall was 525 souls — up 25 from the year before.

‘THAT RHYMES WITH “P” AND STANDS FOR POOL!’ — Apologies to Meredith Willson (yup; 2 L’s in Willson) and his classic Broadway diatribe on billiards. Despite pleas from Prohibitionist Henry Clay Needham, the local pool house measure resoundingly passed, 116-65. And Warren G. Harding carried the SCV in his 1920 presidential bid with 145 votes. Next closest pulled in just 89. That’d be Mr. Shortridge. Needham ran for president but didn’t win and didn’t even carry his own SCV.

RAISING A COOKIE IN A SALUTE OF HONOR — Exactly a century back, Mrs. Densmore and Mrs. O.C. Abbott invited a small group of young ladies ages 12-18 to the Swall hotel in Newhall. That was the first meeting of the SCV chapter of Campfire Girls.

* Technically, Gene never beat me because we never played.

NOVEMBER 1, 1930

AND THEY DIDN’T SPILL A DROP — A.B. Perkins and his Newhall Water Co. moved their old huge water tank up on a hill next to their new well. It helped alleviate water pressure and supply problems in town for a few years.

TYPOS, SCHMYPOS, WE COLUMNISTS ALWAYS SAY — The Mighty Signal installed its brand-new linotype machine. Lee Carson was the operator. Please. No unkind remarks about there being fewer typos in the paper back then long before the advent of computers and spell-checks because ol’ Lee printed an entire column upside down with his new toy.

UP HIGH, ON THEIR DULY APPOINTED ROUNDS — The mail plane took off from Newhall International Airport (near where Granary Square is today on McBean) but never made it to Bakersfield. A thick fog in the northern mountains caused the bi-plane to strike a mountain. The pilot, F.A. Donaldson, and two passengers were killed.

SIR ANDY OF PLACERITA — Hall of Fame cowboy Andy Jauregui took a couple of calves to the Beverly Hills ranch of a close friend so his pal could perfect his roping. The friend? Will Rogers.

WHAT A CRAZY COINCIDENCE! THAT’S WHAT SCOTSMAN TOM FREW PAYS — WEEKLY — HIS COOK, GARDENER, DRIVER AND SWEDISH MASSEUSE ‘VENDYKINS’! — California was hiring workers to help on various road projects in the Santa Clarita Valley. It paid pretty good — four bucks a day.

NOVEMBER 1, 1940

ONE ROOM! NO WAITING! — The tiny and cramped Newhall Community Hospital on 6th and San Fernando Road (it’s still there today) was expanded. The 12 new rooms housed new offices, an ER and X-ray station. The new wing cost $10,000 to build. Today, that’d get you a prescription refill.

BABSOM’S MOM. HIS DAD. HIS WIFE. HIMSELF. — Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his third term as president and the SCV approved of his job. We were mostly Democrats then, and FDR garnered 1,426 of the local votes, compared to 808 by Wendell Wilkie. A Mr. Babson, one of the last Prohibitionists to run for office, received four votes of conscience locally.

SHOW US YOUR TUMMY — History is circular. One of the women’s fashions of modern times is the exposed midriff. Back in 1940, ladies exposed their backs and navels, but also covered them with gossamer-thin and transparent fabric. One extreme looker from out of town walked into a store in Sand Canyon. Store owner Eli Winters and canyon character 70-year-old Henry Noles stared wide-eyed at the beauty. Winters noted the woman had a mole on her stomach and Noles commented, “And what a nice home it has.”

NOVEMBER 1, 1950

SOMETIMES, IT PAYS TO ASK THE QUESTION: WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG HERE? — It was one of the strangest accidents I’ve ever come upon and perhaps the first wind-related death in SCV history. Evarardo Villanueva was riding atop a flatbed truck on top of a load of wood. A big gust of wind kicked up and got under the sheet on which he was sitting. Both lumber and Villanueva went airborne. The 30-year-old worker died instantly when he landed head-first on Highway 99.

AND YET, EVERY VOTE GOT COUNTED — Way back when, our sphere of influence was much larger than it is today — to the tune of about 1,000 square miles. We were officially called the Soledad Township and our boundaries stretched from Gorman into Chatsworth and up to the boundaries of Palmdale. Around election time, it was sometimes a nightmare getting all the precinct results in.

NOVEMBER 1, 1960

THE JOVIAL LAD FROM MASSACHUSETTS — A young, vibrant celebrity packed in the crowd at Tex Williams’ night club (on Newhall Avenue today, across from Starbucks). It was right before the election. Some 500 non-Republicans sat elbow-to-elbow to listen to the western regional director of the Democratic Party’s presidential campaign. The speaker didn’t even need notes. He had the crowd grinning and captivated with tales of skiing, bronco riding and growing up with his tad-more famous brother — soon-to-be President John F. Kennedy. Ted’s political career would soon take off. Though just 30 (28 when he spoke in Newhall), he won a special election in 1962 to take over the vacant Senate seat of JFK. Despite a series of scandals, he remained in the U.S. Senate for 47 years.

NOT SURE TED KENNEDY HIMSELF COULD AFFORD IT — Fire insurance rates fell from $37.80 to $35.10. That’s like — for the year. That would get you $10,000 in coverage. That would be about $100 a year for a ritzy, $30,000 home. Today? Fire insurance is almost unaffordable for many, impossible for some in fire zones. Bargain-basement fire insurance rates can run about $1,000 a year — if you can find them. Those figures were from 2017. Reports vary, starting at $2,500 a year and going as high in some hazardous areas as $20,000 yearly.

NOVEMBER 1, 1963

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROOKIES! — The community of Canyon Country was officially founded and the first Frontier Days launched. We still have Canyon Country, but, alas, no Frontier Days rodeo, fair, parade and celebration. Love each and every soul in Canyon Country, too, except for the purposely vague category of “Those People.”

NOVEMBER 1, 1970

TOM IV ACCIDENTALLY WELDED HIS BELT BUCKLE TO THE FRONT COUNTER AND HAD TO CALL IT QUITS — On this date, one of Newhall’s oldest businesses closed its doors forever. T.M. Frew Inc., better known as the blacksmith shop, called it quits. Tom Frew II bought it from the town’s original smithy and Tom Frew III and Tom Frew IV kept it going for nearly a century. In all seriousness, the Frews were an amazing and important piece of the puzzle that made the SCV. Why did the shop close after nearly a century in business? The changing face of the valley was blamed. Not too many folks needed wagon wheels welded. Even horse shoes were now mass produced.

NOVEMBER 1, 1980

AND SOME PEOPLE VOTE 16 TIMES IN ONE ELECTION — Floyd Levitt voted for president again. That might not be such a great accomplishment, except he did it for the 16th time. The 85-year-old Saugus man hadn’t missed an election. Ever. Although a Republican, he never revealed any of the candidates who earned his vote.

AND FROM MEN’S BELL-BOTTOMS, AMERICAN CIVILIZATION PRETTY MUCH WENT DOWNHILL FROM THERE — Casa de Hombre, the local men’s store that sold disco outfits to men with porn CHP moustaches, was having a sale on bell-bottoms — 22 bucks.

I can tell by the way the pony’s ears are perking. That’s our time portal up ahead. Again, don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour (or more, if you live in Palmdale or are a professional musician). Thanks for the company, dear friends, neighbors and saddlepals, all around the world and America. Oh! And Happy Post-Halloween. 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 or If you liked the book, wouldn’t mind at all if you left a kind 5-star review.

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