A tip of the O’Farrell 1000X to you, saddlepals. Looks like a glorious morn to go exploring.
We won’t be happy to just peruse the distant trails. Nope. We’re going to button up our dusters, wrap a kerchief around our hats and go head first through the time vortex into yesteryear.
There, what will we see?
There’s an SCV First Lady, a movie producer’s last scene and an oil crew marooned locally after a rainstorm. And you thought the last drizzle was annoying.
The horses have this herd instinct going so once we all get moving, adventure will flow...
(PHOTO CAPTION: On this date in 1987, Martin Dinnes was paid a visit by Sheriff’s deputies. Seems the Newhall vet had a side company. He made blowguns. You know. The ones the natives in the Amazon used to spit out curare-tipped darts? Dinnes’ company, Telinject USA, produced the blowguns for vets and zoos who needed them to subdue large animals. The D.A. acted on an anonymous tip that it was illegal to manufacture blow guns without a special license. Wonder if the anonymous tipster must have been from a rival blowgun company...)
WAY, WAY BACK WHEN
• Back in the late 19th century, delivering the mail had a different style. If you happened to be at Lyon Station where the post office was in the 1870s, you would naturally pick up any letters, post cards or packages for you — and, you were expected to pick up your neighbors. Then, you’d take your mail to your home and leave the rest of it in a box, large tin can or covered in the hollow of a tree for your neighbors to retrieve. A little trivia — the Saugus Post Office, which is no longer in operation, opened up this week, 95 years ago.
• Newhall Land and Farming has a long connection with Stanford University. Former CEO Atholl McBean founded their School of Business. When Stanford opened its doors in 1891, it admitted a bona fide handful of a girl, one Miss Lou Henry from Acton. Her father was manager of several mines in the area and Lou reportedly played on the slag heaps. She was Stanford’s first female graduate. She would soon wed a geology student from Iowa and the young couple would travel the world (in 1900, she and her husband were caught in the middle of the Boxer Rebellion in China). Lou and her hubby would return to Acton to rest, fish and entertain guests from around the world at the Acton Hotel and she would visit church services. Lou was tireless, charming, spoke five languages fluidly and was an art expert. You might know her husband — Quaker and 31st president of the United States — Herbert Clark Hoover. We’ll read about another SCV connection to the president a little further down the trail...
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1927
• It wasn’t a band name. A headline on the front page of a local newspaper read: “Farm House Burglars.” The Rowan ranch house in Placerita Canyon was liberated of goodies while the couple was in Arizona.
• R.W. Clark was pulled over for driving a stolen car. Local constables weren’t so surprised when they found a stash of payroll checks in his possession. But they were shocked when ol’ R.W. grabbed them from their hands and started eating the evidence.
• Long before we had a theater, Mrs. A. B. Perkins would motor into the San Fernando Valley and bring back silent movies for the Newhall Elementary PTA. On this date, the auditorium was packed for the comedy, “Introduce Me.” It was about a mountain climber who never climbed a mountain.
• A big rain storm marooned several dozen folks locally, including wildcatter Jack Taylor. He and his crew couldn’t be reached for days. Eventually, a pack mule team from Newhall lugged in supplies.
• With all our entertainment venues today — from iPods to 1,000-station cable outlets — it’s hard to appreciate how simple life was in 1927. The big draw in town was a brand new 10-tube radio set at the Motor Stage Cafe. The big receiver could pick up stations as far away as San Francisco. It took a safe cracker’s fingers to operate it, too. If you cranked the channel knob too quickly, you could blow out one of those big cathode tubes.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1937
• We recently went through a big freeze that lasted almost two weeks. Seventy years ago, the local citrus crop was ruined, with farmers reporting 100 percent crop losses from the cold snap. Not only did were lemons and oranges lost, but the buds and blossoms for next year’s crop. Farmers were wondering how they would spend their time.
