[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 21
1837 - Ysabel Varela born in Placerville; became second wife (and widow) of SCV landowner Ygnacio del Valle. [story]

Guest Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Nov 4, 2012

Darryl Manzer

Hello. For those of you who know me, I’m here to tell you I’m back home in the Santa Clarita Valley for good.

If you don’t know, me let me introduce myself: I am Darryl Manzer, and at one time I was the only kid in Mentryville. I’ve also written a few columns for The Signal newspaper, served in the United States Navy for a few years (36), and play a little banjo. I hope to write a little for SCVTV/SCVNews.com and share some of my thoughts about, and experiences in, our valley.

Hundreds of folks lived in Pico Canyon long before there was a Stevenson Ranch or Southern Oaks. They raised their kids and sent them to school – right in Pico Canyon – and earned a living, seldom leaving the place.

There were dances, picnics, celebrations and all sorts of events. The little community had a tree planting frenzy one year, and a couple of the local boys got paid to water those trees every day.

Houses were built and gardens planted. Some families kept chickens for eggs and meat.

So, it is obvious that I’m not writing of the Pico Canyon you all know. No, this is all about the little town that came to be called Mentryville – called that because Mr. Alec Mentry was the man who drilled the wells and was in charge of the operations of the oil field.

Oh, what an oil field! It produced oil that was refined down in Newhall, and the kerosene that was made burned far brighter than the oil used in lamps previously. It was cheap and available, too. It soon replaced most of the lamp oil that had been used.

It was so good that the gathering and manufacturing of that prior lamp oil was nearly stopped on the West Coast. “What oil was that?” you ask. Why, whale oil, of course. Yep, the little wells in Pico Canyon just may have had a hand in starting to save the whales.

Many of you hike in Towsley Canyon. Great trails there. Pico has great trails, too, and they are being expanded all the time.  Towsley had oil wells, too. The little refinery was very busy.

I hope to tell you stories of this valley that you may have never heard before. I also hope to correct some of the “urban myths” I’ve heard since my return. Myths like, “The haunted graveyard in Pico Canyon” and the “Haunted house.” Nope, never a graveyard, and in the years I lived in that house, we never saw a ghost.

There are hundreds of stories that have never been told about Pico and Mentryville. Maybe this can serve as a little history lesson and along the way, bring to light some laughs – and a few tears, too.

In that house, a boy grew up into a young man.  Pico Cottage was actually a mansion, and what a glorious home it was!  I was the boy.  My experiences in Pico Canyon formed in me a strong sense of duty to others – not to mention that we were “green” long before it was a popular notion.  Nothing went to waste.  Food was home-grown: milk from our own cows and eggs warm and fresh from hens.

After leaving Pico Canyon, I went on to serve my country for 36 years and, let me tell you, my life in what is now the Santa Clarita Valley was vastly impacted by the sense of community and family values that I learned right here.

Come visit Towsley and Pico canyons.  Take in the beauty.  You’ll never find a more quiet spot than Johnson Park.  The only thing to tell you that you are in the year 2012 is the sound of a jet flying high overhead.

Are there ghosts?  Is Pico Cottage haunted?  See for yourself.  But most likely, the only thing you may hear is the echo of my footsteps on the stairs from a year long gone.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. First welcome home! I cant wait to here more stories about the town. I have lived here from 1970. Amazing changes. My stories kick star some fun. And thank you for you service even if it was the Navy… Lol Mike USMC

