I simply must invent a device where we can take our work and chores back into time. The Vortex SClarita simply does not allow us to smuggle in things like laptops, spreadsheets or married women not particularly belonging to us. Ditto with husbands. It’s not me. It’s The Mann Act. Buzzers go off. Lights flash red. Time cops waving batons come sprinting from out of nowhere.
Still. I surely could use about an extra 15.379 hours a day to get done the things that require doing.
Well. Until I get a patent, we’ll just have to settle for moseying for the sake of The High Holy Mosey, fill our lungs with clean May air and stop Time Itself from ticking.
Nice to be with you, saddlepals.
Beautiful day for a horseback ride into the back canyons of the Santa Clarita of yesteryear.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
TIBBY HAD THIS THING FOR THE LADIES — Back on May 14, 1874, the famous womanizing pistol fighter and bandito, Tiburcio Vasquez, was captured at the home of “Greek” George Allen. Tibby was literally in the bedroom with his clothes off when L.A. Sheriff Billy Rowland surrounded the house. Vasquez jumped out a back-bedroom window, naked, bouncing up and down while trying to jump into his pants when he was shot from behind in the upper legs and buttocks. Some of you may have been at “Greek” George’s ranch. It’s the Hollywood Bowl, today. Later, while Tibby was paraded through Downtown Los Angeles in a caged ox cart, women slipped notes of their love, devotion and then some to the womanizing bandito.
AND, IT WAS ALSO A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN BUMPY — Back on May 15, 1851, the primitive road from the Mission San Fernando out to Elizabeth (or Rabbit) Lake was declared a public road in the new state of California.
OUR ORIGINAL MOVER & SHAKER — Just about 165 years ago this week in 1856, Ignacio (also spelt “Ygnacio” although we prefer “Iggy”) del Valle was re-elected to the Los Angeles City Council for a second term. Cool note? The L.A. City Council was called a junta then. He’d quit later in December, but end up serving five terms. He was also mayor of L.A. and a state assemblyman. Back then, a term lasted just a year. In 1852, he married. He was 44. His bride, Ysabel Varela, was 15, and we mean JUST BARELY. Mrs. Iggy and Iggy had 12 kids. She would be the model of Helen Hunt Jackson’s matriarch in the American classic novel, “Ramona.” Cripes. What do you say to a 15-year-old bride? “Have fun at the mall today, honey?” or “So how was skateboarding?”
NOT MUCH OF A MIX-UP — This week in 1920, one of the world’s most famous celebrities, Tom Mix, was captured for reckless driving in Newhall. The cowboy star, who had offices and an abode here, was speeding. Judge John Powell fined him $50 — or, 1/10th the cost of a new home then. The millionaire Mix didn’t have any problem paying it.
MAY 15, 1921
AND IT STILL HOLDS TRUE TODAY — The Signal editorial policy has always been top-notch. Check out these front-page words of wisdom from 100 years back: “Giggle, giggle, by the hour, Helps to sweeten when you’re sour.” I do believe Thornton Doelle, the SCV’s first cowboy poet, came up with that one.
WESTERN BY THE BEACH — William S. Hart’s “The Testing Block” premiered. It was also written by the silent superstar and was a tearjerker of the day. Hart played “Sierra Bill,” a swashbuckling bandito who goes straight and settles down, marries and has a baby. The movie was shot up north along Monterey Bay in Capitola. It would be a few more years until Señor Hart would retire and move to Newhall.
MAY 15, 1931
DEATH VALLEY SCOTTY PAYS NEWHALL A VISIT —Walter Scott, the lovable con man famed for building that huge castle in the scorching wastelands of the Central California desert, was in town to sell Charles Kingsburry a flock of ibexes, some rabbits and a horse. What made folks smile and whisper was the beautiful lady chauffeur Scotty had employed. Ol’ DVS once had conned a Chicago millionaire, Albert Johnson, into a gold mining scam. Johnson paid Scotty $1.5 million and soon figured out he was being taken to the cleaners. But he had such a good time, he didn’t care, and the pair became lifelong friends — so good of friends that Johnson’s desert home would be called “Scotty’s Castle.”
WASTING THE WET STUFF — E.C. Eaton, head of this section of county flood control, estimated that the county wasted 13 billion gallons of water in the last year in rain run-off escaping directly into the ocean.
RODEO INJURY — Poor Billie Campbell. At our world-famous Newhall-Saugus Rodeo, her horse stumbled and fell in the relay race and threw the cowgirl into the railing, cracking several ribs and puncturing a lung. She was rushed to Newhall Hospital and later came out of it healed.
NOT SO MUCH OF A RUSH — Out-of-town miners overtook Saugus for a week when the rumor spread that a big gold strike was discovered up San Francisquito Canyon. Responsible was an article in an amateur gold mining magazine, “Pay Dirt.” A photo showed a couple big nuggets, each worth about $20, which was a lot of money during the Depression. Signal Editor A.B. “Dad” Thatcher noted that, for the week, the hundreds of panners who lined the creek made about $100 — and that was the total for everyone.
MAY 15, 1941
SNITCHING ON POLITICIANS & BUREAUCRATS, IT DOESN’T PAY — Los Angeles Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Rittenhouse sued his employers and testified against a ring of corruption involving millions of dollars in payoffs and bribes. The giant gambling ring was the largest west of Chicago. Rittenhouse had previously served in L.A.’s vice squad, where he learned of graft going up to the highest level. When he released his findings, superiors banished him, “… to the Siberia of the Newhall substation.”
