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Today in
S.C.V. History
March 23
1886 - Film director Robert N. Bradbury born in Washington state; launched John Wayne's career in Placerita Canyon [watch]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

darrylmanzer021014After a  pleasant weekend in the SCV, the reality hit that I’m not thinking about an election until at least September. Since not many people thought or did anything about the last one, election thoughts shouldn’t be missed.

OK, I have my work assignments and times for the Cowboy Festival in two weeks. Is everybody ready to “Cowboy/cowgirl up” for the weekend? Let me see … boots, Stetson, vest, wranglers, belt with a special buckle and the volunteer shirt. Hey, this year it is a nice blue and not the yucky green of last year. I almost forgot – I have my “stinkin’ badge,” too.

We may never know how many cowboy or Western movies have been filmed her in our little valley. So many of the silent-era movies have been lost. Every so often a film is discovered in places you wouldn’t expect, usually Eastern Europe.

Watching a Tom Mix film with Hungarian dialog signs instead of English has to be a highlight I’ve not yet experienced.

I was watching an episode of the TV series “NCIS” recently, and once again they were able to prove the California live oak tree can grow near Washington, D.C., and that there are mountains near Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia.

It is an old tradition in the film and TV industry: Use the locations near the studios, and most folks won’t know the difference. Guess what? The largest “hills” in and around Norfolk, Va., are Mount Trashmore I and II and another trash hill in Suffolk, Va. The last is the tallest, but none of the three is over 65 feet high. Not a one can be seen from any naval base in the area.

Those “mountains” are man-made landfills. Thus the names of Trashmore I, II and III. Otherwise the area around the naval bases make Kansas look like the Tehachapi Mountains to our north.

I also didn’t know the cities around D.C. and Norfolk had paseos like those here in Valencia. It was interesting to know some city planner in those areas back East was able to copy our paseo overpasses and have them look just like the ones over Orchard Village Road. Amazing.

I was doing something pretty strange over the weekend. I was thinking. “What you were thinking about, Darryl”? (Almost nobody asked, since they were still shocked I was thinking at all). Anyway, I’m wondering how those TV shows and films that advertised on all those billboards along the Metrolink tracks are going to advertise now?

Maybe the new electronic billboards can show movie trailers, too. I’d drive on the 14 just to see the late-night trailers for movies produced in Van Nuys. Now, that could be a real dangerous problem for late-night drivers. (If you don’t know what kind of movies are produced in Van Nuys please ignore what you’ve just read.)

I wonder if those electronic billboards could be made to play whole movies. This valley needs a new drive-in theater. Maybe it could be called the “Mustang Corral.” Modern screen and no speaker poles with those speakers I always left on my window as I started to drive away. Anyone else do that? Hear tell that new drive-in theaters have the sound broadcast on you car’s FM radio. Think of it: A drive-in with stereo sound, too.

I guess that would be an improvement. I seldom saw the whole movie at a local drive-in. Not that the flicks being shown were all that great, and not that I had a date all the time. Sometimes I would fade off to sleep. They would come through at the end of a movie and tell you to leave if you hadn’t shown any signs of movement. (I can still fade off during a movie at home, so nothing has really changed.)

So if those electronic billboards don’t work along the highways, let’s get them for a new drive-in. The high school kids of today should have that experience of fogged up windows and not-so-good movies.

Advertisements can still be sold just like in the indoor movies, and the city could take a cut of the proceeds for those advertisements. Works for me. What do all y’all think of it?

I know a great location, too: Saugus Speedway-Swap Meet. Now that the grandstands are down, it would be perfect. And after the movie, a reenactment of the old demolition derby could take place.

Our kids and grandkids should have the same opportunity at the local “passion pit” that we had. With the cars of today being so small, there wouldn’t be much passion. Reminds me that my 1953 Packard Clipper had a seat where one could lie prone and not touch head or foot to either door. Had a girlfriend’s father tell me to go home and get my El Camino instead of my Packard. He knew very well my plans. That young lady never did go with me to the drive-in in the Packard. I was sure her father would come and check to see if I had changed cars.

If he didn’t come and check, some adult who was watching the movie would go home after the flick and call our parents. Her father liked guns. Need I say more?

If you understood what a Packard and El Camino were, you might have a few memories about those great days. Let me know.

Now to polish my “stinkin badge,” belt buckle and boots. Got to look like a movie cowboy.


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. Chad David Chad David says:

    Please start posting a picture relevant to the story.. Please…

  2. Jayne Saporito says:

    Let me tell you who he is, Mr. Hernandez. He is part of the reason you are living in a great country with free speech. You could be speaking Russian. He spent his life defending your right to have an opinion. He did things most men would never be able to do for his country. He is a veteran. If you are speaking English and reaping the benefits of being a United States citizen, get down and kiss his feet.

    • SCVNews.com says:

      Jayne – you’re talking to someone who won’t see your reply because he made the comment on Facebook. If you see someone’s picture next to his name, usually that indicates it came through our Facebook page. (There are exceptions, but usually.)

  3. like, do you want a picture of a cow?

  4. I believe it’s a picture of the author of the article. Try clicking the link and reading the article. That might help.

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