We’ll be starting off today’s trail ride with a feud. With none less than Time Magazine. Just wanted to warn you up front so you’d be loaded for bear.
That’s all I’m going to say before we head through our weekly time portal into yesteryear …
WAY, WAY BACK WHEN
HAPPY DARN BIRTHDAY, CALIFORNIA! — We were admitted to the Union as the 31st state on Sept. 9, 1850.
AND YEARS LATER, GAVIN NEWSOM WOULD USE IT TO PUT IN HIS HAIR — Back on Sept. 10, 1879, Demetrius Scofield formed the Pacific Coast Oil Co. The little Newhall company would later become Standard Oil of California.
ANOTHER BIRTHDAY? KEE-RIPES! — Sulphur Springs was founded on Sept. 16, 1872. History books have touted that the Sulphur Springs Union School District is the second oldest in the county (right after L.A. Unified). Sulphur Springs S.D. was founded in 1879. Newhall School District was organized a year earlier and possibly two (there are stories that its first year was in a bunkhouse near The Old Road Walmart. The trump card, however, is played by Agua Dulce school district. You see, the Soledad School District was formed in 1869. It merged with the Agua Dulce in 1947. That would make Agua Dulce the second-oldest school district — wouldn’t it?
SPEAKING OF OLD ELEMENTARY STUDENTS — ALLEGEDLY, the first Newhall Elementary School opened on Sept. 17, 1879. There are stories that the first Newhall Elementary opened at the Lyon Ranch in a renovated bunkhouse a year earlier. Matter of fact, if you were paying attention, I just shared one a few paragraphs back. Town leader Addi Lyon made the claim. I guess we should believe him. He said he was in that first bunkhouse class in 1878.
OK. LAST OF THIS TOMFOOLERY BIRTHDAY BIZ — On Sept. 11, 1988, the former owners of The Signal, Ruth and Scott Newhall, and their son, Tony, formed a new newspaper. The Citizen was a biweekly that lasted for about a year. We’ve heard it lost around $1 million in that time.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1923
MEETINGS HAS MEETERS, AS AN OLD SIGNAL HEADLINE ONCE READ — The newly formed Chamber of Commerce met. The topic discussed was the creation of a public drinking fountain. President Albert Swall noted that Newhall didn’t have a town square. He and A.B. Perkins agreed to discuss it further. Like many great plans, a whole century later, Newhall STILL doesn’t have a town square OR a public drinking fountain (not counting Hart Park).
WASN’T ERNIE VILLEGAS. HE WAS JUST 11 — Southern California Edison spoke at that chamber meeting. They suggested that Newhall start putting numbers on their homes and businesses. The chamber thought it was a good idea. The Signal volunteered to distribute the numbers and folks could just drop by the newspaper office at the Swall Hotel to pick up their digits. Can you imagine that today?
WELCOME TO NEWHALL. NOW LEAVE. — Here’s another item that was most neighborly in 1923 and would be a nightmare in 2023. The chamber agreed to send a member to greet every new person to the valley.
SO HOW DO THESE PEOPLE STILL KEEP GETTING ELECTED? — A Signal editorial suggested that the politicians of 1923 did not reflect the views of America. A-hem.
LIGHTS OUT — We had a total eclipse of the sun 100 years back and a heat wave to go with it. The mercury topped 115 in Canyon Country. On the day of the eclipse, however, the thermometer dropped to 80.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1933
OUR NEIGHBORLY INTER-VALLEY FREEWAY — In 1933, the longest street in Newhall was Walnut. It also had the most houses and shade trees and was used as a secondary thoroughfare to Saugus.
AND RAY. YOU’RE A DONKEY GIRL SCOUT. — California launched a public relations campaign to go after people who were complaining about the new sales tax. The Comptroller, Ray Riley, called people who didn’t want to pay the new fee: “Tax dodgers and agitators.”
