The Time Ranger | Bandito Birthdays & Earthquake Protests

The Time Ranger
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It just struck me. With all the time traveling we do every week, what the heck. Daylight Savings Time was a couple weeks ago. If you haven’t already, set your clocks ahead one hour. If you’re really willful or contrary, or simply wealthy and not bothered about other people’s schedules, set them forward — or back — three or four hours. Or days. No one’s looking. Plus, you strike me as self-defining kinds of individuals. 

That obtuse public service announcement aside, we’ve a most interesting trail ride through time, dear saddlepals. 

There’s earthquake protests, protests on protests, beef boycotts and movie stars. We’ve got real estate deals, rodeo queens and snipers taking off after picnickers. 

C’mon, amigos. Shall we rein our ponies into the mystic? 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN  

WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON  — On April 4, 1893, a major earthquake centered in Pico Canyon shook the valley. Distraught neighbors from Newhall formed a concerned citizens committee and marched up to Pico Canyon. They complained to Mentryville management that all their oil drilling in the canyon had caused the quake. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIBBY, YOU NO-GOOD SO-&-SO — One of our most famous and certainly one of the all-time most notorious citizens was the womanizing bandito, Tiburcio Vasquez. I think he’s the only outlaw in the United States to have a school named after him (Vasquez High in Acton). Sing him a few bars of Happy Birthday (while holding one hand on your pistol and the other on your wallet and borrow a third to hang on to your wife/girlfriend. The legendary criminal was born in Monterey on April 10, 1835, making him an Aries. There’s some debate as to his exact birth date. As was the Spanish/Mexican custom, Tibby earned his name from the Catholic saint, Tiburtius, whose feast day is Aug. 11 (not April). BUT, Vasquez’s biographer, John Boessenecker, wrote in his 2010 book, “Bandito: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez” that Tibby’s birthday was April 10. Like you’re going to get a free oil change coupon one way or the other… 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY, YOU CUTIE PIE — We mentioned in an earlier Time Ranger ride that in April 1910, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith were shooting the epic silent movie, “Ramona,” based on one of the most historically significant novels in American history. Mary, one of the most famous actresses in movie history, celebrated her birthday (1892) on April 8, 1910, at the shoot at Camulos Ranch. 

OIL’S QUIET ON THE EASTERN FRONT — While we have a monument hidden on Pine Street honoring the state’s first commercial oil refinery, that operation was first started at the Lyon Brothers Station on April 8, 1874, near present-day Eternal Valley. It would later move to its present location.  

DIG ’ER UP! — Back on April 4, 1842, Gov. Juan Batista Valentin Alvarado y Vallejo (try getting THAT on a business card) granted local landowner and engineer Francisco Lopez and his partners the rights to mine Placerita Canyon for gold. 

APRIL 8, 1923  

SIGNAL RIGS AN ELECTION  — The Mighty Signal (You DO have a subscription by now, don’t you? If not, call 259-1000) had a sense of humor even back in 1923. Newhall was touting their upcoming third annual rodeo and, for the first time, we were going to anoint the first Rodeo Queen in the history of the valley. The Signal printed ballots on the front page. At the top we wrote: “This Ballot Good For 5 Votes.” 

WE SHOULDA BROUGHT THEM SOME WATER FROM 2023 — In our local farming column, the author noted how farmers were coping with the drought in what is now Canyon Country (still Saugus back then). The writer suggested that God helps those who help themselves and advised that farmers get busy and start digging wells. 

READ A GREAT EDITORIAL. DO THE CHARLESTON. — It was a small town and this newspaper wore many hats to pay the bills. Besides selling “No Hunting” signs and scratch pads, TMS sold Grafanolas. That’s a record player. For you young-uns, that was a device that played records — black vinyl circles that somehow had music squished into them… 

APRIL 8, 1933  

HMMMM. MAYBE IT WAS JIM GREEN  — On this date, out-of-town picnickers enjoying the shade of Wildwood Canyon reported to local police that someone on a nearby hill was firing shots at them. No arrests were made. 

BEER FOR SALE. AND NOT ILLEGALLY. — On April 7, 1933, with the repeal of the 18th Amendment, alcohol was legally being sold for the first time since 1919. The Signal noted no one was killed drinking beer. Will Rogers quipped that politicians would now replace the bootlegger. 

ALAS, WE HARDLY SEE A HORSE ANYMORE IN NEWHALL — The old sheriff’s station at today’s Main Street and 6th added an old-fangled device out front — a hitching post. The cops noted that the post was for tying up horses out front, not cars. Hmm. Wonder if our local Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in modern day 2023 will follow suit and add a post or two out front. Oh. By the way. That old sheriff’s station is the Canyon Theatre Guild’s adjunct building and dressing room. 

APRIL 8, 1943  

IS THERE A WAY TO SQUISH A FEW ACRES OF LAND INTO OUR SADDLEBAGS? — Here’s a neat deal that’d be nice to take back with us to the future — 7 acres of land on Newhall Avenue for $700 per acre.  

