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The curious tale of Mr. Hart

Posted: March 27, 2009 1:18 a.m.
Updated: March 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 Editor's note: As The Signal celebrates 90 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, we offer this peek into the SCV of days past. Following is from the fourth week of March, 1934, The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

Mr. Hart's blaze of glory
"Bill Hart's bad eyes kinda good yet" was an update for Signal readers on William S. Hart, a famous actor, writer and director of the silent-film era known for his westerns, who retired to the Santa Clarita Valley and later inspired the eponymous high school and school district through his work as a community benefactor.

"Hart, entirely recovered from his major operation last summer, has been kicking about his eyesight not coming back." The story was a second-hand account from the actor's encounter with a four-foot rattlesnake on his ranch.

"The unexpected sight of the snake startled Bill a little, and he sprinted to the house like a 10-year-old and resurrected the old trusty six gun. ... Bill stopped at a distance of 30 feet, and fired with all his old-time skill at the waving head, the bullet decapitating his snakeship as easily as if with a knife.

"Bill has stopped worrying, both about his nerves and his sight."

Sounds like the precursor to reality TV to me.

More like the same old deal
"New Deal diggin' in" was an editorial which marked the anniversary of the end of Roosevelt's first 100 days in office.
"One thing is certain," FDR is quoted as saying, "We are not going back."

"The president holds that the NRA (National Recovery Act) principles provide for a balanced recovery, and that without a balance, there can be no permanent good times."

Be wary of cow traffic
"The coming of the ‘Streamline Train' of the Union Pacific to Saugus Thursday evening was an occasion for the biggest crowd that town has seen for a long time."

Thousands came out to see Union Pacific's latest engineering marvel, a 12-cylinder diesel-engine train that reached a top speed of roughly 110 miles per hour.

The project was not above scrutiny, however.

"One railroad man's criticism seemed well-founded. The railroad man said he believed should the train strike a cow, it would not throw her clear of the track, but would have a tendency to push whatever it struck toward the ground and to derail the train."

And they didn't have buses, either
The Signal announced the graduating class of the local high school, San Fernando High. All 15 names were listed, several from the Santa Clarita Valley.

It would be another generation before Santa Clarita school children could no longer say, "I had to walk 15 miles in the snow to get to school."

A word from our sponsors
"The car without a price class" was the draw for the new Ford V-8, advertised in The Signal as the least expensive car to have "the new V-type engine."

The V-8 boasted a $2,395 price tag, and its "dual manifolds and dual carburetion send it even farther per gallon of gasoline than last year's model."

Sounds like fuel efficiency was a big concern even then, but America still loves big gas-guzzling V-8 engines, 75 years later.

Oh, and "rims" were available too: The V-8 was packaged with welded steel spoke wheels, which pushed the price up to $3,200 - more than $50,000 in today's dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

-Russell Patrick



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