SEPTEMBER 9, 1943
OUR OWN, PERSONAL TARZAN — A massive manhunt was unleashed, searching for a tanned and well-muscled character known only as “The Wild Man of the Mountains.” (Next time I get my license renewed, I’m going to see if they’ll use that instead of my name.) A fearsome-looking human, the chap walked about in only an animal-skin loin cloth. He was described as lean, very suntan, and had “very strong white teeth.” And no. It wasn’t my pal, Charlie Smith. He also had shoulder-length brown hair — very rare in the 1940s. The Wild Man was a suspect in the burning of a barn in Gorman. He paid a visit to the Bailey Ranch in Castaic and demanded food from Mrs. Martin there. When she noted she didn’t have enough to feed her own family, he threatened to burn her house down. He came back later and burned down her barn. Months later, he would reappear, starting a huge brush fire in the hills north of Castaic. They never caught the fellow. Some think he may have died in the flames.
AT TODAY’S PRICES, THAT’S LIKE 10 CARTONS — Interesting how our priorities switch. On this date, we raised nearly $500 in the SCV to send cigarettes to our fighting men overseas. The national event was called “Cigaret (sic) Tag Day.” The goal was to send millions of the coffin nails to our boys.
ONE OF OUR MORE EPIC FISTFIGHTS — Two cooks on the Torrey oil lease near Piru got into a fracas. One grabbed a meat cleaver and was flailing at his fellow chef when a teamster stepped in to break up the fight. The truck driver started swinging — get this — a truck axle to break up the brawl. The cleaver-swinging cook was hospitalized with bruises and a broken ankle. I have a question. What kind of big mitts do you have to own to be able to swing a truck axle?
FISTFIGHTS, PART II — Way across the valley, up in Forrest Park/Mint Canyon way, another feud erupted. Two men were arguing about water rights up Sierra Highway. They both went into their homes and came back with a rifle and a shotgun. Neighbors called the cops and both men surrendered their weapons, shook hands and no one was hit with a truck axle.
FOREST, FORREST, FOR REST — As I like to remind until you saddlepals take this to memory, FORREST PARK is a long-standing typo. In the 1930s, folks up there hired a sign painter to freshen up their welcome sign. The place was originally called, “For Rest Park.” Apparently, something was lost in the translation with the painter …
SEPTEMBER 9, 1953
A HORRIBLE WAY, EVEN FOR A PIG, TO GO — One of the worst ranching disasters (next to the thousands of cattle slaughtered here in the early 1800s) occurred on this date. A fast-moving brush fire quickly consumed 2,000 acres in the Sand and Placerita Canyon areas. It also jumped a ridge and raced to the Mitchell Ranch and ignited the new pig pens and troughs. About 1,500 hogs were incinerated alive.
TODAY, LIVESTOCK HAS BEEN REPLACED BY THE JAYWALKING SMARTPHONE USER — It’s hard to believe, wandering around a valley today that’s so suburbanized, that we once had to watch out for critters while we drove. The wary driver had to always be on the lookout for everything from deer and bear to horses and cattle. Shirley June Miller wasn’t so watchful. She hit a cow on Highway 99 near Pico and caused a big pile-up. The cow wasn’t too happy about it, either.
THE LONG-FORGOTTEN ELEMENTARY AT THREE POINTS — Our borders real and imagined shift over the years. Lakes Elizabeth and Hughes were considered part of the Santa Clarita empire, as was Pine Canyon, just beyond. There was no opening day for the Pine Canyon School District. On this date, it closed its one-room school at Three Points (sometimes referred to as Three Corners today). The previous year, there were just three students — Connie, Larry, and Billy Hart. They were bussed all the way to Del Sur in the Antelope Valley. Mrs. Lillie Knington got a job teaching at Saugus Elementary.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1963
“BRRR!?” IS THAT AN APPROPRIATE WORD FOR AN SCV SEPTEMBER? — A cold storm rolled quickly through, plunging the mercury 41 degrees to 62 and dropping about an inch of rain. A few days later, it was back up to 103.
ELECTRIC TYPEWRITER. TODAY, THAT’S AN OBJET D’ART — Some of you old-timers will remember that ancient TV show, “Queen for a Day.” On this date, Saugus’ Mrs. Edith Flick won the title, along with an electric typewriter and $500.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1973
GEEZ. NOT A GREAT TRAIL RIDE FOR THE ANIMALS TODAY — Another old tale, replayed. Two boys, playing with matches, burned down a house in Canyon Country. A pet collie died in the flames.
