A tip of the O’Farrell and warm and Western howdy to you, saddlepals. You’ll pardon my uncharacteristic giggle, but, I’m happy.
Daughter’s birthday is this weekend.
I can’t believe it. My baby daughter Indiana is 14.
There are lesser historical events we’ll explore this fine day, like the end of an onion empire, continent-busting earthquakes and an un-natural weather phenom that turned us into an icy land of roaring rivers.
We’ve got global warming warnings from 80 years back, more plane crashes and, well.
I’m getting soar jaws talking about it.
Come on. I’ve got 10,000-plus fine horses all semi-properly saddled (with that many, I can’t guarantee quality cinching). Shall we start this fine year of 2017 with a trail ride through local history?
(PHOTO CAPTION: There’s Gage Street running through Downtown L.A. And some of you have heard about the old Gage Mine a few miles north of here. The successful businessman Henry T. Gage ran it for years and made millions. He took office as governor of California on January 5, 1899.)
WAY, WAY BACK WHEN
• We’re sure hoping history doesn’t repeat. On January 9th, 1857, at 8:13 a.m., a major continent-busting earthquake that may have registered off the Richter Scale was centered in the Fort Tejon area. It knocked over just about all of the few buildings here in the SCV. Cows, horses and men fell over. There was a split at Ft. Tejon that was 10-feet in diameter. One sleeping prospector told of waking up from under a tree to see his blankets and a rifle fall into the ground. One Newhall woman was killed when her house collapsed on her. One mountain man reported losing his mule when the earth split and that he almost fell into the chasm himself from his bedroll. It’s a good story, but we wonder what self-respecting mountain man is doing sleeping in at 8 in the morning...
• Back on January 8, 1869, pioneers/gunfighters/businessmen Sanford Lyon, Henry Wiley and Bill Jenkins began a primitive drilling operation in Pico Canyon. It was the first known oil well dug in this valley and the beginning of the first commercial oil well in California.
JANUARY 5, 1927
• The New Year came in with a whimper. The only crime reported for the week (and, only a couple of minor accidents) was the cold-cocking of waiter named Perry at Sandberg’s resort north of here. C.T. Childs apparently didn’t like the menu. When Perry served him water and asked to take his order, Childs, without any apparent motive, whacked him over the head with the glass. Childs did 200 days in the pokey.
• While there were few highway accidents, there was a doozy of a train wreck in front of the Saugus depot. Train No. 37, piloted by J. Mobley, failed to see a parked freight in front of him. Seventeen passengers were injured and one died.
JANUARY 5, 1937
• A couple of weeks earlier, we were the scene of the worst air disaster in our history. A dozen people were killed when a plane smashed into a mountain by Newhall Pass. Then, another plane, carrying 13, hit Iron Mountain, killing two. One of the fatalities was the famous explorer and adventurer, Martin Johnson. Ironic, how many times he defied death and ended up dying in a commercial flight over Sand Canyon. Again, wicked weather hampered rescue efforts, which involved hundreds of locals.
• Was this an earlier precursor to global warming? The storm that passed through fostered a debate amongst old-timers about cold and wet records. All the folks who had been around for decades agreed: the SCV had been getting less rainfall than in the 19th century.
JANUARY 5, 1947
• The joke for more than 20 years was that they were supposed to be temporary buildings. On this date, the brand spanking new Hart District bought 11 portable buildings from the Army as classrooms. They were still being used up until the 1971 earthquake. A little trivia? Those temp buildings were originally hospital wards. On the bright side, they weren’t mental wards, which would answer a lot of questions about the earlier grads...
• We were in the middle of drought and folks were wondering why Newhall Creek and the Santa Clara River was flowing like the Mighty Mississip. Seems Owens Valley was shipping more water to L.A. than they could use, so, water execs opened up several spigots on the Newhall side of the pipeline and the water from the High Sierras passed right through town.
• What made the creeks more spectacular in this rare display was the mercury. We hit a cold spell where the morning temps bottomed out at a sub-freezing 25 degrees. In many riparian spots, the SCV looked more like Minnesota, with all the frozen river banks.
• Ever wonder why Furnivall Avenue was called such? I know. I know. You never have. Just humor me. The boulevard was named after Dayton M. Furnivall, who farmed and ranched the Honby area around Soledad Canyon for most of his life. Died a young man, too, on this date, at 58.
JANUARY 5, 1957
• We’ve had death by tomatoes and, alas, we now have death by potatoes. Trucker Johnnie Gomez, 29, lost his brakes coming down the 5-Mile Grade. He made it to the escape ramp, but his cargo shifted and crushed him.
• From potatoes to pigs. “Pig Mountain,” a large pile of hog poop north of Canyon Country at the San Pedro Commercial Co.’s hog ranch, started a huge fire which threatened to burn several ranches in Sand Canyon. It was finally extinguished.
