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From The Signal Archives: Marathon trials and rodeos

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 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 April, 1950, The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

One man's prison, another man's paradise
"Elderly vagrant begs for long term on that beautiful, wonderful Honor Rancho" was the story of a traveling vagrant who happened to pass by the Castaic jail and became immediately enamored with the place - "Steve saw broad fields under cultivation, off to his left, and nice buildings, and busy men. ‘How do you get in here?'" he reportedly asked a deputy he saw on duty.

Upon learning it was a jail, he dutifully "resumed his tramp down the highway" until he reached the home of a woman who lived alone with an unkempt yard. After tending to the yard, receiving a meal and then being refused lodgings, the man grabbed a tarp and found a spot to sleep - after which he was promptly arrested.

During the drifter's sentencing, he literally begged the judge to throw the book at him.

"Steve, in glowing terms, told the judge what a wonderful, wonderful place the Honor Ranch seemed. Steve's eyes lighted up, he was utterly in earnest. ‘Send me to that beautiful Rancho for the rest of my life,' Steve pleaded.

"Judge Miller opined that he had no authority to impose life sentences on anybody ... ‘Suppose you try it for 90 days,' he told Steve."

The William S. Hart marathon trial
The contestation over the Hart estate landed front-page news, "one of the longest (trials) on record in the Superior Court of the county of Los Angeles."

After more than 1.4 million word's worth of deposition statements (who knows which unfortunate sap was charged with that counting job pre-word processor) and 59 day's worth of testimony, the case was soon to be in the jury's hands.

The surprising stats continue in the story: Witnesses numbered 119, there were 468 exhibits and enough court room testimony to fill 28 book-length novels. Two months prior, Bill Hart Jr., son of the "late two-gun hero of the silent screen," sued the executors of his father's estate claiming the late film star was unduly influenced when composing his will. "Hart bequeathed the bulk of his property to the county, contending his son had been ‘amply provided' for."

The jury found the elder Hart competent, and two appeals by Hart Jr. were subsequently denied.

Before the festival, there were cowboys
Newhall-Saugus Rodeo Rarin' To Go was a headline bigger than The Signal's name for the annual rodeo in Bonelli stadium.

"Salty bulls always exciting feature of rodeo events" was the caption over the picture. "The name of this bull rider, and the bull being ridden, got lost in the shuffle," the caption explained. The picture was taken at a recent rodeo, and "serves to remind you that the bull riding events are always a high spot in the Newhall-Saugus shows" - at least for the audience that is. The bulls don't seem to like it too much. According to the caption, "They resent being shoved into the chutes, and they are mean and hostile to everybody in the arena."

Veterans welcome
"Veterans! A home of your own in Rancho Santa Clarita," declared an ad covering almost three-quarters of a page inside The Signal.

A quick look at current local real estate listings show a slight increase in market prices - the two-bedroom homes (with an over-sized double garage for that big Buick sedan) "on San Francisquito Road overlooking the beautiful Santa Clarita Valley" were selling for an equitable $8,000 with 100-percent GI financing available for a monthly cost of about $50.

Sound like a good price? Just dial 516 for a Newhall Realty sales agent.


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