The Time Ranger | Acton. Yup. Almost Our State’s Capital

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Top of the weekend metaphorical morning to you, you — you — you Santa Clarita varmints and fetching/wanton varmint-ettes. Now right off the bat, we’ve stumbled upon yet another great all-girl garage band name: 

The Wanton Varmint-ettes. 

I’d pay a $12 cover charge for a 2-ounce beer to hear them do a set, make eye contact with the drummer, and who knows, discover a friend. 

What can I say. 

I’m Old West and incorrigible. 

Or is it “discouragable”? 

Who knows? Who cares? Let’s climb aboard our previously and heavily sanitized saddles so we don’t bring COVID into the 19th century. Each of you bring an extra latte. We shall dispense them to the grateful peasants and our grumpy ancestors of yesteryear. 

WAY BACK WHEN & THEN SOME  

AND NOT ONE SINGLE HOA BOARD MEMBER WITHIN A THOUSAND MILES — Back on June 9, 1842, the governor of California gave Francisco Lopez the Rancho Temescal for his kind gift of discovering gold in the Santa Clarita Valley and handing it over to the governor. 

OUR BELOVED PROHIBITIONIST — On June 8, 1851, Henry Clay Needham was born in Kentucky. He would later become the only Santa Claritan to run for the presidency. Did it thrice, too. 

GEEZ. WE WOULDN’T HAVE HAD TO DRIVE SO FAR TO PAY OUR STATE TAXES — Back on June 12, 1868, the Soledad Post Office was established in the community of Ravenna, which was about halfway between Agua Dulce and Acton. The population of the mining town was more than 1,000 souls. Bonus IQ Stuff? In 1850, Acton was considered to be the capital of California. 

JUNE 12, 1921  

DIRT ROADS OF YONDER — The Signal noted that Placerita Canyon was one of the prettiest tourist drives in Southern California and that, “Twenty to one hundred machines pass through the long scenic road every day.” Wow. That many. One of the problems of Placerita’s road was that it was dirt, impassable during part of the year, narrow and dangerous in spots, and you had to open and close many gates during your drive. The Signal wanted the Board of Supervisors to do some improving on the lane. Now, many of us are trying to keep the government out.  

JUNE 12, 1931 

CONVOLUTED WAY TO GET TO GLENDALE — It was one of the oddest practical jokes pulled on this community. A man called from a Ridge Route pay phone, saying his plane had crashed in the hills. He left a description and registration numbers of his plane, then hitched a ride into Glendale, wearing full 1930s aeroplane regalia — leather helmet, goggles, aviator jumpsuit. After a three-day search for the wreckage, turned out the plane the man had described was sitting peacefully in a hangar in Nebraska. Folks were wondering if the elaborate ruse was just to hitch a free ride into Glendale. 

GETTING ZAPPED — We’ve certainly hammered home the theme of history being circular. On this date, 70 years back, W.C. Mullendore, vice president of Southern California Edison, lashed out at politicians who were criticizing SCE and other power companies. The pols were condemning the utilities for price-gouging and manipulation. Mullendore accused the politicians and critics of SCE of grandstanding and serving their own careers. 

JUNE 12, 1941  

LET’S HAVE LUNCH ON THE ROAD — The local farmers were treated to an unusual parade on this date. A line of motorized U.S. Army vehicles from the 15th Infantry Division stretching over a mile long passed through the SCV. They stopped at Newhall Ranch along the side of the road for lunch, too. 

ANOTHER SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND — This time, 16-year-old Bill Golden took his girlfriend for a picnic up Villa Canyon (near Castaic). The .22-caliber rifle he was carrying accidentally went off, sending a bullet through his calf. That’d be his lower leg part. Not his livestock. That pretty much ruined the picnic. 

FOR THOSE OF YOU MATH-CHALLENGED, THAT’S .800 — Big Leon Cherry led the Newhall 9 to a league pennant in the Southwestern semi-pro league. Leon hit 4-for-5. 

JUNE 12, 1951 

A PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE — A 10-year-old boy up Soledad Canyon just moved into the valley with his family. He went out to play and a few hundred yards from his home, found a cardboard box in the brush filled with shotgun shells, electrical fittings and 96 TNT blasting caps. The little kid lost both his hands. 

WHEN WE WERE ALMOST HOG CITY — The crooked L.A. City Council, working secretly with the crooked L.A. County Board of Supervisors, sold out the Santa Clarita Valley by signing contracts with a large Fontana hog rancher to let him move nearly 100,000 of his creatures to the SCV. The hogs were used to consume garbage for the city of L.A. Our big neighbors to the south had plans to turn the entire valley into one big smelly hog ranch and run garbage trains around the clock through town. Eventually, the garbage men were stopped. 

BUT NOT DULL-WITTED — On this date, Harry Osler bought the old shoe shop on San Fernando Road (then, Spruce Street) and called it Harry’s Shoe Repair. Harry ran it for decades. Harry used to bug the heck out of me because he’d refuse to resole my cowboy boots, scolding that I should just go and buy a new pair. The guy he bought it from? L.B. Dull. Not exactly a confidence-inspiring name for someone who polished shoes. 

