Happy darn first weekend in June. Somebody please tell me it can’t be 2021 because it seemed like 20 minutes ago it was 1958 and I was finally learning cursive handwriting.
C’mon. I picked out several thousand ponies. Can’t say I matched them to your personalities in that we’d have a bona fide Rodeo Moment of Old Testament proportions. Let’s just say, your horse will like you, despite yourself.
That said, we’ve another wonderful time ride through the back canyons of Santa Clarita history and lore. If you’re bringing sugary lattes or honey chai tea drinks along, don’t spill on the saddle. It attracts bees. Killer bees.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
WHAT IF THEY GAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY AND NO ONE SHOWED UP? — Happy belated birthday to The Newhall Land & Farming Co. They were incorporated back on June 1, 1883, and were an integral part of this community’s fabric for well over a century. Since being sold in 2004 by the huge Lennar Co. for $1 billion, sadly, Newhall Land has virtually disappeared from the SCV’s community doings.
ODD CONNECTIONS OF THE REVOLT — The little-known Chumash Revolt of 1824 swept across Southern California and started when the soldier son of Manuel Cota severely beat an Indian boy for running away from the Mission Santa Ynez, in present-day Solvang. The Chumash responded by burning down the mission and in a planned retaliation of three Santa Barbara County missions. The Chumash actually bested Spanish-Mexican forces, allowing everyone to retreat peacefully. The conquistadores didn’t return the favor, rallying forces and retaking the missions. Manuel Cota would later, with Francisco Lopez, make that historic gold discovery in 1842 in Placerita Canyon. Spanish soldiers were sent from Santa Barbara to pursue fleeing Indians and ended up combing through the SCV and Rancho Camulos for the Chumash conscripts. A young lieutenant Antonio del Valle, who would one day own most of the SCV, was part of the posse.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE — Years later and this week in 1842, Francisco Lopez was given the 13,339-acre land grant of Rancho Temescal in Piru. Later, in 1850, publishing mogul David C. Cook would acquire the ranch. He’d later found the town of Piru. I’m not sure I’d want the personalized hoodie for Temescal. It means, “Sweat Bath.”
JUNE 5, 1921
LET’S 86 THE OUTDOOR BARBECUES — Union Oil of California bought an acre of land from Annie Hume in downtown Newhall. They would build an oil distributing plant in downtown, with four 20,000-gallon holding tanks. Folks were at first rather excited about the new business, but then weren’t so hot on the idea of four 20,000-gallon tanks going ka-blooey next door.
AL JOLSON VISITS NEWHALL — On this date, Al Jolson and the Allan Players held a fundraising vaudeville show in Newhall. They brought their own tent, too. Ten percent of the gate went to help build a forest ranger station in Newhall (for a total of $550). Al Jolson, by the way, would later star in the first feature talking (or “talkie”) motion picture — “The Jazz Singer” — in 1927. Jolson was perhaps the biggest star in the world and would make 11 films.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘MOUNTED’? — Speaking of movie stars, our own sullen Hamlet of the Hill, William S. Hart, starred in his latest flick, “O’Malley of the Mounted.” With its majestic forest backdrops, Hart couldn’t fake it by filming it locally. “O’Malley” debuted at the Cody Theatre in San Fernando.
ENOUGH WATER TO PUT OUT A LARGE CIGAR — On this date, Newhall took delivery of their brand new “fire trailer.” It was a horse-drawn wagon that carried eight 10-gallon water cans and six 3-gallon chemical cans, plus “a generous supply of firefighting tools.” Locals passed the hat to buy the wagon, which was stored next to the Butler building with the old fire hose wagon and manual pump.
JUNE 5, 1931
WONDERFUL ONE-LINER — A distant Tom Frew relative from the Caveman Days made The Mighty Signal 90 years back today. Editor Dad Thatcher noted: “T.M. Frew Sr. was seated in a parked car the other day. A passer-by asked him what he was doing. ‘Taking a Scotsman’s joy ride,’ he said, with a happy look on his face.”
NEWHALL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — For you aerial minutia fans, here’s some cocktail party stats. For the month of May, Newhall International Airport (near where Granary Square is today) had 67 planes land here, dropping off 87 passengers. Some state mucky-mucks were also among the passengers and noted that Newhall would be a perfect place for something that would later be called Los Angeles International Airport. In the early days of World War II, a state bond was passed to fund construction to make the little Newhall airport into the Southland’s international air hub. But, those darn folks from Inglewood stole the project from us. Perhaps we should be most thankful.
IT WAS JONES BEFORE DISNEY — The old Jones Ranch in Placerita Canyon had become the new mecca for filming Westerns. It was right next door to Andy Jauregui’s place. Cowboy Jones leased his spread to the Trem Carr Co. for five years. It would later become the Disney Ranch.
OKLAHOMA’S PART OF NEWHALL — By the way. That lanky cowpoke Jauregui made a respectable living training and supplying horses and livestock for the movies. But, on this date, he made a few extra bucks, no pun intended, being Richard Dix’s stunt double in the Western classic “Cimmarron.” The flick storyline was centered in Oklahoma, but much of it was filmed here in Newhall. Hm. Oklahoma.
THE HUMAN CONDITION — The Mighty Signal had a rather trenchant observation of being in the middle of the Memorial Day traffic jam mess. “As usual, the folks in the mountains wanted to go to the beach. And the folks at the beach wanted to go to the mountains.”
