Howdy saddlepals. Hope mid-November is being kind to you. While it may be certainly non-Arctic Circle down here in the Santa Clarita, do make sure you take a fashionable and Western winter coat. We’ll be heading into some unusual SCV snowdrifts along some of our stops.
It’s a most interesting trek ahead, filled with all manner of gee-whiz historical histrionics that will certainly make the SCV Ladies Auxiliary purse their lips and vow to alert the pastor. What can I say. A little bit of wickedness makes us interesting.
Emphasis on the “little bit…”
The Mystic? It’s yonder. Let urge our noble steeds forward and please. Unless you just moved here, don’t actually say, “Click-Click” when you engage yon steed in gear…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
FOR THE BOIDS — Back on Nov. 18, 1849, world-famous painter of things wild, John Woodhouse Audubon, camped out in Castaic to paint birds. I can’t even fathom that — carting around inks, paints, sketch pads, and canvases in the harshest of conditions. Johnny was the son of famed ornithologist John James Audubon. Even today, the Castaic area is still a rest stop for migratory bird species. A little trivia? J.W. Audubon’s wife, Lucy, was the family’s breadwinner in the early years of their marriage. While J.W. was out sketching, his wife turned their home into a schoolhouse.
THE 8TH-STREET VAUDEVILLIAN — World-famous entertainer Charlie Mack was born in Kansas on Nov. 22, 1887. He was half of the duo of Mack & Moran, two popular comics who starred in countless radio shows, vaudeville acts, the stage and movies. In blackface. They were famous for their laconic delivery and the catchphrase everyone in America was repeating, “Why bring that up?” Another famous line for 20 years in the country was, “Who wants a worm, anyway?” It was the constant punchline to, “The early bird catches the worm…!” Mack built his famous stone house that still sits atop 8th Street in Newhall today, along with two other properties with stone houses. It was Mack’s dream to build an artists’ colony on 8th, Wayman and Arcadia. W.C. Fields used to rent one of his houses.
LAND MOGUL FOR A DAY — Back on Nov. 22, 1862, the controversial Gen. Edward Fitzgerald Beale drew up a map that would grant Jose Covarrubias the massive Castec/Fort Tejon land grand. There’s always confusion between Castec and Castaic. The original Castec was near Fort Tejon. Anywho. Before the days of teachers’ unions, Jose Maria Covarrubias was a teacher and connected to powerful interests in Sacramento. Beale at the time was surveyor general for California and Nevada. He was up for the U.S. surveyor general, but President Abraham Lincoln nixed the promotion with his famous quip about Beale “…tending to become master of all he surveys.” First, Beale was behind some highly spurious measurement scams on the land grant. Second? Beale bought the acreage a year later from the school teacher. And yup. That’s the same Beale our very own historic Beale’s Cut is named after today.
NOVEMBER 20, 1921
DID WE USE INSTANT OATMEAL? — Your Mighty Signal, ever on the cutting edge, made fun of a visiting lecturer, Arthur Brisbane. The good doctor talked about the Earth being several billion years old. The Signal, in the form of Editor/Publisher Blanche Brown, felt the number of birthday cake candles should be closer to a couple of thousand.
ONE OF OUR LONGEST UNSOLVED CASES — Murder most foul visited the Newhall Village a century ago this day. Bill Fagan, a drifter, was shot and thrown into the railroad ditch on the side of today’s Railroad Avenue. Fagan’s killer? Never found. If I gave retired Sgt. Artie Thompson’s home number as a tip line, he’d find new ways to beat me up…
HISTORICAL FIRST, RE: THE ABOVE — The following is the first emoji to appear in a Time Ranger column :=). I’VE NEVER SEEN THAT ONE…DID YOU MEAN : – ) WITHOUT THE SPACES
NOVEMBER 20, 1931
ALASKA SNEAKS UP ON US — Winter hit early. And hard. The mercury dipped into the low 20s, leaving the hills nicely blanketed with snow.
