Thank goodness you’re all here. Earlier this morning, I lugged along my tool bag and monkeyed with the temperature of the Official Mighty Signal/Santa Clarita Time Continuum Vortex. Don’t tell Southern California Edison, but I tuned the air conditioning so that it’s a pleasant 62 degrees for our trail ride today.
For every day in the past 500 years.
Is somebody going to be surprised at City Hall when they get the SCE bill next month.
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
JUNE. NOT A GREAT MONTH FOR LEGENDARY LOCALS. — On June 21, 1841, Antonio del Valle died, just a couple of years after being given the entire Santa Clarita Valley in lieu of back military pay. On June 23, 1946, famed silent superstar William S. Hart died, leaving his mansion and ranch to the county, which precipitated nearly 10 years of acrimonious legal battles amongst his son, ex-wife and the county.
JUST MAKIN’ A PIT STOP — It’s been recorded that famed Portuguese navigator Juan Cabrillo anchored off the coast of future Ventura on June 27, 1542. He and his crew walked inland a bit to sip the delish & curative waters of the future Santa Clara River.
AH! THE OLD ROLLED-UP BLANKET IN THE PRISON BUNK PLOY — Back on June 25, 1865, our slippery womanizing bandito Tiburcio Vasquez escaped from prison. He was in jail for a grand larceny charge. Tibby was eventually recaptured and sent to San Quentin to fill out his sentence. Had our County D.A. George Gascón been in charge back then, I’m betting Vasquez would have been out on 17 cents’ bail
A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT AND ‘RESPECTABLE’ KIND OF CROOKS — One of the valley’s most famous rascals, Gen. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, formed the San Fernando Asphaltum and Mining District on June 24, 1865. Beale and his crony, Gen. Andres Pico, were supposed to be in charge of keeping order in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. Frequently, they and their partners ended up with lots of mineral rights and mines.
JUNE 26, 1921
UNLUCKY JACK — Jack Pilcher, of Chatsworth, moved to Newhall on this date and leased the Lamkin Garage. A few years later, Pilcher would join the Sheriff’s Department and become one of America’s most famous lawmen, making front-page headlines in some of the country’s biggest newspapers. Pilcher would die in one of the most bizarre accidents, taking a bullet between the eyes when a fellow officer’s revolver fell from his shirt pocket and discharged.
CUZ GIRLS HAVE COOTIES? — Back on June 24 of 1921, A.B. Perkins started building an overflow pond from the Newhall Water Co.’s main tank. At first, the pond was to be used as a swimming pool for the local boys only (Sorry! Sexist 1920s! No girls allowed!). Then, the local girls got up a fuss, as rightly they should, and they were allowed in. The pool had no chlorine. No diving board. No white bottom. No heat. It was just a gravel and cement-lined 30-by-60-foot swimming hole so the kids didn’t have to make the 6-mile round trip to the Santa Clara River. The pool was dug by volunteer labor. Cost of the cement was $180, plus a few other expenses. A.B. Perkins raised the money just by passing the hat. Other locals donated lunches, lemonade and other help.
JUNE 26, 1931
THE SIGNAL’S VIEW: PROGRESS = UNEMPLOYMENT? — The SoCal Gas Co. was building its big new natural gas pipeline throughout the SCV and it caused Signal Editor A.B. Thatcher to speculate why we had so much unemployment in America. Thatcher blamed the machinery: “Those 40-foot-long, 26-inch-wide joints weigh 3,500 pounds each, and the crane picks up two at a time and lifts them onto a truck. Formerly, 15 or 20 men would work a half day to load them. Now it takes about two minutes.”
GAS WAR ENDS — Today, in the 21st century, we’re paying sneaking up on five bucks a gallon for petrol. Back on this date, locals were saddened to see prices stabilizing to about 16 cents for a gallon of gas. Sixteen. Cents. Cripes. Cents. For a 25-gallon gas tank today, I could fill up a pickup for $4 instead of about $110.
WE SHOULD EXPORT THEM TO CHINA — With us being pretty much cemented here, most of us don’t pay any mind to a flora commonly called puncture vine. The weed has spines so sharp and thick they could puncture car tires and certainly some country boy or girl’s bare foot.
THE MIGHTY SIGNAL. ALWAYS AHEAD OF THE NEWS CYCLE — Your Hometown Newspaper correctly predicted that a new invention — television — was not exactly around the corner and that it would be years before it would be popular in the home.
NO FLY-BY-NIGHT INSTITUTION — Engineers were out at the ol’ Newhall International Airport, measuring the field. It earned the humorous nickname because it made an occasional mail run into Mexico and the strip was near today’s Granary Square shopping center on McBean. They began enlarging it and it would eventually have an L-shape.
A GUT CLENCHER — Mrs. Theo Tourneur was clipped by a passing motorist on the Ridge Route. Mrs. Tourneur’s car was hooked on the front bumper by the jerk hit-and-run driver. Her car spun out of control, then fell over a 400-foot cliff. Mrs. Tourneur suffered various injuries, including a broken kneecap. Her daughter was severely bleeding and injured. For 50 hours — four separate times — Mrs. Tourneur climbed to just about the top of the cliff, only to slide all the way back down to the bottom. She used her own clothes, tearing them off for bandages for her daughter, who would eventually die, mostly from exposure and shock, down there in her mother’s arms. Finally, a trucker had pulled over just to stretch his legs when he happened to look over the cliff and see the bodies and wreckage. Getting help, he lowered himself by rope and helped pull Mrs. Tourneur to safety, then retrieved the body of her daughter. Mrs. Tourneur had left Alabama with her husband a week earlier and was to meet him in Bakersfield. When she didn’t show, an all-points bulletin was released and a massive search employed. Thousands of cars passed by over those two days, and none of them spotted mother and daughter. Poor, poor thing. Can you imagine going through the rest of your life with that kind of memory?
