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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
May 11
1920 - Warrant issued for actor Tom Mix to appear in Newhall Judge J.F. Powell's courtroom on reckless driving charge [story]
Tom Mix

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Monday, Nov 10, 2014

darrylmanzer021014Big excitement at my place today because I got a new five-string banjo and tuned it up. Now I’ve only to learn to play it. You see, I’ve played four-string tenor banjo and banjo ukulele, so this Bluegrass instrument is a whole new gig. It has the “extree strang” that I just can’t seem to understand. But hey, after four hours of learning new chords, I’m thinking this isn’t bad at all.

I’ve got a couple of banjos, and it really seems natural in an RV named Billy Bob. Just one question: Where do I put it when I’m in a travel mode? I’ll find out soon enough. Better news is that Mr. Renly is OK with it when I’m playing. I know he howls at bagpipes.

So thank you, Vibe Performing Arts Studios. Anyone who wants to find a guitar or banjo or “whatever” to strum, go there and look around. I did see a ukulele on the wall there, too.

I had almost forgotten how wonderful it is just to sit around on a Sunday afternoon and not think much about billboards, landfills, high-speed trains or traffic problems. There is a change in my music lessons today. I’m using the computer to get instructions on the five-string. It is a “WOW” moment when I realized I could learn some of the basic stuff before I go make a fool of myself with an instructor.


It appears Sen. Feinstein has a bill ready to get Cemex to move out of the SCV. It would be wonderful to see both sides of the aisle come together and end our nightmare of many years. I think I’ve been writing about it since sometime in 2006. I sure will celebrate when I pen a last commentary to say, “So long, Ceemx.”

Of course we go from Cemex messing with the watershed of the Santa Clara River to the high-speed rail barging through. Imagine how much dirt is going to be moved for that. Imagine what negative effect it will have on the river. Dust, pollution, lots of trucks and more of what we want to go away when Cemex leaves. Welcome to the high-speed train. We get all the dirt, and the train won’t stop here. Have to go to Burbank or Palmdale to catch it. Isn’t that special?

For our little valley, we have a landfill that has 80 percent of its input from other places in Southern California; a train we don’t want to go through; and treated water that has chloride levels exceeding what the state mandates. But Cemex may leave soon. We have a possible victory in our sights. Let’s call, write, email anyone and everyone in Congress to get this accomplished.

As much as I dislike the outcome of Measure S at the ballot box, it did some real good for the community. It got lots of folks talking about improving the city. People here in general hate the billboards as much or more than anyone. We had a disagreement on how to get rid of them. No matter what, it got all of us talking about our city and our valley. All of those people who signed the petitions to get billboards on the ballot had to have a little thought as to how what they were signing could help the city of Santa Clarita. It is through the actions of the citizens that we learn what is possible. In spite of the outcome, I must say it may have awakened folks to get involved. We can always hope folks stay involved.

With the election over, I’ve taken a few days’ rest and am looking at what may come along for me to write about in the next few weeks. I could use some input here, folks. We have illegal immigrants being able to get a driver’s license here in California. What do all y’all think about that?

There is always the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. I wonder if there is anything new about that? What do all y’all think can be done about that little issue which could become a huge issue?

Can we get rid of billboards? Can the traffic problems be solved? Don’t forget our water problems. Not hardly enough to flush, and once all we have is flushed or used and then treated, we are at fault for ending with a high level of chloride being sent downstream. It seems we are being held to a capricious and arbitrary standard that no other place has to follow. Can we get that changed before we have to increase our treatment costs? I don’t know. Can all y’all get me some information?

What is going to be our next major battle? How about next time we pick a battle that all of us in the SCV can agree upon? It may very well be “us” against those outside our little valley.

Can we get enough signatures on a petition to stop high-speed trains from coming through our area? United, we just might be able to accomplish much. We can do a lot in a united effort to solve our problems.

We can, my friends. We can.


bagbalmNow back to that five-string monster. I shall at least get a tune out of it somehow. I learned how to tune it. That is a first step.

Just like all endeavors, we must take that first step. My fingers might hold out. I’ve got to find some Bag Balm. All you quilters know about that wonderful substance, as do many dairy farmers. Great for sore fingers while learning to play a guitar or banjo.

I wonder if there is anything like it to heal the wounds from our last election. I hope so. Those of us in the SCV can heal those wounds. Just takes that first step from both sides.

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].

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  1. Mike Dill says:

    Check out banjohangout.org. The complete resource for banjo players of any ability.

  2. Bag Balm works great on a toddler’s rash.

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