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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Sep 29, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

So the roundabout in downtown Newhall isn’t a new idea. Seems like there was one in the same spot between 1926 and 1935 or so. It did have decorations in it at times. A community Christmas tree, for sure. Try doing that now.

It doesn’t look like traffic was a problem. There was one car in the old photograph. Guess they kept the cattle and sheep away until after the picture was taken.

Anyway, new isn’t always better. Old might not be, either. Take social media, for example. To read various pages on Facebook, one could think our elected officials are: (a) good servants of the people; (b) corrupt, self-indulgent, power-hungry idiots; or (c) a little of both.

Well, for those of you who like to shove copies of the Constitution in my face, we are in a system of government that elects representatives. They represent us. It is a republic, not a direct democracy. We had our vote, and now they vote for us. (And if you didn’t vote, don’t gripe.)

When it comes to art in the new roundabout, the ill will drips off of nearly every comment. It is the fault of those elected or appointed, or an act of nature.

The original 1920s Newhall roundabout in front of William S. Hart's property.

The original 1920s Newhall roundabout in front of William S. Hart’s property. Click for more.

What do we put in the new traffic circle, aka roundabout? How about a revolving exhibit? Maybe it stays in the circle for a month or two. A holiday scene like those found in Honolulu. You know, Santa and the gang.

Halloween has endless possibilities, and Thanksgiving could be a large cornucopia. Every season and holiday could have a turn in the roundabout. Flags and bunting on July 4th.

And my oil derrick idea in September to celebrate the first commercial well west of the Mississippi River. I like that.

The exhibits could be kept at Heritage Junction when not in use. Maybe they could be designed by students in the local high schools. Maybe that would bring more people to downtown Newhall. (Old Town for those who call it that).

What a great place to show off awards for the best football team in the SCV, or band, or – you get the idea.

Winter 1931 in the original Newhall roundabout. These days, they'd call it a "holiday tree." Click for more.

Winter 1931 in the original Newhall roundabout. These days, they’d call it a “holiday tree.” Click for more.

Why does the artwork have to be permanent? If there must be art in the circle, let’s make it about our whole valley. Not just Mr. Hart. Not just films. Not just that goofy thing someone thought looked like a Tataviam lodge. Not just an oil derrick, either.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. KISS should be involved in whatever happens. (“Keep it Simple, Stupid.”) The money that would have been spent on an expensive piece of art could be used to move the temporary art in and out of the circle. For many years ahead.

This is a capitalist country, so how about the exhibits being sponsored by various corporations here in the SCV? A simple little sign that says SoCal Edison or NCWD or The Fran Pavley Memorial Oil and Gas Well Fracking Co. Made This Exhibit Possible. Something simple.

Sitting in a hospital, one becomes a little stir-crazy. I’ve a bad case of cabin fever. I look outside and see the crisp day with bright sun, and this is what happens. I close my eyes and I can visualize a Viking longboat in the circle because Valencia won the local championship. Folks would drive for miles thinking they’ve found a shortcut to Solvang. They would shop thinking it looked a little too Western.

I don’t know for sure, but this might just work.

Neat vision, isn’t it?

Next week, my friends.

 

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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