Time Ranger | Losing an Atomic Bomb in Canyon Country

The Time Ranger

Well what an absolute Thanksgiving treat to see you, dear saddlepals. Hope you’re in the midst of turkey stupor, friends, family and may mold overtake all computer banks of your creditors.

And their in-laws.

We’ve a most interesting trail ride through the back canyons of Santa Clarita history. There’s humor and, I always hate to say, horror. There’s bullfighting lessons gone wrong, master criminals, the darned strangest SCV charity of all time and obligatory picking on my pal Pat Arman, even though he has an alibi.


Does How To Find A Missing Atomic Bomb get your attention?


Mystic’s over yonder.

Let’s mosey toward it…


OUR “MISSING” MISSION — In some of the older historical treatises, it was called “The Missing California Mission.” In 1804, first week of December, the Asistencia de San Francisco Xavier was founded near present-day Castaic Junction. It was technically a satellite of the Mission San Fernando. There’s a state historical marker buried in some oleander bushes near the Highway Patrol office to commemorate it.

LIPS THAT TOUCH WINE SHALL NOT TOUCH MINE!! —  In early December back in 1887, Kansas Gov. John St. John and a group of his political and business supporters bought the Lyons Station and several hundred acres of land in Newhall. They started a real estate development that was originally founded to become a Prohibitionist colony. In fact, if you bought a home from the consortium, you had to sign legal documents that no one could consume or hold alcohol on the premises. If anyone was caught drinking on your property, then your home and land would return to the Prohibitionists. The idea wasn’t a great success. Not to mention, the SCV was a wild and wooly Western enclave, filled with oil workers, cowboys, vaqueros, bandits, pistol fighters and outlaw motorcycle gangs had the chopper been invented then. There were more saloons than churches.

NOVEMBER 29, 1920

IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE IN THE SIGNAL — A century ago, the biggest advertiser in TMS was Cliff Tucker. He ran the local Fordson tractor agency and placed an eighth-page ad with us, rain or shine. Had a four-page newspaper a century ago…

GLADYS LANEY, CHILD STAR — There are folks I’ll never forget and dear Gladys Laney was one. She was the babysitter to my ex-father-in-law when Walt Wayman was an infant. Gladys lived her entire life in the SCV. She died a few years back — at the age of 104 and spent most of that time in service to this community. Back in 1920, she was young Miss Gladys Thibaudeau. She attended Newhall Elementary and on this week one century ago, she starred in the school play, “The Pine Tree.” Here’s one of her theater reviews from Blanche Brown, then-editor of The Mighty Signal: “The Spirit of Autumn was well represented by Gladys Thibadeau, who wore a beautiful dress trimmed with hand-painted autumn leaves. She carried her part with poise and spoke in a manner that could be distinctly heard.” Memory of that wonderful lady still brings a smile to my face.

NOVEMBER 29, 1930

LONG BEFORE WALGREENS — On this date, the old Hawley Drug store, famous in many old photos, was sold to a Mr. W.P. Domm.

HERE’S A PERF MASTER CRIMINAL NAME FOR YOU — Quincy Bigelow. Quince was an inmate at the Lake Elizabeth Juvenile Detention Center. He and a pal, Alfred Daines, snuck off one fine night, burglarized a nearby cabin of cash, firearms and goodies, then snuck back to camp. A small bit of forensics was Quincy’s downfall. He popped his pants button during the crime and left it at the scene. The cops matched it to his britches during a lineup.

AND A JUST PERFECT NAME FOR A GARAGE — Just a little trivia. The gas station at the top of the old Mint Canyon grade was called The Boiling Point Garage.

NOVEMBER 29, 1940

MIGHTY SIGNAL SADDLEPALS. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. — Pat Wood from over at the Saugus garage gave the locals a bullfighting lesson. Well. A lesson in how NOT to fight bulls. Two Mexican vaqueros were showing off the fine art of cape and critter and doing very well. Pat climbed into the pen. The bull made two successful passes and then zeroed the mechanic into his sights. Pat just about made it over the fence when the 1-ton beast caught a horn on the wallet end of Mr. Wood’s pants. Witnesses said the bull really hit the sweet spot. What with the Earth’s gravitation and the theory of relativity, Pat should be just about coming down now.

THE EARLY DAYS OF TECHNOLOGY — Dad Thatcher used to be editor of The Mighty Signal. After he sold the paper to the Truebloods, old A.B. continued on as a columnist and was the oldest working newspaperman west of St. Louis. Dad had trouble sometimes with newfangled inventions. The Signal just bought a new hand-cranked telephone and Fred Trueblood watched with interest as Dad cursed and sputtered, trying to figure out how it worked. Turns out, Dad was turning the crank on the pencil sharpener.

