Hope you haven’t consumed so much turkey, pie and 48 pounds of complex carbohydrates that you can’t possibly climb into the saddle. Groaning tends to spoil moseying.
We have one of those rare moral outrage/vigilante time rides through SCV history ahead, amigos and amigo-ettes, chock full of, hock-ptooey, disreputable teen-age punks, pistol fighters and speed demons.
Drat if we don’t have a peach of a kid set upon by lowly grown-up cattle rustlers.
There’s also a local ladies tea society who came up with all sorts of ideas on how to kill der Fuhrer, missing human skulls and pot-stealing skateboarders.
Who said the holidays are dull?
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
SPLIT PERSONALITY? THE SAGA OF CLEOVARO CHAVEZ — On Nov. 25, 1875, outlaw Cleovaro Chavez was gunned down in an Arizona Territory horse arena. Chavez was a muscular and fierce pistol fighter, second in command to the womanizing bandito, Tiburcio Vasquez. When Vasquez was captured near today’s Hollywood Bowl, Cleovaro vowed to launch a reign of terror and murder “…every white person in California” unless Vasquez was released.
Chavez didn’t quite reach his goal and Vasquez was hanged up in San Jose for an earlier murder. His last words? A succinct, “Pronto…”
So, the brutish outlaw went on a short reign of terror. With a gang of about 15 desperados, he held up everything from outposts to unlucky lone riders. Chavez held up lucrative ore wagons, jokingly referring to his fundraising as “tolls.” They held up the Cottonwood Stage Depot in Mojave in May of 1875. Needless to say, Chavez was none too popular with the regular citizens. The Star, a Los Angeles paper, demanded:
“Let us, if need be, turn out horse, foot and dragoon . . . and scout the country from Oregon to Cape Horn, if necessary, until Chavez and his league of plunderers are chained to the walls of some dungeon… Will the authorities let us know who rules California?”
In late October, Chavez broke up his outlaw gang, then hightailed it to Arizona where two bounty hunters caught up with him one pleasant late November day. As the story goes, the bounty hunters boldly strode up to the unarmed Chavez in a stockade and asked simply if he was Cleovaro Chavez. Cleo said, “Nope.” The lawmen held up a wanted dead-or-alive poster next to him, thought the artist’s rendition was rather fetching and accurate, then proceeded to blow him to smithereens at close range with shotguns. Chavez was nearly bisected and no, he did not survive the encounter.
The bounty hunters? They divvied up the hefty $2,000 reward money. I have no idea what they spent it on.
For the wild and muscular Cleovaro Chavez? I guess he proved you can be two places at once over the holidays.
NOVEMBER 27, 1921
GETTING THE STAMP OF APPROVAL — Businessman Albert Swall was reappointed as the Newhall postmaster. Again. Swall was first anointed in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson and, although a Democrat, he was reappointed by a Republican.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE — Back in the 1920s, folks sometimes referred to the rare contraptions called automobiles as, “machines.” On this date, Mrs. Agnes Klippel got into a “machine accident.” Agnes kept a cool head through it all, considering that her steering wheel came off during the mishap. Guess you could say Klippel got “klipped” … Sorry.
GETTING A SHOT WHILE GETTING SHOT — On this date, Nick Rivera sold his famed adobe saloon, which today would be midway on Main Street, between Market and 8th. He had named it after himself and it was the site of many a barroom brawl and shootout over the years. Rivera would later follow in the thematic footsteps of his bucket of blood combination business of barroom and barber shop. On Oct. 17, 1926, Rivera would be murdered. His assailants would lie their way out of conviction. Related to the tragic Ruiz family, which lost six family members to the fabled St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928, Nick would be buried in the private San Francisquito family cemetery not two years before the dam broke.
NOVEMBER 27, 1931
OUR WHITE THANKSGIVING — Had a cold spell. The mercury dipped to the teens and the local hills were dusted with snow for Thanksgiving.
ARCTIC SNAP — Before there was antifreeze, lots of Santa Clarita folks woke up to the shock of cracked radiators. The frigid weather was pretty good for local garages, which were backed up patching up everything from hoses to water pumps.
MY PAL ANDY MAKES THE BIG TIME. AGAIN. — World-famous westernman Andy Jauregui, our Placerita Canyon Hall of Fame cowboy, was ranked second in the world in calf-roping.
