The Time Ranger | Jordache Jeans & a Bullet in the Head

The Timer Ranger
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A warm and Western howdy to you, saddlepals — and happy A Coupla Days After Groundhog Day. Cook ’em if you got ’em. Or, go the sushi route. We won’t judge you. 


Heavens. It’s not like we need a smelly varmint to stare at his shadow to tell us about local weather. It’s been breathtakingly splendiferous. 

For you residents of Happy Valley, we have a special treat. We’ll tell you how your neighborhood got its name. 

Then, we’ll mosey ahead to investigate posses, pioneers and freak accidents, along with a rather bizarre suicide, an epic hike and a rather grisly find floating down Bouquet Creek. 

Shall we mosey to the follies and triumphs of simpler days? 


EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE BEALE, HE’S AS SLIPPERY AS A BANANA PEEL —One of the valley’s most controversial figures, Gen. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, was born on Feb. 4, 1822, in Washington, D.C. He amassed a fortune in sometimes very questionable real estate deals and while leading several progressive movements to help Indians, was also in charge of an Indian Affairs agency that was sometimes responsible for wholesale massacres of the Native Americans. When Abraham Lincoln refused to appoint him United States Surveyor General, Honest Abe commented: “He tends to become master of all he surveys.” 

PENNYWITT VALLEY? — Ever wonder why the oak-shaded section of Happy Valley in Newhall got its name? Well of course you’ve wondered. There used to be a Pennywitt family here filled with girls. One of the sisters had such an omni-cheerful disposition, everyone called her “Happy.” When her brother-in-law, Fred Lamkin, started developing that area into residential area, they named it Happy Valley after the Pennywitt girl. 

AND, THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN, WE’RE AMERICANS!! — Back on this date in 1848, the Treaty of Hidalgo was signed. California became a U.S. possession and everyone who used to be a citizen of the Mexican-run territory was now a citizen of the U.S. That included the 60 or so folk living in the Santa Clarita. 

FEBRUARY 5, 1921  

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS MEN IN THE WORLD LIVES HERE — Legendary silent film star William S. Hart purchased the Horseshoe Ranch from Babcock Smith on this date. I never tire of pointing this out, but Hart was one of the most important people in American history. He created the modern and iconic Western hero that would become the identity of this country throughout the world for decades. 

FEBRUARY 4, 1923  

NO PLACE IN THE HOA FINE PRINT FOR THIS TODAY — Here’s yet another chore you yuppies don’t have to check off. Ranchers had to apply at the Saugus office of the Santa Barbara National Forest for grazing permits. That’s like, for cows? 

THE TAX MAN COMETH — Can you even r-e-m-o-t-e-l-y imagine doing this today? Notices were put up around the valley that the “Income Tax Man Will Be Here.” The federal tax collector set up a table at the post office for one day on Feb. 8 and collected locals’ income taxes. That’d be an interesting sight in 2023: 300,000-plus souls, all in one line at the one post office. Hope they’d all be filing the simple form… 

FEBRUARY 4, 1933  

LOCAL BOY IS REMEMBERED FOREVER Young Newhallian Lester Dalby started his freshman year at USC on this date. Dalby would later become the superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District and there is a street named after him between Newhall Park and Placerita Junior High today. 

SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION? — The federal Civilian Conservation Corps had several camps here in the SCV during the Depression. There were, at various times, CCC camps in San Francisquito, Placerita, Castaic Creek, Mint, Texas and Vasquez canyons. Each camp held about 250 young men, who were paid a decent stipend (half went home to their families) plus room, board and — cigarettes. 

FEBRUARY 4, 1943  

FOR THE LACK OF ONE TIGHTENED BOLT — A freak accident took the life of CHP motorcycle officer Walter Maxey. He was patrolling along Mint Canyon when his kickstand loosened and fell down, throwing Maxey to his death. 

OLD TESTAMENT FLOODS — Four riders from the Newhall Auxiliary Mounted Posse were the first to reach some marooned homesteaders way up Tujunga Canyon. A flood of Old Testament proportions a week earlier had completely wiped out the dirt road to the distant ranchers. Car dealer Loren Clymore, Sheriff’s Capt. R.B. Harris and cowboys Harry Logue and Buck Mason carried up 150-pound sacks of provisions to the stranded families. A small army of L.A. press and photographers followed, then gave up after the first half-mile. 

