The Time Ranger | Gold, Guns, Gurus & the Sweet-Tooth Bandits

The Time Ranger
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Hope you’re having a good 2024 weekend morning, dear saddlepals. Trust you’re well-rested ready for a little fresh air and adventure. 

What pleasant vistas and odd vignettes await. We’ll meet a man who went from pauper to millionaire and back to pauper again. We’ll chase after the Candy Bandits and pursue a Signal idea to raise the voting age — to 50. 

C’mon, dear companions. Hop up into those saddles and wiggle until you and the pony are comfortable. Then what say we head in for a morning’s ride into yesteryear? 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN  

THAT WOULD BE ONE, BONA FIDE, GIGANTIC CHANGE OF ADDRESS CARD — Can you imagine trying to do this today? Back on Feb. 15, 1878, the entire town — yes, the entire town — of Newhall moved. History leaves several possible reasons for the trek — drought, wind, too many cotton trees in the river … Anywho. Newhall (which was founded where the Saugus Cafe sits today in 1876) moved a couple of miles south down the road. Leaving just the foundations, every board, barrel and kitten were moved to around present-day Main and 6th Streets.  

WISH I COULD FIND THOSE NATIVE AMERICANS TODAY — A young Lt. Antonio del Valle swapped a few bags of glass beads with Indians in Santa Barbara back in 1824. The Indians gave the Spanish officer about $14,000 in gold nuggets. Señor del Valle sure was on a roll. He would eventually be deeded the entire Santa Clarita Valley instead of back military wages from the governor of California. 

KING SOLOMON & THE FORGOTTEN GOLD MINERS OF PLACERITA — Speaking of gold, an international contingent of miners descended into Placerita Canyon after our gold discovery of 1842. The forgotten gold hunters were G.F. Waseurtz of Sweden, Duflot de Mofras of France, and John Bidwell of England, along with unknown Hispanic miners. In 1844, Andrew Anderson laid a claim to Placerita Canyon. He set up a cylinder-shaped machine. It was a yard in diameter. You shoveled in gravel and hand-cranked the beast. Gold would settle in the grooves. We know from Mr. Anderson’s diary that he pulled out about 2 pounds in as many weeks — or, about $28. It was almost easier to have a real job. Interestingly, Anderson’s hand-made machine was of the exact same design used in the ancient King Solomon’s mines.  

FEBRUARY 17, 1924 

YOU BOOZE, YOU LOSE? — Here’s another great line from a Signal editorial on Prohibition. While we were against it, noting how many millions were wasted in both paying agents and bribing them, this newspaper was also against alcohol. From Editor Thornton Doelle: “So let us still keep the monster, liquor, chained until we shall find him dead and bury him deep and forget that he ever reigned.” 

FELONY SWEET TOOTH — Four local youths were arrested for a big candy heist a century ago. They drove up behind a canvas-covered freight truck and one jumped on board. He threw 30 pounds of candy and crackers to his gang members. Dubbed The Candy Band Gang, they were quickly caught and thrown in the pokey. Norwood Jucaa (GREAT NAME!!!!) was given a 60-day suspended sentence because he was still in high school. Personally? I think instead Mr. Jucaa should have been forced to eat all 1,800 ounces in one sitting … 

FEBRUARY 17, 1934 

WHAT COMMIES AROUND, GOES-ZIES AROUND — Signal Editor A.B. “Dad” Thatcher took a look back at the first year of FDR’s New Deal. In an editorial, Dad noted that there were plusses and minuses — one of the latter being that the solutions bordered on socialism. “And the other fact, linked to this but not so apparent is that business and corporations, by reckless disregard of all ordinary laws of honesty and right, made this socialistic trend necessary. (sic)” Hmm. Sound familiar?  

FEBRUARY 14, 1939 

TALK ABOUT A FLAME IN YOUR HEART — On Valentine’s Day in 1939, Newhall Elementary School burned to the ground. Again. For the third time. Sparks from a heating stove, lit by the school janitor, were blamed.  

FEBRUARY 17, 1944 

FIRE BUG — Life in the normally quiet Santa Clarita was interrupted by a sensational arson trial in downtown Newhall. A Little Rock (no relation to any of Frank and Carol Rock’s kids or grandkids) man changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. He had been accused of setting the biggest Southern California blaze of 1943, which burned thousands of acres northeast of here. James Broderick, a prominent citizen of Little Rock, had also tried to silence the star witness for the prosecution by bribing him with cash and a ticket back home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The juror had a change of conscience and testified.  

ALL NEWS, SADLY, IS LOCAL — A plane crash in the cold Mississippi River 2,000 miles away was felt in Saugus. Of the 20 people killed, two were headed for a family reunion at the Lazy J Ranch in Sand Canyon. 

FEBRUARY 17, 1954 

HEY, KING! — He was known as The Hay King and then, toward the end of days, Uncle Billy. William Mayhue died 70 years back. He was 89. He was born into poverty, became a millionaire and ended up dying a pauper in a government home for the aged. His daughters blamed horrific financial advice. Mayhue once owned a huge home on the corner of 8th and Chestnut, along with a Santa Clarita real estate empire. Mayhue was born in Tennessee. during the Civil War. Later, he found his bride, Pallie. Right after their marriage, Bill suffered a near-fatal bout of typhoid. Pallie carted her husband to the healing climes of Newhall in 1893. She tended to her ailing partner while working as a cook for the threshing crews at Newhall Ranch and cleaning up at local boarding houses. When Bill recovered, he began a series of profitable business relationships with Prohibitionist presidential candidate, Henry Clay Needham. Mr. Mayhue also farmed, beginning by leasing out the old Kingsbraker place (where the Newhall Dairy Ranch was in Happy Valley). Mayhue also grazed cattle on what would be the Circle J ranch and had thousands of head spread all over the valley. Mayhue owned much of Downtown Newhall, including the main frontage property. His wife passed away in 1939. 

