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This is one of my favorite historical trailrides of the year. It’s Father’s Day. Because we get to go back in time, I’ll have my Dad, Walt Cieplik, riding on my right and my daughter, when she was tiny (well, compared to me, tinier) holding onto the saddlehorn in front. C’mon, Dads. And Moms. And all the rest of you dear friends. Atop a tall steed with pals and family, and nothing but time to waste — it doesn’t get any better than this...

 

(PHOTO CAPTION:  If you’ve ever traveled on the twisting and tortuous abandoned Ridge Route, it’s hard to believe that this was the main road to get from Southern to Central California. At the summit was the wonderful log cabin-like structure, the Sandberg Hotel. It was both a mini resort and a place to stop, rest, eat and admire the view. The state began construction on the historic “New” Ridge Route in June of 1912, linking Castaic with the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Originally of course, the road had been a gaming trail and it wasn’t until 1855 you could take a wagon across. The first white person we know to have traversed it was Don Pedro Fages, who hiked it in 1772. Today, it’s a 90-minute romp up Interstate 5 to Bakersfield but back then, it was 2-3-day ride on horseback (less for us grizzled time travelers) and don’t even think about crossing it during the winter. The road had 3,500 curves in it from Castaic to the Grape Vine and cost a whopping $3 million to build. It opened in July of 1915 and was christened State Highway 4.)

 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN

–––––––   This sure isn’t local, but I stumbled upon these little tidbits a while back on the subject of Father’s Day. The first known tribute to a dad was written by Elmesu of Babylon about 4000 years ago. Elmesu implored the gods to grant his dad, “...good health and enduring days.”

–––––––   In some pre-Christian tribes, it was considered a crime, punishable by death, to disagree with one’s father.

–––––––   The father, in some cultures even today, is in charge of arranging marriages for his offspring. They have no say in it. But in India, the daughter can get revenge. If a father got too deeply into debt, the daughter could sell him into slavery.

––––––– BULLETIN: OK. Now we’re back to local stuff. This wasn’t a great week for the health of SCV giants. Antonio del Valle, who was deeded the entire valley in lieu of military wages, died on June 21, 1841, less than two years after being deeded all that land.

–––––––   Before it was the Santa Clara River, the Chumash called that on-again, off-again body of water, the mighty “Uth Am.” It originated in the Aliso Canyon area, southeast of Acton and ends 84 miles later in the Pacific Ocean.

–––––––   A Dr. Baer used to own a good chunk of Whitney Canyon and turned it into a resort, complete with cottages, a club house, water slide, swimming pool and dance area. That was in the early 20th century. Alas, it’s not there anymore.

 

JUNE 18, 1925

–––––––   The valley was still mourning the loss of constable Jack Pilcher, who was accidentally shot between the eyes when his partner’s revolver fell out and hit the floor. Old-timers recalled that the office of local constable was fraught with bizarre endings. One lawman of the later 19th century (and before Prohibition) was shot through the heart in an altercation with an outlaw outside a saloon. I’ve heard a similar story that the constable was shot in the back of the head by the bad guy. Then, in Sept. of 1924, Ed Brown was killed by Gus LeBrun in a violent shoot-out. Constable Pardee died in Los Angeles when he was hit by a car. And then, there was Jack Pilcher’s demise. Four lawmen in a community of 500 souls all met violent deaths.

–––––––   Speaking of Pilcher, you might recall how I mentioned last week how Jack’s son, Johnny, died in a freak accident. Johnny was repairing a flagpole when the pole broke and the Pilcher boy, who was in his early 20s or late teens, fell to his death when he landed on the spike. Our treasured saddlepal, Gladys Laney, recalled that the flagpole was at the old Felton School in Mentryville, not at the Pilcher ranch in Pico. She also shared another note about that haunted, poor family. A second son, Marvin, died of tuberculosis. Imagine the grief of that poor Mrs. Pilcher...