SPEAKING OF POSSES — The sheriff’s local mounted unit was pretty busy this week in history. Another group of posse riders was called upon to pull out the bodies of a pilot and co-pilot of a large Army transport plane that crashed in the rugged mountains above Castaic. Five airmen parachuted to safety. 

TRADE YOU THIS RED-HEADED KID FOR SOME BEADS? — Emily Adelia Weldon passed away on this date. She was 88. She was wife of the late Art Weldon, the railroader after whom Weldon Canyon was named. That’s where the original Highway 99 snaked through in 1933 and today, it’s The Old Road by Rice Canyon. Emily came from pioneer stock. When she was a little girl of 5 months, crossing the planes in a wagon with her parents, Indians stopped their caravan. They had never seen a girl with red hair before and offered beads, jewels and horses for her. The parents refused.  

FEBRUARY 4, 1953  

WEIRD ACCIDENT NO. 1 — John Michael died working. The elderly pensioner was digging a new well by his cabin near Lake Elizabeth when he fell into his own well and passed away. 

WEIRD ACCIDENT NO. 2 — Elmer Klamm likewise departed this parenthesis, albeit in a more spectacular exit. The 31-year-old oil worker apparently doused himself with 5 gallons of gas, turned off his ignition, lit a match and coasted down the old Ridge Route as a human torch. If he left a note, it got burnt. The thing is, Klamm almost took a family with him. His car sideswiped a northbound vehicle with a toddler sleeping in the back. The family was jarred, but unhurt. 

WEIRD ACCIDENT NO. 3 — Here’s another eerie accident. On this date, the Shirley family had just left their relatives’ place in Mint Canyon. Headed home, they were struck at Solemint Junction, where a speeding car ran the stop sign there, broadsiding them and knocking their car over. Miraculously, no one was hurt. But, a few years later, Gertrude’s father, Charles Dillenbeck, would be killed at that SAME intersection when a car, chased by the California Highway Patrol and doing over 100 mph, struck Charles’ car, killing him. Charles was the owner of the famed Dillenbeck’s market. 

FEBRUARY 4, 1963  

FORGOTTEN, BUT ONE OF OUR MOST INFLUENTIAL CITIZENS — Pioneer developer Fred Richard Lamkin died on this date, 60 years back. He came to Newhall in 1910 almost by accident and married into the Pennywitt family. While a brother-in-law was in World War I, Fred came out to help watch his interests and that started Fred’s career as businessman and real estate developer. In 1922, Lamkin built a warehouse out of sheet metal that would later become the present-day home of Newhall Ice. He built a home near where the circular turnabout on Newhall Avenue sits today. That home was wiped out when the road was widened in 1938. Lamkin built the Newhall Garage, where the Canyon Theatre Guild sits today. Then, he started the local Chevy dealership. It was Lamkin who helped create the local chamber of commerce, Placerita Canyon State Park, the widening of San Fernando Road, the Hart School District and much of the foundations both commercial and residential that is old Newhall today. He was 79 when he passed away. One of the projects he was involved in was the creation of Happy Valley. 

RUBBISH, YOU SAY? — In 1948, a happy-go-lucky husky Armenian fellow named Aggie Agajanian started this valley’s first commercial trash company. (That’s pick-ups. Not delivery.) Aggie (whose brother is racing impresario Roger Agajanian) began his reported rounds by tugging a trailer with a World War II surplus Jeep. He had 48 customers. On this date, he entered semi-retirement, selling a chunk of his business to two San Fernando Valley trash haulers, Clarence Eckerson and Jack Connant. They then formed the Blue Barrel Disposal Co. On this date, Aggie dumped his last barrel of trash into a brand new $19,000 trash truck. Blue Barrel consolidated all three of the small local trash companies — which included Aggie’s Municipal Service Co., the Fonda Disposal Co. of Sand Canyon and White Cap Disposal, Newhall Division. 