FIRST THINGS FIRST — Harry Millenberg was in the process of installing a fire extinguisher system in his Railroad Canyon chemical plant. Timing’s everything. The place, along with the extinguisher hardware still in the boxes, burned to the ground in a most spectacular blaze. Darned ironic. 

AND NO VOTES FOR WOMEN, THE IRISH OR THE LUTHERANS!!!— One of my favorite Signal editorials appeared on this date. This newspaper questioned whether it was wise to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. We questioned how one acquires wisdom and then came up with the idea to raise the limit to 50. I know some people 50 and older. They shouldn’t be voting, either. 

FEBRUARY 17, 1964 

AND SPURS THAT JINGLE, JANGLE, JINGLE — I remember the good old days when we had more feed shops and saloons than schools and churches. We used to have a tack emporium on Arch Street called Buckskin Western Shop. They sold everything from moccasins to saddles. 

ANY GRATEFUL DEAD FANS ON OUR TRAIL RIDE TODAY? —Jerri Garcia used to be a staff writer for The Mighty Signal. Do, note, the spelling of “Jerri.” 

FEBRUARY 17, 1974 

NOT OUR FIRST RODEO? — A small debate was floating around the valley. The Chamber of Commerce had leased the Hart High football field. Purpose? To host a rodeo. Some concerned gridiron fans wanted to know if the pounding of bronc and bull hooves would ruin the turf. Noting the shoddy condition of the field, one parent drily noted: “It will probably improve it.” I can attest to that. You needed a 4-by-4 to travel 10 yards … 

RAISE YOUR HANDS. HOW MANY IN FAVOR OF FOUR-BIT PETROL? — Gasoline was an outrageous 50 cents a gallon here. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1974 caused shortages and local stations were being allotted only 70% of their normal deliveries. For a while, we had “Gasless Sundays.” The only station open was the Mobil off Pico Canyon. The William S. Hart Union High School District cut a better deal, getting the precious liquid at 27 cents a gallon — and that was for premium. 

NON-VIOLENCE. IS THAT JUST A SUGGESTION? — A couple of years previous, Newhall judge Adrian Adams issued an unusual edict on the patriarch of the Harsla family. The clan had been the topic of several police reports, court appearances, and WAR-DECLARED! Signal front-page stories. Finally, Adams asked the elder family member to compose a 500-word essay on Mahatma Gandhi’s views of non-violence. You guessed it. The Harsla family was towed into court again for fighting with their neighbors. “I am most disappointed to see you here again,” said Judge Adams. 

AH, INFLATION — A while back, my favorite restaurant in the entire world — Hometown Buffet — closed for good. You could get an all-you-can-eat dinner at the cafeteria for about $10. At Grant’s Bradford House up Soledad in 1974, they had the same deal — for $1.44! Maybe that’s why they went out of business … 

FEBRUARY 17, 1984 

YO SOY MOOLAH Newhall SCHOOL District applied for $71,420 in federal grants for bilingual funds. The money would go to serve 200 kids who had yet to learn English. Reportedly, 135 students spoke only Spanish and 15 more spoke Cantonese, Vietnamese, French, Japanese, Swedish and Croatian. The other 50 kids spoke only some English. (There’s a Mayor Cameron Smyth joke about him just speaking Baby Talk, but, I’ll take the high road and avoid it …) 

STILL. IT’S BETTER THAN DISCO. — It doesn’t seem that long ago, but the latest dance craze sweeping the SCV was something called “Break Dancing.” Kids at Highlands Elementary put on a demonstration for open-mouthed adults. 

CLOSE THE DARN DOOR BEHIND YOU — Forty years ago, the Board of Supervisors heard arguments from local concerned citizens about overcrowding in the SCV. We were the fastest-growing area in Los Angeles County and one of the fastest in America. Some locals wanted to stop development. Others wanted to know when more roads would be built to ease congestion. The widening and opening of Valley Street in Newhall and connecting Emberbrook in Circle J to Sierra Highway were two suggestions. “Why Don’t All Y’All Just Go Somewhere Else” was never mentioned.  

CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE — I’m not sure if this record still stands. Perhaps someone from the SCV Boys & Girls Club could give a jingle and enlighten us. But, 40 years ago, a shapely and beautiful Rosie Hartz made the largest purchase in the history of that charity’s auction to that date. She paid $32,000 for 40 acres on a distant hilltop. Seriously? If I remember right, there was no way to get to it … 

BAAAAAAHHHHH, TO THE nth — Speaking of hilltops, here’s something we’ll probably never see again. Shepherds grazed several thousand sheep next door to College of the Canyons. The sheep broke into the campus and started munching the grass. It took a while to get them gathered. 

RE: THE ABOVE: The rascal in me is so tempted to alter history and write, in our official local history record: “The sheep broke into the campus, started munching the grass and roughing up the students …” 

RE: RE: THE ABOVE: (:- ). 

RE: RE: RE: THE ABOVE — I’ve got a great albeit ribald and non-family readership-oriented Fetching Female Sheep/Johnny Ringo/Saloon joke, but, if I share it, I’ll have to hide out in the 19th century for several months from the publisher … 

•     •     • 

Well thanks so very much for the company, dear friends and saddlepals. Sure enjoy your company. You’re good medicine and bring the biggest smile to my heart. What say? See you in seven? Another exciting Time Ranger adventure? 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. Also? His political satire, “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Joe Biden” is available in print and Kindle. If you’ve already got your copy, then leave a kind review on Amazon! 

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