I stand in high favor here in Kentucky. They are thanking me for bringing some warmer weather … but they said if I stop a possible white Christmas, I’m in real trouble.
I wish I had such powers. Alas, I’m just a grandfather visiting his grandkids for Christmas. Now that is a gift I really like.
My folks told me I was supposed to be born in February, but because of a snowstorm in Gorman and my mother slipping on the ice, I was born almost a month early. The world can blame that on snow.
In 1978 we moved to Bremerton, Wash., during a warm summer, as our neighbors informed us. Used a whole cord of wood keeping the house warm that summer. We were also told by our neighbors that it never snowed before Thanksgiving and, well, it did that that year – and the next three. Since we moved back to California, there is little snow in Bremerton before December.
It didn’t rival the great snow of ’62 by any stretch, but the historic Pico Canyon oil town of Menryville – and the rest of the SCV – did get a nice little dusting Jan. 2, 2011. Here’s the 13-room cottage Darryl lived in from 1960-66.
For those of us who can remember the great SCV snow of 1962, Newhall had about a foot, and out in Mentryville we measured nearly 18 inches. We used a piece of tin roofing as a toboggan. Can’t do that today, even if it snowed and you could get up on Mustard Hill behind Felton School. The new trail that has been cut into the hill would make it impossible. Thank you, Mountains Conservancy.
Oh, by the way, because the natural water flow has been disrupted and there has been a use of herbicides to clear weeds, Mustard Hill has very little mustard any more.
Even during the great 1962 SCV snowstorm, we didn’t have black ice. That’s the stuff you can’t see on the road, and you soon find yourself in a ditch. In Kentucky there is lots of black ice. A lot of cars in ditches, too.
We have great hills for playing in the snow. It would be a lot of fun if we got more snow in the SCV. They get a lot of snow in western Kentucky but only have a few hills bare enough for sledding and such. Some of those hills go down into a lake. It might be cold, but not cold enough to freeze the lake. Not good for sliding down the hill because all of that water is very cold.
Although not Mustard Hill, a family found a place in Mentryville to try out a sled in 2011.
I noticed that Southern California is having a “heat wave” with temps in the 80s. I consider that normal. Today, here in Cadiz, the temperature might reach 48 degrees. They call it a warm streak. I just call it cold. If I wanted these temps, I would have stayed in Acton. Or Palmdale, even.
I recently saw a picture of Canyon High taken during a snowstorm about 1974, I think. Snow has, can and will happen in the SCV. Maybe not at Christmas. If you want a white Christmas in the SCV, you could have a chance in Gorman or Frazier Park. If you hold your mouth right. And wish really hard. Just maybe.
I used to wonder how Santa could get around without snow for his sleigh. I hadn’t heard of the vertical takeoffs and landings that Santa can do. Really great concept. Saw it in some recent movies.
Speaking of movies, we could have some great ones made right here in our little valley. Christmas at Melody Ranch. Vasquez Rocks covered in snow with Santa, Captain Kirk, the Gorn and the cast from Blazing Saddles. Some really great possibilities for movies just using clips from older films and adding some snow. Hey, the folks at CalArts could do the computer stuff as a project so all the clips would bind into a snowstorm. All you have to do is imagine.
While I think of it, about where the hospital is today, the hill behind it made a great hill for sledding in 1962. Only a couple of oak trees to dodge. Today the HOA wouldn’t allow that. I’ll bet local lawyers would love it. “Try sliding down that hill and see all the lawsuits coming your way.” Litigate, don’t slide.
Oh, those simple times. I could have cut myself on the tin roofing. I didn’t. You can see my sled today. It is part of the tin that was used on the little pole barn at the gate to Mentryville. You know, the pole barn that was built in 1962 and recently refurbished as “historic.”
I should have saved the tin roofing for the next snowstorm. I can’t wait to get back to warmer climes.
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 email@example.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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