Isn’t this grand? Finally? Weather befitting a powerful and revered civilization like our very own Valley de la SClarita? We’ve a most excellent trail ride this morning, amigos, amigo-ettes and SCV 4-P (Picky Personal Pronoun Pickers). There’s ‘grizzer’ bears and something almost as fierce — Tribulus terrestris. We’ve got hatchet accidents, hunting accidents and maybe the absolute dang worst fiancé ever to take breath on God’s green Earth.
We’ve got polo, poetry and one bicycling fella with possibly the strongest legs on the planet.
Beautiful day for a ride, saddlepals. Shall we head into the mystic?
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
OUR OWN JUDGE ROY BEAN — One of the valley’s most controversial ruffians, W.W. Jenkins, was born on Oct. 12, 1833. Jenkins was one of the participants in the famed Castaic Range War. He was also one of the California Rangers who helped clean up Los Angeles AND… he was a self-styled Judge Roy Bean type, dispensing law but not much order in Castaic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also earned the nickname of The Baron of Alcatraz for his unsuccessful attempt to homestead the bay area island.
WHEN NEWHALL WAS SAUGUS AND SO ON — On Oct. 13, 1876, the town of Newhall was founded near where the former Kmart and McDonald’s is today. The original Newhall train depot was founded on this date, too — confusingly, on the site where the Saugus train depot sat for so many years. The town of Newhall literally picked up every board and nail and moved from Bouquet Junction to around San Fernando and 6th Street about a year and change later.
PETE’S PURINA BEAR CHOW — Oct. 17, 1837, was not a good day for Peter LeBeck. He was killed by a giant grizzly bear near El Tejon (where Fort Tejon and Tejon Pass would later be).
I STILL PREFER ‘SAUSAGE’ INSTEAD OF ‘SAUGUS’ — If it weren’t for the Post Office, today, we might have the Surrey High Centurions, the Surrey Speedway and the Surrey Cafe instead of the Saugus Cafe. For a short period of about four years, the big question in the valley was what to call the area currently around the Saugus Cafe — Saugus or Surrey? It’s a bit puzzling, but here goes. The Saugus Train Station opened its doors On Sept. 1, 1887. The little area around it was dubbed “Saugus” after Saugus, Massachusetts, boyhood home of town founder, Henry Mayo Newhall. Around the same time, merchant O.C. Bercaw moved the post office from his store in Soledad to the Saugus train depot. But, he called the post office, “Surrey.” Smart money feels it was because his relatives hailed from Surrey, England. Bercaw built a hotel (called the Surrey Inn), an ice house (called the Surrey Ice House) and a general store. Uh, no. It was called Bercaw’s General Store. Bercaw’s friend, Martin Wood, operated the Saugus Cafe and his blacksmith shop was called the Saugus Blacksmith Shop and, later, Wood’s Garage. People got quite a kick out of the humorous “feud” between the two friends, Wood and Bercaw. The south end of town was called Surrey and a few inches away to the north was Saugus. It finally got so confusing, the post office stepped in and officially dubbed the town Saugus on Sept. 4, 1915. And it’s been thus ever since. Story goes, the SCV Historical Society supposedly still has an envelope with a Surrey, California, postmark on it.
TWEREN’T SWEETIE-PIE — Adding to the confusion, do you know what the “S” in William S. Hart stands for? Yup. Surrey.
OCTOBER 16, 1921
SPEAKING OF, HAVE YOU PURCHASED YOUR LOCAL SIGNAL SUBSCRIPTION YET TODAY? — This has been a plea as old as civilization itself — Shop Local. On this date, The Signal ran a front-page editorial that started with a question: “The Home Town. Why not trade at home?” TMS went on to make the case that it takes time to go to Ventura or San Fernando, and, well, you know… time is money.
