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The Time Ranger | Sandberg: Our Long-Lost Mountain Resort

The Time Ranger
Time Ranger
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This wonderful first Saturday in April of 2024, we’ve a most interesting trail ride ahead. Make sure you’re snug in those saddles. We’ve got a major earthquake to ride through. Scrub your pony well and don’t let him or her sip out of your latte container. There’s a Hoof and Mouth epidemic to steer clear of and make sure you stay well-seated. We’re going to ride back to when they gave swats in school. 

Sit tall and proud and thank trigonometry. 

Even the most gifted and dedicated school administrator can’t paddle your bottom if you’re properly seated atop a tall fine horse and comfy saddle … 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN  

MAYBE YOU COULD BLAME IT ON GLOBAL SHAKING? — 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 to Pico Canyon. The mob complained to Mentryville management that all their oil drilling in the canyon had caused the quake. 

NEITHER RAIN NOR SLEET NOR SNOW NOR DISINTEREST? — After being closed for 17 years because no one was sending any mail to Castaic and no one was getting any, the Castaic Post Office reopened on April 3, 1917, in Sam Parson’s general store.  

APRIL 6, 1924 

AND DON’T LET YOUR HORSE DRINK OUT OF THE SAME SIPPY CUP — Legendary local lawman Jack Pilcher accompanied county ag inspectors to many of the cattle ranches of the Santa Clarita Valley on this date. An outbreak of the deadly Hoof and Mouth disease had been reported in many Northern California counties and was spreading southward. It was worried that a complete quarantine of SCV ag might have to be implemented — from crops to humans. Locals were even urged not to go outside the valley to go camping and the sunrise Easter services at the Greek Theater were canceled because of it. If you saddlepals notice any of the following symptoms — drooping ears, lameness, slobbering or reduced milk supply — in your livestock or spouse, alert the nearest vet …  

PRO-DOPE DOCTORS — An apocalyptic editorial was penned by Blanche Brown, owner of The Mighty Signal. She noted that the “menace of dope,” unless checked, would come to “wreak havoc” not only on America, but the entire politics and cultures of the world. Brown took aim at the medical profession: “It is a well-known fact that most doctors give dope to their patients in one form or another, to ease pain or quiet the nerves. This form of lunacy on the part of many doctors has without a doubt started a number of persons on the road to the dope habit. Many a patient has come out of some doctor’s care so ‘hopped-up’ and nerve shattered that the dope habit has claimed him without a struggle.” 

APRIL 6, 1934 

A TIDAL WAVE OF NEW RESIDENTS — In terms of 21st century Santa Clarita, this item in The Mighty Signal of 90 years ago seems profoundly hilarious: “Statistical records of the Newhall Water Co. show that Newhall is constantly growing, even thru the slow boom period. The past year has seen nearly 20 new families come into the district.” Twenty families. In a year. Wow. Today? That’s like about how many living in the same condo … 

HARD WORK? NOT ONLY IS IT GOOD FOR YOU, IT MAKES YOU TALLER. — So noted the War Department (ours!) which was in charge of several local California Conservation Corps work camps. At their height, no pun intended, we had more than 3,000 husky young men in various government camps. They built trails, improved roads, dug flood control ditches, planted trees, cleared fire danger brush and pretty much made the SCV pretty darn ducky. The War Dept. stats proved that after six months, men gained an average of 7 pounds of muscle and about a quarter-inch in height after working outdoors most vigorously. 

APRIL 6, 1944 

A TRAGIC NON-WAR CASUALTY — Jack Harland never made it over to fight in Japan or Europe at the end of World War II. The popular Newhall boy was killed in a bomber training exercise — in Kansas. 

APRIL 5, 1950 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PHILLY IN CHICAGO — My best pal and former Signal sports editor and film critic, Phil Lanier, was born on this date. Where? On another planet. I’m guessing, Uranus … 

APRIL 6, 1954 

BRUCE FORTINE, ALL-AMERICAN — Students at Hart High were watching “Jim Thorpe, All-American” as a special treat. Seems the film broke midway and who jumped to the rescue? Longtime COC Trustee Bruce Fortine. Of course, Bruce wasn’t a trustee then. He was a high school student. Hey Bruce? I was 4 …!! 

OUR LONG-FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN RESORT — Mrs. Marion G. Sandberg, founder of the Ridge Route resort that bore her name, died 70 years back. She passed away on her 87th birthday. Her hotel was a favorite resting spot for weary travelers from 1914 to 1930. That’s when the trip to San Francisco from L.A. took about three days. In 1954, the old Sandberg resort was leased by Western film actor, Walter “Lucky” Stevens, who had plans to build a dude ranch on the spot. Just 2 miles northwest is the same U.S. Weather Service station. If you watch the Weather Channel, see all those reports and wonder where the heck is Sandberg, well, now you know. 

