The Time Ranger | Say it Ain’t So! Scotty’s Related to Nixon!?!? 

The Time Ranger
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Top of the Saturday morning in March to you, oh recalcitrant bunk huggers and beauty resters. C’mon. Daylight is starting to burn and we’ve much snooping ahead in the back trails of Santa Clarita Valley history. 

There’s gold to unearth and you old-timers will be simply amazed at what fabled local muckety muck is related to Richard Nixon. 

We’ve epic weather to brave, bank robbers to catch, and The Burger Bandits to put behind bars. 

I’ve several thousand fine steeds down here, all saddled and ready for our Saturday trail ride into yesteryear. C’mon. If you promise not to spill on the saddle or, worse, the horse, you can drink those lattes and herbal teas whilst we mosey … 


GOLD & BIRTHDAYS — On March 9, forty years apart, two important events occurred. Francisco Lopez was born at Mission San Gabriel. Same day, but in 1842, Francisco was credited with the first officially documented gold discovery in California. 

AU II — Lots of myths, variations and questions about that discovery. While Lopez was credited with filing the first known mining claim, gold had been being taken from the SCV for decades. As early as the 1790s, there was the story of The Lost Padre Mine, aka The Lost Horse Mine, in Castaic. Millions were taken from there. Also, miners were panning all up and down San Francisquito Canyon in the 1820s. 

AU III — Francisco Lopez was credited with the first discovery of gold in the valley, but old Spanish records indicate FranLo was joined by two friends in the discovery — Manuel Cota and Domingo Bermudez. The three were on the original petition to the governor of California. But, there was a fourth gentleman whose name has been lost in history. Matter of fact, Cota and Bermudez are pretty much forgotten for being on that first claim. 

MARCH 9, 1924 

RAIN SAVES THE DAY — A March rainfall helped save many a local farmer and rancher. The drought-ending rain brought green grass to the hills, allowing cattle to graze. Some had dipped into savings or borrowed to buy feed. One rancher came real darn close to killing his herd of 1,200. Couldn’t afford to feed them. 

“CHARLIE BROWN. HE’S A CLOWN. HE’S GONNA GET CAUGHT. JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE. ‘WHY’S EVERYBODY ALWAYS PICKING ON ME?’” — Charlie Brown was in trouble. That would be the Newhall man, not the cartoon character. Mr. Brown shot Bert Farnsworth and nearly killed him. It was over a woman. 

I’VE GOT NEIGHBORS ON ROUTE B — On this date, Route B was created. That was the postal rural route that served residents up Bouquet and San Francisquito canyons. The route was a 56-mile trek. 

MARCH 9, 1934 

HOW’D YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN CORPSE CANYON? — This may have been the most interesting resume I have ever come across, at least in the mining field. On this date, a man dropped by the A.J. Bridger’s B & Y Rancho, seeking some information on local gold mines. In conversation, the gent noted he had worked for the following enterprises: Coffin Mine; Corpse Canyon; Funeral Range, and Death Valley.  

PUT YOUR THUMB OVER A LARGE BOTTLE OF SELTZER WATER. SHAKE. AIM? — The U.S. Forest Service was looking into modern ways to fight fires. One was air-dropping chemicals that smother oxygen, thus retarding flames. Someone pointed out that such a method might also kinda smother out the oxygen going into firefighters’ lungs. Another thinker came up with the idea to use 6-inch cannons to fire chemical canisters from a distance of 20 miles. “The firefighting crews at or near the fire might find this inconvenient,” a firefighter noted.  

MARCH 9, 1944 

THAT — OTHER — HART PARK — Silent screen icon William S. Hart donated his West Los Angeles home and property to L.A. County on this date. They made a park out of it and it’s still off of Sunset today at 8419 De Longpre. Hart refused a then-staggering figure of $125,000 for the property. The house was originally built by silent leading man Wallace Reid, in 1919. It’s the oldest building along the Sunset Strip. Hart was wed to actress Winifred Westover there in 1921. He was 58. She was 21. Barely. They separated five months later, divorcing in 1927. 