NOVEMBER 29, 1950

THAT WAR AFTER WW2 — Ex-Hart student Albert “Stud” Martin was reported missing in action in Korea on this date.

WELL IF THIS WASN’T THE DARNEST CHARITY DRIVE, I COULDN’T TELL YOU WHAT WAS… — Our local sheriff’s station was collecting “…old, unusable, dirty, used ties” for a Christmas gifting. It was for L.A. County’s Rancho del Amigos, aka, The Poor Farm. Wonder how many of the indigent regifted. No offense. But I think if I were starving and homeless, I’d like a turkey sandwich and a cup of hot coffee…

HORRIFIC THANKSGIVING DAY ACCIDENT — A poultry truck coming down Soledad Canyon crashed into a Studebaker, housing a family with seven children. Both vehicles went over the steep embankment, with the truck landing atop the Stude. The car driver was killed instantly. There were 12 people involved and besides the one death, all were injured seriously.

NOVEMBER 29, 1960

HEY! ANYBODY LOSE AN ATOMIC BOMB?!?!?! — Mr. and Mrs. Osteen were taking a hike up Canyon Country way when they discovered a suspicious looking device attached to a parachute. On closer inspection, Mr. Osteen thought he read the words, “U.S. Army Atomic Warhead” on the cylinder. He called every official in the phone book and soon, the device was transported to the local sheriff’s station. The writing had been obscured and on closer inspection, the actual message was: “U.S. Army Automatic Weather Balloon.” Everyone in town blew the proverbial sigh of relief.

NOVEMBER 29, 1970

OUR DAMPEST GOBBLE GOBBLE HOLIDAY — Best as we can remember, this was the wettest Thanksgiving weekend in history. From Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 1970, to Sunday night, the SCV was punished with a storm that dropped 7.08 inches of rain. Much of the newly built Valencia was flooded, with cars bobbing in the water. Hundreds of businesses and homes suffered mud and water damage.  Lyons Avenue was a lake and the cleanup cost locals hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A BAKER’S DOZEN FISTFIGHT — Some 13 teens were arrested after an epic fistfight at Denny’s in Newhall. It started when two Hart students were sitting at a table. Two other teens walked by and swiped their cash right out from under a soda pop glass. The crook teens used the money to buy their own dinner. BUT, when they went outside, the teen diners were waiting. Punches were exchanged. The fight stopped. Both sides went to their respective neighborhoods to enlist reinforcements. The four became 13 and weapons went from fists to clubs, baseball bats and crowbars. Then, someone yelled: “He’s got a gun!” Teens scattered, but were later rounded up and a few were arrested. To the grandchildren of Pat Arman still in the SCV today — rest assured. No Pat Armans were harmed in the typing of this paragraph.

NOVEMBER 29, 1980

CRIME OF THE CENTURY — Sheriff’s deputies raided the Saugus Speedway and broke up a theft ring of two — Perry Blank and John Levinson — both, thankfully, not locals. The crime syndicate was caught red-handed trying to sell 300 8-track tapes. For you younger saddlepals, an “8-track” was a musical device the size of a large plastic Pop-Tart that you stuck in a big slit in your dashboard that played songs. Er, but like maybe six songs. You know. Like a low-expectations Spotify?

THE CONSPICUOUS CAT BURGLAR — Brian Conrad wasn’t exactly Cary Grant in “To Catch a Thief.” Conrad was spotted dressed all in black, including face paint. Besides acting suspicious to the neighbors, they noticed Bri-Bri wasn’t wearing any shoes or socks and was wearing bright white gloves. He was caught holding loot and standing in the bathtub by the owners of the Canyon Country home.

Well check that out. I can actually see into our particular time vortex up ahead. There’s The Mighty Signal with the tens of thousands of hitching posts out front, waiting for us. We are back home with more than enough time to enjoy Thanksgiving Weekend, no matter what the meanies in government (ours, supposedly) say. Thanks for the company on this SCV adventure. You guys are good medicine. Said it before. Believe it even more now. See you in a week back here. Until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!

A few weeks from now, Boston is launching his own publishing house, John Boston Books. The first volume is “Ghosts, Ghouls & Monsters of the SCV.” In the meantime, you can buy Boston’s “Melancholy Samurai,” “Naked Came the Sasquatch” and other of his books on Amazon.com or https://www.amazon.com/John-Boston/e/B000APA0H8?ref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share. If you liked the book, wouldn’t mind at all if you left a kind 5-star review…

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