• Signal editor A.B. “Dad” Thatcher panned the novel, “Gone with the Wind.” Wrote Dad: “It is very interesting as history, but as rotten as they make them in language. For profanity and obscenity, it certainly takes the cake.” I think Dad probably boosted local book sales with his review.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1947
• Movie producer Melville P. DeLay made his last picture in the SCV on this date. Literally. While shooting a Western at the Bonelli Ranch, he complained of dizziness. He walked over to a canvas chair on the set, sat down, turned blue and died on location.
• You old-timers will appreciate this. Remember the Losier’s Men’s Store on San Fernando Road? Bud held his grand opening on this date.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1957
• As we wander around 1957, do me a favor, saddlepals. Don’t tell the locals of a half-century back about the real estate prices of 2007. They wouldn’t believe you and they might lock you up, thereby putting a serious hitch into you getting back to the here and now. Back then, a brand new Saugus house, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, fireplaces, large lots were up for sale for $13,500. That’s not the down (which was $495). That’s the whole price.
• Back when we ran editorials, there was an interesting one penned by Fred Trueblood. It was entitled, “Sympathy for Israel.” Fred the 1st noted that there would be more interest in Israel if there was an ocean of oil under it and he admired them for making such a strong country out of nothing. The neat part of the think piece was this paragraph on Eisenhower: “To tell the truth, none of us have been very much impressed with the performance of the United Nations since the Korean War, and we find it hard to understand why our President has gone all-out for a U.N. action on all international problems.”
• It’s funny how the face of the valley has changed so drastically in such a short time. A rather big display ad ran in our paper a half-century back. Simply, it read, in huge type: “FREE! Carcass Removal. Horses, Cattle, Hogs. Immediate service in Newhall-Saugus area. Call Newhall 475.” I think if some of the newer residents saw a dead steer, they’d call the National Guard.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1967
• Their cup did not runneth over. A Saugus minister who headed The Cup of Cold Water Ministries was convicted of violating corporate securities laws. Rev. Wayne Davidson and a partner raised $500,000 in church moneys to purchase a Hermosa Beach hotel. Davidson was found guilty of nine counts of fraud. He had temporarily given up the ministry and was a manager of a screen door company.
• Forty years back, for you pitch & putt zealots, the little 9-hole, par-3 Chica course-ette opened at Vista Valencia.
• Today, a decent house rental in town can go for as much as $4,000. Forty years back, a large, 3-bedroom home with a giant yard in Newhall was going for — ding, ding, ding — $80 a month. A 5-acre horseranch in Placerita, with a 3-bedroom house, oaks, barn, amenities — $34,950.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1977
• I’m not sure, but George Erb might be Santa Clarita trivia. If not, he’s close. Erb might have been the last professional blacksmith in the valley — at least one to have his own shop. Erb’s little forge was next to Canyon Welding, on Magic Mountain Parkway. A former X-ray technician, he quit his high-paying job to have a little more fun with his career. He made his own anvil and tools, too.
• On this date, the Regional Planning Commission approved a new home for the Hart District offices. They used to be on Walnut Street, a nine-iron shot away from Hart High’s front door. The new HQ was approved to go up in Honby. Building estimate was about $1.4 million.
• There still were unmetered homes in the valley where the owners paid a flat monthly rate for their water. Most of them were in Friendly Valley. The utility pointed out it was more expensive and a bother to install a meter than to just charge them five bucks a month.
FEBRUARY 23rd, 1987
• More from the bizarre crime files. An exhibitionist was arrested after flashing a Bowman High co-ed. The exhibitionist must have really wanted to be noticed. The flasher was driving a white compact with a rather distinctive purple stripe running along the trunk, roof and hood.
• ABC released their controversial miniseries, “Amerika,” about the United States being taken over by the Soviet Union. Some folks were wondering if life was imitating art as several strange military units were seen motoring through town. It was nothing so sinister. The film, “Night of the Living Dead, Part II” was being filmed in Valencia. Phew!
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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