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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, Mar 3, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

It might be about time to discuss this. I mean, really – parking in Old Town Newhall?

Just last weekend I wanted to go to OutWest and not a single parking place was available between Lyons and Newhall Avenue. Not one on all of Main Street.

With a Jeep Wrangler I can get pretty creative with parking places. Not this time. No how, no way, no parking. Period. On Main Street there wasn’t any parking.

But here is the trick:

Go to the back of the buildings. Lots of parking!

Sort of like getting immediate seating at Egg Plantation on a weekend morning. Good luck. You’ll need it. Lately, getting a seat on a warm, sunny weekday is a problem, too. I found out if I take my dog, Mr. Renly, I can get a seat pretty quickly.

Mr. Renly

I get a seat at the Egg Plantation faster when Mr. Renly joins me.

So what happened? To listen to some folks, Old Town Newhall is not the place to go. Of course, those are the same folks who haven’t been there since Safeway moved out. They also remember Tom Frew’s blacksmith shop and maybe Mode-O-Day.  Maybe they had to put on their high-button shoes and wear all of those petticoats, but it was better then and safer and – you get the picture. Wrong picture for now, but what they perceive must be true. Soon we can say things like Yogi Berra said: “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

How about the new fence at William S. Hart Park? The campgrounds are open there, too. Did you see the new sign at the park? It tells of events at the park and in the SCV. Now I’m going to write something you wouldn’t think I’d write: Good job, L.A. County!

A week ago Saturday I attended a celebration of life for someone taken from us far too soon. It was really a joyous time. We laughed a lot. Cried some, too. Seemed like a mini-reunion of Hart High School.

garythornhill_mug

Gary Thornhill told our valley’s story in good times and bad.

As in life, Gary Thornhill brought people together. Once again he did it. We got to look at his old pictures and talk of working with him. He was simply the best.

I was also reminded, in that little gathering, that I had been part of the valley my whole life. More years than most of the people there. I am still honored to be a part of it. (My part seems smaller than ever). Gary told our story in the good times and the bad. He did it with pictures mostly. He is missed.

Anyway, back to Newhall, by way of Honby. (We pronounce that place, “Hawn–BEE,” not “Hun–buy,” as I recently heard.) It was part of Saugus, as was all of Canyon Country. All of it. Most of North Valencia was called Saugus, too.

According to my iPhone, my place off Copper Hill Drive is in Castaic Junction. Isn’t that where Tip’s was located? And one of the five existing stoplights in this whole valley in 1968 – the year I got a draft notice and enlisted in the Navy to keep out of the Army. Can you name where those lights were located back then? Extra credit if you can.

Still not back to Newhall … getting there. Passing Hi-Chic curve now. That is right after the road to Circle J Ranch. At least the fire station looks the same. Mostly.

Wouldn’t Mr. Kobac be shocked to learn that his Newhall Auto Parts store is now a dance studio? He was maybe the best boss I ever had. I delivered parts all over the valley and made stock runs to the warehouse in that lesser valley just south of us. I think it is called “San Fernando Valley.” It was a great job, except for the tickets for running stop signs at Placerita Canyon and Sierra Highway. Judge McDougall saw me a few times.

Nothing special to say this week.  I am in a nostalgic mood but anxious to see what is going to happen next to Newhall.  I like how it is looking these days.

Wish I could say the same about the Lyons Avenue corridor. It was planned to be the way it is by the county back then. By the time the city Santa Clarita came along in 1987 it was a mess. Looks like changes are coming. Right now much of it looks just like anyplace along Van Nuys Boulevard or maybe Sepulveda. (Pronounced by my GPS as “Soup-pull-vee-duh.” That’s about right.

I try to avoid Lyons when I can. Lights un-timed and too close. Traffic in bunches, and it seems every city bus decides to use it when I’m trying to go someplace quickly, like Pico and Mentryville.

It is those times I must remember the two-lane Lyons Avenue. Waiting for someone to make a left turn when you’re headed out of Newhall. Didn’t have to wait for left turns on the way to town until you got to Old Orchard Shopping Center and Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt – er, Help – Catholic Church.

I hope the city does a better job than the county. Fortunately that should be an easy job for Santa Clarita.

So with the word ramble complete, I’ll drive on back to North Valencia (or Castaic Junction) and enjoy a warm winter afternoon in Southern California.

If this gets me a call from Kentucky, Virginia or New England, I’ll just do what we folks here in Southern California have done for years. I’ll answer the phone and yell, “Hey everyone, get out of the pool and come talk to someone where they have that stuff called snow.”

We know it as the white topping we see on the local mountains. Where did I put that sunscreen?

 

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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2 Comments

  1. Ejody says:

    The problem with parking at OutWest Saturday night was that “Cow Bop” was performing. (Of course you know this– you were there. We sat in front of you…) I think one solution is for OutWest to offer performances from acts who are terrible. That way no one will show up and there will be plenty of parking! I fear the next time Cow Bop plays there, there won’t be any parking except maybe in Agua Dulce… they can run shuttles to SCV…

  2. Tony N. says:

    Nice tribute to Gary Thornhill. Guesses on the five stoplights in our valley in 1968: 1) Lyons & San Fernando Rd (next to today’s new library); 2) San Fernando Rd & Sierra Hwy (just N of Eternal Valley); 3) Solemint Junction (Soledad & Sierra Hwy); 4) Bouquet
    Cyn Road & San Francisquito Cyn Road (at Bouquet Square); and 5) Castaic Junction (Hwy 99 at Henry Mayo Drive [Hwy 126]. If I’m wrong, my backups were: 6) Lyons & Hwy 99, and 7) Sierra Hwy & Friendly Valley Pkwy (entrance to Friendly Valley). Can’t believe how this placed has grown! Keep up the great column!

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