THE TOWN WAS GIDDY — The SCV’s first, official movie house would open on Friday, May 23, 1941, at 8 p.m. Tickets were by reservation only and cost 50¢ PLUS a nickel war tax and we weren’t even at war yet.
A DUBIOUS HONOR — Prisoner John Karrigan, 21, was rushed from Prison Camp No. 1 up Soledad Canyon to Newhall Community Hospital. He had been sitting on a rock, tying his shoe and was bitten on the finger by a rattlesnake. First snakebite of the season and Karrigan didn’t even get a plaque.
MAY 15, 1951
A HORRIFIC DAY AT WORK — It may be the most heinous discovery in the history of this valley. On this date, Trinidad Cervantes, foreman of the A&A Ranch up Soledad, snatched the body of a dead, 1-month old baby from the jaws of hogs. Someone had wrapped the infant in newspaper and thrown it in the hog pen. An autopsy later revealed the Los Angeles child had died of natural causes, although the body had been bruised beyond any recognition and being wrapped in paper (The Los Angeles Times) and handled so. We certainly pray he had a better life next time around than his brief visit here.
NOT A GREAT DAY FOR RANCH WORK — Same day, across the valley, on Placerita Canyon at Hall of Fame cowboy Andy Jauregui’s spread, young Tom Adams broke his fool neck riding a Brahma bull.
REALLY TRULY NOT A GREAT DAY TO BE ON A RANCH — Luther Iekenderian, of Los Angeles, was not very familiar with the back roads of Honby. Racing down a dirt road, he failed to see a barbed-wire fence and barreled into it, breaking his neck, collar bone and severing his jugular. Somehow, Luther lived. One reason why he didn’t see the ranch boundary? Luther was doing more than 100 mph.
MAY 15, 1961
PINKO NAZIS? — The small-town sensibilities of Newhall were violated when someone painted a large, pink swastika on Millie O’Neill’s car. Only clues were the paint was water-based and the prankster used a 2-inch-wide brush.
STOP SIGNS. THEY’RE SO … CONSTRICTING — On this date, a stop sign was authorized for the Newhall and Lyons intersection. Now, it seems you can’t ride 20 feet across the valley without a traffic light.
MAY 15, 1971
NOPE. IT’S A CULT. — Depending on to whom you spoke, the Tony & Susan Alamo Christian foundation was either a helpful religious group or a dangerous cult. On this date, the mother of a 15-year-old girl who had just given birth, showed up at the Mint Canyon compound, demanding they release her daughter. The Alamos wouldn’t. Sheriff’s deputies were called and complaints were sworn against a wide variety of parties. The brother of the girl was physically restrained by eight church members, whom the mother described as “hippie types,” and carried off the property. The brother signed a complaint against one of the young men who helped cart him off, noting the fellow struck him and twisted his arm. The alleged arm twister? It was the young man’s brother, who was also a member of the Alamo Foundation. Did you follow all that?
FROM THE ‘HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?’ DEPT. — A con man bought a box of Girl Scout cookies and paid for them with a counterfeit $20 bill. That’s one way to launder funny money.
UGLY TO THE BONE — And so The Signal finally noticed. This newspaper’s editorial on this date was entitled, “The Move to Abolish Scenery.” It was about how governments from state to local and developers were uglifying the Santa Clarita.
MAY 15, 1981
HOW’S THIS FOR AN HONEST WOMAN? — On this date, Amelia Montoya found $6,000 in travelers’ checks and cash, wrapped up in a towel under a pillow. She returned it to the front desk of the Ranch House Inn. The hotel returned the money that day to Jack Hagel, of Artesia, who apparently didn’t realize it was missing. Figuring for inflation, that $6,000 would be worth $18,109 today. Please. Please. Save the oooohs of amazement. I had to look it up.
LOUSY YUPPIES BEAT US FOR THE FIRST TIME — Pacific Bell came out with their 1981 phone book and, for the first time in history, the word, “Valencia” was printed more times than the word, “Newhall.” (That’d be 61-59.) The phrase Santa Clarita came in third with 41 listings, followed by Canyon Country with 35. There were 204 Smiths listed locally and just one “Cieplik.”
ONE OF MY FAVORITE SCV MEMORIES — We will probably never see the likes of this again. Traffic was stopped for about 20 minutes along Bouquet Canyon Road near Plum Canyon. A flock of sheep was being herded from one ranch across the road to another for grazing. Guess you could say we were knee deep in sheep. I remember being a kid and sometimes you could be stuck on Bouquet for 45 minutes while flocks bounded from one bare hillside to the lush one across the road.
Darn it. Hate to see you go. But, yonder ahead lies the familiar break in the trail and our own, particular time vortex to the here-and-now. Sure appreciate the company. Would I be too bold to invite all y’all to meet back here at The Mighty Signal’s hitching post, seven days hence, for another exciting Time Ranger adventure? Until then —vayan con Dios amigos!
Boston has launched his own publishing house, John Boston Books. The first is a three-volume set is “Ghosts, Ghouls, Myths & Monsters — The Most Haunted Town in America.” That’d be us. In the meantime, you can buy Boston’s “Melancholy Samurai,” “Naked Came the Sasquatch” and other of his books at bit.ly/John_Boston. If you liked the book, wouldn’t mind at all if you left a kind 5-star review.