YEE AND OUCH — Some of you old-timers will remember growing up here and having to watch your barefoot travels. Why? The dreaded Tribulus terrestris. In layman’s terms, the puncture vine. The weed with those thick needles played havoc on everything from horses to even modern tires. They accounted for many a flat tire in the old-fashioned thin rubber tires of the day. Puncture weed was originally introduced into the Santa Clarita Valley by the railroad carrying bales of hay from Northern California.
BESIDES THAT ACRIMONIOUS SO-&-SO TOM FREW, WHO SAID POETRY IS DEAD? — On this date, The Mighty Signal printed this poem called, “Giving Him A Name.” It’s a hoot and it goes a little something like this: “She ransacked every novel, And the dictionary, too. But nothing ever printed For her baby’s name would do; She hunted appellations From the present and the past, And this is what she named him When they christened him at last: Julian Harold Egbert Ulysses Victor Paul Algernon Marcus Cecil Sylvester George McFall. But after all the trouble She’d taken for his sake, His father called him Buster And his schoolmates called him Jake.”
OCTOBER 16, 1931
HISTORY REPEATS. AND REPEATS. AND REPEATS. — If you’re in law enforcement, it’s little ditties like this that’ll make you headbutt drywall. On this date, 90 years ago, two local ladies, Mrs. A.E. Thibadeau and Mrs. R.F. Woodard, attended a Women’s Club luncheon at the downtown L.A. County Jail. Head Sheriff Traeger spoke on “The Crime Problem.” He noted: “The crook of today is just one step ahead of the police department. For this reason… it is necessary for the police to be highly specialized, to which we are gradually advancing.” Think there will ever be a day when the last bad guy is caught?
WHY THE NEAR-SIGHTED DON’T DESERVE HUNTING LICENSES — The deer were smiling and his widow wasn’t. On this date, Howard Welgam, hunter, was fatally shot by another hunter, near Oat Mountain. The other hunter, as often was the case, thought Howard was a large, four-legged and well-pronged buck.
NO RALPH LAUREN JOKES, PLEASE — It was the Great Depression, but Lyle Puckett didn’t seem to notice. The Bouquet Canyon rancher brought in some bulldozers and a steam shovel to level off a plateau near where LARC Ranch is today. He was putting in a polo field.
OCTOBER 16, 1941
THE RICH JUST GOT RICHER — The famed Barnes oil well blew a gusher on this date. At 3:30 a.m., a thunderous explosion was heard and an ugly plume of mud, oil, gas and water shot 200 feet into the air. Gas pressure of over 5,000 pounds per square inch burst through the cement casing. The oil field managers, Homer Havenstrite and Ed McWhirter, were in Merced, duck hunting, when the big well blew. They chartered a racing plane and were home immediately to cap off the well. That Barnes well brought in more than 100 million barrels of crude.
THOSE ODD AND TERRIBLE LAST THINGS IN LIFE — Sheriff’s deputies figured that Claude Murray had a frightening few seconds before he died. He was killed when a double big rig carrying scrap iron lost its brakes coming down Highway 99. The truck was going over 100 mph when it hit his car head on and crushed him.
THAT AIN’T HAY. Er… um… ACTUALLY, IT WAS — Glenn Irwin, who ran the old Happy Valley Dairy on Highway 99, drew a 15-day jail sentence from Judge Kennedy in the Newhall Courthouse. Irwin stole 50 bales of hay from rancher Charlie Kellogg. It was a big forensic evidence case. Charlie, known for his frugality, used only two wires instead of the usual three to bale his hay. And the hay in Irwin’s dairy had the same wiring pattern.
