Ugh, we’re in this underworld, stuck between Halloween and the big election. I believe the best way to de-stress is to board a noble steed and visit the trails of yesteryear.
This morning we will explore some of the local devil winds and our connections to Death Valley. We’ll say hello to the Witch of Mint Canyon and do a bunch of political homework.
Come on, friend. Time for the cowboy and the cowgirl…
WAY BACK WHEN AND THEN
ORE WATER — On this day in 1891, Rudolph Nickel, founder of the Acton Rooster and the famous Acton Hotel, also created the first water district in the area. It was aptly named “Acton Waterworks”.
A GOOD MONTH FOR HIKING — Back on November 4, 1849, Bill Manley and John Rogers walked all the way from Death Valley to Rancho San Francisco (near Castaic) to bring back help for their stranded train. Vaqueros from the great spread of Ignacio del Valle flew out a few weeks later and rushed to their rescue, bringing back the survivors of Bennett-Arcanu’s group. Some of those early pioneers stayed to make Santa Clarita their home. Here’s an interesting tidbit. One of the women who was rescued from one of the most miserable and hottest spots on planet Earth looked back from her cart as she made her way to the more temperate climate of Santa Clarita. On the way from the wastelands of central California, she said with disgust, “Goodbye, Death Valley.” And since then, this place has been called so.
I WONDER HOW LIKELY YOU WILL GET A BUSY SIGNAL? — In 1908, there were 10 telephones in the Acton-Agua Dulce SCV region.
OCTOBER 29, 1922
BODY HEAT AND HOT AIR SHOULD HAVE DONE… — The furnace in the Hap-a-Land hall was broken and it was a cold November night. Nevertheless, there was a good turnout at the Republican rally. One of the topics? Voter turnout. Politicians and speakers scolded those who did not come to the polling station on election day. They still hardly are.
DANCE TO THE KEY OF R-RUPTURED FLAT — I wonder how the local band members felt when they read this in The Mighty Signal: “The Honby Hall management cleaned and repaired the floor until they now have a great dance floor. There will be changes in the orchestra, which, I believe, will be for the better.” Everyone is a critic…
OCTOBER 29, 1932
INVITE THE POLICE FIRST — We were once ably guarded by the sheriff’s substation No. 6. Here is a small tidbit of the bygone days of wide spaces. Substation 6 not only covered the entire Santa Clarita Valley, but was also responsible for law and order in the entire Antelope Valley. We had Substation 6 in Lancaster with Deputy Glen Wilson in charge.
BREATH. THOSE PRICES OF THE DEPRESSION ERA… — From The Mighty Signal ads, we note that oak firewood sold for $10 per cord. You could buy a whole fried chicken for 75 cents, sugar was a nickel a pound, and a pound of butter and a dozen eggs cost about a quarter. A brand new Ford car? It was sold for $460. It wasn’t a monthly payment either. It was for the whole damn car.
OCTOBER 29, 1942
WHEN THE GOVERNMENTS BLOCKED THE VALLEY Long before we had Yuppies and CC&R monitors, we had air raid controllers. During World War II, an adult version of the monitor was created. Air raid supervisors drove around the valley checking to see if residents had dimmed or darkened their lights after dark (we didn’t want to be an easy target for Japanese bombers). Those who refused to shade their homes to prevent light from seeping in were subject to arrest and prosecution.
SANTA CLARITA VALLEY DEMOCRATIC — The normally Democratic-heavy SCV helped sweep Earl Warren from office. He beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Olsen 618-433 locally.
OCTOBER 29, 1952
SANTA CLARITA VALLEY REPUBLICAN — Another election, 10 years later, and again SCV Democrats elected Republicans. Dwight David Eisenhower won the valley by a score of 2,053 to 1,360 over that clever boy with a hole in his shoe, Adlai Stevenson.
WE ARE WORKING OUR WAY BACK TO THOSE STATISTICS — 800 Signals were purchased on newsstands or via subscription. Only in Newhall in 1952 did it work for more than one newspaper per household.