JUNE 26, 1941
CHP HERO — Highway Patrol Officer Mike Fidler saved a mother and her infant from murder. Eldon Ray Nicoles showed up at his estranged wife’s house, grabbed his infant son from her arms and ran down the road with him. His ex-wife got in the car and gave chase. When she caught up with her sprinting ex, he wrapped his hands around his baby and threatened to choke him to death unless the woman let him get into the car. That began a wild, high-speed suicide ride, which was stopped by officer Fidler. Fidler finally forced the car off the road, and, at gunpoint, made Nicoles surrender. No one was harmed, fortunately.
THINGS TO DO TODAY — World War II was right around the corner and all 21-year-olds in the SCV were ordered to register for the draft.
HISTORIC NAME CHANGE — On this date, Ernie Hickson hosted a party of international mucky-mucks and film stars. The occasion? The changing of the name of his spread from The Monogram Ranch & Movie Studio to Placeritos Ranch. Today, that location is known as Melody Ranch. One of the guests was the star of many a Western, Chief Many Treaties, from Montana.
JUNE 26, 1951
LIKE THE OLD TUBES SONG, ‘WHITE PUNKS ON DOPE’ — Drug fiends broke into the Smidt Pharmacy in Newhall and liberated about $500 in prescription drugs. Today, we have marijuana billboards offering home delivery.
JUNE 26, 1961
ALCOHOL AND CHAINS. THEY DON’T MIX. — Just ask Ed Jaquette. He was arrested after breaking into a trailer park and assaulting strangers with a 4-foot section of chain he had fashioned into a medieval weapon. Jaquette ran into the home of Aubrey Carpenter and attacked him and his wife. Aubrey grabbed a handy hunting rifle and aerated Ed’s shoulder, then sat on him until the cops came.
THE SICKOS OF SUMMER — An unknown arsonist started a 100-acre fire in Castaic, using a Molotov cocktail.
JUNE 26, 1971
SAN FRANCISCO’S PRE-HUMAN POOP ON THE STREETS DAYS — A half-century back, Signal publisher and San Francisco resident Scott Newhall tossed his hat into the ring to run for the mayorship of Baghdad by the Bay. I’m not sure even the valiant Scotty could salvage the wicked San Francisco today.
ARE THERE ANY OAKS LEFT IN NORTH OAKS? — North Oaks Park was dedicated during a searing heat wave. I was there. Didn’t like it.
THE EARLY DAYS OF WOKE — It was a time of social protest and Canyon High’s valedictorian, Deborah Chilson, lambasted the school, citing “… a smothering bureaucracy combined with student apathy and irresponsibility to hamper educational progress.” She also went after Canyon’s “Potty Patrol,” where students’ bathroom disciplines were monitored.
HANG ’EM HIGH — A plan from the distant Regional Planning Commission ignited a local uprising that would eventually result in the L.A. County Board of Supervisors being hung — alas, in effigy. The RPC alerted residents of Placerita Canyon that they intended to come in and put in a major four-lane divided highway through the quiet community. The out-of-town planners noted they would remove at least 100 heritage oaks and several homes to create their project. Planning also promised to take out the Placerita Creek and line it all in concrete. The local homeowners successfully fought the RPC, but it does raise the question, year after year — where DO we get such bureaucratic bozos?
A SHOOT-OUT OF OLD WEST PROPORTIONS —Two undercover cops were taken out to remote Texas Canyon for a narcotics buy. The purchase went sour when the drug dealers turned out to be strong-arm robbers. A gunfight ensued, with 50 shots being exchanged in the dark. One perp was wounded and another twisted his ankle when he ran out of the woods and into the arms of about a dozen law officers who had been following the bust. “Are you guys cops?” asked the crook, Dick Martin. “I think you’re looking for me.” Then, more gunfire came from the shrubbery. Martin tried to escape and was, ahem, a phrase that is music to my ears, “subdued with a pistol butt to the head.” The sheriff’s deputies eventually rounded up four suspects along with a large arsenal of weapons.
JUNE 26, 1981
THERE’S A GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM JOKE IN HERE SOMEWHERE, BUT WE’RE GOING TO AVOID IT. — This week in 2001, Magic Mountain’s Goliath ride closed for inspections after a woman died of an aneurysm. And 40 years ago this weekend, the park’s Roaring Rapids was shut down by the county because of safety questions. California’s controversial governor, Gavin Newsom, paid the park a visit this week in 2021.
I’VE TOLD YOU PEOPLE IT GETS HOT OUT HERE!! — June in Santa Clarita can bring cool, foggy days. Or, it can feel like the surface of Mercury. Seems inflation hit the thermometer at the old Santa Clarita National Bank. Just before lunch, the giant digital temp reader noted it was 146 degrees on Lyons Avenue. Don’t forget your sunblock. And radiation suit.
Hang in there, saddlepals. On the bright side, who knows. Maybe with the heat arriving a month early, summer’s heat might high-tail it out of town by early August. And, if you believe that, I have an Alliklik Indian Casino to sell you for no money down and easy payments. See you good folks back here next weekend at The Mighty Signal’s hitching post. Stay cool. Hydrate. Don’t pick up things that have been on the ground and put them in your mouth. Until seven days hence —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.