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September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Jan 13, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

Tomorrow is my birthday. Not that it means much to anyone but me, but it marks the fact that I’ve been somehow connected to the Santa Clarita Valley for 63 years. Yes, all those years of change.

While both of my loyal readers know I can wax nostalgic at changes in our valley and how much better it was when there were far fewer people, streets, houses, and malls, I must admit I like many of the changes.

Now, historically, I don’t like some of the changes made in Mentryville since I lived there, but I have to remember what the folks who lived there before me and my folks said about how we had changed things for the worse. And I still don’t like the changes the folks who followed us in Pico accomplished.  I mean the fruit trees and sucker-rod fences and roses in the front yard and – see what I mean?

I don’t like the barn and schoolhouse colors now. But those changes preserved the place. At least it got some paint. Goodness knows we couldn’t afford it.

Those changes in the lower areas of Pico Canyon, right about where the Ralph’s supermarket sits, I kind of like. It means nobody will be growing, cutting and baling hay there again.

You know, if I never lift another bale it will be too soon. Another good change.

The view from Happy Valley toward the future Valencia in 1958. Click to enlarge.

The view from Happy Valley toward the future Valencia in 1958. Click to enlarge.

I really like the overpass at Pico Canyon Road and Interstate 5. There was a time before that bridge – actually on April 5, 1966 – that I encountered a vehicle heading north with my motorcycle. Car won, motorcycle lost – and so did I. Both legs broken and wheelchair-bound. Guess that change was better, too.

I do think the SCV has cooled a little. Before Valencia and all the trees, there was little shade to cool the valley floor. There were just lots of open, flat and dusty fields north of Lyons and west of Newhall Avenue. You could look across those fields on a summer day and watch the heat waves ripple off of them.

While I write about how the smell of the onion fields and the stockyards could help Hart High win a Friday night football game if the wind was right, I don’t miss those smells. I like the changes made in that department, too.

San Fernando Road – now Newhall Avenue – four lanes or more from Highway 14 all the way to Saugus and beyond. I like that change, too. Dare I mention the cross-valley connector? Remember the traffic on Soledad Canyon Road before it existed? Good change? You betcha.

Want a good meal?  We’ve got some right here in our valley. Don’t have to leave town to buy just about anything.

Not all of the changes are for the better, but we’ve made some great strides in preserving the best part of the SCV.  The city is slowly expanding the open-space areas that surround the valley so we won’t have huge, ugly waves of houses rolling over every ridgeline. That is one way to make the changes better. I think that is pretty good.

Now, I can refer to certain places and place-names that only we “Been Here’s” know and all of the “Come Here’s” don’t. Like if you know where Hi Chic curve is on Railroad Avenue, or where Thatcher Glass was located, you may be a “Been Here.”  If you pronounce Castaic in three syllables, you ARE a “Come Here.” No doubt about that. For the uninitiated and Come-Here folks, it is pronounced “Cas-STEAK.”

Not that I’m putting anyone down. You had the good fortune to come to a great place to live and work. Some of us were blessed from birth to have been able to call this valley home. If by birth or by choice you came here, you have indeed found a place to sink roots and call home. Your children can become “Been Here’s.” Pretty cool. You should like that, too.

You know that cattle, sheep and horses used to far outnumber people in the SCV. It wasn’t even called Santa Clarita Valley before Valencia. We just called it … well, it really didn’t have a name that anyone used like they do today.  For that, I like the changes. We have a name for OUR place and our home.

We moan, groan, cuss and discuss our city and county government. We gripe about the traffic and heat and cold and schools and parks and whatever. But we stay here. Our children stay here. We like it here. Sometimes we roam away but return (like me), and others come and stay. Still others have never left our valley except on vacation.

If all of this change were bad, we would have left long ago. Many of us who did leave have returned to stay.

You see, I do believe Dorothy was right when she clicked the heels of those ruby slippers. There’s no place like home … especially if it is the good, old SCV.

 

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].

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Once upon a time, I mourned the loss of the grassy, uninhabited hills west of Interstate 5 at Calgrove. In the 1960’s, dad took us shooting there. Fast forward to 1996 – and I found myself living in Hidden Valley – on one of those very same hills. Newhall, I love you, and I always will.

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