The Time Ranger | 9/11 — 20 Years Later. Where Were You?


Life gives us so many hues, so many colors. We’ve an interesting time ride ahead, light-hearted to somber. 

I think it’s a good day to take it all in, to appreciate one another… 


WELL HAPPY DARN BIRTHDAY TO US! —Back on Sept. 9, 1850, California became America’s 31st state. It was a Monday. Who would’ve figured that 171 years later, we’d be arguably the Union’s craziest. Becoming a state via the Compromise of 1850, we probably delayed the Civil War by a decade. Same day? Harishchandra, Indian poet rarely spoken of in local SCV taverns as “The Father of Modern Hindi,” was born in Vārānasi, India. 

TAKE TWO EXCEDRIN THEN GET BACK TO YOUR FINAL — This switching of the towns of Newhall and Saugus, several times, is one of our most confusing bits of SCV history. On Sept. 6, 1876, the Newhall Train Station opened across the street from where today’s Saugus Café is. About a year later, this “Newhall Train Depot” moved south a couple of miles to where today’s Jan Heidt Metrolink station is. With the NEWHALL train station in full operation — in Newhall — on Sept. 1, 1887, the new SAUGUS train station opened, right on the foundations of the original NEWHALL STATION. 

RE: THE ABOVE — Wipe that blankety-blank confused looks off your faces… 

INVESTING WISELY, THE GUYS MIGHT’VE BEEN TRILLIONAIRES TODAY —Using about $1 million in startup capital, back on Sept. 10, 1879, Pico Canyon oilmen Demetrius Scofield, Charles Felton, Lloyd Tevis, George Loomis and a few partners started the Pacific Coast Oil Co., the forerunner of Standard Oil of California. You know. John D. Rockefeller’s company later? PCOC would be purchased in 1900 for $760,000 by Standard. Their oil business in Santa Clarita’s Pico Canyon and other spots are considered the birthplace — albeit a gooey one — of the California oil industry. In 1911, Standard Oil was forced to break up due to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and S.O. took on the new name of Chevron. The company has an amazing history. For quick example, the Saudi sheikdom in 1933 gave California Standard permission to dig for oil. They discovered the Ghawar Field, biggest on the planet. All this, from a ramshackle little wooden headquarters building in Downtown Newhall… 

TOOK THE CAMELS, TOO … — Sept. 11, 1864, Fort Tejon was abandoned. No one left a light on, either. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1921  

THE FLAMES OF HELL CONTINUE — A huge fire swept through Ruby Canyon (near Warm Springs), burning more than 8,000 acres and killing thousands of wildlife. This was before airplanes dropped chemicals and hi-tech fire trucks doused fire lines. The blaze had a 7-mile front and was battled by hundreds of men. It had burned out of control since August. 

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS — The headline on the front page of The Mighty Signal from 100 years back read: “Mrs. Freeman Buried At Forest Lawn.” We’re guessing she was dead. 

MIXING IT UP — Newhall’s occasional star resident, Tom Mix, one of the biggest movie actors in the world later in his day, debuted his latest silent flick, “Big Town Roundup.” Locals motored over the hill to the Cody Theatre in San Fernando to watch him. Trivia? Mix’s middle name was Hezikiah. He was an artillery sergeant in the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1902 —then deserted after serving three years. Because of his worldwide fame, he was given a full military burial with honors. Mix made more than 300 movies and was married five times. He was one of Wyatt Earp’s pallbearers and a lifelong enemy of John Wayne. Crooner Rudy Vallee sang at two Newhall cowboys’ funerals —Mix’s and William S. Hart’s. During his heyday, Mix commissioned special tires for all his cars that left the initials, TM, in the dirt. It’s reported that Adolph Hitler was a big fan of Mix’s and once called him on the phone to invite him to Germany. Mix agreed, with the caveat, “I would like to visit my fans in Germany again, but only over your dead body.” 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1931  

PAVED ROAD? WHAT’S THAT? — Local work crews finished improving 4 miles of upper Bouquet Canyon Road. When I say, “improving,” in 1930s lingo, that means they finished filling in potholes with dirt and oiling it. 

RAIN? WHAT’S THAT? — Newhall Elementary’s student body saw something unusual for this early in the school year — grass. A rare August rain caused the lawn to sprout early. 

BET IT WASN’T A KIRBY — The historic home of Judge John Powell (who led troops in seven Civil War battles and who, with Dr. Livingston, freed slaves in Africa) nearly burned to the ground on this date. Powell had just moved out, but left a vacuum cleaner. The modern appliance was stuffed with dust and lint, which overheated in a closet and caught fire. Volunteers put the blaze out before the entire house could burn. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1941  

HAYWIRE. GREAT MIDDLE NAME? — Joe Carlton “went haywire” in the Newhall courthouse on this date. He was in for a routine traffic violation, started yelling at the judge, grabbed his file and tore it to shreds. Then he gave a lengthy speech about not being able to be an air cadet because of the ticket, knocked the bailiff over and ran away. The sad thing was Joe went in for a $5 ticket and came out with a $1,500 fine and jail time for assaulting an officer and tearing up public records. 

