[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
57°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 16
1853 - Sarah Gifford, community leader and wife of Newhall's first railroad station agent, born in England [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Monday, Dec 22, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieThis week we celebrate Christmas. I’ve decided not to write about trains and trash, gravel mines, has-been politicians, the City Council or the County Supervisors. All of that is off-limits this week.

Today is Christmas in Pico Cottage and Mentryville.

One of the best parts of Christmas in Pico Cottage was the very tall tree we could get. The ceilings in the old place are 12 feet high, so very tall trees were the norm. We had plenty of room for the tree. It went in the living room. If you walk in the front door of Pico Cottage, it is the room on the left.

My dad was an old romantic and loved to hang mistletoe in the doorways and various places around the house. (I think my mother liked that a lot.) Mom would usually have large ribbons or garland on the bannister for the stairs.

We didn’t have lights outside. Nobody could have seen them, and for the first few years we lived there, we self-generated our electrical power. It sort of took away the ambiance when the noise of the generator drowned out the music our record player could produce. Later, after Southern California Edison was brought into the canyon, we could enjoy the lights on the tree and carols at the same time.

Standard Oil Co. employees enjoyed a Christmas party every year, and it was usually held in Santa Paula. For many years my father was Santa. Must have been pretty good at the job, because even my one niece didn’t recognize him. Each and every company kid got a present, and those were not cheap.

The company didn’t pay for the gifts and the party. Most of the money for the yearly family picnic and Christmas party was from the “stag” parties held at the picnic grounds (aka Johnson Park) back in Pico Canyon. The picnics were fun, but the Christmas party was the best. It really was like getting two Christmas Days every year.

During the Christmas season, lots of friends and family came to visit. It was a time when we would have the kitchen table filled every morning with piles of fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, fried potato slices, fresh milk and the required California navel oranges. It was rounded out with toast from bread just baked, slathered with butter just churned from cream that hours before had been in the cow.

We had a large vegetable garden, and my mother canned a lot of what we grew. A quick trip over the hill through the Sun Oil lease and we could cut fresh asparagus from the fields Newhall Land had just south of the river.

We also had a lot of homemade jams and jellies, and my mother also made apple butter. As the orchards in and around the SCV had ripe fruit, we would buy cases full of many different kinds. Peaches, pears, apricots and apples are what I remember best. We usually went to the “you-pick” places because that was cheaper.

There were also walnut trees that produced those flavorful nuts that were right along the 126. I wonder how many folks out there still have nutcrackers and those little picks the get the meat out of all kinds of nuts?

There isn’t any holiday as far as livestock are concerned. They still need to be fed and watered, milked, cleaned and cared for every day. There were eggs to collect (I hated that job), cows to milk and calves to feed, along with feed for all of the other critters. The barn cats got some extra milk during the season, which could have given the mice and rats a holiday from being chased.

Some evenings we would sit around the piano, and my oldest sister would play piano, my dad guitar, and the rest of us would sing along. We did that often, all year long, but something about carols and songs of Christmas was so very special.

As long as my grandmother lived in Sylmar, Christmas Eve was when we all went to her house for dinner and to open presents. That included my cousins who lived in La Puente, too. The tree at my grandmother’s had apples, bananas and oranges hanging on the limbs. We would love to reach into the tree and find that fruit. I don’t know where or when grandma learned that tradition, but I know other relatives in Nebraska have the same custom. Do any of you have this tradition in your family?

Christmas Eve dinner at grandmother’s always included oyster stew. Don’t know why she did that, either. She was born and raised in Nebraska, and her parents were from Germany. Folks in the little town of Pierce, Neb., still talk about the family that had oranges shipped in and bought cans of oysters. It may have been part of my family’s traditions that those folks remember. I don’t know.

We opened all but a couple of our presents on Christmas Eve. About the time I was ready to sleep, it was back over the hill to Pico Canyon and Mentryville. All of our stuff would be taken into the house and the opened gifts placed around the tree.

Christmas morning would be like any other day. Up before dawn, then at first light down to milk the cows and do the rest of the chores. With the chores completed, we would have a large breakfast and then open the last of our gifts.

