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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

I was reading some posts on Facebook and need to make some corrections to some of the things I read. Nothing big, but I had to laugh when I read them. Given what was written, our little valley would have a whole different history. Here goes, in no particular order:

James Dean did eat something before he raced up Highway 99 and crashed his sports car to the north of here. His meal was at Tip’s at Castaic Junction. That is where Highway 126 meets I-5 today. Tip’s was not at the junction of Highway 99 and what is now Magic Mountain. There was nothing there in the 1950s. By the way, Tip’s was located in three spots in the SCV: Castaic Junction, Pico Canyon where the IHOP now sits and the other place was near Friendly Valley. There are those who say he had something to eat at the Saugus Café prior to his death. What we actually know is that he died.

Stevenson Ranch was not built on a landfill. There was never a trash landfill there. The developer did grade the hills and there is a lot of fill dirt that tends to settle at times. We’ll leave that to the lawyers. It was never a trash heap, regardless of what I think of the stark sameness of the colors and home styles. Individual style be damned! All the little boxes shall be the same, by order of that all-powerful arm of government, the homeowners association.

Oil wells don’t leach toxic stuff into the ground water of the aforementioned Stevenson Ranch. In fact, most oil wells have the toxic stuff pumped out, and when they are drained, there is nothing left to leach. Sorry.

Newhall Land's feed pens, circa 1950, at what is now the Magic Mountain parking lot. Photo (color photocopy) courtesy of Ruth Newhall. Click to enlarge & read more.

Newhall Land’s feed pens, circa 1950, at what is now the Magic Mountain parking lot. Courtesy of Ruth Newhall. Click to enlarge & read more.

Not every old house in the Santa Clarita Valley is haunted. Some just make strange sounds because they are rotting and falling down very slowly. This doesn’t explain the strange sounds coming from City Hall on some Tuesday nights. That is still under investigation.

Speaking of City Hall, is sits in about the same location as a Newhall Land and Farming Co. pond that was a great place to go duck hunting. Maybe there are some duck ghosts making noise on Tuesday. Nope, just Councilman Ferry squawking about a citizen again. I find it hard to tell the difference between his squawks and that of a duck ghost.

Lyons Avenue might not have been a cartographer’s error on the early maps of Newhall. It may have meant the plural “Lyons” for the two brothers Lyon in town instead of the possessive form many think it should be, as in Lyon’s.

The post-1994 earthquake renovations to the Hart High Auditorium are great. It has become a whole new place. I do wonder what happened to all of those pencils thrown up into the ceiling where they stuck in the porous plaster that was originally a form of acoustical control. We thought it was a lot of fun during long assemblies.

Yes, there were stockyards and feedlots where Magic Mountain is today. Those smells were a great addition to the onion harvest. Fall classes at Hart High on a warm day could and did get rather odiferous, to say the least. The only places with air conditioning were the auditorium, cafeteria, library and administration office.

Some of us remember when Placerita Canyon Road went from San Fernando Road (Railroad today) all the way to Sand Canyon. And yes, we do need a road through there today, or close to there at least.

Driving north on Railroad just after you pass under the Wiley Canyon bridge, there is a curve to the right followed by one to the left. The local law enforcement folks and the fire department call that spot Hi-Chic (“high chick”) curve. Lots of wrecks there in times past. Does anyone know how that name came about? There was a hamburger stand with the name, Hi-Chic. Good food, too.

Back in the day, we didn’t need a fence to keep us in school. We knew we shouldn’t leave without permission. And of course we “never” did. Some of our schools resemble a gulag today, with high steel fences and law enforcement personnel on campus. Come to think of it, we didn’t have to leave. If we wanted to smoke, we just went “up on the hill.”

Hart High's original colors - maroon and gray - modeled by Noemi Lund (nee Noemi Duran, Class of 1951). Click for more.

Hart High’s original colors – maroon and gray – modeled by Noemi Lund (nee Noemi Duran, Class of 1951). Click for more.

Now there is the final truth to be exposed. A certain teacher at Hart High in the 1960s drove a VW Bug. Often he would find it placed between to steel posts, one front and one rear, so that he would not be able to move. Now, years later, after any statute of limitations has long expired, you get the rest of the tale.

You see, he always blamed the football players or the wrestling team or any other group of “jocks” on the Hart campus. It wasn’t any of them. The Auto Shop had floor jacks. Few people locked their cars, so we could simply push his car to locate it between the posts, jack it up and push it sideways until the car was centered between the posts. We then took the jacks back to the shop and waited.

So what group committed this heinous act? It was done by as few as four members of the band. We were never suspects. One should be wary of the members of the band. Band geeks don’t mind that title. Kept us from getting caught for actions long blamed on others. We were the last group that still had uniforms in the original school colors, maroon and gray.

And that is why the Hart High fight song used to make sense.

 

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 Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

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1 Comment

  1. old granny says:

    – – Ahhh, good old Mr. Crunk

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