RE: THE ABOVE — The term, “haywire” probably comes from an early 20th-century type of thin wire used to bail hay. When broken, all the hay comes out and you can’t put it back together again… 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1951 

WHEN ANDY NEARLY GOT HIMSELF KILLED AND THEN SOME — Newhall’s Hall of Fame cowboy, Andy Jauregui, was badly mauled by a Brahma bull and was in St. Joseph’s hospital, listed in “grave condition.” He was wrangling for the movie, “Broncho Buster,” at the Universal Studios lot in North Hollywood when the beast turned and gored Andy against a fence. 

YUP. HOME OF THE MIGHTY INDIANS. — School started at Hart and they experienced a big population explosion. There had been 537 students in grades 7-12 in 1950-51. In 1951-52, that figure jumped to 567. Everyone must’ve been darn elbow-to-elbow… 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1961 

MORE PLANET-ENDING POPULATION EXPLOSION — Then, a decade later, there were 826 students at Hart. The newly opened Placerita Junior High took in 528 kids. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1971 

DAM! — An independent insurance study group warned companies to “use caution” in awarding policies to homeowners in certain Castaic and Saugus areas. Why? The insurance carriers were a little hinky about issuing homeowners policies to people living right below the new Castaic Dam. 

AGAIN, WEATHER GODS! ANYTIME YOU’RE READY WE ARE!! — We had a rare late-summer rain storm. It dumped about a half-inch of rain on the valley. Folks were commenting about the odd sights of umbrellas this time of year. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1981 

ANYONE SEE A HOUSE FLYING OVER GORMAN? — Seems some homeowner leased his Val Verde home to the — say it with me — Wrong People. The rental was being used as a PCP factory. The chemist sloshed together the wrong mixture and, at 2 in the morning, the illegal and volatile hallucinogen went KA-BLOOEY, in 96-point type, which we can’t use here due to newspaper and web space constrictions. 

EEESH. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE LIVING NIGHTMARE — Jack Gordon came back from the dead, literally, to face his would-be murderers. The 66-year-old Newhall outdoorsman had been camping in the desert of Imperial County and had befriended several teenagers by giving them food and coffee. They came back, kidnapped him, stole his camper-truck, beat him unconscious and buried him alive. He crawled out of his own shallow grave and collapsed a few yards away. A sheriff’s search helicopter found him in a pool of his own dried blood. Gordon recovered and identified his attackers. A year later, he testified against the eight teens who tried to murder him. Gordon usually traveled everywhere with a shotgun, but the young predators caught him in his sleep. He later said he held no grudge against them, but wished he would have been able to reach his sidearm. After recuperating, Gordon went back to his beloved life of traveling the back country of California and camping out. I’m hoping the teens are eligible for parole in 2347… 

ME? PERSONALLY? I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED THE NAME, ‘CLEAVAGE’ — City backers held a historic meeting that forever changed the face of this valley. Simply, after all their hard work and homework, they agreed to go ahead with holding a county-wide election that would create a new city. Directors of the City Formation Committee had one final task — what to call the place. The final two choices included the eventual winner — Santa Clarita. What were we ALMOST named? City of the Canyons. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 1988 

IT NEVER AROSE FROM THE ASHES —Former Signal owners, editors and publishers Scott and Ruth Newhall and their son Tony published their first edition of the rival Citizen newspaper on this date. After running inarguably the world’s most eclectic daily, for a quarter-century, the Newhalls had walked away earlier in the year after a simmering dispute with senior partner, Georgia publisher Charles Morris. The twice-weekly Citizen folded less than a year later after losing about $1 million. 

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 

STARTING IN INFAMY. ENDING IN INFAMY? — Most of us old enough can remember where we were the moment the news hit that the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers had been attacked by Islamic terrorists and 2,997 were killed and more than 6,000 wounded. I remember just getting back from vacation in Yosemite, being blessedly free of media. My good friend Tim Whyte called me from The Signal and asked if I had been watching TV or listening to the radio. He suggested I turn on the television. That day candlelight vigils were held and 900 SCV locals lined up to donate blood. Schools remained opened. Everywhere, on sidewalks, in stores, people were sobbing. Besides 9/11, locally, a sheriff’s deputy was murdered by yet another mad dog killer. Of all things that might be deemed strange today, we had an SCV day of prayer. Recent SCV resident John Keysor had moved to New York City, where he had witnessed the act of war. Keysor, of the local Keysor-Century company and family in Saugus, felt the explosion rock his nearby New York building. A co-worker got a call from her shocked father, who was just driving by the WTC. Debris smashed through his windshield, shearing his hand completely off. After I talked to Tim, I quickly drove in to write both an editorial and a Mr. SCV column. The latter was about our timeless — and fatally stubborn — inability to recognize the devil. I wrote something. Best I could do, so far away.  

See you dear SCV souls in seven with another Time Ranger adventure. Perhaps, as always, the best advice is — vayan con Dios amigos!  

Shooting for a Sept. 15 launch of John Boston’s very 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 on or you liked the book, would you mind leaving a kind 5-star review…? 

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