EAR TICK TREATMENT: GOOD BAND NAME. — We were primarily ranch and farmland 80 years back. Besides toothpaste and razor blades, our local Hawley Drug Store also carried such necessities for the discerning rancher as: Blackleg Serum, Bone Oil, Ear Tick Treatment, and Fly Scare and Udder Eze (for cows only, please). 

A BARGAIN AT ANY PRICE — We had a big price increase for subscribing to The Mighty Signal. A year’s subscription jumped from $1.50 to $2. Did I mention that 80 years later, you can STILL get a subscription by dialing 259-1000. (I’d KILL to have that number for my cell, except for the part of having to take all those subscription inquiries…)  

APRIL 7, 1950  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. — I was born in a tree… 

APRIL 8, 1953  

FREE MICHAEL HAVICK!!  — On this date, master Mike Havick made the front page of this newspaper the hard way. The 6-year-old was attempting the age-old boyhood experiment of “Will My Head Fit In This?” Mike stuck his head through the slats of a wooden chair while attending first grade at Newhall Elementary. His teacher tried to pull Michael free, but his squawks only increased. A janitor was summoned and after a little hammer and chisel work, Michael was freed. 

THE LEGEND OF THE SAUGUS HAYSEED 9 — Nine, count ’em, NINE local farm workers were injured in a traffic accident. Every member (nine of them) of the baseball team was riding in — get this — the front seat of a pickup when they were rear-ended by another truck. All nine were hospitalized with a variety of injuries.  

APRIL 8, 1963  

HEIR TO A GREAT FORTUNE — What started as a life with a silver spoon ended with a gunshot. Frederick Edward Goddard, 74, was born into a wealthy English family that had made a fortune in industrial equipment. After his father died, Goddard was raised by his uncle, left the family business, ended up fighting for the Canadians in World War I, and did a series of odd jobs until semi-retirement. He was the owner of the little Sierra Pelona Motel in Mint Canyon when he committed suicide on this date. 

ALL SMILES WITH SMILEY — How starved were we for entertainment? Smiley Burnette, bumbling sidekick to Roy Rogers, was the guest celebrity of the Federal Trailer Sales grand opening way up Mint Canyon on this date. 

APRIL 8, 1973  

HEY BIG SPENDER!  — The award for all-time big tipper goes to my old saddlepal and town character, Andy Martin. On this date, while lunching with business pals, Andy mainly enjoyed the company and had just a cup of coffee at Bob’s Big Boy. He left his wallet with $194 cash and 10 credit cards. 

HMMMMM, BOBBY. YOU LOOK FAMILIAR … — OK. So sometimes, our Signal staff is not exactly on the ball. On this date, one of our reporters was covering a local movie shoot. A company was filming the $3 million adventure shoot-em-up entitled, “The Outfit,” up Bouquet Canyon way. In between scenes, our reporter struck up a conversation with a pleasant balding man. The Signal staffer made small talk, asking the stranger if he had watched the Oscars the night before. The man politely noted, “I had to be there.” Later, our clueless reporter asked someone who was the fellow with whom he had been chatting. It was Robert Duvall. Not only was Bobby (I can call him Bobby because we’re both in show business) the star of the flick our reporter was covering, he was nominated the night before at the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and was a presenter for Best Supporting Actress. 

ALAS, WE’RE KINDA RUNNING OUT OF LAND — The most asked question of the crew and cast of “The Outfit” was, “With all the land you have up here, why are all the homes so jammed together?” 

RUNNING OUT OF GAS — With the valley growing so quickly, we experienced a not-so-new phenomenon: gas shortages. Several stations plain ran out and others were not allowing fill-ups. Actually, we’ve had episodes of running out of gasoline every decade from the turn of the 20th century when they used to ladle it out of wooden barrels to the 1940s when it was strictly rationed during World War II. 

RUNNING OUT OF STEAKS — Protesting the high cost of beef, local housewives joined a nationwide boycott by not buying meat. All the local markets, from the chains to small butcher shops, felt the pinch. One meat cutter in Canyon Country noted one day that he had only two customers.  

APRIL 8, 1983  

STILL RUDE, 40 YEARS LATER  — One of the things I’ve always adored about Scott Newhall’s writings was their timelessness. Scotty wrote these wonderful, slashing, front-page editorials that frightened, enlightened and entertained thousands in this valley.  

Scott’s piece, “Too Much Bad Taste,” appeared on April Fool’s Day of 1983 and was about the amount of rudeness there was in the field of public dissent. Here are his comments about the protesters of his day:  

“Certainly this is the era of enlightened democracy, where every man is presumed to be king and a personal opinion is held to be an inalienable right. But does this great humanistic theorem necessarily grant a license to every loud-mouthed, self-anointed freeloading messiah to go about the town braying like a donkey and boring the world to death with demonstrations and hunger strikes and screaming nonsense over the most absurd notions?” 

We could re-run Mr. Newhall’s opinion piece 40 years later and it would be just as valid. Sadly, perhaps more so… 

•     •     • 

Thanks again for your company on these small Saturday adventures, dear saddlepals. You’re good medicine. See you next weekend back here at The Mighty Signal’s hitching post for another time ride through SCV history. Until then, I wish you all a hearty vayan con Dios, amigos! 

Like SCV History? Visit johnbostonbooks.com. 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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