Whelp. This is the big weekend. If you live in Palmdale, make sure to set all your clocks back four hours Sunday morning. If you live in Santa Clarita, wait until next weekend and just set them back an hour with a 20-minute snooze for those of us with understanding employers.
Sigh. We should be nice to our neighbors to the north. They’ll cut off our jackalope supply.
C’mon y’alls and you all y’alls. Hop, in a dignified fashion, into those saddles. We’ve a most interesting trail ride ahead through Santa Clarita history, although I must warn you. We have an amazing amount of really mean girls ahead who might ambush us.
Might have something to do with being so close to Halloween, poor parenting, bad karmic history, unfamiliar hormones, and watered-down genes.
I have the entire nine-hour lecture on CDs, which are for sale at the end of the trail ride on yonder back tabletop rock formation.
Keep your eyes peeled for coeds…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
AND NO iPHONEWATCH THINGIES — Way back when? There was no Daylight Savings Time. Things somehow went smoothly.
I CAN DIG IT — Back on Nov. 1, 1907, a bunch of really tough galoots began construction on the Lake Elizabeth end of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. One of the world’s most ambitious public works projects, it would bring water from the Owens Valley 200-plus miles to Los Angeles, helping to build the megalopolis it is today.
LONG GONE CUSTOM — Back in the mid-19th century, when the Rancho San Francisco (today, the SCV) was under faraway Mexican rule, the wealthy landowners would open their homes to travelers. Visitors would stay for a day or a week, resting and catching up on news and gossip. After breakfast on their last day, the host would leave a small leather coin purse on their bed, under a silk napkin. The visitor, if he or she were a little light of cash, would take a coin or two. The ranchers stopped the custom when Americans and Europeans started pouring into Southern California and Santa Clarita. It seemed the Anglos would enjoy the hospitality, then not only take all the coins left for them, but the purse, the silk napkin and often various household items as well.
OCTOBER 30, 1921
SURE BEATS MALL POWER-WALKING ALL TO H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS — World War I vets S. Tracy Greene and Joe Felshim passed through Newhall on this date. They marched through town in military-issue uniforms carrying little except some canvas they’d unroll for little lean-to tents. The men were both professional writers on a seven-year zig-zag hike around the world. They had walked through every state in the Union, except Oregon and Washington, to which they were headed. They had already strolled through the likes of — but not in this order — Canada, Egypt, Arabia, Greece, India, China and Peru.
C’MON. CAN’T YOU GUYS JUST WEAR A SWEATER? — The local teacher at Newhall Elementary was asking rather politely for a wood-burning stove to take the chill off autumn mornings. The district was both sympathetic and a bit reticent. Seems Newhall Elementary had a long and checkered history of burning to the ground. That is — we assure you — all ancient history now.
OCTOBER 28, 1931
DAM IT! — Work began full swing to build the Bouquet Reservoir and Dam. A 4-mile tunnel connected to Power Plants 1 and 2 in San Francisquito Canyon was started and about 1,200 men worked on the project. Lots of locals were feeling a little apprehensive over the Bouquet Reservoir, what with the horrific breaking of the St. Francis Dam just three years earlier. One worker, Bill Gardner, was the first casualty of the Bouquet project. He lost his arm when a valve blew off. Interesting how The Signal described it: “Gardner received other injuries, but none as serious except for the arm.” Which is like the old question, “Well other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
HERE KITTY, KITTY, KITTY, KITTY — A. Freeman, local hunter, killed 18 mountain lions within the previous year. Up until the 1960s, we had about one puma per SCV canyon.
SOUNDS LIKE A DARN FINE IDEA 90 YEARS LATER — A Signal editorial wondered if we should “regulate regulations.” The op-ed piece called for less government and commissions, noting that after all sorts of new real estate licensings and laws, the state actually had MORE fraudulent real estate dealings AFTER the legislation.
COMEDY CENTRAL — Hal Roach was in town on this date, making one of his famous pie-throwing comedies at the Saugus Train Depot.
OCTOBER 29, 1932
MORE A SUGGESTION THAN A LAW? — They had the ribbon-cutting for the brand spanking new Highway 99, through Weldon Canyon and by present-day Ed Davis/Towsley Park on this date. It effectively bypassed some of the old Ridge Route. Along with 99 came a newfangled invention that had dozens of locals standing in the middle of the new highway, staring at it. It was called the double yellow no-passing line. Many farmers asked, “Well what’s stopping us?” And to prove it, they just stepped over it.
OCTOBER 30, 1941
SHOULDA GIVEN ONE TO THE NEWHALL ELEM TEACHER A DECADE EARLIER — Uncle Sam asked the Newhall-Saugus branch of the Red Cross to do their part in knitting 400,000 sweaters for the war effort. Mrs. Sam Rowland, local chairwoman, made weekly treks into L.A. to bring back several miles of yarn for the task.