DITTO OF THE ABOVE, BUT IN A KINDLY MEME WAY — County Clerk Bernie Byrne (cousin to a local judge) was handing out bumper stickers at the new Valencia Civic Center. They read: “KEEP YOUR CITY CLEAN. EAT A PIGEON FOR LUNCH.”
THROW OUT THE BUMS! — A half-century ago, Geoffrey Dunham, the youthful mayor of Cotati (about an hour north of San Francisco) survived a recall election by a 2-1 vote. Developers and billboard executives had targeted his campaign to keep blight down in NoCal. Why am I mentioning this? Mr. Dunham was one of 13 great-great-grandsons of Henry Mayo Newhall, founder of Newhall.
GROWTH, GROWTH, AND MORE, BELT-BUSTING GROWTH — About 900 additional students showed up for the first day of school at Canyon High on this date. Part of the problem was that this year, they added a ninth-grade class. In 1972, there were about 1,400 students enrolled at the home of the Cowboys. A year later, there were 2,300.
BUFFALO BILL? — Chief Little Horse, the full-blooded Mescalero Apache who had a ranch up Sloan Canyon, came back from Idaho this week. He had traded with some friends up there and came back with several dozen buffalo hides. Little Horse, aka Bill Barbour, was also a movie actor and bison meat provider for butchers.
HANG THE STUPIDS. THROW THE BODIES IN THE CLOSEST VOLCANO. — Mary Jaramillo’s ordeal started in a Las Vegas grocery store and ended 17 hours later in the parking lot of the Ranch House Inn in Saugus. She and her 20-month-old son were kidnapped at gunpoint by Eddie “Fat Albert” Bohnsack and two teen accomplices. Mrs. Jaramillo was forced into her own car where she spent most of the time trying to fend off the attempted rape from the three men. She and her infant were finally let go in Castaic. She walked to the motel and called the sheriff. Local sheriff’s deputies found the trio a few hours later, speeding north on Interstate 5. They had intended to flee to Mexico, but were driving in the wrong direction. The bunglers had even stopped at the northbound truck weigh station to ask CHP Sgt. Albert Wendland for directions. Wendland asked them to pull off the scales, but “Fat Albert” burned rubber, starting the chase.
SEPTEMBER 9, 1983
SEE THE ABOVE BOLD-FACED MINI HEADLINE — Thomas Millanponce was arrested along with eight teens in connection with a series of Canyon Country burglaries. The gang was pinned with 40 break-ins over a two-month period.
WELCH’S GREAT JUICE — My pal (I gotta drive down and see him!) Harry Welch’s Canyon High Cowboys beat their crosstown rivals Hart in one of the most exciting games in the history of the rivalry. Despite a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter, the Indians kept finding ways to drop passes, overthrow receivers in the end zone, fumble, get penalized, and fumble some more. The crafty Welch and his mighty ‘Boys scored with less than a minute on a Burton to Owens pass. It was Burton-to-Caffee this time for the 2-point conversion.
OUR VERY OWN BIG HOUSE POKEY — On this date, the Board of Supervisors OK’d creating space to add 1,100 more inmates to Wayside Honor Rancho, which was fast morphing from a minimum-security gentleman prisoner country club to a maximum-security jail.
JUST BECAUSE IT’S IN TIME MAGAZINE DOESN’T MAKE IT TRUE — We were featured in the periodical 40 years back. The author of the piece on growing suburbia wrote that we were “… 35 miles east of Los Angeles.” That’d put us pert near Riverside.
• • •
Nice riding with you neighbors on a Saturday morning. We’re back at The Mighty Signal hitching post all-darn-ready, but, that’s time traveling for you. If you’re not doing anything too important next week, I’d surely like to share your company again. Until then — ¡vayan con Dios, amigos!
If you enjoy the Time Ranger, you’re going to love his local history volumes. Visit johnbostonbooks.com. Order John Boston’s terribly exciting Volumes I & II on “SCV Monsters, Ghouls, Ghosts, Bigfoot” & all our local paranormal stories. Great summer reads. Leave a kindly review …