Friends might come visit, or we might go visit them. I like to think folks liked to visit us, since we had that huge house and all kinds of good food for the holiday. Kids who visited might get to ride a horse and maybe take a climb up Mustard Hill (the hill behind the Felton Schoolhouse).

It is memories of the Christmas celebrations in Pico Cottage that have formed many of the traditions my family has had and in some way I still have. I do prefer to open gifts on Christmas morning and not Christmas Eve. My little tree would be pulled over with just one piece of fruit attached. I do have the music playing a lot (even as I write this).

My kids are in Kentucky and Virginia, and so are the grandkids. I’ve got lots of friends and family here. I won’t go without a Christmas dinner. I’ve been told it is going to be lasagna. Can’t wait. My hosts said to be ready for lots of food, kids, and a little football. Sounds good to me.

Tomorrow: My story about Christmas on a submarine on deterrent patrol.

 

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].

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Trea Tremayne says:

    Thank you for posting your remembrances of Christmas. They’re similar to mine from about the same era. As for the old-fashioned nutcrackers, ours broke a few Christmases back. It did give good service from around the 50s. Grandpa had a few walnut trees that supplemented his retirement. We do have the pick, lonely that it is. I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Oct 4, 2018
Local entrepreneurs, industry leaders and business owners are looking for employees who can communicate clearly, whether writing or speaking; effectively collaborate on teams; and quickly make decisions that benefit both the company and its customers.
Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018
Canyon Country is known as a major residential area in our City, as well as a popular commercial and retail spot.
Monday, Oct 1, 2018
In her message for October 2018, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste invites the community to the annual State of the City Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018
Not being able to record and document what Knight and Hill stated during the debate makes it difficult for our community to hold both of them accountable to what they say.
Friday, Sep 14, 2018
Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage have different benefits and costs that you should consider based on your personal needs. Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and it’s a good idea to know how the two types of Medicare work before you select one.
Wednesday, Sep 5, 2018
In his September column, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin outlines the city's 'Heads up' safety campaign against distracted driving and walking.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1853 - Sarah Gifford, community leader and wife of Newhall's first railroad station agent, born in England [story]
A free LifeForward workshop hosted by Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley is scheduled at Savia Community Center, 23780 Newhall Ave in Newhall on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: Life Coach Laura Cazares to Speak at Zonta Workshop
The Child & Family Center's 15th Annual Kid Expo will be held at Golden Valley High School on Sunday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Oct. 21: Kid Expo at GVHS to Benefit Child & Family Center
Los Angeles County had higher influenza activity in the 2017–18 season (Oct. 1, 2017–May 13, 2018) than the previous five influenza seasons, according to public health officials' Influenza Season Summary.
More County Influenza Deaths in 2017-18 Than in 5 Previous Seasons
CSUN students will explore the collective consciousness of men of color at CSUN’s biannual Men of Color Enquiry and Student Research Poster Session on Friday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 26: CSUN Looks to Inspire Men of Color with Research Session
The Master's men's soccer team's 1-0 win over the Warriors in Santa Barbara Saturday was a sweet one for The Master's University head coach Jim Rickard and his Mustangs.
TMU Men’s Soccer Team Edges Westmont Behind Garcia Sosa Goal
The Master's University's women's soccer team suffered a 2-0 loss to No. 11 Westmont on Saturday in Santa Barbara.
TMU Women’s Soccer Team Falls to Westmont on the Road
Despite The Master's University women's volleyball team's 3-0 loss in Santa Barbara, ending a 12-match winning streak, the No. 11 Mustangs remain in first place in GSAC standings.
TMU Women’s Volleyball Win Streak Snapped in Santa Barbara
Celebrate the harvest season with storytelling through dance and drums under the oak trees at Placerita Canyon in the Nature Center's outdoor amphitheater on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 3: Free Volta Drum Dance at Placerita Canyon Nature Center
The city of Santa Clarita has updated the list of productions shooting in the city and the Santa Clarita Valley for the week of Oct. 15-21, 2018.
Features, TV Shows, Spots Now Filming in SCV
Southern California Edison is monitoring weather conditions and has additional crews at the ready to respond to possible power outages and dangerous wildfire conditions due to Santa Ana winds and low humidity predicted through Tuesday night.