PEOPLE IN GLASS FACTORIES SHOULD THROW, WELL. YOU KNOW. — Production began at the brand-new Thatcher Glass factory. Blobs of molten glass were dropped into the belly of a complicated bottle blowing machine and thus began the heyday of the valley’s No. 1 employer up until the 1960s. 

APRIL 6, 1964 

BRRRRR, BRRRRR, AND BRRRRRRRRRRR SOME MORE — The low for Santa Clarita 60 years ago tonight? A brisk and quite freezing 32 in Downtown Newhall, much colder in the surrounding canyons. Pretty darn chilly for us, this late in the year … 

THAT’S BECAUSE WE HAD MORE FARMERS AND COWBOYS THAN YUPPIES — Here’s something truly amazing. I guess you could deduce we were still rural because The Mighty Signal’s classified advertising section had significantly MORE ads for livestock and farm equipment than for car, auto parts sales or stereo equipment. BTW. While America started commonly using this new word, “stereo” in the 1960s, the word had been around for thousands of years and originated with the ancient Greeks. “Stereos” literally means, “solid.” 

APRIL 6, 1974 

GEEZ. THEY COULDN’T HAVE JUST DROPPED HIM OFF IN HERMOSA BEACH? — An El Segundo man shouldn’t have opened his front door. Two men wearing Halloween masks knocked him out, ransacked his apartment, stole his car, kidnapped him then dropped him off in a remote SCV canyon. He showed up at someone’s Mint Canyon porch. They called the cops and pretty much everyone was puzzled as to the why of it all. 

RE: THE ABOVE — If anyone asks, the Spanish, “hermosa” means “beautiful.” 

RE: THE ABOVE — If no one has yet to tell you lady time travel riders in today’s posse that you’re, “muy hermosa,” well. You are.  

MORE ON LANIER — On this date, Signal Sports Editor Phil Lanier was Christmas shopping. In Tijuana. He bought a pair of plaster of Paris busts of JFK and asked the shopkeeper if he had any of the current president. The tendero didn’t have any busts of Nixon, but Lanier came back with a pair of busts of W.C. Fields, who actually looks presidential. 

ANOTHER DUMBBELL DECISION — The William S. Hart Union High School District board of trustees met to discuss whether “swatting” had a place in district policy. “Swatting” was when a usually well-muscled gym teacher or administrator used something akin to a cricket paddle and applied it with some force to the buttocks of a recalcitrant teen. Board member Ruth Kelly was against swatting, calling it “an attack” and noted: “We should teach children to solve problems without hitting.” Most faculty and administrators begged the district not to take the deterrent away. They eventually did. And, lo and behold, 50 swatless years later, high school and junior high life is quite beautiful. Wonder if Ruth would have favored axing the Indian mascot? 

APRIL 6, 1984 

REMEMBER OUR VISIT TO 1924? HISTORY REPEATS! — The answer was, “Well. Actually not.” The quote came from a developer: “If the population of the SCV is going to double by 2000, it’s going to need more homes.” If there weren’t any homes, people wouldn’t move here. 

AHHHH, THE DANGERS OF BEING A FIREMAN — On this date, Tom Fullerton got the call to put out a blaze in a burning sofa abandoned behind a shopping center. Tom put hose to couch when a curious thing happened. The divan attacked him. Whomever ditched the divan also forgot to take the shotgun shells from underneath the cushions. The fire sent one pellet into his leg. He was taken to Henry Mayo, had the ordnance removed and Firefighter Fullerton was released later. 

SING IT WITH ME: WHEN THE SWALLOWS, COME BACK, TO COLLEGE OF THE CAN-YUNSSSSSS — On this date, COC maintenance chief Jerry Renfrow installed several sonar devices at $60 apiece. They were used to try and stop the migrating swallows from resting at College of the Canyons and making an absolute poopy mess of the campus while they did. Renfrow noted that they seemed to work just ducky a decade earlier in 1974. Talking to Cougar representatives today, they don’t actually agree. I seem to recall offering some perfectly good and unasked-for advice to the Cougar brass 40 years back. I suggested COC import a few trained falcons or scatter some birdseed peppered with small bits of metal and employing a large magnet, ala Wile E. Coyote … 

•     •     • 

Well. As I always say. That’s our own, personal spinning time vortex, linking us to present-day Santa Clarita, with all its plusses and minuses. I do wish you all a heartfelt, “¡Vayan con Dios, amigos!” Be most excellent to one another … 

John Boston is a local writer. If you do love local history and reading about ghosts, myths and monsters, visit Boston’s bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com. 

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