• I’m guessing a lot of law enforcement officers are shaking their head at this one, especially because it was written a half-century ago. I’m just going to give you the exact wordage from a Signal editorial, back when we used to write ‘em. It was inspired from a case in which a local Sheriff’s deputy captured a teen who had behind dozens of burglaries and robberies and who had been captured red-handed. The judge then castigated the deputy, who urged the lad be put away before he could endanger more people. Signal editor Fred Trueblood’s words:
“But with respect to juveniles, the officers’ hands are shackled more tightly than any convicted criminal. His hands are shackled by over-doting and ignorant parents, who, willfully and blindly, disregard their children’s acts. He is shackled by juvenile laws which set up completely new jurisprudence for those in their teens, a jurisprudence in which the officer is presumed guilty rather than the suspect, a jurisprudence which relies heavily on so-called ‘modern, progressive’ discoveries in juvenile psychology.”
JANUARY 5, 1967
• Have any experience in construction projects in the 8th Wonder of the World category? The state’s Department of Water Resources began accepting bids for the construction of the Castaic Dam. Rough estimates on costs were initially in the $70 million range. That’s like two houses in 2007...
• The Vietnam War came home to Saugus. Pvt. Terry Genas was killed in action when fragments from a 50 mm shell ended his life.
JANUARY 5, 1977
• We had an unusual situation in which we had elected five supervisors for Canyon County. The problem? The measure to create Canyon County out of an area from here to Gorman and Palmdale failed at the earlier L.A. general election. Still, the “Supervisors in Exile” continued to meet and planned another crack in 1978 to create Canyon County.
• No matter what political jurisdiction you’d call it, Interstate 5 was closed at Castaic. Big blizzard. One group was giddy at the snowstorm. Castaic merchants did a land office amount of business for stranded motorists. One poor Bakersfield man got stiffed for $70 to buy car chains at a Castaic station, only to be told by the CHP he couldn’t get through, even with the chains. Today, at that rate, tire chains would cost you around $300.
JANUARY 5, 1987
• Some 300 onion pickers picked up their last paycheck. Without warning, Boskovich Farms fired their crew, after a full day’s work. Some of the workers had been with Boskovich since the 1950s. The family, without warning, announced they were halting their decades-long farming operation of green onions in the SCV.
Guadalupe Torres, who had worked for the family since 1963, recalled her work day beginning at 4:30 a.m. and some days, ending at 8:30 p.m. “We worked by the lights of the carrying truck,” she said.
Juan Lopez fell short of making 30 years with the Boskoviches by just one day.
What upset most of the veterans, who worked for $2.32 per crate bunched, was the family only gave them their pay envelopes at the end of a long day, said, “thank you” and that was that.
Rosa Delarosa, worked through back pain and arthritis. She was putting children through COC and UCLA.
The farm would move their operation south of the border. Company vice-president Joe Boskovich explained the sad economics: “We pay per day in Mexico what we pay hourly here. Mexico is taking over.” Joe noted that the operation had been losing money every year for the past several winters. Boskovich had leased 1,200 acres from Newhall Land but had cut back operations in half by 1987.
Boskovich Farms was founded in 1915 in North Hollywood and moved to the SCV in 1947. The company was founded by Steve Boskovich.
• In an odd bout of karma, Philip George Boskovich, 71, owner of the onion farm operation, was injured when his pick-up swerved off the shoulder of Interstate 5. A Dodge van, which had been on the side, slowly veered in front of him. Boskovich had the personalized plates: “UNYNKNG.”
• Richard Saukko, 67, rode in the Rose Parade again on his horse. Name of the pony? Traveler. Yup. Same one that was the USC mascot. The Saugus rancher rode the famed mount in every home game since 1961. The first Traveler was half-Tennessee Walker and half-Arabian. THAT Traveler was the brother of Silver. Yup. The “Hi-Ho” one who was the Lone Ranger’s horse. Traveler I died in 1973. Traveler II was 100 percent Tennessee. Besides Traveler III, another horse, a mare named “Sue” rode around the Coliseum with Saukko in his armor of Troy. Trivia? That Trojan costume Saukko wore was originally used by Charlton Heston in “Ben Hur.”
• We had a few burst pipes 20 years back, with morning temps dipping into the mid-20s.
JANUARY 8, 2003
• Of all the dates about the doings of generals, grand openings, actors, robbers, this one is my favorite. Four years ago tomorrow, I was blessed with Indiana Boston. Happy birthday, friend and daughter. Love you hugely, I do. Always will.
Come back and visit next week here under the warming glow of your SCV Beacon. I’ll be waiting with another thrilling trailride into the yesteryears and history of this wonderful Santa Clarita. Until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!
(SCV Historian John Boston also writes The John Boston Report blog for your SCV Beacon. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/ —you’ll be smiling for a week…) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.
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