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Boy, howdy. It’s a good thing we’re going to be off in another time dimension. C’mon, folks. Hop into those saddles and try not to groan. It’s not Westernly and besides. We’re burning daylight…

 

PHOTO CAPTION: In most of his movies, Roy Rogers came out on top in the end. Not so in real life. The Western film star was ordered by a Superior court to pay $72,896 to Dr. Orwyn H. Ellis. Doc Ellis bought Roy’s 342-acre ranch near Lake Hughes in 1952. Rogers’ manager had represented the property had more than enough water to run agricultural operations. Doc Ellis had enough water to raise about $100 in crops. He sued. He won. Roy paid. Interestingly, Roy bought his fabled horse, Trigger, here in the SCV. This was before Rogers became a superstar. A little trivia: if you watch the Errol Flynn flick, “Robin Hood,” (filmed in Placerita Canyon), you can catch a glimpse of Trigger before he was Trigger. Olivia de Havilland rides him (the horse) in the film.

 

 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN

–––––––     Prior to 1914, all California license plates were privately made for individual customers.

–––––––      The original road, before the Americans built the precursor to 126, used to run behind the Camulos Ranch house, not in front of it as it is today.

–––––––     It was the year before the great war between the states started and on this very date in 1860, Col. Thomas Finley Mitchell arrived to homestead up near Sand and Lost Canyons. In 1865, he left his lean-to shanty to bring back a bride, 17-year-old Martha Catherine Taylor. Tom and his neighbor John Lang built Sulphur Springs School (which today is the second oldest school district in Los Angeles County) and their wives taught all the kids in the neighborhood. Over the years, Mitchell’s holdings would expand to over 1,000 acres. Imagine owning 1,000-plus acres in Sand Canyon today. If you’d like to see the historic Mitchell home and what life was like in the mid-1800s, the adobe house has been re-created and awaits your perusal at Heritage Junction, in Newhall.

 

MAY 21, 1925

–––––––     Heated controversy and sports are handmaidens. As case we site the following description of the Newhall’s victory over Santa Paula: “The Santa Paula outfit don’t know what good sportsmanship means. They are as big a bunch of crybabies and rowdies as ever shamed a diamond by their presence. No team that deeply respects baseball would ever give them a return game.” Our reporter was rather miffed at the alleged shabby treatment by our neighbor to the west. They kept hitting batsmen and then threatened the umpire, an SP local, to yank 6 runs off the scoreboard in the 9th inning.

N It rained an inch on this date, 80 years back.

 

MAY 21, 1935

–––––––     We were such a small town and paper that one of the front page stories from 80 years back was that Arnold Neufeld missed a week from elementary school. He had poison oak.

–––––––     Our Fourth of July celebration and parade was just three years old. Famed silent film star William S. Hart came up with the idea of calling the fest “Placeritos Days.” It stuck for a few days.

–––––––     There were just nine cases in Judge Kennedy’s court. All of them were for drunk driving.

–––––––     Summer came early to the Santa Clarita, with the mercury hitting the century-mark. Ouch!

 

MAY 21, 1945

–––––––     Willie Ruark hitched his last ride. On this date, the thumber bagged a lift from a double rig carrying 33,000 pounds of TNT. The brakes went out on the Grapevine downgrade and the truck went over the side into a deep ravine. The truck miraculously didn’t explode, but Ruark was crushed to a pulp under the tons of dynamite. The driver was unhurt.

 

MAY 21, 1955

–––––––     The William S. Hart High Unified School District, which, if you’re counting, has 40 letters and one punctuation mark. On this date, they set their budget for the next school year. A half-century ago, it was $937,000 — the last year the district was able to operate under a million bucks. In 1956, Hart crept over the 7-figure mark with a budget of $1,010,400.

–––––––     Speaking of schools, the state senate voted to approve the final paperwork to open something called San Fernando Valley State College in 1956. Today, it’s called Cal State University Northridge — CSUN.

