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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]
Blue Steel

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Saturday, Jul 19, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieHow do you like the slightly cooler weather the past few days? Took a while for the “June gloom” to come around this year. I’ve enjoyed the cooler nights and days. That tractor seat gets a little warm at times.

The last trip to Mentryville made me realize a few things that we’ve been taking for granted as “fact” for many years.

You know about Mentryville in Pico Canyon, I’m sure. You don’t? In reality it may be just a little older than Newhall. Alexander Mentry had crews drilling wells in Pico Canyon in early 1876, and Newhall was still located about where K-mart is today. It was 1878 when Newhall moved to its present location.

Anyway, back to the “facts.”

I’m now quite sure the little building between the barn and the tin garage was not originally a chicken house. It is just too big. Folks didn’t build a chicken house that was almost the size of some of the houses in Mentryville. Looking at old silent movies, you can see a roof off the west side of the building. Again, it was just too big for housing chickens. I tend to think it was a place for tack for the horses and mules next door in the barn.

I know my memory isn’t all that great, but I don’t remember a rose bush near the house. I do remember my mother planting one in the front yard. There was a little orange tree. That orchard of fruit trees west of Pico Cottage came after we lived there. If that rose bush was “Mrs. Mentry’s rose bush,” it would have to be at least 120 years old now. Does anyone know how long a rose bush lives? I’ve read of a few that are more than 100 years old, but they’ve gotten the best of care. There are even some at Rancho Camulos, but they got a lot better care over the years.

Something is wrong with this picture. (And it's not the cameraman.)

Disease or herbicide? And if it can kill a tree, what can it do to a human?

Folks often don’t think of trees and plants as historical – such as trees that were planted for shade and to mask smells of the place, along with roses and other ornamental plants. Sometimes it is just easier to replace or maybe just remove.

Is that the case in Mentryville? How about a real reason the eucalyptus trees were removed? And just what is causing the pepper trees to die? If it is disease, then those trees should be cut down and removed as soon as possible to avoid the spread of the disease.

Santa Clarita has a lot of pepper trees lining streets. I would hate to see the disease spread to those city trees.

If the pepper trees have been sprayed with some sort of herbicide, then there is another problem. If that much poison was used to kill a large tree, it is dangerous to man and beast. Until the affected trees and plants are removed, maybe Mentryville and Pico Canyon should not have any visitors. I know I’m not taking my little basset hound up there until we get some answers.

Only this time, I would like some real answers. Not some lame excuse like I got for the eucalyptus trees. The public needs to know what is killing those trees. Disease or herbicide?

We really need to know.

I’ve got too many friends who suffer the effects of a herbicide called Agent Orange that was used during the war in Vietnam. Those gents have had cancers and other strange physical problems which we now know are directly linked to that chemical.

Did you know many of us use a form of that chemical in our yards? I won’t state the names here, but those chemicals are the same ones we use to kill weeds in our yards. Especially the weeds in the cracks of our driveways and other paved areas. You see them advertised all the time.

betterlivingHaving been born when the last century was at its halfway point (1950), I know a lot about “better living through chemistry.” We grew up with a lot of wicked stuff in our homes and yards. I even remember spraying DDT to kill some kinds of bugs. Didn’t know we were also killing birds such as eagles and hawks. Some of us had some wicked chemicals we ingested into our bodies. That is another commentary in itself.

I would hope the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority isn’t using such harsh chemicals, but I wouldn’t put it past them to be doing it. We can’t even see a total budget report from them, so how do I expect honest answers to the questions I’ve raised?

They are an agency of the state of California. It is our state, and they are our employees tending our land.

Please, just an honest answer. If those folks can’t or won’t answer that simple question, maybe we should get some people in that agency who will do the job right. I’ve only been asking it for – it seems like forever.

Maybe if all y’all sent them a letter asking these questions about budget and chemicals, we could get some answers.

The address is:

Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority

570 West Avenue 26, Suite 100

Los Angeles, CA 90065

You can also call (323) 221-9944 or fax (323) 221-9934.

Good luck.


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 are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. DuPont did not make Agent Orange. Monsanto did.

  2. There were multiple suppliers. From Dow’s website ” Companies supplying Agent Orange to the government under the compulsion of the Defense Production Act of 1950 included The Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Hercules Inc., Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Uniroyal Inc., Thompson Chemical Company and Thompson-Hayward Chemical Company. Agent Orange was never made commercially available.”

  3. Hey, excuse me but are you being paid to blabber on and on with very little facts backing that blabber except for your fading memory. In case you haven’t noticed, there are some important things going wrong in this valley. Try focusing on something you can maybe do something about. High numbers of drug problems,crime up, no hospital on the east side except for pets. Sierra highway in disrepair and weedy. Semi trucks parked on Sierra hwy causing blind spots. Shall I go on—-

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