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Today in
S.C.V. History
March 21
1837 - Ysabel Varela born in Placerville; became second wife (and widow) of SCV landowner Ygnacio del Valle. [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Thursday, Jan 15, 2015

darrylmanzer_blacktieIt was my birthday yesterday, and I had a great time. I was treated to lunch by a group that came from the “No on S” crowd of our recent billboard ordinance issue. They have a new issue that I’m sure is just what they can help overcome: Stopping the expansion of Chiquita Canyon Dump. I feel sorry for Chiquita. Not.

Meanwhile out west of downtown Newhall in the old town of Mentryville, once again a delicate, old piece of history is being used as a film prop. The Pico cottage has to suffer yet another film crew drilling holes into the walls and floors, painting walls inside and generally being used for something a state-registered historic building and area should not allow. And if you’re planning to hike in Pico Canyon over the next couple of weeks, you might have a problem with parking.

At Heritage Junction in William S. Hart Park, the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society is finalizing plans for the Cowboy Festival. Since Melody Ranch is going to be filming, the festival is moving to Newhall this year. Main Street and Hart Park and Heritage Junction will be used to provide a great place for all of you cowboys and cowgirls to whoop it up with music, authentic chuckwagon food, food trucks, all kinds of vendors and a lot of fun.

The Historical Society is a volunteer organization and can always use help in its day-to-day activities. They need more folks helping in order to get ready. Come on over and give them a hand. Why? It’s the cowboy way.

The folks here in the SCV have always loved a good celebration. Way back when, in a time when the population of Mentryville might have been on a par with Newhall, there was a community hall next to Felton School in the little oil field boom town. Dances and good times happened a lot. No alcohol was allowed there, but somehow the kids would find their dads’ jugs and run them up the school flagpole.

There is still a picnic ground called Johnson Park in Pico Canyon, about a half mile from the parking lot. Deep pit barbecue, grilled corn on the cob, a big salad, western beans and dinner rolls were the normal menu. A small stage and a concrete dance floor completed the music venue. A badminton court and later poker tables, horseshoe pits and a bar were added.

Local denizens celebrate the Fourth of July at Saxonia Park in Quigley Canyon (western Placerita Canyon) sometime between 1909 and 1913.

Local denizens celebrate the Fourth of July at Saxonia Park in Quigley Canyon (western Placerita Canyon) sometime between 1909 and 1913.

In Placerita, there was Saxonia Park. It was a much larger version of Johnson Park where many of the local Fourth of July celebrations were held. The yearly gathering at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church is another great party that has a long history.

Castaic and Val Verde had parks and pageants, too. Castaic once had an active rodeo association, and we can’t forget the rodeo grounds at what is now the Saugus Swap Meet. There are other rodeo and horseback competitions in Acton and Agua Dulce.

Clear up in Gorman, there is the Gorman School Bazaar each year to help raise money for the school.

Of course we all know about our own Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade each year. The tradition still continues in spite of me driving Councilman Acosta and his wife in my Jeep last year. It was fun. I don’t think anyone in the Jeep ever wants to hear the Beach Boys CD again.

Newhall has always been a party town, in spite of the fact that a certain gentleman once tried to make the town alcohol-free. (Not just Mentryville.) He sure picked the wrong town. At one time, saloons and brothels far outnumbered churches and schools. One of those bars still exists. The Derrick became the Rendezvous and now, The VU.

There was a semi-bawdy house out near Sand Canyon run by Mr. Ace Cain. Pretty mild by the standards of today, but two-piece swimsuits on the ladies helped draw folks to the place.

So as the Cowboy Festival changes locations, all y’all might want to amble on over to the website CowboyFestival.org and get your tickets now. Lots of good music, too.

I can’t wait.
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, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. 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. Abigail says:

    Happy Birthday!

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