Yipes, we’re in this netherworld, stuck between Halloween and a big election. Best way to relieve the stress, I feel, is to hop aboard a noble steed and visit the back trails of yesteryear.
This morning, we’ll investigate some local devil winds and our connections with Death Valley. We’ll say howdy to a Mint Canyon witch and do a heap of political homework.
C’mon, amigos. Time to cowboy and cowgirl up…
WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME
WATER RUDY — On this date in 1891, Rudolph Nickel, founder of the Acton Rooster and famed Acton Hotel, also created the very first water district in the area. It was aptly called The Acton Water Works.
NICE MONTH FOR A HIKE — Back on Nov. 4, 1849, Bill Manly and John Rogers walked all the way from Death Valley to the Rancho San Francisco (near Castaic) to bring back help for their stranded wagon train. Vaqueros from Ignacio del Valle’s big spread took off a few weeks and rushed to their rescue, bringing back survivors of the Bennett-Arcane party. Some of those original pioneers would stay to make Santa Clarita their home. Here’s an interesting tidbit. One of the women, who was rescued from one of the most unforgiving and hottest spots on planet Earth, looked back from her wagon as she was leaving for the more moderate climes of Santa Clarita. On her way out of the central California badlands, she disgustedly said, “Goodbye, Death Valley.” And that was what the place was named ever since.
WONDER WHAT WERE THE ODDS YOU’D GET A BUSY SIGNAL? — There were 10 telephones total in the Acton-Agua Dulce region of the SCV back in 1908.
OCTOBER 29, 1922
BODY HEAT & HOT AIR HAD TO DO… — The stove at the Hap-a-Land Hall was broken and it was a frigid November night. Still, there was a good turnout at the Republican Rally. One of the topics? Voter turnout. The politicians and speakers chided those who didn’t visit the polls on election day. They still pretty much don’t.
DANCING TO THE KEY OF R-RUPTURED FLAT — I wonder how the local members of the band felt when they read this in The Mighty Signal: “The management of the Honby Hall have had the floor scraped and refinished until they now have an excellent floor for dancing. There will be a change in the orchestra which it is believed will be for the better.” Everyone’s a critic…
OCTOBER 29, 1932
PRE DEFUND THE POLICE — We used to be ably guarded by the sheriff’s substation No. 6. Little tidbit here of bygone days of wide-open spaces. Substation 6 not only covered all of the Santa Clarita Valley, it also was responsible for law and order for the entire Antelope Valley. We had a sub-substation 6 out there in Lancaster, manned by Deputy Glen Wilson.
SIGH. THOSE DEPRESSION-ERA PRICES… — From The Mighty Signal classifieds, we note that oak firewood sold for $10 a cord. You could get a whole fried chicken for 75 cents, sugar was a nickel a pound and a pound of butter and a dozen eggs both went for about a quarter. A brand new Ford motorcar? That sold for $460. That wasn’t one month’s payment, either. That was for the whole dang car.
OCTOBER 29, 1942
WHEN AIR RAID WARDENS ROAMED THE VALLEY — Long before we had Yuppies and CC&R monitors, we had air raid wardens. During World War II, the adult version of the hall monitor was created. Air raid wardens drove around the valley, checking to see if residents had dimmed or blacked out their lights after dark (we didn’t want to be easy targets for Japanese bombers). Those refusing to shade their homes to prevent light seepage were subject to arrest and prosecution.
THE DEMOCRATIC SANTA CLARITA VALLEY — The normally heavy Democratic SCV help sweep Earl Warren into office. He defeated the incumbent Democrat governor Olsen by a 618-433 tally locally.
OCTOBER 29, 1952
THE REPUBLICAN SANTA CLARITA VALLEY — Another election, 10 years later, and again, the heavily Democrat SCV elected Republicans. Dwight David Eisenhower carried the valley by a tally of 2,053 to 1,360 over that smart fella with the hole in his shoe, Adlai Stevenson.
WE’RE WORKING OUR WAY BACK UP TO THAT STATISTIC — There were 800 Signals bought at either newsstands or through subscriptions. That worked out to more than one newspaper per household in Newhall alone back in 1952.