TRIED THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT. DIDN’T FIT. — Four cattle rustlers were caught red-handed in San Francisquito Canyon with Bailey Haskell’s 400-pound whiteface calf in the trunk of their car. Acting on reports of the men running through the willows about a half-mile from the old dam site, local sheriff’s deputies pounced. They found the four men, the calf, and the rifle that shot it in a car on the side of San Francisquito Canyon Road. Despite the damning evidence, two of the men denied they had anything to do with the theft. The gang, from the San Fernando Valley, were behind a year-long rustling reign of terror here in which about 50 beeves were kidnapped. One of the rustlers, from behind bars, noted, “I wish it was the old days,” he said, “when they strung up rustlers up in a hurry and I could get this over with.”
OCTOBER 30, 1951
YUPPIE HEAVEN — Mac McCanlies of C & M Feed had a newfangled invention that had many local rubes scratching their foreheads and grinning sheepishly. It was a gasoline-powered lawnmower that not only cut grass, but vacuumed it up as well, eliminating raking.
RIDING THE DANGER TRAIN — Leonardo Hidalgo had the dubious honor of being the latest hobo to lose a leg after falling from a train. Hidalgo was attempting to jump between cars on a moving freight. Some say he was lucky to just lose a leg.
OCTOBER 30, 1961
WONDER IF HE EVER WOKE UP THOSE LAST FEW, FLYING SECONDS — We have had more than our fair share of freakish accidents. This ranks right up there. A 15-year-old North Hollywood boy was the passenger in a convertible Jeep. He drifted off to sleep north of Castaic, fell out of the doorless vehicle and flew through a billboard, killing himself.
FROM THE DEATH DO US PART DEPT., AHEM, IS THAT LIKE WRITTEN IN CONCRETE? — We had a runaway truck accident down the Grapevine. A husband-and-wife trucker team was toting some giant generators for the Air Force. They were coming down the grade when their transmission blew up. Faster, faster, faster, the truck gained speed. He tried to slow it down by dragging the right side (where his wife sat) next to the embankment. It worked for a while, but the truck was still a runaway. The driver climbed out on the running board and had an argument with his wife, trying to convince her to jump with him. She wouldn’t. In fact, she shimmied over to the driver’s side. He bade farewell and rolled to safety. She managed to ride the monster truck a few miles more to an upgrade and was able to safely pull it over to the side. Those silly little married arguments…
OCTOBER 30, 1971
PARKS & WRECK — Bill Park, who gained notoriety earlier in the year by taking a blowtorch to his water meter over a $3.50 billing disagreement, kept the feud going. Park ran for a seat on the Newhall County Water board (and lost).
THE NEVER-ENDING GOAL TO REMOVE ALL OAKS FROM PLACERITA CANYON — Over the years, The Master’s College has done its fair share of chopping down centuries-old members of Quercus of the beech tree clan. This time, a half-century back, neighbors in the canyon fought L.A. County and their proposal to widen Placerita to a four-lane highway, effectively shaving oak trees and putting the highway in people’s kitchen windows. Supervisor Warren Dorn, who had been hung in effigy earlier, was buried — in effigy — by the Placerita Homeowners Association. Eventually, due to the noisy protests by the Placerites, the oaks were saved.
PATIENCE OF JOB — A Saugus man had taken his wrecked Porsche in to a local mechanic to put the snappy sports car back together. He’d check in from time to time, seeing how the work was going. Four years later, the car still wasn’t finished.
OCTOBER 30, 1981
WE’RE FROM HART. COULDN’T BE PROUDER — A 17-year-old Hart co-ed approached a young man in Old Orchard Park and demanded that he both surrender some marijuana and his boots. He did neither. She slit his throat with a switchblade. He ran to the Newhall Bowl and summoned help. He was patched up nicely and she was thrown into the poky.
MORE GIRL BRUTALITY. NO. MAKE THAT PLAIN EVIL — Same night, four local high school girls ganged up on a fifth girl. They tortured her, beat her, cut off her long hair and did many other unmentionable atrocities. The four little monsters ran away from home and were apprehended a week later. Their young victim had had open heart surgery a year earlier.
GIRL MONSTERS, PART 3 — This certainly was an odd parenthesis of girl teen-age violence. In the third case of brutality, a 16-year-old Saugus girl was arrested for seriously beating up another co-ed on campus.
MAYBE MABEL WANTED TO DOUBLECHECK IT IN THE PAPER THAT SHE ACTUALLY DID SAY, ‘I DO…’ — Eventually, The Mighty Signal DOES get it right. Mabel Chacanaca had visited this paper three times, trying to get a copy of her wedding story, which appeared on the front page of TMS. The first time, right after her marriage, the then-editor promised to get Mabel a copy, but never got around to it. Mabel waited 20 years and asked again. The then-editor promised to get her a copy of the story. He didn’t. Finally, she went in to see Ruth Newhall. Ruth had to go to the microfiche at the Valencia Library to produce a copy of Mabel’s wedding coverage and handed it over to the bride — who was, by then, a widow. Mabel Murray had married Harry Chacanaca on Nov. 15, 1919, and, 62 years later, she finally got that clipping.
Well. Here we are, back at present-day Santa Clarita. Time to scatter to our own realities. Halloween is here. Celebrate responsibly. Or not. That’s why we have a crackerjack Sheriff’s Department. Looking forward to seeing you all in seven days and make sure you get all your alibis straight. Until then, dear friends and neighbors — ¡obtener una suscripción y 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, “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…?