DAM IT. — Mr. F. Johnson was ordered by the city of Los Angeles to skeedaddle. The darn city had claimed eminent domain over his Jay-Bar-Jay Ranch in upper Bouquet Canyon and paid him off. His spread became part of the Bouquet Reservoir.
NOVEMBER 27, 1941
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU — Silent film legend William S. Hart left a New York hospital after successful eye surgery. Hart had years earlier burned his retinas under the hot studio lights while filming a movie.
A DEER FELLOW — One of Southern California’s most influential men died. Remi Nadeau III came from a long line of movers and shakers. He built a grand deer park in Canyon Country and was well on his way to filling it with every species of deer on Earth. A disease swept through the park, however, killing most of the stock. His grandfather, Remi I, built the famed Nadeau Hotel at First and Spring Streets in Los Angeles, the first hostel to have an elevator in Southern California. Remi II in his heyday employed more men than any business in Southern California and battled to turn the Oxnard-Ventura area into SoCal’s premier port and city instead of Los Angeles. Remi II used to run a huge mineral operation from the Mojave through Saugus into Oxnard. Remi III also used 100 acres of his ranch to grow spineless cactus with Luther Burbank.
I WOULDA FED HIM TOM FREW’S COOKING — The most evil man arguably in the world in the early 1940s was Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany. Mrs. Wilbert Brutch of the Sand Canyon Ladies Society hosted a tea social at her ranch. One of the parlor games the women played was, “How I Would Kill Hitler.” The game went in a circle, with each lady coming up with a plan to assassinate der Fuhrer. The trick was, you couldn’t repeat someone else’s plan.
FOR THE BIRDS? — Jack Memenger of Sand Canyon was teased by his friends after an unsuccessful quail hunting trek. Memenger was given the title of Brush & Hill Inspector. A pal noted Memenger “…had covered 90,000 acres of rugged scenery carrying a shotgun for ballast.”
NOVEMBER 27, 1951
SO LONG, SONNY — Sonny died on this date, a half-century back. That’d be Sonny the horse, not the oldest son of the Godfather, Vito Corleone. Sonny was rather famous in his own right. He was the favorite horse of famed movie star and Saugus resident, Harry Carey. Sonny was 30, or about 90 in people years. Harry’s son, Harry Jr., had stayed up with Sonny the night before, tending to the dying steed. Sonny passed away at the John Ford Photo Farm in Reseda, but was taken back to Saugus to be buried on the old Carey ranch.
HOPE THEY GOT LOST AFTER DINNER — Richard Harrison and Max Marker will never forget their 1951 Thanksgiving. The boys were on a family outing in Lake Elizabeth, took off on their own and became the subject of a rather large manhunt — er, boyhunt — all Thanksgiving Day and into the night. They were finally tracked down 36 hours later, tired, cold, starving, but all in all, just dandy.
HOPE THE CUSSES FATALLY CHOKED ON THE BEEF — Another young boy won’t forget Thanksgiving, 1951. Young David Roth had saved and saved to buy a calf. He went out early to feed it and found it missing. Enlisting the aid of his uncles, Hal Chamberlain and Kit Carson, they tracked the critter. The tracks widened as the calf had apparently started running. Human footprints, sizes 11 and 12, appeared, telling the story of a foot chase. Finally, they found the carcass of the boy’s calf. It had been shot, butchered and left in the bushes. More tracks — this one of a car with one bald tire, were found. David was out his hard-earned $85 and left with a bad taste in his mouth for those scoundrels in life who prey upon their brothers.
BETTER THAN LOST RUSTY BENCH VISE RANCH — Here’s a great handle for you. There used to be a place in Acton called The Lost Sawhorse Ranch. Oh. In case Pat Comey’s riding with us today, in American English, it’s “vise” for the tool and “vice” for the bad habit.
NOVEMBER 20, 1961
GLAD I DIDN’T LIVE THERE THEN — A freak downpour hit Iron Canyon with 5.7 inches of rain in a few hours. The creek overflowed, taking everything from topsoil to mailboxes with it.