OCTOBER 29, 1962
CRIPES! WONDER WHAT THE NSD PARENTS WOULD THINK THEN OF POLE-DANCING CROSS-DRESSERS. — The Newhall School District board meeting was the site of a spirited debate. Taken to task was 5th grade teacher Bob Tangeman. Mr. T had played a satirical comedy album by comedian Stan Freburg on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. The album had been banned by the FCC then. The parents of one of Mr. Tangeman’s pupils found the material politically objectionable for 5th graders.
NOVEMBER 1, 1963
WHAT DO YOU GIVE FOR A 59TH ANNIVERSARY? — On this date, the community of Canyon Country was officially formed. It was this identity thing to separate that part of the valley from the Newhall-Saugus area, which they felt got all the attention. Which we did. We actually had people living there. (Just kidding you, canyon pals.) We also had our first Frontier Days celebration.
OCTOBER 29, 1972
CULT KIDNAPPING — Here’s a bizarre case close to Halloween. A young woman and her 3-year-old daughter were reportedly kidnapped from the Tony & Susan Alamo Christian Foundation compound up Mint Canyon. The heist was allegedly made by 15 friends and members of the woman’s family. They bundled the young lady up, drove her to Chula Vista and kept her in a hotel for 10 days. During that time, the group of Jewish people accused her of being a witch and that she had been brainwashed by the Alamo group. Eventually, the woman convinced her brother to help her to escape and she returned to the Alamo compound. The Alamo Foundation has had a controversial history here, from being called a cult to a conscientious religious group. Their leader, Tony Alamo, had been indicted on several state and federal charges.
O BLOW THE MAN, WOMAN, CHILDREN, DOGS, CATS, HORSES & LAWN CHAIRS DOWN — Normally, the late Santa Ana winds are just a nuisance but on this date 50 years ago, they were downright bad for business. The 40-to 60-mph gusts kept boaters off Castaic Lake and tourists out of Magic Mountain. Golf courses and the drive-in movie were deserted. Pretty much, the streets were deserted.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY, ELECT NOBODY — Here’s a rare one. The Signal didn’t have an opinion. During the presidential election of 1972, TMS declared, “The Nixon administration is rotten clear through. It is utterly corrupt, arrogant, conspiratorial, venal and vulgar. Nevertheless, the mendacity of the Republican Party does not grant the Democrats license to put forward a fickle, messianic and patronizing candidate. The Signal cannot with dignity and integrity endorse either George McGovern or Richard Nixon.”
NOVEMBER 2, 1976
THAT TIME WE WERE ALMOST A COUNTY — Local movers and shakers tried to separate from the elephantine Los Angeles County on this date. The move to create our own county failed at the polls. I think the Canyon County measure was around 65-35 if memory serves me well. Local citizens would try again two years later to create Canyon County. That bid for independence was squelched, too.
OCTOBER 29, 1982
MORE DEVILTRY FROM THE SANTA ANAS — A big gust of wind caught a giant semi-truck on Highway 14 near Placerita and blew it clean over. There were thousands of onions scattered everywhere. And yup. Motorists hit the brakes to scoop them up.
AND NOT A SINGLE PROHIBITIONIST — Forty years back, there were 20,973 registered Republicans and 17,504 Democrats in the SCV. Multiply those two figures and you get 157,381,392. Cripes dear me. I KNOW there are a few troubled souls out there who will actually check the math…
NOVEMBER 3, 1987
HAPPY 35TH BIRTHDAY TO US!! — On this date, the formation of the city of Santa Clarita was passed. In lieu of gifts to the city, please send checks made out to “John Boston,” or, better, “CASH,” at this address. And thanks so darn much to all the city staffers, helpers and visionaries over the years who helped build this wonderful government and community!
• • •
Well saddlepals. Here we is (haven’t had time to work on my pronouns but starting out with small, third-person substantive verbs). Back in the proverbial and actual Here-&-Now. See you dear friends and neighbors at the polls. Well. You’uns who are voting the same way I’m voting. For those of you voting the OPPOSITE of how I’m voting, your polling place has been moved to Elko, Nevada, out behind the Piggly Wiggly. See you dear amigos and amigo-ettes seven days hence, back here at The Mighty Signal hitching post. Until then, vayan con Dios, amigos!
Don’t forget to go buy, right jolly now, Boston’s newest book, “The 25 Most Inappropriate Dog Breeds,” at johnbostonbooks.com. Sombrero in hand, we note a 5-star rating on Amazon would be grandly appreciated!