Hart and his attorneys had laid out specific requirements to which the city of L.A. contractually agreed. He even threw in $50,000, asking for a bird fountain and just keeping the place decent. But, for decades, Los Angeles essentially ignored the binding contract, going so far as to rent it out to private citizens and not taking very good care of it.  

It wasn’t until 1984, when West Hollywood was incorporated, that West HOLLYWOOD even knew the park was there. The Sunset Tower Hotel tried to persuade both L.A. and West Hollywood to sell it to them so they could tear it down and put up a parking lot. Today, in a 30-year lease, the city of WEST Hollywood cares for it. Right now? It’s the Wm. S. Hart Dog Park. 

THE OLD REBEL COOT — Interesting the pictures of war. We were fighting the Japanese and Germans and future Signal editor Fred Trueblood II had been called up. He was in Tennessee, observing maneuvers. His report: “One morning, a column of muddy tankers thundered past a remote cabin in the Tennessee hills. Standing in the front yard was an old — an incredibly old — man. He wore the gray uniform of the Confederate States of America. On his white head was a Confederate garrison cap, with a flat, square bill and forward tilted peak. This ancient was standing there, straight and stiff as a ramrod, glaring furiously at the passing tanks, as if to say: ‘What are these Dam Yanks (sic) up to now?’ They are up to plenty.” 

BANISHED FOR LIFE — We’ve had a colorful history of our jurists handing out Solomon-like sentences. Folks have been banished from the valley for life or sent to Wayside forever as a favor so they could do useful farm work. On this date, an out-of-town salesman faced Judge Art Miller on a drunk and assault charge. The salesman had thrown a haymaker toward Beacon Cafe owner Perry Semon. He missed, but Miller ordered the salesman to never set foot in a saloon again or he would go to jail.  

WHADYA KNOW? IT RAINED SINCE THEN. — In 2024, we’re in the midst of a really wet season. Eighty years ago, someone pointed out that the sun had not come out for three weeks.  

MARCH 9, 1954 

ANOTHER DANGER OF THE WHISKEY BOTTLE — A pair of young airmen from Edwards Air Force Base were picked up by the viaduct by a lone driver. As they sat next to him in the front seat, a second man, hiding on the floor in the back seat, popped up and whacked both over the head with a whiskey bottle. Both military men were then unceremoniously dumped out of the speeding car near Beale’s Cut. The robbers kept their duffel bags. Imagine living that down when you got back to base. 

I’LL TAKE FOUR UNITS FOR 60 BUCKS, PLEASE — It certainly has been nothing new, providing lodging for the underpaid teacher. On this date, via a special program with L.A. County and the California Teachers’ Association, a lot was purchased on Walnut Street in Newhall and a small apartment was built. The four units were to be rented to local teachers only at a special price. To give you a ballpark idea, apartments and guest houses were rented for between $15 and $50 a month here in 1954. 

MARCH 9, 1964 

CHOO-CHOO GRAVEYARD — For decades, locals have been more than miffed about this valley being used as a dumping ground for everything from garbage to lost souls (the county had a habit of building jails and rehab centers out here). The latest slap in the face came from Southern Pacific. They planned to tow their “dead” freight and passenger cars out to Saugus and leave them on a side track until they could be towed to a salvage yard in Mojave. Brass at the “Espee” promised the habit would stop and the cars would be towed out immediately. 

I CAN’T SEE THAT HAPPENING TODAY (GET IT?!?!?!) — On this date, Judge C.M. MacDougall and his wife helped launch the local Lions Club drive to secure eyes for the blind. Mac and Mrs. Mac both signed papers instructing that after they had passed, their peepers were to be donated to the eye bank. 

RE: THE ABOVE — Eeeesh. Hope they washed the eyeballs before they tossed them in the envelope … 

MARCH 9, 1974 

BABY. THE EARTH MOVED FOR ME. — The shift occurred right under the turn-of-the-century tunnel housing the giant water pipes that bring water from Owens Valley to Los Angeles, via the Santa Clarita. Workers shut down the pipeline until some adjustments could be made. The ground trembled when the water was shut off. 

