The Time Ranger | James Dean’s Last Meal & Our Female Body Inspector

The Timer Ranger
Time Ranger

I’m all smiles for it is October. While summer’s heat may linger here and there, I can feel bona fide Autumn and her come hither smile.  

We’ve a most interesting time ride ahead, dear saddlepals. I know I am guilty of saying that frequently in the past. But what kinds of gluttons for punishment would we be if we DIDN’T have an interesting time travel experience and we KEPT SHOWING UP to ride horses into nowhere? 

If you happen to spill latte on your mount, use the water in your provided canteen (round metal storage unit wrapped in either leather, canvas or Santa Fe-style horse blanket hanging from your saddlehorn?) to wipe up the little accident. 

If you don’t, the horse gets sticky. 

If the horse gets sticky, it attracts flies. 

Also, gently DAB the spill, don’t rub. It’s tantamount to rubbing a cat backwards… 


WE GONE AND DONE LOST OUR FIRST & ONLY 5-STAR —  From Seattle to San Diego, the Southern Hotel, built by Henry Mayo Newhall, was known as one of the top grand hotels on the West Coast. It burned to the ground on Oct. 1, 1888, ten years after opening. Darn kitchen grease fire started it.  

FIRST WITH AN ASTERISK — For decades, Francisco Lopez was wrongly credited for making the first gold strike in California in 1842 in Placerita Canyon. Actually, there were huge mining operations in San Francisquito Canyon in the 1820s. Prior to that, monks and Indian miners were pulling gold out of the Lost Padre Mine in the Castaic/Lake Hughes area as early as 1797. Still, Francisco Lopez’s discovery of gold sticking to a wild onion at the base of an oak tree is the stuff of legend and a state historical landmark at Placerita Canyon Nature Center. It was a good year for Don Francisco. Back on June 9, 1842, the governor of California gave Francisco Lopez the Rancho Temescal for his kind gift of making the first OFFICIAL and documented gold discovery but more so, for handing it over to the governor. Then, on Oct. 2, 1843, he was granted the Rancho Los Alamos by the governor. How’s that for early Republican welfare? Two free, huge estates, for being the governor’s pal? 

OCTOBER 2, 1921  

THE MIRACLE RAINFALL — A fire started on the Newhall Ranch and burned up 5,000 acres before a big rain came from out of seemingly nowhere and doused the blaze. The brush fire raced all the way to the buildings on Harry Carey’s world-famous Horseshoe Ranch in San Francisquito Canyon. Using 50 volunteer firemen and his own squadron of Navajo cowpokes (and don’t forget the rain) the fire was squelched in the nick of time. Carey, by the way, was one of the most famous movie stars of his day and his resort was a dude ranch haven for the Who’s Who of the world. His house still stands today in the canyon. 

PRE-HYATT MUSIC — Before Barbara Myler’s memorable jazz concerts at the Hyatt, we had The O’Dette’s Players. They were a traveling minstrel group of 17. They held a big tent vaudeville performance at Market and Spruce and showed a movie inside the tent. Back then, Christianity came at a cost. While Myler’s concerts were free, the O’Dettes charged a half buck for adults, and a quarter for kids. That’s a pretty good chunk of change back in 1921… 

OCTOBER 2, 1931  

PIPE DOWN, YOU GUYS — The city of Los Angeles undertook a massive works program on this date. They lowered the aqueduct pipe in San Francisquito Canyon by a foot. We’re guessing it must have been a foot too high before.  

THE INFAMOUS C.O.D. GANG — Local sheriff’s deputies broke up a railroad burglary ring operating out of Saugus. The crooks would order a variety of expensive gear and have it shipped cash-on-delivery to the train depot. Then, they’d break in and swipe it. The con men were caught in the act of breaking into the Saugus Station. 

“CARE FOR ANOTHER GLASS OF WATER?” “NO THANKS. GOTTA DRIVE HOME TONIGHT” — One of the byproducts of so much bootlegging in the Santa Clarita Valley was pollution. The gangsters were dumping their poisonous byproducts into local creeks, sometimes fouling wells and the water table. 

SOMETIMES, IT SEEMS LIKE FOLKS ARE OUT TO GET YOU — A forked-horn buck deer was shot north of Castaic on this date. Fate finally caught up with it. A season or two earlier, another hunter had shot off its right front leg below the knee and the deer also had a bullet-perforated ear. Still, it managed to survive for a while longer. 