–––––––     I might have to ask my pals over at the Sheriff’s station to see if they have someone who has broken this record. But a half-century ago, Floyd A. Cash earned his eighth public intoxication arrest in two years. Adding to his resume, Floyd managed, on his eighth arrest, to vault out of the patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back and disappear into the darkness. They local gendarmes didn’t capture him for a season and then some...

 

MAY 21, 1965

–––––––       Remember at our last stop in 1955 was the last time the Hart District budget was under a million bucks? In 1965, they actually slashed the budget by a quarter million. It ended up being around $2.5 million.

 

MAY 21, 1975

–––––––       It’s a small world. On this date, Bobby Augusta Davis, one of two men who shot and killed four Highway Patrol officers in 1970, was involved in a prison brawl at Folsom. Kenneth Como attacked Charles Manson during one of his infrequent visits into the general prison population. Davis jumped in, but it was never made clear whether he was helping Manson or trying to hurt him with Como. At the time, Davis and Manson were on death row together. Davis is still up in Pelican Bay in Northern California.

 

MAY 21, 1985

–––––––       This is a pinch over the hill on Highway 138, but it’s funny. You wonder if the darn road crews working on the sign were imported. But a new, HUGE sign stretching over 2 lanes and headed westbound had the typographical error of all time. The sign warned motorists that Interstate-5 was just 3/4-mile up ahead. To get to Los Angeles, get in the left lane. To go north, to “SACRASFIELD,” get in the right lane. “Sacrasfield?”

–––––––       I’ll throw this in here because it’s convenient. That area of Highway 138 north of the Santa Clarita Valley by about a half hour is called Neenach. I know the population of the area was around 80 in 1940 and it may have actually dropped 65 years later. There used to be a community of transplanted Danes from Wisconsin who founded it in the 1880s. In 1922, businessman John Shea built a castle for his wife Ellen out there. He built it hoping it would help his wife’s ill health. It didn’t. She died a year after moving into it. Shea later filed bankruptcy and committed suicide by jumping off the Santa Monica Pier, of all things. A few years later, a man by the name of Tommy Lee (no relation to my close saddlepal and former head of Newhall Land) bought the place. He too went bankrupt and killed himself. There are several other stories of people going mad in the area and that the place is haunted. All that’s left of Shea’s Castle today is rubble.

–––––––       Daniel De Alba was a little too much the Good Son. His mother complained about a helicopter that was hovering over the wash near their Saugus home. De Alba took this as his cue to go outside with a .270 caliber rifle and take a shot at the whirlybird. It just missed. Sheriff’s deputies were called. They quickly found it was the 27-year-old man who was the culprit and arrested him without incident. Well. More incident.

–––––––       It wasn’t a good week for Calico Fuels of Bakersfield. One of their double-rig tankers rolled over on the southbound lane in Castaic, spilling thousands of gallons of oil. It was the second flip-over and spill by a Calico truck within two days.

–––––––       A bombing of neighborhoods in Philadelphia by police made national headlines on this date. But locals were wondering about an odd similarity. Seems the streets listed in the news were Market, Pine, Spruce and Race. That’s where town founder Henry Mayo Newhall went to work after his childhood in Saugus, Mass. When he founded Newhall, he brought the street names with him, according to Ruth Newhall. This somewhat contradicts an earlier item. Ted Lamkin said the name of “Race” street came from the “Human race.” Maybe it did, in Philadelphia. By the way. There were no street names in Saugus, Mass., when Hank was a boy...

 

You and your ponies stay hydrated. I’ll see you all you neighbors and pals next week right back here at your SCV Beacon with another exciting Time Ranger adventure, and, until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!

 

(John Boston has earned 119 major awards for writing, including being named, several times, America’s best humor, and, best serious columnist. Look for his John Boston Report every week in your SCV Beacon. © 2015 by John Boston. All rights reserved.)

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