OIL WOES — Gas station owners Mel Knaggs and Sonny Suraco were trying to adjust to the Arab Oil Embargo and crisis of 1974. The partners owned Sonny & Mel’s (or S&M as we used to call it) Union station since the 1950s and had to make quite an adjustment. For one thing, when they started out in the 1950s and ’60s, there had only been five or six gas stations in the entire valley. Back then, Sonny and Mel were pumping out 70,000 gallons a month and employed five men full-time while also handling major repairs. By 1974, they were pumping just 10,000 gallons a month and were forced by Union Oil to pay 10 cents a gallon more than their San Fernando Valley counterparts. The shortage was a nightmare for the SCV. In a budding commuter community, most folks had to drive out of the valley to work and also had to spend an hour or two each week waiting in line to buy gas. Oh. By the way. Sonny Suraco’s family settled in the valley in 1857, long before there were any gas stations and hardly any people. 

HANG ’EM. HORSEWHIP ’EM. LIGHTLY SALT AND THEN FEED THE THIEVES TO CANNIBALS. — Here’s some trivia for you. In 1972-’73, the William S. Hart Union High School District lost $18,000 worth of materials due to burglaries. Most of those came from people using copies of district keys to gain access. Many campuses had to go through the expensive process of rekeying to help stem the problem, which cost the district thousands of more dollars. 

WHEN BRAND “X” USED TO BE BRAND “/” — You don’t see this kind of government employee around the Santa Clarita anymore. Rodger Thompson was the valley’s state brand inspector. His job? Go around to SCV ranches and auction yards to keep a handle on cattle rustling. Yup. Even in the 1970s, hombres were swiping steers here. 

TALK ABOUT LUCK — On this date, Lynn Wise won a brand-new car in a local charity raffle. Just three years earlier, he had won a brand-new Dodge at another rubber chicken event. Bad news? The second car Lynn won was a Vega. 

SKIP’S RELATED TO NIXON … SKIP’S RELATED TO NIXON. NEENER NEENER NEENER GOAT — I hate to risk thunderbolts from heaven, or, ahem, elsewhere, but here’s something from the Six Degrees & Then Some of Separation Department. According to a “prominent local genealogist,” former Signal Publisher Scott Newhall and former President Richard Nixon were related. The family tree searcher discovered they shared a common relative: Thomas Newhall, who arrived from England to the colonies in 1630. As gossip columnist Ruth Newhall (and Scotty’s wife) nicely put it: “The publisher’s comments are not printable.” Hmm. My math’s a little rusty on this, but if that be true, does that make my pals and the Brothers Newhall, Tony & Skip, related to Tricky Dick? 

MARCH 9, 1984 

ORGANIZE THE POSSE!! — The Great Western Bank had themselves an old-fashioned Western bank robbery. A man in cowboy duds sauntered into the Canyon Country branch, cut to the front of the line, leaned on the counter, belched, pounded his chest, and laughed. When the checker informed him that he had to wait his turn, the man laughed again, produced a revolver, and announced: “This is a robbery,” and walked out with several thousand dollars. 

BURGER GANGSTERS CAPTURED AND, AHEM, SORRY, GRILLED For months, a pair of desperadoes known as The Burger Bandits terrorized local fast-food joints. Robert Hagenson and Peter Madrid, two San Fernando Valley transients, were nabbed at a stakeout at an SFV Wendy’s. They admitted to nearly 50 fast food hold-ups. I don’t know how transitory the pair could have been. They netted over $100,000 in their raids, not counting the free fries. 

•     •     • 

Well, speaking of potatoes, it must be getting close to lunch — somewhere on the planet. I’ll escort you folks back to the here-&-now. You get some feed, rest, and do some chores and before you know it, it’ll be time for another Time Ranger adventure. Until next Saturday, dear saddlepals — ¡vayan con Dios, amigos!  

If you enjoy the Time Ranger, you’re going to love his local history volumes. Visit 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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