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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
June 7
1861 - Fort Tejon commander ordered to abandon fort (est. 1854) & transfer garrison to Los Angeles [story]
Fort Tejon

CASTAIC, 1957 (or thereabouts) – I lived on Church Street, west of Highway 99. It is Interstate 5 today. I remember walking up the street past Cherry Drive and into the open fields that are now all houses. There was a little hill – we called it “Little Hill” – and I could climb to the top of it and see all the way across town to the Castaic Brick company and the mesa beyond, on the other side of the creek.

The cool thing about that little hill was, there were lots of places one could hide under some brush and wait on other kids, so I could jump up and scare them. We all did it. Well, one day I decided to do just that, and no kids came by. It was getting late, and I thought I heard my mother calling, but then I thought I’d just wait for someone to come along.

I finally decided I’d best get home. I was kind of hungry, and it might be about dinnertime. I ran down the street to our house, and sure enough, there was my mother waiting. It was one of those “Wait Until Your Father Gets Home” times. I was in trouble. BIG trouble. I got grounded. Not sure what duration I was told, but I couldn’t go to the “Little Hill.” Had to stay at the house. I could only go to school or Cub Scout meetings. It might have been as long as two weeks being restricted to what was then 220 Church Street.

Then there were times of being “grounded” or restricted to Pico Canyon after we moved there. I couldn’t leave the place to go to Newhall except for school events and church. I suddenly liked school, and church seemed pretty good, too. I could have friends visit. Also had all my chores to do like milking, cleaning the calf barn and milking area. There was weeding the garden and feeding the hogs and later the steers in the fattening pen between the house and the old schoolhouse. Of course, I had to do all of those chores even if I wasn’t “confined” to Pico Canyon.

We moved to Carpinteria in the summer of 1966. I was confined there, too. I was in a wheelchair and then on crutches because I tested my motorcycle against a Caddy on Highway 99. Broke both legs. Couldn’t go far at all. My father died that year, and the next year my mother followed. I moved in with my sister and brother-in-law in Newhall.

In late 1968, I got a notice that my “friends and neighbors” at local Draft Board 85 had selected me for induction into the United States Army. Yep, it was official. Even President Johnson said so in that notice. That is what the draft notice stated. Needless to say, I rushed to the Navy recruiter in San Fernando. He had a billet available, and I could become a Navy musician. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

When I raised my right hand and took that oath into the Navy, I didn’t know that “NAVY” is an acronym meaning, “Never Again Volunteer Yourself.” A few weeks into boot camp, I volunteered myself. (I have this listening problem.) I requested or volunteered for duty in the Submarine Service. I was about to learn a whole new meaning to what we now call “social distancing.”

It took almost a whole year of training before I reported to my first submarine. It was packed with about 80 sailors, and when we were at sea, we didn’t get to communicate much with the outside world. The next boat was a Polaris missile sub that was more than twice as long as my first boat. It also had a lot more people aboard, nearly 150.

In the next 34 years or so, I was sent to sea on a number of submarines. Even with the whole crew aboard, it was many long and lonely days without much, if any, contact with the outside world. We carried movies, 16mm reels of film that we showed every night. We got up to four 20-word “family grams” on a patrol. We were restricted in every way. “Grounded” by the U. S. Navy in a long steel tube.

What we now call “social distancing,” the Navy calls patrol and deployment. I didn’t think of it as such then. I had been grounded and confined before … in Pico and Castaic and in a wheelchair. I really just didn’t think about being inside an enclosed area.

Now I listen to people complaining about not going to bars, restaurants, theaters, shopping, and in many places, hiking and going to beaches. Even the dog parks are closed. I hear them say they can’t visit friends, family and grandkids. They can’t buy things like toilet paper, sanitary wipes, paper towels and all sorts of items that they used to get for a short drive in heavy traffic (which no longer exists).

I listen to the complaints about how horrible this “social distancing” thing is for them. I just think about the time I was underwater for 87 days. I remember those who are still on deployment, underwater. No Internet. No letters out. More “family grams” coming in today, but nothing more.

So, go ahead and complain about all this “social distancing.” I know a few thousand submarine sailors are just going to say, “Here, hold my beer and watch this!”

On submarines we adjusted and adapted for those times. Now the whole country is doing the same. It wasn’t easy on the boats. It isn’t easy for the whole country. But, hey. You’re just being grounded. Been there. Done that. We can do it.



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 for a spell. Darryl has traveled far and finally landed near the town “too tough to die,” Tombstone, Arizona, calling it home for the past two years with the exception of summers camp-hosting at Refugio State Beach near Goleta. 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. Karen Tibbitts says:

    Good article. But maybe I a bit prejudiced.

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