RAIN VOODOO — Newhall Hardware patriarch Don Guglielmino was blamed for the drought hitting the SCV. Seems earlier in the year, Don got a new crate of rain gauges and passed them out to several dozen friends around the valley. Everyone put up the complimentary meteorological measuring devices and since that time, all they had been collecting was dust. 

FEBRUARY 4, 1973  

KEEPING ABREAST OF THE LAW — George Tielsch was captain of the local Sheriff’s Department until he took a job to become chief of police for Seattle. George’s first job? He declared war on topless dancing. I’m not sure if he won, judging how things are going in Seattle today. Interestingly, George was a bachelor. 

WRONG EMPLOYEE CHOICE — Former KABC anchorman and Supervisor Baxter Ward’s deputy, Steven Krasney, was arraigned on this date before the Superior Court on morals charges. Several young boys’ families pressed charges that Krasney picked them up hitchhiking and made immoral advances to them. 

NOT EXACTLY THE SAME HIKE — Two men wearily hiked up a 70-foot slope by the Magic Mountain employee parking lot. That’s where the old Rancho San Francisco home used to sit in the 19th century. Dr. Richard Bush and LeRoy Johnson, both California history buffs, were making their final steps, retracing the route John Manley and William Rogers took in 1849 when they walked from Death Valley to the SCV. Those 19th century adventurers were looking for help for their stranded wagon train. Bush & Johnson walked the entire 270 miles. While walking 270 miles is still more than a stroll, Bush & Johnson had the benefit of campsites, fresh socks and shoes, hot meals and plenty of refreshments. Manly & Rogers lived on lizards, dead animals and water from soak holes. The latter were also headed for San Francisco, the city by the bay, not RANCHO San Francisco, the giant SoCal cattle ranch… 

NOT THE SAME HIKE, PART II — Here’s the original trekkers’ from above (Manly & Rogers) description of the SCV after their hike: “There before us was a beautiful meadow of a thousand acres, shaded with oaks, wide branching and symmetrical, equal to those of an old English park. Such a scene was like getting a glimpse of Paradise.” It has been assumed they were describing the Sand Canyon area. 

NOT THE SAME HIKE, PART III — Another interesting note: No one is really sure the exact route Manly & Rogers took from Death Valley to Newhall. But 124 years later when Bush & Johnson recreated the journey, they had a problem when they got to Palmdale. Seems everything from chain link fences to no trespassing signs were in the way and the men bypassed Palmdale via the railroad tracks. Also, when Bush & Johnson got to the hill that Manly & Rogers finally reached, there was no adobe house there. It was demolished in the big quake of 1857. There were, however, a few locals with token oranges to greet the 20th-century walkers. 

FEBRUARY 4, 1983  

WITH APOLOGIES FROM THE OLD TUBES’ SONG: WHITE PUNKS ON DOPE — Two 13-year-olds were arrested after selling fake amphetamines to their Sierra Vista Junior High classmates. The youths made 60 sales that turned out to be nothing but aspirin. I could name names. Won’t… 

THAT DOESN’T ADD TO THE AMBIANCE OF A CREEKSIDE PICNIC ONE BIT — Local sheriff’s deputies made a most grisly discovery — a murdered body stuffed into an aluminum trash can floating down Bouquet Creek. All forensics could detect was that the badly decomposed dead body belonged to a white male wearing Jordache jeans with multiple bullet holes in the head. Later, the corpse was identified as Phil Irwin, of Sherman Oaks. 

ISN’T HE A LITTLE OUT OF YOUR WEIGHT CLASS JUST A SMIDGE? — Man has been trying to knock his brother’s block for tens of thousands of years. We had a boxing champ, the welterweight Sean O’Grady, who lived and trained in Castaic. On this date, the almost diminutive-sized O’Grady was training to fight Aliff Coffin at a Cal State Northridge exhibition. A welterweight goes about 141 pounds. Aliff? With two “F’s?” He tipped the scales at 250. Call me superstitious, but I can’t see me getting in the ring in the first place and if I did, it wouldn’t be with a guy with the last name of, “Coffin…” 

• • • 

Visit Like SCV History? Order John Boston’s terribly exciting Volumes I & II on “SCV Monsters, Ghouls, Ghosts, Bigfoot” & all our local paranormal stories. Great as gifts. Leave a kindly review… 

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