NOT SURE IF CLARENCE & BETTY EVER DID GET MARRIED — Me? I wouldn’t put money on it. On this date, Clarence Creel and his honey from L.A., Betty Johnson, were driving through Newhall, headed for Las Vegas to be wed. Clarence was completely blottoed. And driving. Betty managed to grab the whiskey bottle from his hand and threw it out his window. As the car is doing about 40 coming down Highway 6 (Sierra Highway, today), Clarence dives out the window after it. Let me repeat that. Clarence DOVE out the window of a car doing 40. Betty frantically grabbed the wheel and took control of the car (bench seats back then). She drove into Newhall to get the cops. They found Clarence rolled up in some shrubbery and when they tried to extricate him, he put up one injured bobcat of a fight. On the way back to the 6th Street jail, he kicked out the glass in the back seat of the prowl car. He drew 50 days of pokey time. Betty, if you waited for him — you’re nuts in the 128-ounce jar…
OCTOBER 16, 1951
THE NOT-SO-FORGOTTEN WAR — We lost another lad at the hands of the bloody Korean War. Mint Canyon lad Roy Nier, machine gunner, was killed over there during combat.
DON’T THINK THEY HAD THIS IN MIND WHEN THEY ISSUED THE HUNTING TAGS — Young Woody Wood went on his first deer hunting mission. On the way to the woods, he hit a deer with his small Nash Rambler. It killed the deer and damaged his compact so bad, he had to hitch back to town.
AX ME IF I SEEM AMAZED — Here’s an odd accident for you. A fellow whose name — SWEAR — was Buck Fish, was hit in the head with a hatchet. He was standing on the roadside by his ranch with a friend. The friend was playing with an ax. Another friend drove by in a car. They waved. The cleaver flew out of his hand and landed in Buck’s forehead. He survived, and had a rather interesting dueling scar.
OCTOBER 16, 1961
OFF THE RAILS — On this date, local mucky mucks from the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys met with officials from Southern Pacific Railroad. They started to plan a commuter train route into Los Angeles. It would be delayed for about 30 years, but, it finally got here in a new incarnation — Metrolink.
CAN’T BEAT THE HEAT — Locals were grumbling after putting away their summer clothes. The mercury hit 105 in some local hot spots 60 years back.
OCTOBER 16, 1971
A BITTER CURE FOR THE SUPES — C.U.R.E. went after the county Board of Supervisors. The initials stood for Citizens United for a Respectable Environment. They were comprised mostly of Placerita Canyon residents who were angry with county government’s attempt to widen Placerita Canyon Road and remove nearly 100 heritage oaks. The county eventually backed down.
AND PRETTY MUCH, HE DID IT WITHOUT A SINGLE BIKE PATH — David Severance bicycled to his friend’s house in Mint Canyon. At first glance, you’d think this wasn’t a huge story, but Dave started out several months earlier in Vermont. David pedaled more than 3,800 miles. He stopped once for a week in North Dakota when 50 mph winds and 105-degree temperatures made his trek rather unenjoyable. Then, a freak snowstorm in Yellowstone stopped him for a day. He made between 70 and 170 miles per day. David started out on the trek with a pal, but, after three days, the friend caught a bus home.
OCTOBER 16, 1981
QUIT MONKEYING WITH THE THERMOSTAT!!!! — I’m annoyingly nosy regarding SCV climate change, which wiser heads used to refer to as “weather.” This week just 40 years ago, locals were sweltering under triple-digit conditions. In a matter of days, the mercury would plummet and I mean plummet. Thermometers dipped to evening lows BELOW FREEZING!
NOT MUCH GOOD WITH NUMBERS — Former grand lawman Ed Davis was elected to the state Senate. He raised $480,000 for a job that paid around $40,000.
Extra homework assignment this weekend, and don’t be a wimp about it. Go up to someone who is close to you and tell them how much you appreciate them. No crossed fingers behind the back, either. See you dear friends and neighbors — whom I appreciate so — back here next weekend at The Mighty Signal hitching post. And until then all y’all make sure to — ¡viaja con Dios queridos amigos y vecinos!
Got the web site — johnbostonbooks.com — up and running. It’s still under construction, but we’re getting closer to Official Launch. First new offering 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 Amazon.com or https://www.amazon.com/John-Boston/e/B000APA0H8?ref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share. If you liked the book, would you mind leaving a kind 5-star review…?