THE ONGOING GOOD WILL OF THE SCV — We’ve always been a helpful bunch of souls here in Santa Clarita. Ninety years ago, locals helped charity by providing 50 dozen quart jars of food for Goodwill in downtown L.A. 

THAT’S A WHOLE BUNCHA TONS OF VITAMIN C — It was the biggest unsolved crime of the year. Several thousands of dollars’ worth of fruit and citrus was liberated from Newhall Ranch. Local law had nary a clue. I don’t know if Tom Frew had an alibi, but I think local authorities today should go visit him just to see if he had an alibi… 

OCTOBER 2, 1941  

JACKASSES QUATRO — Four young hoodlums, on foot from Santa Monica, stopped off at the Clampitt lease in Elsmere Canyon. They did some horrific damage, climbing up a 60-foot derrick and loosening bolts so the rig would blow over in the wind. They also rolled boulders down a hill to smash buildings and pipe, and opened a valve sending hundreds of gallons of oil into the chaparral. Interestingly, a Signal editorial pretty much predicted the end of civilization: 

“…They are more alarming as a symptom of the prevalent decrease in moral responsibility of the younger generation,” wrote then-Editor/Publisher Fred Trueblood. “The problem is a sociological one of the gravest nature. Its roots lie in the homes from which these violent and irresponsible young people come. The so-called modern enlightened theory of handling juvenile delinquency emphasizes the treatment of the delinquent as a sick or misguided individual rather than an ornery one. Probation is easy. Punishment is imposed only as a last resort after all other methods have failed.”  

Trueblood noted that his own youthful generation did steal a certain amount of watermelons and indulged in snowball fights with the missiles loaded with rocks or hardened with water. 

BLAZES ABLAZE — Lots of fires on this date. One idiot, passing through, tossed out a cigarette and started a 1,000-acre blaze. A train’s brakes started a brush fire near Ravenna and a quick-thinking engineer put it out by backing up the train, hitting a valve and dousing the new blaze with steam. 

OCTOBER 2, 1951 

YOUTH. STUPIDITY. TNT. RECIPE FOR DISASTER — On this date, out-of-town youths discovered a box of TNT blasting caps. The group merrily rode around the valley, lighting the caps and throwing them out the windows of their car. One of the boys held on for a bit too long and blew his hand off. 

HANG ’EM. — The rustlers were either plumb mean or dumb or both. Rancher Ed Atkins of Castaic found his prize $1,000 stud bull dead and butchered on the back 40. The rustlers left several lesser-valued and more tender cattle alone. 

HOW TIMES, AND BIG BROTHER, DON’T CHANGE — There is much talk of electronic surveillance and erosion of individual rights today. On this date, the local telephone company notified its customers that through an act of Congress, operators could legally eavesdrop on people’s conversations. 

HOPE WE DON’T HAVE TO GET RABBIT FEVER SHOTS — This may seem odd in modern times, but some rural Santa Claritans would augment their dinners from time to time with rabbit. Many a hunter lost his appetite for rabbit stew due to an outbreak of Tularemia — or, in layman’s terms, rabbit fever. One local farmer was stricken and developed some rather ugly ulcerated sores. Rabbit fever is fatal in about 5% of cases. 

SEPTEMBER 30, 1955 —  

OSCAR WINNER HAS LAST MEAL HERE — Legendary actor James Dean pulled into Tip’s coffee shop in Castaic in his souped-up Porsche. He ordered a cold glass of milk and a slice of apple pie. It was his last meal before dying in a car crash in the San Joaquin Valley, up near Cholame. This little tidbit of the troubled actor’s last meal here in the SCV, despite being well-documented, always seems to bring the Hair-On-Fire Dean cult out in droves.  

JAMES DEAN TRIVIA — He only made three movies, all in 1955 and 1956. He earned two Oscar nominations and, later, received a posthumous Best Actor Academy Award. Heck of a year. At that rate, if Dean was still alive today, he would have a staggering 130 Oscar nominations and 65 Academy Awards. Granted. It would be an interesting conversation, involving parallel universes, if Dean would have been given a posthumous Oscar more than once. Do share your thoughts in the comment section. The rest of us shall slouch in the saddle, sip tea and go, “Mmm-hmmmm…”  

OCTOBER 2, 1961 

DANG KIDS TODAY — About every decade or so, the community raises up to wag a fist at the younger generation. Many locals were incensed over a double bill playing at the old American Theatre. Conservatives did not like the use of the word, ahem — H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks — in the marquee advertising the flick: “High School Hellcats.” Betcha the dogs didn’t like the use of the word, “cats,” either. 