JUNE 12, 1961 

LOCALS IN THE BIG SHOW — Hart High had two pitchers playing pro. George Conrad joined Paul Mosley on the Angels’ farm team in the Western Carolina league. Mosley struck out 101 batters in 91 innings as an All-CIF pitcher and batted a hefty .482. Conrad would set a semi-pro record for the time, striking out 177 batters. 

A CLUB MANY OF US COULD DO WELL TO JOIN — Wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I believe 1961 was the first and last time The 40-40-40 Club met officially. Hart district Superintendent Bob King announced he was forming the organization for the summer. Wrote Bob in a memo: “If you’re over 40 years of age or 40 or more pounds overweight or your waistline is 40 or more inches, you are cordially invited to attend the 40-40-40 classes held Monday and Wednesday night at the Placerita Junior High gymnasium.” I’m guessing this wasn’t about evening doughnuts and that probably, yuck, exercise was involved. 

HISTORY, AND SHOTS, REPEAT THEMSELVES — While the SCV and the world have been lining up for their COVID-19 shots, 60 years back, the lines were for polio shots. The previous year, 60% of those struck with the paralyzing virus were children younger than 10. 

THIS ONE’S FOR MY PAL, BARRISTER RICK PATTERSON — Fourteen local Methodist kids and their sponsors left for the Garrezo Arizona Apache Reservation. The group paid their own way and would spend two weeks helping to build a recreation center there. Rick (call him, 799-3899 at OPO law center if you need a crackerjack lawyer; I always love including the telephone number because it drives the publisher nuts and he keeps sending me bills for the free advertising) grew up around the Arizona Apaches and did much business with them as a younger chap. 

JUNE 12, 1971 

HEY. PIPE DOWN. — Not even Newhall Hardware carried this type of fitting. Some locals were in awe of the construction of the State Water Project that would include Castaic Lake. A reinforced concrete pipe, 20 feet in diameter, made its way across the valley. Slowly. It weighed more than150 tons. 

THE SLOW CULTURAL CHANGE OF A VALLEY — One of our biggest yearly events was the Jaycee Fair. While attendance was about the same as 1970 (around 15,000), businesses failed to show up. Like, only 20. The Jaycees ended up not making a cent and, soon, the fair would become extinct. 

THE ALLEGED CREEPY GUY NEXT DOOR AND MIXED MESSAGING — A 24-year-old woman fought off an attempted rape. Seems her next-door neighbor knocked on the door with an offered ice cream bar. He presented her with a note that read: “I have been longing for you. I love you. You are beautiful. If you tell your husband or the police, I have friends in Saugus who will say I was with them all day. If you scream or put up a fight, I have a knife in my back pocket.” The alleged rapist then pulled the knife and forced the woman into the bedroom. She must have had wonderful powers of persuasion because she talked him into HANDING her the knife, which she used to force him out of her abode. She locked the door behind her and called the cops, who arrested the guy. His story? He only met her the day before and was at her place “to eat a popsicle.” Lawmen found no knife at the woman’s house nor any note. 

JUNE 12, 1981 

CATS. THE OTHER WHITE MEAT. — Whoops. John Israelson, of Canyon Country, was being pestered by a gopher, so, he set out a coyote trap in his front yard. He didn’t catch a gopher, but he did manage to nail two of his neighbors’ cats. He apologized profusely and got hit with a $27 fine — that’s $13.50 per feline. 

CINEMA VERTE AS AN INTESTINAL RELAXANT — Signal gossip columnist Mimi reported that some merry pranksters switched some letters on the Mann Cinema sign, replacing the “Ci” with a giant “E.” (I’m not going to spell it out for you; you guys do the “math.”) Mimi looked on the bright side: “Glad to know that at least SOME kids are learning spelling in school.” 

TIP’S. NOW THERE WAS A BARROOM! — Mario Batugo, nephew of Tip’s world-famous mixologist, Bobby, earned top honors as America’s best bartender. Mario concocted the famous “Blue Heaven” drink. Same competition, Bobby placed third with his vodka “New Day” drink. The Batugos held a stranglehold on bartending competitions over the years. Starting in 1970, Bobby started with a fourth-place finish, then took the grand nationals in 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1978. Loy Batugo (Bobby’s brother and Mario’s dad) and another Tip’s bartender, Leo Lindogan, also were national winners over the years. 

NOT that I’m going sweet on any of you, but I surely do love your company on these weekend Signal history time rides. Happy last coupla weeks of June and I vote we do it again in seven. Until then —vayan con Dios amigos!  

Boston has launched his own publishing house, John Boston Books. The first is a three-volume set is “Ghosts, Ghouls, Myths & Monsters — The Most Haunted Town in America.” That’d be us. In the meantime, you can buy Boston’s “Melancholy Samurai,” “Naked Came the Sasquatch” and other of his books at bit.ly/John_Boston. If you liked the book, wouldn’t mind at all if you left a kind 5-star review.  

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