JUNE 5, 1941
WILL WE EVER HAVE A MEMORIAL DAY WITHOUT THESE? — We were — and still are — in the middle of one of the world’s busiest transportation routes. Eighty years back, on Memorial Day weekend, seven died and 18 were injured in various traffic accidents in the SCV. There were drivers falling asleep at the wheel and terrible head-ons. One young driver was held for vehicular homicide for crossing the 99 highway at over 100 mph and clipping four cars, killing one person. Two others died when another speeder crossed the median and hit another car head-on. The collision was so fierce, the engine from the first car went airborne over 100 feet and landed in the windshield of another car, killing the two passengers.
AND YET MORE TRAGEDY — Dora Taylor, of Newhall, received crippling news. Six of her relatives went off to San Luis Obispo for a weekend of boating. They all drowned when their boat capsized.
COULDA BEEN A CONTENDER — On this date, Tugboat Smith retired. He was a Canyon Country ranch boy who was famed as a local heavyweight boxer. Tugboat did rather well in the beginning, “punking up” on a few ham ‘n’ egg pugilists. It was his dream to become heavyweight champion of the world, and Smith traveled America trying to reach his goal. He never did. Smith figured that he had fought in 32 states and got the tar beat out of him in all 32.
JUNE 5, 1951
THE AGE-OLD STORY OF KIDS PLAYING WITH MATCHES — Of all places to fiddle around with matches, some Canyon Country youngsters picked The Mox Lumber Yard. Luckily, they ran quickly home to their parents and reported their sin. The fire was quickly put out with little damage.
WORTHY INVESTMENT? — Local law arrested 83 Mexican nationals for the month of May, down from an even 100 from April 1951. The illegal aliens paid smugglers between $50 and $100 to be transported to the ag fields of the SCV. That’s a ton of money considering what $50 bought in 1951 and more considering how much farm wages were.
SIGNAL MILESTONE — The June 3, 1951, issue was the last printed from our 636 Spruce St. (today, Main Street) office. We moved after 32 years in the same spot to the redwood offices on 6th Street. Joe Baudino owned our old building and leased it to the post office.
EARLY SANTA CLARITA — For years in the early 20th century, we were known by many names, including the Little Santa Clara River Valley. It was in the early 1930s when Signal Editor A.B. Thatcher shortened and ‘Spanishized’ it to “Santa Clarita.” On this date, a Saugus housing project called Santa Clarita Homes announced the opening of a new subdivision.
JUNE 5, 1961
AS IF WE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH DUMBBELLS LOCALLY, WE IMPORTED SOME FROM HAWAII — A decade later, another fire in Santa Clarita, but this time, with a slightly more bizarre flash point. Three visitors from Hawaii motored out to faraway Clearwater Canyon (off San Francisquito) for some target practice. Nothing out of the ordinary. Folks took target practice all over the valley’s lonely barranchas. This trio, however, were using a 20mm anti-tank gun with tracer shells. They started a 300-acre blaze that took hundreds of firefighters to douse. Besides the $100 fine for each, the three Hawaiian tourists were presented with a $38,500 bill for putting out the forest fire.
MAS BOZOS — Local sheriff’s deputies searched for four men up in Lang. They were wanted for trying to derail a Southern Pacific freight train by loading a pile of filled 55-gallon steel drums on the tracks. The train stopped in time.
JUNE 5, 1971
EARTH’S BEST BARTENDER — Bobby Batugo took top honors for creating the best cocktail in America. Batugo competed against 81 mixologists from all over the country. His “Tipsy” drink of rum and orange was voted best. Bobby ran the bar of the old Tip’s restaurant, where IHOP is today at the top of Lyons. People would come from all over Southern California to test his rum-rich concoctions. Batugo also took several international competitions as the best mixologist. Odd thing? The Filipino Batugo worked in Newhall for decades, met thousands of people and could hardly speak English.
NO HORSIN’ AROUND — On this date, Dorothy Esser married Jack Threet. What made the union unusual was the couple was married on horseback at 3T Stables in Canyon Country.
AND, IT STILL IS. — Castaic Lake opened.
WHAT A TRIPP! — Honors student and senior Charlie Tripp was scratching both his head and beard. Because of an illness, he had to finish Hart via home study. While recuperating, he grew a beard. He applied to be valedictorian, but was scolded by principal “Easy” Ed Fickenscher and told he couldn’t show up to the graduation ceremonies with facial hair. Tripp, a star debater, pointed out two other seniors had beards AND they were on campus all the time. Seems the other two beardsters got around the red tape by coming up with doctor’s notes saying they had to have beards for “medical reasons.” Tripp got a physician to come up with a similar note, but while the superintendent OK’d the facial hair, Easy Ed didn’t.
JUNE 5, 1981
HELLO, DOLLY — Long before there were Beanie Babies, there was a popular doll line called “Satin Creatures.” They looked exactly like Beanie Babies, except they were made of satin. The collectibles were hot items at the Saugus Swap Meet.
GUESS THE CONCEPT NEVER DID STICK — Here’s a funny one for you. A group against urban sprawl calling themselves the Coalition for Los Angeles County Planning in the Public Interest filed suit against the county Master Plan to limit growth in the SCV.
THAT DORN LAKE — On the topic of sprawl, on this date, L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich suggested that Castaic Lake be renamed to Warren M. Dorn Lake. Dorn was a former 5th District supervisor and former Newhall resident. Castaic comes from the old Tataviam word, pronounced, “Kash-tuk,” meaning “Mine eyes.” Needless to say, Mike got a lot of flak for his idea and the lake’s name is still, well, you know …
Well. Would you look at that. With the miracle of time traveling, we’ve covered decades and hundreds of miles, and it only took a few minutes. Looks like we’re right back where we started — in the here and now. Thanks for the company, dear saddlepals. See you in seven days right back here at The Mighty Signal hitching posts. 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.