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Santa Clarita CA
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October 18
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Nov 30, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieI promised some very nice and pretty ladies that I wouldn’t write about billboards any more. So until something about them comes back to haunt us, let’s move to another subject.

Did you know that in 1941, the local newspaper reported that hog farms were being kicked out of that lesser valley to our south (the San Fernando Valley) and were moving up here to the SCV? There was real concern about the smell from said hog farms.

I can understand their concern. For a time I lived near Smithfield, Va., and, to put it in the local dialect, “The odor from them swine can get right near awful.”

Well, the swine came anyway and were on a hog farm not far from the dairy farm that is now the location of Saugus High School. The smell was ferocious and atrocious. If you kept driving up Bouquet Canyon, the Huntsinger turkey farm would envelop your whole body, and a whole day in the pool at Newhall Park might get only some of the smell out.

Friends and neighbors didn’t blame it on the septic systems around the area. We knew exactly where it was coming from, and we knew it got a lot worse on rainy days. A heavy rain would stir up all of the “good stuff” and magnify the odors maybe a hundred-fold.

All of this leads up to what I was smelling last night as I was passing Chiquita Canyon Landfill on my drive back from Ventura. It sure as heck wasn’t a bad septic system in Val Verde. This was too powerful.

Once, in a continuing fit of craziness on a rather long (underwater) submarine deployment, we decided to hold a hard-boiled egg eating contest. There was a winner, but given about four hours, the whole boat had this not-so-pleasant smell from those who had participated in the contest. Now you all get the idea of how the local dump smelled last night.

The folks in Val Verde have to put up with that often. Nearly every day.

They wouldn’t have to live like that if only Waste Connections would honor the 1997 agreement and close the Chiquita Canyon Landfill on time and schedule. But I just made one huge mistake. I used the word “honor” and Waste Connections and Chiquita Canyon Landfill in the same sentence. My bad.

The comment period is over, and it is now up to the Regional Planning Commission to decide the fate of the expansion of the dump. We know what is right. What will really happen?

Our Supervisor (and now county mayor) for our part of Los Angeles County worked very hard to have included in the 1997 agreement a set time for the dump to close. Will he do the same this time?

If not, then something will smell a lot worse than what those old shipmates of mine could generate.

We did a lot of crazy things to pass the long days and nights underwater. Halfway night (the day we were halfway through our deployment, at least on paper), we would have a talent show of sorts. Some guys would play a guitar and sing. I belonged to a quartet named The Velvet Sweat Pig Tabernacle Choir. We could actually sing in good barbershop quartet-style harmony. Unfortunately I cannot publish the words. In fact, in the politically correct military of today, I couldn’t sing them even on a submarine 300 feet underwater.

On an old diesel-electric submarine, we somehow got infested with cockroaches. We took to using the old typing correction fluid, Wite-Out,  to paint a patch on the roach and then carefully paint a number on the patch of Wite-Out. The roaches would be released again, and the winning roach was the one that traveled the greatest distance from the release point.

The Forward Torpedo Room won the roach contest once. The captain bought them all a beer at the next port. I was assigned to that aft Torpedo Room. Our cockroach made it five feet forward from our compartment and met a quick death from the boot of our leading electrician.

One thing that all of us in the Submarine Service can agree on is the fact that we sailors who served on diesel-electric submarines have a distinct odor. I know when I would go to a laundromat off base, folks would leave the place thinking the sewers had backed up and there had also been a diesel fuel spill nearby. Plus the body odors and other wonderful olfactory delights revealed to the general public.

We were honest about where the smell came from and what we were going to do about it. One of the standard jokes on a diesel boat was that you knew you needed a shower when you turned to tell someone else they did, and there wasn’t anyone behind you.

Our friends at Waste Connections and Chiquita Canyon Landfill can’t be honest. They blame the very folks who are complaining.

But what do we expect from folks who don’t want to honor the agreement they made in 1997? They call themselves “good neighbors” and then blame the smells on those same neighbors of theirs.

An old chief petty officer on an old diesel-electric submarine explained the term “good” to me. He said there were two kinds of good. “Good for nothing” and “no damn good at all.” I think we know what kind of “good” neighbor Chiquita Canyon Landfill is qualified to call itself.

Have a wonderful day, 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. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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1 Comment

  1. Susie Evans says:

    I can only imagine how that submarine smelled……and then the hog farm and a dairy farm too? OMG!

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