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Friday, Mar 16, 2018
Quentin Kopp, retired judge and Bay Area politician, was once chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority and helped sell the bullet train to voters. He’s now suing to stop it, saying, "The litigation, which is pending, will result, I am confident, in the termination of the High-Speed Rail Authority's deceiving plan."
Thursday, Mar 8, 2018
A wildfire stripped the banks of Placerita Creek of its thick, lush blanket of green – exposing thousands of shoots of the evil tamarisk.
Friday, Mar 2, 2018
In her March 2018 message, Mayor Laurene Weste outlines why Santa Clarita is a tech-savvy "smart city" and previews coming upgrades in street lighting, recycling stations and the local fiber-optic network.
Thursday, Feb 15, 2018
There was broad public support for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which struck a careful balance between lands available for large-scale renewable energy development and the environment. Now the federal government is rethinking it - putting the important and much-needed protections at risk.
Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018
You can prevent vision loss by finding and treating problems early. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once every 12 months for people at high risk for glaucoma
Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018
Sierra Club Angeles Chapter SCV Group Chair Sandra Cattell urges Santa Clarita Valley residents to contact their congressional representatives to push legislation to kill the Cemex mining project in Soledad Canyon.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1837 - Ysabel Varela born in Placerville; became second wife (and widow) of SCV landowner Ygnacio del Valle. [story]
The William S. Hart High School Wind Ensemble & Concert Band, as well as the Placerita Junior High School Advanced Band will be holding a Rich Musical Heritage Concert, Thursday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.
March 22: Rich Musical Heritage Concert
If you think you have the right stuff, Blue Star Ranch is looking for volunteers.
Blue Star Ranch Seeking Volunteers
Comic books, comic strips, graphic novels and web comics often provide an escape from reality.
CSUN Professor Establishes Comic Studies Society
From Oklahoma! to The Sound of Music, American composer Richard Rodgers forever changed the face of Broadway musicals, giving them stories and making them oh, so hum-able.
The Soraya to Celebrate Composer Richard Rodgers
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion aimed at preventing foster youth from becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system, and ensuring supportive care for those do.
Supes Approve Motion Preventing ‘Dual Status,’ ‘Crossover’ Foster Youth
On Friday, March 23, CalArts alum Travis Wilkerson’s (Film/Video MFA 01) latest documentary, Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? screens at CalArts' Bijou theater.
March 23: CalArts Screening ‘Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?’
LOS ANGELES – As part of the team’s continuing celebration of 60 seasons in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will pay tribute to one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history by permanently marking a commemorative seat located in the area of the Right Field Pavilion where Kirk Gibson’s historic walk-off home run landed during Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The “Kirk Gibson seat” is the first seat at Dodger Stadium to be marked in tribute to a historic event.
Dodgers Honor Kirk Gibson Homerun with Seat in Right Field Pavilion
Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley, a non-profit that mobilizes community faith groups in the SCV to assist homeless families, recently announced that after six years at its current Resource Center, they are in need of finding a new site for its offices in order to provide services to homeless families.
Local Non-Profit Seeking New Office Site
Adonna Khare will demonstrate carbon art at the April 16 meeting of the Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA). This event is free, open to the public and meets at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd.
April 16: Carbon Art by Adonna Khare
Santa Claritans will have an early spring celebration at the “Touches of Spring”, an art show featuring Zony Gordon, an award-winning local artist who will be showing from March 12- April 30, 2018 at the Art & Photo Gallery of Fast Frame in Valencia.
March 24: Zony Gordon Artist Reception
The ARTree Studio 2 will be holding an art exhibit by artist Six, called Food Memories beginning Friday, March 23 with an opening night reception from 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
March 23-25: Food Memories Art Exhibit by Six
Here is a list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for March 22-24:
March 22-24: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
Shoppers can find all what they need to make that special Easter Brunch this year by visiting the Santa Clarita Farmers Market located at the College of the Canyons, parking lot 5 on Valencia Boulevard. The market will be open on Easter Day and runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Santa Clarita Farmers Market Open Easter Sunday