I’D RENT 10 FEET FROM THE NEIGHBORS — Mrs. George Sheaffer was recalled from the Agua Dulce school board on this date. Seems one of her political foes sent in a complaint, noting that her home was technically 10 feet outside of the school district boundary. She was forced to resign.
NOVEMBER 20, 1941
A HORRIFIC ACCIDENT — Just over the hill from Santa Clarita, in the 7,000-foot-long train tunnel in the Santa Susanna Mountains, a cattle train caught fire, suffocating 400 cattle and five men. The cattle train took over 12 hours to burn. Five other railroad men managed to escape with their lives.
THINK THIS MIGHT BE ONE OF THOSE MIXED MESSAGES HERE — On this date, someone robbed the Forrest Park cabin of Ernest Gattner. What did they take? A pair of lady’s shoes and a crucifix.
NOVEMBER 20, 1951
AND NARY A ONE HAD A COMPUTER NOR SENSITIVITY TRAINING — From grades kindergarten to sixth, there was a total of 932 students attending the four schools here — Newhall, Saugus, Castaic, and Sulphur Springs.
THIS WILL BE ON THE THANKSGIVING FINAL — Turkey production slowly vanished from the SCV, migrating to the neighboring Antelope Valley. They sold about 250,000 birds in 1951 prior to Thanksgiving. Locally, Paul Greenelsh of Railroad Canyon was the turkey king. He sold only about 1,000 gobblers. A little ag info for you yuppies: A turkey will eat about 90-120 pounds of feed in its lifetime (about seven months) and about 5 pounds of feed puts on one pound on a bird. Turkeys eat fish meal, corn, soy, alfalfa along with penicillin, auromycin, terramycin, bacitracin and maybe a couple of other antibiotics.
WHY WE DON’T SANDPAPER, LIGHTLY SALT & PUT POLITICIANS IN THE STOCKS IS BEYOND ME — We complain about being overtaxed in 2021. We complained about being overtaxed in 1951. Seventy years back, an unmarried worker earning $2 an hour made $80 a week. Of that figure, 17% — or, $13.60 — was taken out in federal taxes alone.
WHY WE DON’T SANDPAPER, LIGHTLY SALT & PUT POLITICIANS IN THE STOCKS IS BEYOND ME, PART II — Interesting timing regarding the above. Local Alf Clark sent a letter to The Signal, suggesting that the bald eagle be stripped of its title as the national bird. Clark suggested the noble bird of prey be replaced by the woodpecker. Clark felt the woodpecker was more symbolic of the American worker. He wrote: “The harder a woodpecker works, the further in the hole he gets…”
AND 70 YEARS LATER, THE PICTURE HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED — Nineteen illegal aliens from Mexico were arrested on a private bus in Newhall. Amongst them, they had over $3,400 in cash from the picking season. They were deported and their money returned. As one local farmer noted, “Local officers are not inclined to blame the illegal visitors for hunting for and accepting stoop work. There is much to be done and American labor shies away from this type of handiwork.”
NOVEMBER 18, 1957
AND TOM FREW STILL HAS 486 OVERDUE BOOKS OUT, WITH FINES TOTALING MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS — On this date, they had the ribbon cutting for the new Newhall Library on 9th Street. A staggering 10,000 titles were housed inside, including, of course, The Mighty Signal.
NOVEMBER 20, 1961
RAIN AND TURKEYS? THEY DON’T MIX. — Thanksgiving weekend there were 21 major traffic accidents with 21 major injuries here in the Santa Clarita. On the bright side, there were no fatalities. The Highway Patrol noted that most of the accidents were due to people driving too fast on the rain-slick highways. That’s a part of history we wish wouldn’t repeat. Oh. By the way. Thanksgiving fell early in 1961, on Nov. 23.
HERE’S A SPECIALIZED CAREER (BUT NO SMOOCHING ON THE JOB) — The Signal want ads were searching for a small but strong individual who didn’t mind climbing trees to cut down mistletoe the month before Christmas. Paid 75 cents an hour.