RE: THE ABOVE — Had James Dean been in “High School Hellcats,” betcha he would’ve won an Oscar. Just stating the obvious… 

OCTOBER 2, 1971 

SIGNAL MANAGEMENT BACK THEN LIKED TO CUT DOWN ON EXPENSES. LIKE BRAKE FLUID. — Your Mighty Signal hit the streets early on this date, three decades back. Our one (1) delivery van flipped over. Driver Mark Wright was motoring back from Sun Valley (where The Signal used to be printed). He hit a hairpin turn and noticed he didn’t have any brakes. The van flipped, along with 9,000 Signals red hot off the presses. We sent a note of apology to those readers whose newspapers smelt a bit of gasoline. 

CRIPES. WE’RE SOOOOOO HONORED … — For the second straight year, the SCV had the highest property taxes in Los Angeles County. We were at $15.4 per $100 of valuation. 

I’VE ALWAYS SAID: A CONSULTANT IS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS 106 WAYS TO HAVE SEX BUT DOESN’T KNOW ANY WOMEN. — Chester Furgeson, the former William S. Hart Union High School District consultant, was found dead in a Fresno motel on this date. He committed suicide by taking barbiturates and leaving a Hibachi full of smoldering charcoal. Furgeson was on trial for attempted murder. While working for Hart, he was also on the payroll of the Torrance School District, where he reportedly paid a hit man to 86 the superintendent there via rather grisly methods. Tried to kill our super, Dave Baker, too. Can’t say I miss Furgy one itty-bitty iota… 

OCTOBER 2, 1972 

STILL KINDA FOND OF OAK HOLE — By local straw poll, we were sort of officially anointed as the Santa Clarita Valley on this date. The term, “Little Santa Clara River Valley” and “Santa Clarita” had been used earlier in the 20th century by historian A.B. Perkins along with Signal editors Fred Trueblood and A.B Thatcher. The Signal had tried to foist the term “Valencia Valley” on our home, but thankfully that effort collapsed. The reason why The Signal wanted Valencia Valley was because Signal Publisher Scott Newhall came up with the name for NL&F’s planned community of Valencia — after Valencia, Spain. 

RE: THE ABOVE — Scotty at the time didn’t know that Valencia, Spain, was also the home of the “discoverer” of the SCV in 1769, Gaspar de Portola. 

OCTOBER 2, 1981 

AHHHH, THE PENAL SYSTEM — Terry Zachery was let out of prison on this date, after serving 2.5 years of a five-year-sentence. His crime? Murdering Gorman Sheriff’s deputy Art Pelino. Zachery had been arrested for disturbing the peace. He wrestled officer Pelino’s gun from him and killed him in cold blood. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and got off early for “good behavior.”  

CRIPES. I’M ON MY KNEES PRAYING THEY’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT MY GOOD PAL TOM LEE — This week, the American Cancer Society is busy with their health awareness program for local women. But, four decades back, a scam artist posing as simply the affable “Dr. Tom” called local ladies, setting up exams in the privacy of their homes. Well. You have to admit. Better than in a van. Once there, the UFMI (Unlicensed Female Body Inspector) would have the women completely disrobe and then work through one of his thorough exams. Dr. Tom not only used his hands, but something Dr. T called a “Thermomogram.” One SCV woman, who, well duh, asked NOT to be identified, noted the Thermomogram looked suspiciously like a 35 mm camera… 

There are days when I see our familiar stop along the Santa Clarita Vortex and I wish we could just stay back in time a few more hours. Or centuries. Take a nice nap under a prehistoric oak and hope that Pleistocene predators know who we are and take kindly to us. Appreciate the company. See you in seven back here at The Mighty Signal’s hitching post and until then — ¡Viaja con Dios queridos amigos y vecinos! 

Got the web site — — up and running. It’s still under construction, but we’re getting closer to Official Launch. First new offering is a three-volume set, “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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