The Triumph Foundation's Wheelchair Sports Festival will take place on Saturday, April 28 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday April 29 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
April 28-29: Triumph Foundation’s Wheelchair Sports Festival
With significant rain moving across the area Tuesday through Thursday this week, there is a moderate to high risk of debris flows near recent burn areas.
National Weather Service Warns Residents of Debris Flows as Storm Approaches
The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center will hold a Cyber Security: If It's Connected, It Must be Protected Presentation on Wednesday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. in Rooms A1 and A2.
March 21: Cyber Security Presentation at Senior Center
The 2018 Spring Season Opener did not disappoint as it had drama tense moments 4 yellow cards a red card, player down with injury and the Storm settled with an even 2-2 draw.
Tense SC Storm Season Opener Ends in 2-2 Tie
Want to build your own social media empire, or just improve your social media presence? Learn from the best at SCV Startup Grind featuring Rachel Hollis, tonight.
March 20: SCV Startup Grind
This past weekend, all six William S. Hart district color guards participated in the mid-season contest, hosted at Valencia High School and sponsored by the Winter Guard Association of Southern California.
Hart District Color Guards Compete at Valencia High School
(Washington, DC) - On Tuesday, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) introduced H.R. 5337, the Accelerated Payments for Small Businesses Act of 2018.
Knight Measure Would Speed Up Payment for Small Business Contractors
2012 - County supervisors approve 50-year operating agreement for Placerita Canyon State Park [read]
The city of Santa Clarita Tourism Marketing District Advisory Board's next Regular Meeting is set for Tuesday, March 20 at City Hall starting at 2 p.m.
March 20: Tourism Marketing District Advisory Board Meeting
The Small Business Investment Opportunity Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by a bi-partisan group of Senators.
Knight Small Business Opportunity Act Introduced in Senate
The city of Santa Clarita's Planning Commission will hold its next Regular Meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, March 20 starting at 6 p.m.
March 20: Planning Commission Regular Meeting
The Master's University freshman track and field athletes showed great promise at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet at Point Loma Nazarene University on Sunday.
TMU Track and Field Freshmen Shine at Point Loma
During Sunday's ninth inning, Master's came out on the wrong side — of a 5-4 final score at McBean Park in Lincoln and a three-game sweep.
TMU Baseball Squanders Grand Slam in Series Finale
The TMU Mustangs baseball team (17-12, 10-9 in Golden State Athletic Conference) was swept 9-1 and 5-3 by NAIA No. 7 William Jessup on the road Saturday.
Mustangs Baseball Drops Two to Jessup
"They'll be back," TMU men's basketball team's lone senior Lawrence Russell said after a 106-104 loss to Peru State College in the first round of the NAIA Division 1 National Championship tournament Wednesday.
TMU Men’s Basketball Team Eyes Another Run
Chandra Subramaniam spent his first week as the new dean of California State University, Northridge’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics learning about the job and the people he’ll be working with.
Chandra Subramaniam is New Dean of CSUN’s Nazarian Business College
Santa Clarita Valley students, teachers, families and supporters will gather for a "March for Our Lives" rally at Marketplace Park in Valencia on Saturday, March 24, starting at 10 a.m., to demand an end to gun violence in schools.
March 24: SCV ‘March for Our Lives’ Rally to ‘Demand Safe Schools’
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is expanding its S.H.A.R.E. Program in an effort to reduce reports of hate crimes and hate incidents throughout the county.
LASD Expands ‘S.H.A.R.E.’ Anti-Hate Program
Los Angeles County Interim Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser has extended a county beach use advisory through Tuesday night at 10 due to runoff from the recent rainfall.
Beach Use Advisory Extended Through Tuesday
'NCIS," 'Criminal Minds' and three feature films are among the productions filming in the Santa Clarita Valley March 19-25, 2018.
‘NCIS,’ ‘Criminal Minds,’ 3 Features Now Filming in Santa Clarita
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors invites you to join us in celebrating Public Defense Day today to honor the 55th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Gideon v. Wainwright.
County Observes ‘Public Defense Day,’ Seeks New Top PD
As Metro begins to put together its transportation budget for the 2019 fiscal year, effective July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, the agency seeks input from the public to help set priorities.
Metro Seeks Public Input on FY-19 Budget