OCTOBER 29, 1962
CRIPES! I WONDER WHAT NSD’S PARENTS WOULD THINK OF FLOOR DANCING. — The Newhall School District board meeting was the scene of lively debate. 5th grade teacher Bob Tangeman took on the task. Mr. T played comedian Stan Freburg’s satirical comedy album about the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. The album was then banned by the FCC. The parents of one of Mr. Tangeman’s students found the material politically unacceptable for 5th graders.
NOVEMBER 1, 1963
WHAT TO GET FOR THE 59TH ANNIVERSARY? — On this day, the community of Canyon Country was officially formed. It was this identity that separated that part of the valley from the Newhall-Saugus area, which they felt was getting all the attention. Which we did. We actually had people living there. (Just kidding, canyon friends.) We also celebrated our first Border Days.
OCTOBER 29, 1972
CULT KIDNAPPING — Here is a whimsical case close to Halloween. A young woman and her 3-year-old daughter were reported abducted from the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation complex in Mint Canyon. The robbery was allegedly committed by 15 friends and family members of the woman. They tied up the young woman, took her to Chula Vista and kept her in a hotel for 10 days. At that time, a group of Jews accused her of being a witch and of being brainwashed by the Alamo group. Eventually, the woman convinced her brother to help her escape, and she returned to the Alamo compound. The Alamo Foundation has had a controversial history here, from being called a cult to being a conscious religious group. Their leader, Tony Alamo, was indicted on several state and federal charges.
OH BLOW UP MAN, WOMAN, KIDS, DOGS, CATS, HORSES AND LAWN CHAIRS — Usually the late Santa Ana wind is just a nuisance, but on this day 50 years ago it was really bad for business. Gusts of 40 to 60 miles per hour kept boaters safe from Lake Castaic and tourists from Magic Mountain. Golf courses and drive-in theaters were deserted. The streets were mostly deserted.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY, DO NOT ELECT ANYONE — Here is a rare one. Signal had no opinion. During the 1972 presidential election, TMS declared, “The Nixon administration is rotten through and through. It is absolutely corrupt, arrogant, conspiratorial, venal and vulgar. Nevertheless, the lying nature of the Republican Party does not give the Democrats the right to nominate a fickle, messianic and patronizing candidate. “The Signal” cannot support either George McGovern or Richard Nixon with dignity and integrity.”
NOVEMBER 2, 1976
THAT TIME WE WERE ALMOST COUNT — On this day, local residents tried to secede from the elephant county of Los Angeles. The idea of creating our own district failed in the elections. I think the Canyon County score was about 65-35 if I remember correctly. Two years later, local residents will try again to create Canyon County. This bid for independence was also suppressed.
OCTOBER 29, 1982
MORE PURE FROM SANTA ANASA — A huge gust of wind picked up a giant semi truck on Highway 14 near Placerite and blew it away. Thousands of bulbs were scattered everywhere. So. Motorists hit the brakes to pick them up.
AND NOT A SINGLE FORBIDDEN – Forty years ago, SCV registered 20,973 Republicans and 17,504 Democrats. Multiply those two numbers and you get 157,381,392. Oh my goodness, dear. I KNOW there are a few restless souls who will actually check the math…
NOVEMBER 3, 1987
HAPPY 35TH!! — On this day, the decision was made to form the city of Santa Clarita. In lieu of gifts to the city, please send checks made out to “John Boston” or, preferably, “CASH” to this address. And a big thank you to all the city workers, helpers and visionaries over the years who have helped build this wonderful government and community!
• • •
Good saddles. Here we are (didn’t have time to work on my pronouns, but started with small third person substantive verbs). Back to the proverbial and real Here-and-Now. See you, dear friends and neighbors, at the elections. Well. You who vote the same as me. For those of you voting AGAINST Me, your polling place has been moved to Elko, Nevada for Piggly Wiggly. See you, dear amigos, in seven days, back here at The Mighty Signal post. Before, vayan con Dios, amigos!
Don’t forget to go buy Boston’s newest book, The 25 Most Mismatched Dog Breeds, right now at johnbostonbooks.com. Sombrero in hand, we note that a 5-star rating on Amazon would be greatly appreciated!