A SERIOUS NEED FOR SPEED — A North Hollywood teen led highway patrolmen on a dangerous chase. The unidentified youth reached speeds of 120 miles an hour in a 32-mile chase that ended — safely — in Newhall. Making matters worse, the youth was flying through thick fog. When the CHiPs finally cornered the boy, he broke down in tears, confessing that he had already earned three speeding violations in his car and two on his bicycle. Twice he was cited for bicycling 35 mph in a 25 mph zone.
NOVEMBER 27, 1971
PARDON ME WHILE I HIDE MY GIGGLING — It was a half-century ago. Both Hart and College of the Canyons qualified for their respective playoff berths with impressive victories. The Cougars went on to the state championships with a 49-0 execution of College of the Desert. Hart beat up on their new crosstown rival, Canyon, 39-0. I’m sorry. I must have had something in my throat and you probably didn’t hear that score — Hart, 39 – Canyon, 0. The ’boys had only 5 yards of offense the second half.
TEENAGEDOM HAS NO SHORTAGE OF IMBECILES — Marring that Hart-Canyon game, some bozo threw a lit firecracker into the stands. It landed on a 17-year-old girl’s leg, burned her and she was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
BRAVE GIRLS BOTH — Two 7-year-old girls confronted a pair of hoods with a stolen motorcycle. The small heroes overheard a pair of teens talking about dumping their stolen bike and their plans to break into the park office. The two girls approached the hoods. One of the thieves threaten to kill them both and produced a gun. Instead, they drove off on the stolen motorcycle when a grown-up walked up to them.
NOVEMBER 27, 1981
PREHISTORIC DENTISTS? — A couple of hikers found a human skull in Sand Canyon. The amateur detectives figured the skull didn’t belong to any ancient indigenous tribe. It had silver fillings.
CANYON COUNTRY POTHEADS — It started with a pair of teen skateboarders. The buddies wanted to somehow raise $75 for a board one of them had misplaced. The boys knew of a house in Canyon Country that was growing marijuana in the back yard. The lads scaled the fence, pulled about seven plants up and were going to sell the weed on the streets. A third friend talked them out of the idea and the boys snuck back to replace the plants. Two women in the house chased the skateboarders, caught one and kidnapped him at gunpoint. Sheriff’s deputies rushed to the rescue, arresting the owners of the suburban pot plantation.
WHAT’RE THE ODDS? TEEN IDIOTS MAKE THE NEWS AGAIN — A trio of Saugus youths were arrested for doing a drive-by at Santa Clarita Park. The boys took turns spraying the crowded basketball courts and softball diamond with 25 shots from .22-caliber pistols. A vigilante committee from the park quickly formed and they chased down the three teens, catching and holding them for the law. “We just wanted to scare them,” was the reason for the mayhem. No one was hit. Adding insult to non-injury, an assistant district attorney chewed out The Signal for printing the names of the trio (two were 16, one 15), claiming this paper may have violated their constitutional rights. (It hadn’t.)
Signal Editor Scott Newhall penned one of his famous front-page editorials entitled: “The Gunslingers of Arroyo Seco.” In his op/ed piece, Scotty took to task both the punks and the pissant D.A. (Why do we seem to collect them?)
We quote: “Mr. Jenkins (the D.A.), and all other warm-hearted bureaucrats who cohabit with California’s Babylonian juvenile penal system, will someday realize that the time has come when a resentful, disenchanted, ill-used and endangered civilian populace is sick and tired of reckless juveniles who choose to play Billy the Kid or Jack the Ripper and then, when caught, go screaming for sanctuary under the voluminous skirts of the juvenile courts.” May we have a rousing, “Amen,” please?
Whelp. Shake off the trail dust of yesterdecade. We’re back in our home, the always cozy and welcoming Santa Clarita. Wish you dear people a perfect Thanksgiving weekend. I’m going to mosey off and brush down these several thousand horses, maybe come up with a carrot to split amongst them. Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces next week with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then? ¡Feliz dia de Accion de Gracias y vayan con Dios, amigos!”
I know. I know. “What’s holding you up?” you grumble. Our irreplaceable web/guru/tech deity has been under doctor’s care. As he’s an atheist, do say prayers for him. Annoys the heck out of the guy. We do have our web site — johnbostonbooks.com — up and running. It’s still under construction, but we’ve been under the spell of internet demons. We shall — overcome. First new offering of the three-volume set is Volume 1 of “Ghouls, Ghosts, 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…?