NOVEMBER 20, 1971
NO TURKEYS FOR YOU!! — Just before the holidays, locals who were on food stamps received a shocking notice. All SCV residents had been “accidentally” dropped from the welfare computer and would not be receiving benefits unless they reapplied in either Reseda or downtown L.A.
THE CUSTOMER’S ALWAYS RIGHT? REALLY? SAY THAT TO MY FACE. — On this date, service station owner Joe Jeroy and his son were assaulted by former customer Elizabeth Tibensky. The difficult local matron had defaulted on a $600 car repair bill. Jeroy called her, asking politely if she’d like to reconsider and pay him. Mrs. Tibensky said yes. Instead, she showed up at the Canyon Country garage in her swank Lincoln, climbed out and started chasing the two mechanics around the premises, striking both about the head. Father and son filed charges for both assault and non-payment of the bill. I hope the judge let them put her car in a shredder.
NOVEMBER 20, 1981
EVERYONE FOR 3,016 BLOCKS AROUND JUST HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A FEW DAYS — The few neighbors around Bermite woke with a start in the pre-dawn hours. Seems a couple of barrels of rocket fuel blew up, sending a plume of flame and Lord knows what kind of chemicals a half-mile straight up into the atmosphere.
SNAKES ALIVE! — On this date, burglars broke into the Sand Canyon home of Sandra Arsenault and made off with about $4,300 worth of goodies — including a 7-foot-long Burmese python. Sheriff’s deputies concluded the burglar must have been one tough customer. Besides stealing a snake, he had to climb over an 8-foot-tall wall covered in brambles and get past three attack guard dogs.
TWO BITS. FOUR BITS. SIX BITS. OHHHH, WHO GIVES A RIP — Remember when the Rams were in Los Angeles the first time? Hart graduate and Valencia resident, Michele Perrett, was one of the Ram cheerleaders.
RE: THE ABOVE — My kid-sibling-like substance, John Peters, aka, “Hondo,” is the current Rams cheerleading choreographer. He does not. Deserve. The gig…
DID ALL THE LEADS GO COLD? — Local sheriff’s deputies called them “The Home Freezer Gang.” The rustlers struck again, cutting a lock on Larry Cordova’s spread in Castaic. They killed and butchered a prize Angus bull, worth around $1,600. The bandits earned their name by butchering the stock and taking the prime cuts with them. Interesting footnote. The officer who headed up the Sheriff’s Livestock Detail, which investigated rustling, was Sgt. Bill Bacon. With all the kidding, I’m betting a single shift must have seemed to last 60 hours for Sgt. Bacon…
NAKED CAME THE HIGHWAY PATROLMAN — They’re probably still kidding CHP officer John Larson. On this date, he spotted a young man stripping on the Calgrove off-ramp. When he pulled over to investigate, the man was totally nude and then started to grapple with the patrolman. Or so Larson says. Anyway. Two sheriff’s deputies arrived who joined in the unscheduled Wrestlemania. Two more CHP officers arrived and it took all five of them to subdue the fellow, 22-year-old Michael Jones of Long Beach. It turned out he had been riding in the back of his mother’s pickup with his 4-year-old brother. Jones dropped his transistor radio and was pounding on the rear window for his mom to stop in the middle of the freeway so he could retrieve it. When she did not, he started pounding on his sibling. She pulled over. He got out and started kicking her. She drove off and left him. Jones was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon (his feet), assault on an officer(s), and misdemeanor naked brawling charges. Later, drug charges were added. His mother snitched that he had been smoking PCP in the bed of the truck.
RICK PATTERSON & GUILT BY ASSOCIATON — On this date, Valencia attorney Rick Patterson tossed his hat in the ring to run for local judge. This has no history value whatsoever. We just wanted to put Rick’s name next to a paragraph with five cops wrestling a naked guy.
Better, worse, or indifferent, we’re back. One quick question before we say adios. How you folks doing without Daylight Savings Time? What do you say. Shall we set the clocks back another hour and really start getting serious about catching up on our rest? See all y’all in seven, dear saddlepals. 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…?