–––––––   For some reason, I just love the language of this brief that appeared in the police blotter 90 years  back: “Albert Hilkey, a painter, was arrested for disturbing the peace and mistreating dumb animals — 180 days.”

 

JUNE 18, 1935

–––––––   On this date, Gladys Carter was ruled insane by a judge. Mrs. Carter was married to a sheriff’s deputy and suspected that her teenage housekeeper was having an affair with her husband. Mrs. Carter shot the girl dead and was tried for murder. All that awaited was sentencing to see if the woman would be set free or be institutionalized.

–––––––   The Signal was having a time of it. The main drag (Spruce Street then, San Fernando Road today) was being widened again. This newspaper, along with other storefronts, had to suffer through trying to keep in business while workers rearranged everything from all the walls to plumbing.

 

JUNE 18, 1945

–––––––   I can’t imagine why anyone would purposely move from Aspen to Newhall, but that’s what Elizabeth Rule did in 1922. She taught 7th and 8th grade here for 23 years at Newhall Elementary and retired on this date. Funny note. She taught in Aspen for just a year and in recalling her career, was asked if any students stuck out in her mind. Ralph Carr became the governor of Colorado. As for any Newhall alum? She couldn’t think of nary a one...

 

JUNE 23, 1946

–––––––   A respectful tip of the O’Farrell toward the mansion on the hill. On this day in 1946, famed silent movie star William S. Hart died, leaving most of his fortune and estate to Los Angeles County — and $1 to anyone who would contest his will. His son and ex-wife did, starting a decade-long series of court dramatics to rival the Michael Jackson trial.

 

JUNE 18, 1955

–––––––   You don’t see want ads like this anymore. On this date, in the classifieds of The Mighty Signal, this advertisement appeared: “WANTED: Herd of Sheep to clean up two large fields, lots of feed and water, Murphy Ranch in Saugus.”

 

JUNE 18, 1965

–––––––   They say his ghost still haunts the confines of his old theater. On this date, Robert E. Callahan held the grand opening of his Indian Village Theater way up Sierra Highway. Callahan originally started his eclectic set-up in Los Angeles in 1943, calling it the Mission Village. He bought some property 7 miles up from the Mint Canyon Junction and built the theater and oddball museum/tourist trap. Silent screen star Francis X. Bushman was the guest of honor at the opening. Later, Callahan would sell the property and it would be home to the Canyon Theater Guild.

–––––––   June 21st marked the grand opening of the Valencia Golf Course.

–––––––   This week also marks the 1st anniversary of the first graduating class of Sierra Vista Junior High.

 

JUNE 18, 1975

–––––––   Can’t say I miss them, but, on this date, due to state budget constraints, the $9 million yearly PVI program was killed by the state. PVI stands for Personal Vehicle Inspection. That’s when the CHP could randomly pull over a vehicle and give them a 15-minute once-over.

–––––––   The cast and crew of one of TV’s biggest miniseries, “Rich Man, Poor Man,” took over part of downtown Newhall for filming. The old post office and the corner of 8th and San Fernando Road were turned into a 1940s used car lot for a few scenes.

–––––––   Our local Boys & Girls Club just held a fairly successful auction, ringing up the registers by bringing in about a half-million bucks. Thirty years ago, the B&G auction took in a “very successful” $18,000. Or, 4.5 puppies for Dianne Crawford.

–––––––   One of my favorite actors who never really made the big time was Clu Gulager. He was named the grand marshal for our 4th of July parade.

 

JUNE 18, 1985

N Thatcher Glass, once the valley’s largest employer, made its final death gasps. After filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the ended up selling all their holdings for about $50 million (not including the land). Thatcher’s founder had invented the glass milk bottle in the 19th century and turned that idea into a multi-million business. The Saugus plant was built in 1954 and was Thatcher’s No. 1 profit-maker. Up until the early 1980s, it averaged about $80 million in sales. What caused the manufacturer’s demise? Plastics, man. Plastics.

I surely look forward to seeing all you fellow Santa Claritans next week with another exciting Time Ranger adventure, and, until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!

 

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