SCE Monitoring High Wind, May Kill Power to Avert Downed-Line Fires
A red flag warning issued due to gusty high winds and low humidity will remain in effect through 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Red Flag Warning Flies in SCV Through Tuesday Night
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station have arrested nearly 70 people in a series of crime suppression operations during October, according to station officials.
SCV Deputies Arrest Nearly 70 in Crime Suppression Operations
Ahead of Election Day Nov. 6, airwaves and mailboxes across California overflow with expensive campaign advertisements, among them ads urging yes or no votes on state ballot measures.
Century-Old California Direct-Democracy System Now ‘Pay-to-Play’
John Bulinski has been appointed the director of the California Department of Transportation's District 7, and will oversee the freeway system in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, Caltrans announced Monday.
John Bulinski Named Caltrans Director for LA, Ventura Counties
1939 - Second, larger OLPH Catholic Church dedicated on site of first (10th & Walnut, Newhall) [story]
Here is the Week 8 roundup of Santa Clarita Valley football scores.
Santa Clarita Valley Football Roundup
1980 - Phillies beat Royals in Game 1 of World Series; Hart grad Bob Walk is winning pitcher [story]
1876 - Town of Newhall founded at Bouquet Junction (moved 2 years later to present location) [story]
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has introduced a motion to bring forward a public health-centered effort to address the emergence of diseases that have impacted the county, especially among the homeless population.
Barger Urges Effort to Curb Spread of Disease in County Homeless Population
CalArts student Hanna Kim (Film/Video BFA 19) won the gold medal for Animation (Domestic Film Schools) during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 45th Student Academy Awards ceremony Thursday night.
CalArts’ Hanna Kim Wins Gold in 45th Student Academy Awards
Here's a look at how The Master's University's sports teams rank in the latest polls.
TMU Mustangs Sports: A Peek at the Polls
The Valley Industry Association will present a California State Assembly 38th District Candidate Forum at its monthly business luncheon at Valencia Country Club on Tuesday, Oct. 16, starting at 11:45 a.m.
Oct. 16: Assembly 38th District Candidates to Face Off at VIA Forum
Detectives from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station arrested a man in Oakland suspected of robbing a business in Castaic on Oct. 5, according to station authorities.
SCV Detectives Arrest Castaic Robbery Suspect in Oakland
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Oct. 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Oct. 16: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Los Angeles County election officials are alerting residents about a misleading robocall now circulating that wrongly claims there is an error in one of the ballot titles for the Nov. 6 General Election.
Voter Alert: Beware of Robocalls Making False Statements
The California Highway Patrol has received a federal grant to develop the Get Educated and Ride Safe, or GEARS, program to promote motorcycle safety and awareness.
CHP Receives Grant to Boost Motorcycle Safety, Awareness
The city of Santa Clarita will present three music-related sessions at the 2018 Arts Symposium at The Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Oct. 20: Art Symposium to Stage 3 Music Sessions
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reminds residents to protect themselves from flea-borne typhus by using flea control products on pets and avoiding wild or stray animals.
Public Health Asks Residents to Help Prevent Flea-Borne Typhus
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested an Antelope Valley man on multiple charges after a traffic stop in Canyon Country.
AV Man Arrested on Multiple Charges in Canyon Country
In this week's #FraudFriday post, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department warns citizens not to fall for scams when renting or leasing a home or apartment.
Fraud Friday: Don’t Fall for Rental Scams
Author Tina Hogan Grant will celebrate the Oct. 4 publication of her debut novel, "Reckless Beginnings," with a personal appearance and book-signing session at the Frazier Park Library on Saturday, Oct. 13 starting at 3 p.m.
Oct. 13: ‘Reckless Beginnings’ Book Signing at Frazier Park Library
The next meeting of Santa Clarita Valley Water's Public Outreach and Legislative Committee is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 18, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: SCV Water Public Outreach, Legislative Committee Meeting
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its crime information and public safety report for Saugus (Zone 4) for the week of Oct. 1-7, 2018.
Crime Blotter: GTA, Burglary in Saugus
1915 - Name of Surrey post office & town changed (back) to Saugus [story]
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, will hold a free, household hazard and e-waste recycling roundup, Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., for Val Verde area residents.
Oct. 13: Household Hazardous, E-Waste Recycling Roundup in Val Verde